Under a proposed NCAA rule, underclassmen who aren’t selected in the NBA draft can return to college and restore their eligibility. Does that mean Jontay Porter could come back and play another year at Missouri?
No. The new rule hasn’t gone into effect and won’t until a separate NBA policy changes.
Before undrafted underclassmen can go back to school and retain their eligibility, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association must pass a rule that undrafted players who return to college are ineligible for the NBA until the end of the next college basketball season. An NCAA spokesperson confirmed that underclassmen still must withdraw from the draft 10 days after the NBA Combine —back on May 29 — to retain their college eligibility. Porter stayed in the draft, which means he cannot return to school even though he wasn’t drafted Thursday.
As of Friday morning, there were no reports that Porter had signed with an NBA team or accepted a Summer League roster spot or tryout. Also, as of Friday, Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin hadn’t talked to Porter about his plans or Porter’s family or agent.
Porter was widely projected as a second-round draft pick after missing all of last season with torn knee ligaments. He re-tore his anterior cruciate ligament in March and is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2019-20 season.
Without knowing what Porter has planned for next year, Martin said he wouldn’t close the door on the 19-year-old, even though the Tigers don’t have an available scholarship for 2019-20. When he talked with reporters Friday about Porter's status, there was some uncertainty about the status of the rule change.
“You always want to give every kid an opportunity to be successful," Martin said. "From a scholarship standpoint, we’re at 13 scholarships, but you’re welcome at any capacity possible. You’d never shut it down. He’s part of his basketball family.”
“First and foremost is giving Jontay comfort and allowing him the time to have peace of mind to decide what he wants to do moving forward,” Martin added. “That’s not to say he hasn’t locked into a situation with a team even though you probably haven’t seen anything yet. That’s not to say at all. We’ll have to wait and see to get his feel for it.”
But without the NBA rule change, it’s all a moot point. Porter's college career is kaput.
Martin believes Porter would have been a lottery pick — one of the top 14 selections — had he been healthy.
“I don’t think there’s any question about whether anyone thinks he can play the game,” Martin said.
“This situation was unique from the standpoint nobody questioned where he’d be as a draft prospect if he’s healthy,” he added. “There’s no question about it, first rounder. It’s just a matter of how high. With injuries and when you have multiple surgeries of the magnitude that he’s had I think that would be the only question mark from a basketball standpoint. He understands the game. He knows how to play the game. He has a great feel for the game. He’s a good person. He’s a good locker room guy. He has all those qualities.”