Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim among those hailing the Hoya sophomore
There's a chance Jim Boeheim might have some lingering resentment toward Georgetown after it snapped Syracuse's 38-game winning streak at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
But none of it would be toward Otto Porter Jr. On Thursday, the Orange coach gave the sophomore small forward the highest praise he has received all season.
"He's the best player in college," Boeheim said during the Big East's weekly conference call. "There's no question about it in my mind."
|Rutgers at No. 7 Georgetown|
|When » Saturday, 9 p.m.|
|Where » Verizon Center|
|TV » ESPNU|
Porter followed his career-best 33 points against Syracuse with 22 points in Georgetown's 79-78 win in double overtime at Connecticut on Wednesday. He had 21 of his points in the second half and two overtime periods, including the game-winning driving layup.
"Certainly [the Hoyas] are the surprise team in the league to me, and Porter is the reason," Boeheim said. "He's the most versatile player that I've seen in a long time. He can dribble the ball, pass the ball, rebound. He can block a shot. He can shoot the 3 tremendously. I think that might be something that's a little underrated about him -- or was underrated. He's the most versatile player we've seen in this league in a long time. To me, I think he's the player of the year in the country. I don't see anybody beating him for that award either."
With each performance, the postseason possibilities for the Big East-leading Hoyas (22-4, 12-3) and for Porter have to be revised. Porter, who is second in scoring (18.1 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (7.5 rpg) in Big East games and leads the conference in 3-point shooting in all games (46.8 percent), was thought of at the beginning of the season as a potential NBA lottery pick. Now his stock has risen to the level where he's playing himself into the conversation to be the top prospect in the country at his position.
Georgetown's 10-game winning streak in conference play is second only to when the Hoyas posted 11 victories in a row during the 2006-07 season, which ended in the Final Four. With No. 1 Indiana and No. 4 Michigan already losing this week, the Hoyas could be in line to rise higher than their current No. 7 ranking with a win over Rutgers (13-13, 4-11) on Saturday.
Georgetown coach John Thompson III said recently he has spoken to Porter about the NBA, but neither he nor the player would elaborate on the conversation. Thompson shrugged at the notion of revisiting the subject after the Syracuse game or that the newfound stardom might get to Porter.
"He honestly doesn't care," Thompson said. "He wants to win, and I can say that as much as any player I've had, all that comes along, all the attention that he's getting, he wants to win, and you see it in his play every day."
Pressed on the question, Porter said only that one of his dreams always has been to play in the NBA.
"I mean, we'll just have to see after the season," he said.