One by one during the college basketball season, Big East coaches came through Verizon Center proclaiming their admiration for Otto Porter Jr.
On Tuesday they made official their respect for the sophomore forward -- and his coach -- naming Porter the Big East player of the year and John Thompson III the Big East coach of the year.
While Porter became the Hoyas' first winner of the league's highest individual honor since Jeff Green in 2007, Thompson brought his award back to Georgetown for the first time since it was given to his father, John Thompson Jr., for a third time in 1992.
"There are so many terrific players, coaches and programs, to win any honor is an honor, is rewarding," Thompson said at a news conference in New York. "But in many ways, I look at this as a team award, not an individual award. We've got a group of guys that work extremely hard, that listen. When you have good players who listen, it makes you look like a good coach."
Thompson led the Hoyas (24-5, 14-4 Big East) back from his first 0-2 start in league play in nine years with Georgetown to win his third regular season title. The 14 conference wins were Thompson's second most behind a 15-3 record in 2008. Georgetown's 11-game winning streak during the year was its longest since 2007, when the Hoyas last reached the Final Four.
Porter's award was a foregone conclusion when he was the only unanimous selection to the All-Big East first team. After finishing the regular season averaging 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game, Porter said Monday that awards weren't among his goals for the season.
"It's one of those accomplishments that you get entitled to for doing good things," Porter said. "But I just wanted to work hard this year, and that's what I tried to do."
After Porter had a career-high 33 points in Georgetown's 57-46 win at Syracuse on Feb. 23, Orange coach Jim Boeheim said he was the best player in college. Porter's 28 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks against Rutgers on March 2 led Scarlet Knights coach Mike Rice to proclaim, "Well, I know who I'm voting for."
Georgetown junior forward Nate Lubick said Porter's demeanor hasn't changed throughout the season.
"The biggest thing is for how good he is, and for how good of a player he is and the national recognition he's finally gotten this year, he still does all the little things on the basketball court," Lubick said. "He's talking every day, constantly at practice, he's boxing out on every possession. He's getting his teammates involved, making sure they're ready to play and on the same page. To have somebody who is that good be able to do those things as well is very unique."
The top-seeded Hoyas will face the winner of a Wednesday game between No. 8 Providence (17-13, 9-9) and No. 9 Cincinnati (21-10, 9-9) in the Big East quarterfinals on Thursday at noon.