Missouri’s Jontay Porter believes he was first-round pick if he stayed in NBA draft

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Missouri forward Jontay Porter pulled his name out of the 2018 NBA Draft, but he still believes he would have been a first-round pick had he decided to turn pro.

In a story from Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the 6-foot-11 rising sophomore said that he was confident that he would have received the guaranteed contract and first-round status. But Porter decided to return to Missouri for his sophomore season for basketball reasons.

“When I did decide to go back to school, it didn’t matter where I was going to be picked,” Porter said in Matter’s story. “I was going back to school because I realized I didn’t want to take that leap quite yet. I can confidently say — I know the draft isn’t until the 21st — but I’m pretty confident I would have been a first-round pick. That really wouldn’t have been a question. Whether I was top 10 or top 30 I was pretty set on coming back.”

During his freshman season at Missouri, Jontay, the younger brother of potential top-10 pick Michael Porter Jr., put up solid numbers for the Tigers as he averaged 9.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. But since Jontay only played 24.6 minutes per game, while registering the highest body-fat percentage among NBA Combine participants, he is opting to return for another season.

Porter alluded to the fact that he wants to be more physically mature and ready for the NBA level when he eventually enters the draft. Some might believe that Porter’s first-round comments come across as cocky (which won’t be helped by the perception that his older brother is cocky) but he also had a strange journey to reach Missouri in the first place.

Reclassifying late to join Michael Jr. last season, Jontay never played his senior year of high school basketball and didn’t have the full summer to work on conditioning before joining the Tigers last season. With a full season already completed, and a full offseason awaiting, Porter could conceivably improve his conditioning and his numbers dramatically as a sophomore next season.

The 2019 NBA Draft also looks a lot weaker from a one-and-done freshman standpoint, so Porter could see his stock potentially rise by being in a weaker draft. Either way, Missouri is happy to have Porter back with them for next season as he’ll have major expectations for his sophomore season.