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Missouri’s Mark Smith receives NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility

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Missouri added some quality depth to its rotation on Friday night as the program announced that Illinois transfer Mark Smith will be immediately eligible for the 2018-19 season after receiving a waiver from the NCAA.

An offseason addition from the Illini, the 6-foot-3 Smith is a former top-100 prospect who averaged 5.7 points and 1.4 assists per game during his freshman season. Making 19 starts, the former Mr. Basketball in Illinois originally committed to Missouri for baseball before blowing up in basketball and selecting the Illini over Missouri out of high school. But Smith never found his footing with Illinois as he decided to transfer to Missouri this offseason.

With Missouri recently losing sophomore forward Jontay Porter for the season with a torn ACL and MCL, the Tigers can use all of the rotational depth they can get. Smith figures to potentially earn some minutes at the point as he’ll compete with Jordan Geist and Xavier Pinson. Since Missouri lost senior guard Cullen VanLeer to retirement just a few weeks ago after a torn ACL, Smith can come in right away as an adequate replacement.

The Tigers are still awaiting word on a waiver for Evansville transfer Dru Smith, as Missouri is hoping the 6-foot-3 Valley transfer can provide even more perimeter depth.

For now, the Tigers will be happy just to add Smith, as he has a chance to come in and earn immediate minutes next season.

Missouri adds late piece to 2018-19 season with three-star guard

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Missouri had a scholarship open up earlier this week when a knee injury forced senior guard Cullen VanLeer into an early retirement.

Seeking some help on the wing for this season, the Tigers landed a very late commitment for the Class of 2018 on late Friday night as three-star guard Christian Guess committed to Missouri with an announcement on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Guess is a native of Cleveland, as he is allegedly a late qualifier who could be eligible for the upcoming 2018-19 season. According to reports from Gabe DeArmond of and Eric Bossi of, Guess said that he will enroll at Missouri on Monday as he will attempt to play this season.

While some Division I players have committed right at (or near) the start of the academic calendar, Guess will be attempting to enroll at Missouri even though the fall semester started on Monday, August 20. Every school is obviously different with regard to handling late enrollments, so it’ll be fascinating to see if there are any issues with Guess joining the team so late.

If Guess is eligible for the 2018-19 season, he could give the Tigers some much-needed perimeter depth to an inexperienced group. The only senior in the equation is Jordan Geist while redshirt junior Ronnie Suggs, sophomore K.J. Santos and freshmen Javon Pickett, Xavier Pinson and Torrence Watson will all compete for perimeter minutes along with Guess.

Jontay Porter makes it official, will join Missouri this season

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The news everyone was expecting, that Jontay Porter himself had all but previously confirmed, became official Wednesday.

Porter, younger brother of Missouri forward and potential 2018 No. 1 NBA draft pick Michael, will reclassify to 2017 and join the Tigers program, he announced via social media.

Missouri later sent out a release confirming the news.

“We’re very excited about Jontay’s decision, which was a big one for him and his family,” Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “Jontay is certainly a talented basketball player, but his
outstanding work in the classroom should not be overlooked. The ability to reclassify requires a serious commitment to your academics. Jontay is a young man who takes pride in being a great teammate and communicator. He has the skill and knowledge of the game
to contribute from day one, at both ends of the floor.”

The announcement is significant yet in no way surprising. With Michael Porter destined to be a one-and-done player, it just made too much sense for Jontay to join up, not only with his brother but with his dad, Michael Porter, Sr., who is an assistant on Cuonzo Martin’s staff.

It’s also not the least bit surprising because Jontay himself called it a “safe assumption” that he would reclass just last month.

So no, not a shock here. But it is significant.

The younger Porter is a 6-foot-10 center that was a top-15 player in 2018. Adding him to the roster is a big deal when you’re teaming him not only with his older, uber-talented brother, but another highly-ranked recruit in Jeremiah Tilmon, another 6-foot-10 player and top-50 recruit.

It’s going to be extremely fascinating to watch Missouri’s transformation this year. Under Kim Anderson, they were one of – and maybe the – worst Power 5 programs. They won just 27 games – just eight in the SEC – in three years. Now, just months after Martin’s hire, they’ve got one of the country’s best recruiting classes and an instantly dynamic roster.

