Missouri Athletics

Michael Porter Jr. wants to revive Missouri, leave legacy

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. has yet to play his first college game, and he’s already making it clear he has very high expectations both for himself and the Tigers.

It’s one reason why he chose Missouri.

“I always kind of wanted to be the type of player that could go to a school that could make a difference,” Porter said Wednesday at the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball media day. “I didn’t want to go to a Kansas or a Kentucky where I could be just another great player. I wanted to go to a school where I could make a difference and leave a legacy.”

And it didn’t hurt the Tigers’ chances of signing him after his dad landed on the Missouri staff. There are also strong family ties in Columbia.

Porter’s first college choice was Washington until coach Lorenzo Romar was fired earlier this year. Then the nation’s top recruit — according to Rivals — decided to go back to Columbia, Missouri, when coach Cuonzo Martin hired Porter’s father as an assistant coach.

The 6-foot-10 forward also will be playing with his younger brother, Jontay. It’ll be a family affair that should make his transition to college feel like going home.

“I know campus like the back of my hand, and my family’s all there so it really felt like home,” Porter said. “And it made it really, really easy, and my family’s going to be there. I don’t know how kids go off to college and don’t see their mom and dad for so long. That’d be really hard for me.”

That helps with Porter famous enough already that people stop to stare at while shopping for groceries or walking to class. It’s why Porter turned off his social media accounts believing he receives enough attention already.

Not only is he being coached by his father and playing with his brother, Porter’s two sisters are playing for Missouri’s women’s basketball team. Bri is a senior forward, while Cierra is a junior. His aunt, Robin Pingeton, coaches the Missouri women’s hoops team.

Martin said Porter also is a low-maintenance player.

“Mike’s not a guy that’s out and about all over the place,” Martin said. “I think Mike’s a guy who’s always in a gym. He’s at home with his family. He’s in the classroom, so he’s not a guy that’s all over the place and you kind of have to hover around every five minutes.”

Porter led his high school team to state titles in each of his last two years and was named the Gatorade national player of the year. He also is the sixth McDonald’s All-American to sign with Missouri but first since 2000.

“He’s long and fast and skilled, got tremendous feel, I.Q.” Florida coach Mike White said. “He’s going to be a really good player.”

So good that Porter shared preseason player of the year honors with Georgia senior Yante Maten and Texas A&M sophomore Robert Williams. Missouri junior Kevin Puryear compares Porter to Kevin Durant with his ability to shoot over anybody.

“He just makes it look so easy,” Puryear said. “Double-teams, triple-teams, he’s shooting over the top of it. Just making it effortless sometimes. It’s frustrating to guard him. I’m not going to play anybody like Michael the whole year, so I’m getting better definitely playing against him.”

Porter also wants to make it clear that he’s not automatically heading to the NBA after this season. He said it’s important for him to leave a legacy at Missouri and help revive a program that went 8-24 last season and hasn’t qualified for the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

“Everybody thinks I’m not serious when I say that, but I actually might spend more than one year in college,” Porter said.

Well, maybe not if the Tigers are as good as Porter believes they will be.

“We’ll surprise a lot of people,” Porter said.

Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter @TeresaMWalker

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.