The fourth circle of hell probably consists of the hope annually being inserted into the hearts and minds of Missouri Tigers fans, then as quickly as receiving it, having that naive joy ripped from their insides like some sort of cliched victim of a horror movie monster gone full slasher.
Jontay Porter has torn his ACL and MCL… and everything is awful.
This is a season removed from his brother, Michael Porter Jr., missing most of it due to injury. Prior to Jontay, the current Denver Nuggets talent was projected to help the Tigers become a magical land of top recruits and trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Through no one’s fault, the Porter family appears cursed. The entire family has a history of being ravaged by injury, which is most accurately highlighted by Bri Porter suffering five ACL injuries and Cierra Porter being forced to retire from basketball due to chronic knee issues.
Again, everything is awful. Knees, apparently, especially so.
In terms directly impacting Jontay Porter, things couldn’t get much worse. After reclassifying to last season’s recruiting class to play alongside his brother, he tested his NBA Draft stock only to find out teams weren’t all that thrilled over his limited wingspan and somewhat questionable body fat percentage.
Obviously, he can’t change the frame he was given, but he could have aided in convincing teams to not be worried over his weight if he were to have a stellar sophomore season. All things pointed to such a thing happening, as a truly iffy 2019 NBA Draft class is awaiting, coupled with Porter primed to dominate the collegiate level and set to lead the Missouri Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament yet again.
Destiny had other, more nefarious nonsense in his cards.
Even if that’s the most optimistic look at his professional prospects, the most timid would at least agree the Tigers were in a solid spot to fight for a six or seven seed for the Big Dance come Selection Sunday. Without Porter trotting about hardwoods in their colors, however, the Tigers might not even be considered a bubble team.
Having averaged 9.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a freshman, Porter was expected to command the SEC this season, being placed on the second-team SEC all-preseason squad just last week. Furthermore, he was becoming a trendy pick among college basketball hipsters to fight for several All-American awards as well as being a sneaky darkhorse candidate for National Player of the Year.
All of that, though, can now be gently placed in the realm of what-if scenarios and we’ll never actually know discussions.
It’s not all gloom and doom for the Missouri Tigers, however. While relatively huge things were planned for season two of the Cuonzo Martin era, one must not forget the program overcame the loss of Michael Porter Jr. for most of last season, finishing with 20 wins and earning a pair of those elusive dancing slippers.
Point is, even if naively so: All hope should not yet be lost. Missouri is undoubtedly far worse a team entering the season today than it was only a few days ago, but absent in the hyperbole that is speaking about a program losing its best player is the idea of the overlooked being ready outplay expectations.
After all, the expectations put on whatever people expected of Missouri this season were placed there by others, an aspect more closely resembling conjecture than anything rooting in reality.
Insert some positive words. Talk about a rotation player in a good position to exceed expectations. Etc. Etc. So on and so forth. Let’s just shove these poor Missouri fans back down the fourth circle of hell before the season begins.
I kid, I think.
Nevertheless, this Jontay Porter news has to be awful for the Missouri Tigers. Maybe — or more accurately, possibly — entering this season without the false hope the younger Porter provided is a good thing. A blessing in disguise.
Better to stay down than being up and letdown later? A question Missouri fans, of all the sports, likely battle with year after year after year.
Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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