UK Men's Basketball

Porter leaves team to focus on family

Michael Porter has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and move beyond basketball, his father said on Tuesday. A career backup who became the starting point guard this past season, Porter told new UK coach John Calipari that he would devote his time to other, more important responsibilities.

"He decided he didn't want to play," Gary Porter said before correcting himself. "Well, he wanted to play. But he felt he had other priorities that were more important.

"He also felt it was a good time to come forward early and express his feelings."

Porter and his wife, Bryana, are expecting a baby this summer. Plus, Porter is on schedule to graduate in May with a degree in business.

"I'm not sure he wanted to be in Florida or at some tournament with a wife and baby home (in Kentucky)," Gary Porter said. "I don't like it. As a dad, I'd have liked to see him play. But as a father, I can respect his feelings about his family."

Porter's decision comes at a time with Kentucky basketball in flux. Calipari, who was hired last week to replace Billy Gillispie, would have been Porter's third coach in a four-year period.

"That might have weighed on his mind a little bit," Gary Porter said of his son.

Coincidentally or not, Porter's decision helps alleviate a scholarship crunch. The Cats had only one senior, Jared Carter, this past season.

UK is looking to add two scholarship freshmen from Gillispie's last class, Daniel Orton and Jon Hood. Plus Calipari might have an opportunity to add players from his last recruiting class for Memphis.

Porter's father denied that style of play was a big factor. Calipari is expected to introduce a dribble-drive offense that featured one-on-one moves.

"He was all excited about that," Gary Porter said. "He said, 'Dad, they do some of the same things we did in high school.' "

Porter played for his father at Modesto Christian (Calif.), the same school that sent Chuck Hayes to Kentucky. Porter was famous for having drawn the recruiting attention of Southern California in football. Besides playing guard for Modesto Christian's basketball team, he also played quarterback for the football team.

At UK, Porter came off the bench in his first two seasons. This past season, the departure of Derrick Jasper led to a competition for the point guard spot that Porter won. That came as a surprise because he used the off-season to work on his jump shooting in anticipation of playing off the ball.

"Maybe he was tired and worn out," his father said of the decision to move beyond basketball. "With Michael, he goes all out in every practice."