COLUMBIA, Mo. — It's been more than a month since Virginia beat Texas Tech 85-77 to win the NCAA Tournament, but the basketball offseason can sometimes be just as busy as the regular season.
That's the case for the Missouri men's basketball program and head coach Cuonzo Martin, who met Tuesday with media for the first time since the Southeastern Conference Tournament. He confirmed Jontay Porter will stay in the NBA Draft pool and forgo his remaining college eligibility, Jeremiah Tilmon will return for the 2019-20 season, and Ronnie Suggs is transferring out as a graduate student.
Later Tuesday, small forward Kobe Brown of Lee High School in Huntsville, Ala., committed to MU.
Porter's decision was an easy one. He could have stayed in the draft a year ago after an excellent freshman season but returned to work on his athleticism, only to tear his ACL in a preseason scrimmage, miss the entire season, and then re-tear the same ACL in a non-contact injury on a basketball court in late March.
"With Jontay, yeah, excited for him," Martin said. "Obviously he made his own decision, I think it's a great decision for him, no doubt in my mind he'll be a part of a team whether he gets drafted or not. I've said it before, if he's healthy, if he's playing the way he played before he got injured, he has the ability in my opinion to start for some teams in the NBA, certainly at the five position, and he can play the four as well."
Martin also confirmed Michael Porter Sr. will stay on staff until at least the end of the 2019-20 season, when his contract runs out.
Tilmon was in Mizzou Arena during Martin's press conference, and Martin said Tilmon never fully entered the draft process.
"We got great feedback on him, he understands some things," Martin said. "And then we had some issues with some paperwork that, in his case, we worked with the NBA for two straight weeks to try to get him in, they just said, 'We can't do it.'"
Martin said the next steps for Tilmon in his junior season will be his comfort with the ball in his hands and his decision-making with the ball while cutting down on turnovers, and building the confidence to extend his range beyond 17-footers from the corners.
Missouri has also seen several offseason moves from its roster. KJ Santos had already announced his intention to transfer, and Martin confirmed Suggs had entered the transfer portal as a graduate, which means he'll be immediately elsewhere for his final season. With the graduations of Jordan Geist, Kevin Puryear, Adam Wolf and Cullen VanLeer, the Tigers currently have eight scholarship players on the roster.
Martin said Tuesday he plans to put redshirt freshman Parker Braun on scholarship, and the incoming freshman class of Mario McKinney Jr., Tray Jackson and Brown will put Missouri at 12, one under the NCAA limit. Martin said the program would look at filling that 13th scholarship but he is fine with keeping it open for the 2019-20 season as well.
Brown's commitment was announced after Martin's availability, so he could not comment on Brown, who is depending on the service a 3- or 4-star small forward. Listed by Rivals.com at 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, Brown was originally committed to Texas A&M before Billy Kennedy was fired, and picked the Tigers over offers from Auburn, Minnesota and Penn State, among others.