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Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. optimistic doctor will soon clear him for full practice

Alex Schiffer, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Basketball

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri freshman phenom Michael Porter Jr. said Friday he is optimistic his doctor will fully clear him to return to basketball practice soon.

Porter said he didn't know exactly when he'll meet with his doctor but expected it would be within the next week or two. He said he last met with his doctor in early January and was told his next appointment would be in six weeks, which would be next week.

"To me with how I feel right now, I think there is a good chance," Porter said about whether he will play again this season. "I think the doctor is going to be amazed at my progress."

Porter played two minutes in Missouri's season-opening win over Iowa State on Nov. 10 and left the game after scoring on a put-back layup and feeling discomfort in his leg and hip. Eleven days later, the program announced that Porter would likely miss the season after undergoing a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs and estimated his recovery time at three to four months.

But Porter opened the possibility of a return shortly after the procedure. Before the Tigers' game against West Virginia in the Advocare Invitational championship game on Nov. 26, Porter made an Instagram post that appeared to be from his living room that said "just letting y'all know whoever said it was going to take 3-4 months to recover lied."

Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin said after the team's win over Mississippi on Wednesday that he "wouldn't be surprised" if Porter played before the end of the season, which was a significant development in the 6-foot-10 forward's rehab. Martin added that Porter had started working out with the team's strength and conditioning coach Nicodemus Christopher. Porter said he's running and jumping in his rehab with Christopher.

 

Martin said on Friday that there is no hard date for Porter to return and that a decision will be made when it has to.

"The first thing is you try to do is what's important or what's best," Martin said. "What's best is not always ideal for everybody. We'll make that decision and decide what's best whenever that time presents itself. I do think that the one thing that makes him good is he has a competitive spirit. He wants to play. He wants to compete. He wants to be on the floor. But you have to take all facts into consideration when you're dealing with this."

Despite not playing for three months, Martin isn't worried about Porter's play when he gets back because of his talent. He added that Porter would have to practice before appearing in a game.

"He might be one of the few guys, I think, on the high school level, that his offense becomes his defense," Martin said. "He puts so much pressure on you that way. Now teams will try to, I imagine, make him defend. But he's long and athletic. It's not as if he was a bad defender. If anything the fatigue part, the banging when he gets exhausted. But his offense will put pressure on other teams. So that becomes his defense."

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