COLUMBIA, Mo. — It's rare for any college basketball team to add a player with three years of Southeastern Conference experience, 996 points scored and 659 rebounds collected in 94 career games in the middle of the season.
It's even rarer that that player is the head coach's niece.
But that's exactly what Robin Pingeton and the Missouri women's basketball team has done.
On Saturday, Cierra Porter and the program announced the senior would use her remaining eligibility and undo her medical retirement announced June 1 of this year. At that time, Porter had already completed her degree and made the decision to medically retire for her "future quality of life."
Like her older sister Bri, Cierra has dealt with ACL and MCL injuries throughout her basketball career, though not to the severity of Bri, who had five different knee surgeries in high school and college.
In a press release, Missouri said Porter will "dress and be active" for today's 2 p.m. home game against Arkansas State at Mizzou Arena.
"We are obviously very excited to welcome Cierra back," Pingeton said in the press release. "She has had a very successful three years here, she brings great experience, and adds much needed depth to our post position. After allowing her knee to calm down and get some rest with some time away, Cierra started feeling pretty good again and wanted to see if she could make one last run at it."
The importance of Porter's return to the team is hard to overstate. She and Sophie Cunningham were members of the same recruiting class and played four years together at Rock Bridge. The two continued their high school success at Missouri, and are leaders on this team.
Adding Porter back will also help address some of the Tigers' interior issues. Cunningham and Amber Smith, both technically guards, have been the team's best rebounders this season. Porter, at 6-foot-4 and a shot-blocking force on the offensive and defensive glass, gives Missouri more options and security on the interior. She also provides a back-to-the-basket presence and excellent passer and screener that Pingeton has used in her time at Missouri to anchor her motion offense.