COLUMBIA — If there was a step-by-step process to a 180-degree turnaround, Missouri basketball might be building the blueprint.
Michael Porter Jr., the nation's top recruit, is a Tiger, joined by another top-100 guard in CJ Roberts. Five-star center and East St. Louis resident Jeremiah Tilmon requested his release from Illinois on Wednesday and could be in play. And don't forget about guard Blake Harris, a four-star recruit according to many websites, and five-star forward Kevin Knox, both of whom will get the red-carpet treatment in Columbia this weekend.
Over the past few weeks, it's as if the stars aligned for Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin.
But the rapid surge of Tigers basketball back to relevancy didn't start with Martin's return home. Although a catalyst, it didn't begin with Porter Jr.'s journey back to Columbia either.
To find the first step, you have to find another branch of the Porter family tree — Robin Pingeton.
The Missouri women’s basketball coach, already among the most successful in program history, has taken her own team to new heights — evident by five consecutive winning seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament victories.
She's been equally as instrumental with her silent contributions to the men's side, stemming from a move made seven years ago.
Pingeton is the sister to Michael Porter Sr.'s wife, Lisa, and, in 2010, Pingeton added her brother-in-law as the director of basketball operations for the women’s team. To say Missouri is still reaping the benefits of that hire would be an understatement.
As a precursor to his initial job at Missouri, Porter Sr., or "Rahlo" to some, took to music. Rahlo was his stage name as a Christian rapper on the global stage. He traveled to England, South Africa, Jamaica and Bulgaria for tours and had songs appear in the popular video game "NBA 2K7."
Porter Sr. spent ample time on Pingeton's staff from 2010-16, elevating his role to a full-time assistant coach before leaping at the opportunity to coach alongside his longtime friend Lorenzo Romar at Washington.
Those six seasons allowed the groundwork to be laid. They opened the door for the Porter family to become ingrained within Columbia's basketball community for years, whether the conversation is centered on Michael Jr., Jontay, Cierra or Bri. Soon, the conversation could turn to the next quadrant of Porters — Coban, Jevon, Izaak and Jayda.
Of course, the youngest four play basketball, as well.
For Missouri fans, that might be looking too optimistically into the future. No single Porter is by any means bound to don the black and gold. But it's not out of the question that an influx of Porters attending Missouri could leave a lasting legacy for a family that has already cemented itself as one of Columbia's most prominent.
That savvy hire from Pingeton seven years ago, however, enabled these possibilities, which just a matter of weeks ago seemed outlandish. It's a move that might be left in the rearview mirror by the casual fan caught up in the immediate excitement of recruiting.
Pingeton's been at least partially responsible for turning Missouri basketball into a family matter. Keeping the Cunningham sisters at home allowed her own team to soar to national prominence. But the other gem — bringing the Porters to Columbia — might be another achievement.
Supervising editors are James Patterson and Pete Bland.