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Sooner Intel: OU's road to landing Michael Porter Jr. a tough one

Intel returns with a look at OU's chances with five-star prospect Michael Porter Jr. What does OU have to do, what can it do to make this dream a reality?

The Sooner Intel, created by Bob Przybylo in 2011, is an inside look into Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting and is solely for Sooners Illustrated subscribers. It is a sneak peek into what’s happening with OU recruiting and is not to be distributed anywhere else.

What felt like the ultimate pipe dream two years and even two weeks ago is now about as close to actually happening than ever before for Oklahoma basketball.

Norman (Okla.) North point guard Trae Young and Seattle Hale small forward Michael Porter Jr. have not minced words about their friendship. Nor were they hesitant to say they would like to play with each other in college with Young giving multiple interviews expressing that desire through the years.

It never felt like a reality. Once Porter’s father earned an assistant coaching spot at Washington last spring, it sealed the deal the younger Porter would head to the Huskies.

He did, committing in July and signing in November. With former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar being fired, however, the game is back on.

Porter has expressed his desire to be released from his national letter of intent and play the recruiting saga one more time. That desire was granted Thursday afternoon.

He told USA Today on Wednesday that OU is indeed one of the schools he’ll be watching and looking toward as a possible destination.

OU, despite coming off an 11-20 season, does have the commitment of Young, a five-star prospect ranked No. 21 in the Scout 100. Adding Porter, ranked No. 5 in the Scout 100, and it’s hard to quantify or overstate what it would all mean for OU basketball.

There are several hurdles that need to be climbed and key notes to be addressed in order to make this a fairy tale ending for the Sooners.

No. 1 – Scholarships

OU was sitting pretty as the 2016-17 season was coming to a close. Young, who can sign in April, would join Harrah’s Brady Manek and Finland’s Hannes Polla as OU’s 2017 class.

Young and Manek are both ranked in the Scout 100 and Lon Kruger had every reason to feel good about everything.

But if you want Michael Porter Jr., then you’re going to have to have room for Jontay Porter. Jontay, ranked No. 43 in the Scout 100 for the 2018 class, is expected to re-classify for the for the 2017 class and join his brother wherever they end up attending.

Jontay Porter was committed to Washington before decommitting here recently after the news of Romar being released.

OU, as it stands, has zero scholarships to give. Now that could all change and rather quickly because of OU’s exit interviews taking place this week. Football attrition is fairly common, but the thought has been at least one and maybe two players were thinking about leaving.

The obvious one is point guard Darrion Strong-Moore. A juco transfer, Strong-Moore doesn’t seem like he fits in Norman and doesn’t seem to be one to be in Norman one more season.

The addition of Young made the point guard spot pretty jumbled anyway, especially when you add in Jordan Shepherd. Three point guards aren’t going to be necessary.

One look at Strong-Moore’s social media presence tells you he appears to be done with OU as there is nothing there to indicate he’s with the Sooners.

Sooners Illustrated has speculated about the possibility of guys like Christian James and Dante Buford transferring, but it’s far from proven and not a reality at all for either one of them.

It was mere conjecture based on their roles on the team with the guys coming back and the guys coming to Norman that it might not work out. We’ll see.

No. 2 – Michael Porter Sr.

Yep. Not just dealing with the sons, dealing with the father. No, he’s not a helicopter dad who is overbearing or anything of that nature. He is one, however, in search of a job.

The Porter boys seemed destined to the Huskies because that’s where their father was coaching. He’s not there anymore. All signs point toward the family returning to Missouri with Porter Sr. joining new coach Cuonzo Martin’s staff.

Again, all signs, but nothing is confirmed or official. There has been some belief Porter Sr. will allow his sons to make the call, and then he’ll react accordingly.

Scout’s Evan Daniels said he still 100 percent believes where Porter Sr. coaches is where Michael and Jontay will end up attending.

That means in order to land the Porter trio, you need two scholarships AND room for an assistant basketball coach.

Things get tricky here. Yes, there have been rumors about longtime assistant Chris Crutchfield finally getting his shot at a head coaching opportunity. He deserves it and has been lingering out there for a couple of years.

But even if Crutchfield leaves, would Kruger be the type of coach to take Porter Sr. for what could amount to one-and-done campaign for Porter Jr.?

No. 3 – The Trae-Michael connection

The first two signs feel more negative in tone for OU as if there are just too many moving parts to make it all happen.

This one? This is a good sign. Maybe the best sign of all. Young and Porter have played together on the same AAU team, MOKAN Elite, and dominated when on the floor together.

Their friendship goes beyond the basketball court. Porter had OU in his top 11 mostly out of respect for Young. Young returned the favor by having Washington in his final six as a nod to what the bond with Porter means.

Package deals rarely happen in recruiting. No matter how much they are expressed, they rarely ever occur. So why could this one actually be in the works?

The thought of Young and Porter Jr. on the same team in college is just something you must pursue until you cannot do it anymore.

“Of course it’s a legit option,” said Ray Young, Trae’s father. “Our families are close, and we’ve been talking about it. We are working on some things.”

It wouldn’t be a sneak attack of Young going to Missouri, though. The only way Young and Porter are playing together is if it’s in Norman. We’re not there yet, but we’re closer than we have been ever before with the stock continuing to trend upward.

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