There's a certain way in which we all probably digest college basketball recruit commitments. No. 2 recruit in the country? Oh, cool he's going to Kentucky. Wait, Washington?! Oh, OK, his dad just got hired on the staff as an assistant coach? Alright, that makes sense. Just the usual pay-to-play of college sports.
But there's something a little different about the circumstances surrounding Michael Porter. The recruit—a Missouri prep star who is already being discussed as the possible No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft—announced this weekend he's going to Washington for his one year of college. And yes, he means only one year. He's already explicitly said so.
But if we can, once in awhile, tone down the cynicism—and usually we shouldn't—it looks like Porter is going to Washington for some legit reasons and not the ones that can sometimes lure recruits like him away from the Kentucky/UNC/Duke axis (you know, wink, wink). That's because he comes from a pretty outlier family, documented in this NBCSports.com story. Actually, it kind of mirrors how Ben Simmons got to LSU. And it's not because UW's head coach Lorenzo Romar, a marginal coach over his career, suddenly became some kind of recruiting Pied Piper.
Porter's dad, Michael Sr., is long-time friends with Romar. They knew each other when Porter Sr. was a Christian rapper, and while all eight kids were, and are, being home-schooled by his wife. They were in each other's weddings. So, when Romar first offered him a job as an assistant, it wasn't fishy, it was because they've known each other for a while. But Porter Sr. kept refusing Romar's offer.
Until recently, he had turned it down twice already. Instead, he was happy being on the Missouri women's basketball staff, where his sister-in-law is the head coach, and where his two oldest daughters play. But now he's ready to go join Romar, his best friend, in Washington. And his son, who just happens to be one of the best players in his class and Romar's godson, is going there too.
"it was already a place that Michael was really interested in," Lisa Porter, Michael Jr.'s mom, told NBCSports.com. "He just didn't like how far away it was. So Michael Sr. and our whole family moving there makes that part of it go away."
So that's how this whole thing got untangled. It doesn't feel quite as grimy as the usual transactions do. Maybe it's because this family seems to be a little different and extremely close. The kids were homeschooled early on, they go to college together, they're all vegetarians. Both parents played competitively and it just happened that as their kids became highly-sought-after college recruits, their dad already knew or was related to the coaches who landed them. There's nothing weird or untoward about that.
Oh, have we mentioned that Michael Porter Jr. has a talented little brother too? Jontay is a four-star recruit in the class of 2018. He's already committed to Washington.