His scoring and leadership has helped Georgetown shake off an 0-2 start in Big East play and overcome the loss of second-leading scorer and rebounder Greg Whittington, who was declared academically ineligible in January. The Hoyas have settled into a nice groove while winning four straight and six of seven in conference play. NBA executives have noticed.
League scouts were impressed with Porter’s versatility and production when he was among the nation’s best freshmen last season. Now, Porter is getting high marks for his ability to spark a turnaround during turbulent times. He’s building the type of résumé that could land him in the next NBA draft lottery. There’s nothing like a little adversity to show what you’ve got – and Porter stepped forward.
Early on this season, he wasn’t needed as much. In a November tournament, the Hoyas defeated UCLA and then pushed top-ranked Indiana to overtime before losing. The Hoyas went 10-1 in their nonconference schedule, and you began to wonder if Coach John Thompson III’s surprising squad would keep on rolling in the Big East. The answer came quickly: No.
Georgetown was brutal on offense in losses to Marquette and Pittsburgh. It’s hard to win at any level of hoops when you make less than 40 percent of your shots from the field. “You could say we had a lot of things to work on,” Thompson said. Porter included.
Porter is a true all-around player. He scores, rebounds and plays defense. In the losses, he didn’t do any of those things particularly well. Porter missed
8 of 13 field goal attempts and scored 13 points against Marquette. He was even less of a factor against Pittsburgh: nine points (on 2-of-6 shooting) and three rebounds.
Anyone can have a couple of bad games. The Hoyas, however, needed Porter to get his head in the game on offense. “We wanted him to be more aggressive,” Thompson said. “We needed him to be more assertive.”
Porter knew it. He read the stat sheets and watched the game tapes. A bad start in the Big East was rough enough; there was also the problem of Whittington’s status.
In addition to being the Hoyas’ second-best player, the sophomore forward is sensational on defense. Thompson has made lineup adjustments to help compensate for the loss of Whittington’s scoring (the Hoyas have had success with three-guard lineups). But Georgetown’s roster isn’t equipped to replace a player with Whittington’s athleticism and defensive instincts. The Hoyas’ defense simply hasn’t been as tight without him. More scoring punch was necessary.
Porter, who averages a team-leading 14.8 points, has scored at least 19 points in five of Georgetown’s past seven games. He’s shooting 55.1 percent from the field during the hot stretch. Porter had only one game with
19 or more points in the first 13.