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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

Porter said Friday he's working out and feeling great and isn't worried about re-injuring his back should he return. Porter said if he does return, he would like to play in games before the postseason starts.

He said he's taking a lot of mental notes during games about the Tigers' offensive plays and what they do on defense so that he can be ready.

Porter's return would give the Tigers, who were already in good shape to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2013, an even more dangerous lineup heading into March. Despite the absence of its best player, Mizzou is tied for fourth in the Southeastern Conference standings at 6-5 and is 16-8 overall.

Porter said he thought the team's play without him was being overlooked and that his main concern is whether his return would be in the team's best interest.

"Is it good for our team if I come back?" he said. "Because if it was tournament time and they said I was ready to go, is that the best thing for our team?"

In the absence of Porter, Missouri has been fueled by the strong play of graduate transfer Kassius Robertson and Porter's younger brother Jontay, who is also a freshman.

Porter Jr. was at the top of NBA mock drafts at the beginning of the season but has fallen because of the strong play of fellow freshmen Marvin Bagley of Duke, Deandre Ayton of Arizona, Mohamed Bamba of Texas and Oklahoma's Trae Young, who is a close friend of Porter Jr's. DraftExpress projects Porter Jr. going at No. 6 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Porter Jr.'s return would take an offensive burden off of Robertson and his younger brother and would add a preseason All-American to a team that is down to nine healthy players after freshmen guards C.J Roberts and Blake Harris transferred and walk-on forward Adam Wolf tore his ACL. Junior point guard Terrence Phillips is suspended indefinitely while he is under Title IX investigation.

If he returns, Porter Jr. said he would give his team another reliable ball-handler, a skill that the Tigers are short on currently.

"I'm just a kid who loves basketball," said Porter, who reiterated no decision has been made whether he will return to game action this season. "If I could play today, I'd play today."

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