ST. LOUIS -- Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin confirmed Wednesday that elite recruit Michael Porter Jr., a likely top-five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft who has only played two minutes in college because of back surgery in the fall, took the court in the first half of Missouri's opening SEC tournament game vs. Georgia on Thursday.
Porter informed Martin on Tuesday that he wants to help this Missouri team that projects as an eight- or nine-seed in next week's NCAA tournament. "Coach, I'm ready to go," Porter told Martin.
"He's prepared to play," Martin told reporters after a brief Missouri practice at Scottrade Center.
Martin said Porter will come off the bench. The coach doesn't expect him to play a ton of minutes – 30 minutes seemed out of the question – but he did say that he expects Porter to play again on Friday if Missouri wins its first SEC tournament game.
"Unless Mike says otherwise, that's what it is," Martin said.
A few minutes before, when three Missouri players took the podium, it did not sound like they knew Porter was planning to play. Martin hadn't told them yet.
"I guess that's the million-dollar questions, isn't it?" Missouri junior Kevin Puryear said. "That's a question I'm going to let Coach Martin answer. I'm not really sure at this point."
Much to Missouri fans' delight, Martin's answer was that the Porter, the second-ranked player in 247sports.com's 2017 recruiting class, will be playing for the first time since Nov. 10, when he played two minutes against Iowa State, grabbing two rebounds and making his only shot.