Top draft prospect Michael Porter Jr. leaving Missouri for NBA

Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. announced on Monday that he is leaving college basketball to declare for the NBA draft.

The nation’s top incoming prospect in 2017, Porter Jr. missed most of his freshman season when back surgery forced him to sit out after playing just two minutes in his college debut.

He made a surprise return for Missouri’s SEC and NCAA tournament runs that resulted in first-round exits from both that led to questions over whether he made a mistake in coming back after four months on the shelf.

Porter Jr. shot 9-of-29 from the field, including 3-of-10 from three-point range in the pair of losses in his return and generally did not look like the heralded prospect the Tigers signed.

Michael Porter Jr. has declared for the NBA draft. (AP)
Michael Porter Jr. has declared for the NBA draft. (AP)

He acknowledged his struggles after a 16-point, 10-rebound performance in Missouri’s NCAA tournament loss to Florida State.

“I was asking God, ‘Please give me some extra strength to finish this second half,’ ” Porter Jr. said after the game. “It’s really tough being out there when you’re not fully confident in your body movements. That was the hardest thing.”

A 6-foot 10-inch small forward with elite athleticism and NBA-ready shooting, it seems unlikely Porter will fall out of the high lottery range because of some rust after missing significant time recovering from back surgery. Unless teams have legitimate long-term physical concerns over his back ailment, his upside is too high to leave on the draft board for long.

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