It also could sting some for Washington fans, who had Michael Porter, Jr. committed and likely would have had Jontay as well before they fired Lorenzo Romar, who had previously added Porter, Sr. to his staff. Romar’s success had dwindled significantly even with high-end talent on the roster in recent years, but, still, watching this kind of talent that seemed destined for Seattle end up in Columbia can’t be easy.

“Coach Martin and his staff are awesome, and they are definitely one of the things I look forward to most about playing for Mizzou,” Jontay said in a statement. “Moving up to college will be an easy transition for me, especially with my family here in Columbia. Mizzou Basketball will be something really special, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Now, though, Missouri has a chance to be immediately ascendant in the SEC, reinvigorate a defeated fan base and begin the Martin era with some dynamism.

Bill Self responds to comments from ex-Mizzou chancellor

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The Border War between Kansas and Missouri has not been played since the Tigers left the Big 12 for greener football pastures in the SEC in 2012.

Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk wants the rivalry to be renewed. Kansas head coach Bill Self has deflected those questions, previously stating, “… that’s a decision that will be made at a university level, not just at a basketball level.”

On Thursday, former Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin blamed the Self and his “big ego” for not restarting the Border War, stating that an offer was on the table for a football game between the Tigers and Jayhawks to be played at Arrowhead Stadium.

Self, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame coach, responded to those claims later that day in a text message to Matthew Galloway of the Topeka Capital-Journal:

“Tell the ex-Missouri chancellor that I coach basketball, not football,” Self wrote in a text message to The Capital-Journal. “That we would never play a game in Arrowhead or even discuss it. It’s too cold. We play our games indoors. But (I) look forward to meeting him someday if he’s ever in Lawrence.”

These comments serve as nothing more than as a deflection and Self’s disinterest in reigniting the series with Mizzou.

But it’s important that Missouri is aggressively pursuing this. There’s plenty of hype surrounding the program right now: Cuonzo Martin taking over the program, projected top pick Michael Porter, Jr. committing to the Tigers, ticket sales up, etc. If that hype can be turned into on the court success, you’d have to imagine Sterk’s pursuit of this annual game only intensifies.

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

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There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Report: The Porters are headed back to Missouri

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The coaching carousel looks certain to change the fate of a potential 2018 No. 1 NBA Draft pick, and, perhaps, that of a downtrodden program and a coach starting his fourth job in six years.

When you have the talent of Michael Porter, Jr., you can change a lot of lives.

The dominos are falling fast, so to recap on how the coaching, recruiting and draft landscape is shifting here’s what’s gone down.

First, came news that Missouri had offered its head coaching position to Cal’s Cuonzo Martin. Later that afternoon, Cal announced that Martin had resigned from his position, and a little later the Tigers made it official it was to join them in Columbia.

Then, not long after, Washington ended the Lorenzo Romar era in Seattle, putting his assistant, Michael Porter, Sr., – and his son – presumably on the market.

Within minutes of Romar’s firing going official, ESPN’s Paul Biancardi reported that Porter, Sr. would would be joining Martin’s staff at Mizzou. From there, it’s not hard to connect the dots that his son, an elite recruit and serious option atop the 2018 draft, won’t be far behind.

It’s a lot, but it’s not exactly surprising to see how it unfolded once things spun into motion, first with Martin’s decision and then with Washington’s.

You see, the Porter family has extensive roots in Columbia, as NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster documented this summer in a profile about the family.

The family lived there for seven years. It’s where Porter, Jr. grew up. His two sisters play on the Mizzou women’s team, which is coached by his aunt.

This move makes sense for everyone involved.

Yes, it may feel a little dubious that Porter, Sr. has seemingly parlayed his son’s talents into a pair of job opportunities, but Porter, Jr. is a program changer. Martin is counting on it.

The situation that the new coach is inheriting is a pretty poor one. The three-year Kim Anderson era was an abject failure with a total of 27 wins to show for itself. The program is also not far removed from NCAA penalties stemming from an impermissible benefits case.

If there’s one way to jump-start a program and a new tenure, it is to add one of the best players in the country. It gives Martin and Missouri some cache on the court and on the recruiting trail, should Porter, Jr.’s presumed one-year tenure end with his name among the first called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in June of 2018.