Porter is officially on the market

Gabe DeArmond, Publisher
Power Missouri

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The nation's top basketball prospect in the 2017 class is officially free to pursue other opportunities.

The story below was published on Wednesday, March 22nd, following Michael Porter Jr.'s teleconference after winning the Gatorade High School Player of the Year award.

Michael Porter, Jr., the No. 1 ranked prospect in the country for the Rivals.com Class of 2017, was named the Gatorade National High School player of the Year on Wednesday afternoon. In conjunction with the announcement, Porter held a teleconference, in which he revealed that he should soon be back on the open market.

Porter has asked out of the National Letter of Intent he signed with Washington in November. The Huskies fired Lorenzo Romar last week and announced Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins as his replacement. Porter said he had not yet heard from Hopkins, but has asked Washington for his release.

The Huskies already granted a release to fellow signee Blake Harris and it is anticipated they will do the same for Porter.

"I was connected to this coaching staff and now that they're gone I kind of want to weigh my options," Porter said.

When asked what schools he would now consider, Porter replied "I haven't even gotten that far yet. All I know is that I want to reopen my options. Not saying that Washington is not one of them, but I want to look at some other schools as well."

However in an exclusive interview with USA Today High School Sports, Porter listed Missouri, Washington, Oklahoma and Virginia as the schools under consideration, though he did say the list could expand.

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The main school that has been tossed around in the last week is Mizzou. Porter lived in Columbia from fifth grade through 11th grade before moving to Seattle for his senior season. He played at Father Tolton High School and his father was an assistant on the Tiger women's team. His sisters Bri and Cierra both play for the Tigers.

"That's where I grew up, that's where I became the player I am today," Porter said. "To be able to go back there, I know those fans are hungry and I've been shown a lot of love from Mizzou fans. To be able to come home and do my thing there could be real, real special."

Porter stressed that he would listen to everyone and had made no decisions. However, he also let reporters know that new Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin has offered his father, Michael Sr., a job as an assistant coach.

"He has been offered an assistant coaching job but he's yet to accept it," Porter Jr. said. "Obviously if he accepts it before I know that I'm going to go there people are going to expect me to follow him so he wants to be careful about that.

"My dad, he doesn't know if he's gonna coach next season, he doesn't know where he's going to coach, but it's not a for sure thing that I would follow him wherever he goes. But it does make sense if he goes to a big school, I do want to play under him. It's not him forcing me, but I love my dad, I trust my dad.

Porter said he did not know Martin before he took the job at Mizzou last week. He did have a chance to meet the Missouri coach when Martin and his father met in Seattle recently to discuss Porter Sr.'s job offer.

"Coach Romar knew him really well and my dad knew who he was and my dad went to meet with him. I trust my dad and he said Cuonzo's a great guy," Porter said. "I was able to shake his hand and say hello."

Martin could not discuss Porter's recruitment because he is still a Washington signee.

The brothers have heard plenty from their friends and Mizzou fans back in the Show-Me State in the last seven days.

"If I was to go back there, (they're) expecting me to bring them to the Final Four, championships, all this stuff I've been hearing," Michael said. "There's definitely a lot of expectations, but at the same time it could be something real, real special."

There are actually two Porters in play. Michael's younger brother, Jontay Porter, has also reopened his recruitment since Romar's dismissal. The younger Porter has talked about reclassifying and enrolling somewhere next season, but that is not a decision that has been made yet.

"That's something he's highly considering. He's definitely considering classing up and playing with me because we feel like we play well together, feed off each other," Michael said. "There's nothing saying I won't stay two years to play with him."

While possible, that is highly doubtful as Porter is widely projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The spring signing period begins three weeks from today, on April 12th. At some point in the next few weeks, a school will land the top high school player in the country. As for which one, Porter isn't tipping his hand.

"I was ready to go to Washington and do something special there. Seattle's been great to me," he said. "To me everything happens for a reason and if this happened I believe that God has something else in store for me."

What that is remains to be seen. The country is most certainly watching in anticipation.

"It's been a roller coaster," Porter said. "That's what life's about."

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