COLUMBIA — On Nov. 9, Cierra, Bri and Jontay Porter were huddled around their brother Michael Porter Jr., the No. 2 player in the country according to 247sports, as he signed his National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of Washington.
The Porter sisters, both forwards for the Missouri women's basketball team, smiled proudly in their Washington-purple sweatshirts. Younger brother Jontay Porter, who has been verbally committed to play basketball at Washington since August 2015 wore a black Nike hoodie that read “Huskies” in purple and gold. The four posed for a picture in Bri and Cierra Porter's Columbia apartment.
The sisters were happy for their brother and felt he made the right choice selecting where to play college basketball, but, now that Cierra Porter is set to play at No. 15 Washington Thursday in the semifinals of the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament, she is no longer fond of the Huskies’ colors.
“We put that to bed,” she said with a laugh at Wednesday's news conference prior to the team's trip to Seattle.
The Porter family returned to Columbia a week ago because Michael Porter Jr. wanted to sign with his sisters by his side. Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter are currently homeschooled in Seattle and will play basketball at Nathan Hale High School after starring for and winning the 2016 3A State Championship at Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School. The brothers made the move with their entire family, aside from the Missouri forwards, after their father, Michael Porter Sr., accepted an assistant coaching job on the Washington men’s basketball staff. He spent three years working under Missouri women's head coach Robin Pingeton.
While in Columbia, the brothers had a chance to see Cierra Porter play in Missouri's season-opening win.
Bri Porter is sitting out the year with a torn ACL, but remains a part of the team as an “extra set of eyes” and an “encourager” from the bench. She still travels with the team, and even though it will be a short trip, it’s special for her and her sister to see the rest of their family for the second time in two weeks. The family spreading out happened sooner than she expected and has been difficult, she said. But despite the distance, Bri Porter believes that the strong ties the family has in one another made the transition manageable.
The Porter family will attend the game are plan to sit close to the action. Cierra Porter said she’s hopeful they will choose to sit close to the Tigers’ bench, likely in neutral colors, but cheering nevertheless for her and Missouri.
“We know that their heart is with us,” Bri Porter said. “So who really cares what shirt they have on?”
Family reunion aside, the Porters and Missouri are aware of the challenges Washington poses. After making a run to the Final Four last season as a No. 7 seed, Washington is averaging over 100 points in its first two wins.
Defense will be an a focus, but Pingeton is emphasizing “grittiness” in every game, Porter said.
On the line Thursday is the right to play for the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament title, potentially against No. 1 Notre Dame.
Missouri and Washington tip-off at 7 p.m. Thursday’s matchup can be streamed through the Pac-12 network for free and will be broadcast on KTGR.
Supervising editor is Brooks Holton.