“I play like my dad, kind of old-school,” Porter said. “He was a ‘just relax and let the game-come-to-him’ kind of player.”
But there’s nothing relaxed about the way Porter rebounds. Nor, for that matter, his quest to become more well rounded. As much as he misses his home town of Morley, where he graduated with the same friends he has had since childhood, he visited sparingly last summer, devoting his time to the weight room, the gym and camps hosted by LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
“Anything that was a weakness, I tried working on it,” said Porter, who focused on developing a high-post game, setting up his shot better and honing his long-range shooting.
Though Kansas and Missouri, which he also considered, are closer to home, Porter chose Georgetown after visiting campus with his parents. He said he was struck by the kindness of the people he met, the beauty of the surroundings and how the Hoyas’ basketball tradition had been handed down from father to son, like in his own family.
Otto Porter Sr. recalled how pleasantly surprised he was about the small-town feel of the Hilltop. Even more, he liked the fact that Thompson stressed the importance of academics and didn’t make his son any promises about playing time.
“It was: ‘You’ve got to earn whatever you get,’ ” the elder Porter recalled. “I’ve been telling [Otto] ever since he’s been big enough to carry the ball: ‘Whatever you put in is what you’re going to get out of it.’ And he has always remembered that. He knows if he works, he’s going to succeed.”
Still, the younger Porter concedes that the tempo of the college game floored him at first. After just two minutes of action in his first game for the Hoyas, he found himself out of breath. But he adapted quickly and finished his freshman year as the Hoyas’ leading rebounder (6.8 per game) and fourth-leading scorer (9.7 points per game), hitting 52.5 percent of his attempts.
And each time Thompson takes him aside and reminds him that the work involved with becoming a great player never ends, Porter hears the voice of his own father, too.
“Coach doesn’t want me to change from what I’ve been doing,” he says.