Michael Porter Jr. led Seattle's Nathan Hale High School to the state Class 3A title with a 29-0 record, and he committed to University of Washington, where his father had been hired an assistant coach before the 2016-17 season. But after the Huskies fired coach Lorenzo Romar in March, Michael Sr. accepted an assistant's job at Missouri.
Washington released Porter Jr., the Naismith High School Player of the Year, from his letter of intent. He will join his dad at Missouri, which has a new head coach, Cuonzo Martin, formerly of Cal.
In a way, the change was a relief. After all, Porter Jr. was born in Columbia and lived in the city from fifth grade to 11th grade, starring at Father Tolton Regional Catholic High School. Porter Sr. was on the coaching staff for the women's team at Missouri from 2010 until leaving for Washington last year.
"Missouri was my first offer actually," Porter Jr. remembers, speaking at Jordan Brand Classic practice Wednesday. "I think it was in like sixth grade. Coach [Frank] Haith, his first year, I was shooting on the gun in the facility and he came down there and gave me my first offer. He pulled me aside and offered me. Ever since then, Mizzou's been real special to me."
The family lived in Indiana, before Porter Sr. took the job with the Missouri women's team. The team's head coach, Robin Pingeton, is Porter Sr.'s wife's sister/Porter Jr.'s aunt.
— Michael Porter Jr. (@TheMPJ1) March 24, 2017
In his youth, Porter Jr. was a Mizzou diehard.
"When I first got to town in fifth grade, that was back when Kim English, Marcus Denmon, they had a really good squad," he said. "Every game was packed. I was sitting at the top of the bleachers, so I see what Mizzou can be."
In 2011-12, Missouri went 30-5, peaking at No. 2 in the country and winning the Big 12 Tournament. However, as a No. 2 seed, Missouri lost in the first round to Kyle O'Quinn-led Norfolk State. A young Porter Jr. was left in shock.
"I was sitting at home and I couldn't believe it," he said with a laugh. "I was sad."
In a few months, Porter Jr. will run the campus he grew up on. Visiting after his commitment, he could feel the love.
"I feel like what I'm about to do at Mizzou is going to be special for that hometown," he says. "Those fans are hungry. I didn't know how much love they were gonna show me. Everyone on campus is chanting my name, chanting 'M-I-Z!' It was crazy. The games are gonna be packed. It's gonna be exciting."
Porter Jr. will play for the East Team in Friday night's Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn, where the nation will get a taste of the potential superstar. His one year of fun in Seattle is over. He's on to Missouri (again).