CHICAGO (AP) – If I had the opportunity, Michael Porter Jr. would have a simple question for those who promoted him as the best prospect in the NBA in this draft class a year ago and they do not do it today.
By the way he sees it, Porter was widely considered the best high school student in the country 12 months ago, even though he had back problems that led him to undergo surgery last fall and he was basically robbed of his only University season in Missouri. So now, he thinks it's logical that if his back is better, his stock should be even higher.
"I'm still the best player," Porter said.
And that's his message in the NBA Draft Combine, which takes place this week in Chicago. The small forward went through the anthropometric tests (height, weight, wingspan, percentage of body fat, etc.), but this week he does not participate in the affairs of the field, but prefers to keep his statements there until he trains with teams on the ground. the upcoming weeks.
"I know without a doubt," said Porter. "I've played against all these guys, they're all great players, but I'm the best player in this draft and I can not wait to prove what I'm capable of."
Players who are likely to be picked at the top of next month's draft will not participate in the pool. DeAndre Ayton of Arizona declined an invitation, Slovenian season Luka Doncic in Europe is not in Chicago, his European season is not over, and Duke's Marvin Bagley III only participated in interviews with some teams.
That does not mean that there is no intrigue in this meeting of aspirants.
Mo Bamba of Texas, he's 7-foot-10, said he believes he deserves consideration from Phoenix for being the No. 1 overall pick. Billy Preston, who left Kansas in November under the cloud of an NCAA investigation and played briefly in Europe, is in Chicago and insists he is mentally and physically prepared for NBA life. Brian Bowen, who has not played a college game yet – he moved from Louisville to South Carolina after it became known that he was part of the FBI's investigation into college basketball and could only practice with the Gamecocks after registering there – also participates.
But there might not be a player in Chicago with more intrigue around him now than Porter, who went from not being able to play to not being able to play.
"Mike is a great player," said Bruce Brown Jr., a guard who leaves Miami after two seasons for the NBA. "I know him personally, we're great as friends, I think he can show the world what he's capable of and what he knows he's capable of."
Porter is among the approximately 25 guests from Chicago who omit the 5 to 5 portions of the combine. Not surprisingly, the trend in recent years has been for players who are likely to take the highest selections to skip some or all of the combined events, but one could argue that Porter might have used some playing time.
He played in three games in Missouri, one of those for just two minutes before his back surgery on November 21. He returned for two games of the NCAA Tournament.
As a young Porter played last season: There were 3,505 players in Division I who scored more points than in their only college campaign. Porter made 10 of 30 attempts in Missouri, scoring 30 points in 53 minutes.
Obviously, those are not the best player's numbers. Everything else on his resume suggests the opposite: 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as senior in high school, McDonald's All-American Game MVP, and it was both the Naismith and Gatorade Boys High School of the Year awards. He was the fifth player to sweep them, joining Alonzo Mourning, Dwight Howard, Chris Webber and LeBron James.
"In training, I will not stop at all," Porter said.
He is interviewing a lot of teams this week – New York, Dallas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Atlanta, Cleveland, Memphis, Houston and Los Angeles Clippers so far, with Sacramento, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Boston still to be disputed . He knows that Bulls fans are allowing anyone who hears on Twitter to know they love him, and said he was impressed with how New York intelligence knew so much about him.
And do not get confused: he says he's eager to play again.
"I was hoping to turn college basketball upside down, like many of these players," Porter said. "But this is just one step in my process, it's a bit different, but I'm smarter than ever, I've been dreaming about these NBA things for so long, I feel like I'm ready."