Michael Porter Jr. claims he's 'best player' in draft just months after back surgery


We’re not sure if Michael Porter Jr.’s back is totally healthy, but his confidence seems to be.

The former top recruit in the country only lasted a few minutes into his debut at the University of Missouri before being sidelined for months due to back surgery.

Credit the six-foot-ten stretch forward for battling back to play a couple of games — one in the SEC tournament, and another in the NCAA tournament — even though he was understandably rusty.

Now, the rust is reportedly gone, and he’s campaigning to be the top pick in next month’s NBA draft.

The “Draft Porter” movement got going in earnest this week at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, where he told reporters why he stands above the likes of Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley.

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“I mean I played against all these guys,” Porter Jr. told reporters, according to USA Today. “They’re all great players but I’m the best player in this draft.”

Because of his back, Porter Jr. has become something of a man of mystery, and the media didn’t want to miss a chance to hear from him at the combine.

Now, it’s not unheard of for a “one-and-done” player to miss significant time during his only year of college.

Do you think Porter Jr. is the "best player" in the draft?

Kyrie Irving famously played in just 11 games for Duke due to a foot injury.

While the other big names seem to have passed Porter Jr. by in terms of buzz, he remains unfazed. “They’ve obviously gotten better, they’re all great players, I’m not taking anything away from them, but that’s just how I feel,” he said.

“I feel that everyone will know that (he’s the best player in the draft) soon.”

While the former Tiger is resisting on-court workouts in Chicago this week, he insists that his back is nothing to worry about.

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“It was a very minimally invasive surgery,” Porter Jr. said. “They just had to take a piece of the disk, like 10 percent off that nerve, and they said, I got another MRI, they said the site is healed fully. … I feel pain-free, and I feel better than I’ve felt for a long time.”

Several mock drafts have Porter Jr. going either to the Bulls at No. 7 or the Cavaliers at No. 8.

No matter what happens, his injury will certainly cost him money and draft position, but Porter Jr. says he’s not looking back, only forward.

“I was hoping to turn college basketball upside down just like a lot of these players, Trae (Young), Deandre, Marvin. But this is just a step in my process of becoming the best player I can be,” he said.

There’s still a lot of workouts to come, so time will tell what happens.

The NBA draft is scheduled for June 21.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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