The two moves could wind up affecting the future of Michael Porter Jr.– the most talented recruit in the class of 2017.
The 6-10 Porter– a shining star on US Basketball’s U18 FIBA Americas tournament championship team– moved from Columbia, Mo. to Seattle last summer when his father Michael Sr. left an assistant’s women’s coaching job at Missouri to accept a job as an assistant to Romar on the UW men’s team.
Porter and Romar, who is Michael Jr’s godfather, were close friends from their days as teammates for Athletes in Action and Porter Jr. became the lynch pin on Washington’s top-3 recruiting class when he and his younger brother, junior power forward Jontay, both committed to the Huskies last fall before leading nationally ranked Nathan Hale High School to a 31-0 record, its first Washington state championship ever and the No. 1 ranking in USA Today’s Super 25.
Both expected Romar, who coached Washington to three Sweet 16’s, to be the head coach at UW next year. Romar signed a star studded class that includes Garfield guards Jaylen Nowell and Daejon Davis; point guard Blake Harris from Raleigh and forward Mamadou Diarra, a Mali import who plays for St. Louis Academy in Missouri. Washington could possibly hold onto Nowell and Davis if it hires former Washington star Brandon Roy, who coached Nathan Hale.
But the future of the program is up in the air. .
Romar coached Washington a a 298-195 record, but the Huskies struggled through a 9-22 season and 2-16 record in the Pac-12, finishing the season with 13 straight losses and failing to making the NCAA tournament for a sixth straight year, despite having a special player, 6-5 freshman guard Markelle Fultz, who could be the first pick in this spring’s NCAA draft.
This season could have been wildly different if guard Dejounte Murray and forward Marquese Chriss, two UW gifted freshman had stayed in school. But both declared for the 2016 draft and wound up being unexpectedly selected in the first round.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Washington announced Porter Jr. had signed a letter of intent, which normally binds a player to the school. But universities normally release players if there is a coaching change and it appears Porter will be moving on based on a tweet he posted following an emotional farewell between Romar and the players late Wednesday afternoon. “Loved this coaching staff and couldn’t wait to start something special next year. . . this hurts.”
There is also speculation that three current players or two other recruits want out. But Washington AD Jen Cohen seems willing to roll the dice.
If Romar lands another job and hires Porter’s father, there is always the possibility the family could follow him but there is already speculation Romar will land in the NBA as an assistant.
There is another more intriguing possibility. Martin, an excellent recruiter who has roots in East St. Louis and has coached in the SEC at Tennessee, signed two top 10’s prospects– Ivan Raab and Jaylen Brown– at Cal two years ago. He could hit another home run by Porter’s father as an assistant and bringing both Porter brothers into the program, turning the Tigers into an instant factor in the SEC East. Two other members of the family played for the Missouri women’s team.