Missouri star freshman Michael Porter Jr. was scheduled to undergo back surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season, the school announced.
A McDonald’s All-American who is considered one of the top prospects for next summer’s NBA Draft should he enter it, the 6-foot-10 Porter was to undergo a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs in Dallas. The expected recovery time is three to four months.
Porter, 18, played only two minutes of Missouri’s regular-season opener on Nov. 10 before being sidelined for the Tigers’ (3-1) past three games. A source told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Porter sought a second opinion outside of Missouri’s medical staff and that he traveled to Dallas on Monday.
“Our top priority as a program is the well-being of our student-athletes, so Michael beginning this process to be 100 percent healthy is important to all of us,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. “Our focus has been on Michael’s well-being, just like every other player in our locker room. We will continue to work every day to build Mizzou Basketball into a program to be proud of.”
Porter was ranked No. 2 in ESPN’s Top 100 for the class of 2017 behind only Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and is considered a likely high lottery pick next summer. However, he may enter the NBA Draft having played only 100 seconds of regular-season college basketball.
A microdiscectomy is the standard procedure for a herniated disc and relieves pressure on a spinal nerve root. The announcement of Porter’s surgery ends weeks of speculation after his injury had been described by the team as a “tweaked hip” and a “leg injury.” He told Martin before the season-opener against Iowa State that his leg was bothering him. Porter sat the remainder of that game, missed the Tigers’ second game and then did not travel with the team to play against Utah in Salt Lake City last Thursday.
“I really appreciate the support of my family and the Mizzou Men’s Basketball program as I begin this process,” Porter said. “I’m thankful for all the kind words and messages I’ve received from fans. Those mean a lot to me. I cannot wait to be completely healthy and playing the game I love, once again.”