Georgetown's Porter springs to attention

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Photo - Seth Wenig/AP
Otto Porter, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last season, was named to the preseason All-Big East first team.
Seth Wenig/AP Otto Porter, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last season, was named to the preseason All-Big East first team.
Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

Hoyas sophomore finding acclaim after solid first season

There's no such thing as ignoring the hype, even for a player who only recently was accustomed not to having any.

Otto Porter was an unheralded freshman from rural Missouri who hadn't played AAU basketball when he arrived at Georgetown last year. On the cusp of his second season with the Hoyas, he has transformed into arguably the Big East's top NBA prospect and the key returner for a team that earned its first NCAA tournament victory in four years last spring.

Preseason honors
Big East player of the year
Peyton Siva, Louisville
Big East rookie of the year
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
All-Big East first team
G Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
F Otto Porter, Georgetown
C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
F Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
G Vincent Council, Providence

"I try to just not pay much attention to it," Porter said as Georgetown opened practice last weekend. "It's not working too good."

Porter picked up his latest accolade Wednesday, named to the preseason All-Big East first team by the same coaches who snubbed him from the all-rookie team in March. He's also the No. 12 prospect on ESPN.com's list of potential 2013 draft picks and a first-round projection by DraftExpress.com. According to an NBA source, one general manager believes he's a lock to be a lottery pick.

It's not Porter's 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds as a freshman that account for his rapid ascension. But his 6-foot-8 length, natural understanding of the game and ability to influence the action off the ball were crucial to Georgetown's march to the cusp of the Sweet 16. Scouts noticed, and invitations followed to the high-profile Kevin Durant Nike Skills camp in Chicago and LeBron James Nike Skills camp in Las Vegas.

Rather than try to prove to NBA observers that he deserved the attention, Porter said he used the camps to get better and test himself against the best college players in the country.

"He just played ball," said Aggrey Sam, who covers the Chicago Bulls for CSNChicago.com and saw Porter at the Chicago camp. "He's so fundamentally sound, and he took some of the on-court instruction to heart during the sessions that you could see him using them in the actual competition. You could see him applying what they were teaching. He's a fresh breath of air to a lot of scouts."

Sam compares Porter to Kawhi Leonard, another wing who went from a relative unknown to leading San Diego State to the Sweet 16 before becoming a first-round draft pick (15th overall) and immediate contributor for San Antonio last season.

Hoyas coach John Thompson III hasn't tried to shield Porter from the buzz and doesn't expect it to affect him.

"I think the reason a lot of good things have happened and will continue to happen to him is because he doesn't get engrossed in all of that," Thompson said.

Porter's teammates said he remains focused strictly on the Hoyas, where he will have to shoulder an increasing scoring load and leadership role on a team with only two juniors and no seniors. But they have noticed some changes, too.

"Otto has one of the better offseasons in terms of all the guys on the team," junior forward Nate Lubick said. "I think that's kind of gone unspoken a little bit because he was so good last year. But he's gotten a lot better, and he's gotten a lot better in a lot of different ways, which is scary because he was a jack of all trades last year."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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