Former Washington Bullets guard Kevin Porter, whose flashy, high-stepping style and feisty personality helped make him one of the most exciting players in the National Basketball Association for more than a decade, yesterday was named head coach at his alma mater, St. Francis of Loretto, Pa.
Porter, 33, has no coaching experience, but was a leading candidate for the job from the start.
After being released by the Bullets before the season, Porter was re-signed in December to replace Frank Johnson, who had fractured his elbow. Porter lasted 11 games and was then released again. After failing to be picked up by another NBA team, he went to the Philippines for a three-month professional league.
While Porter was gone, St. Francis decided not to renew the contract of Coach David Magarity, who was a teammate of Porter at St. Francis. Magarity's team was was 12-17 last season.
When the nine-person search committee publicized the coaching opening, Porter's friend, Coach John Thompson of Georgetown, called Porter in the Philippines to tell him of the vacancy and that he had recommended him for the job.
Porter, one of 83 candidates, flew home immediately, although the season there had another month to run, and applied for the job.
"He was our top choice almost from the moment he applied," said Jeffrey Quinn, the school's dean of students and chairman of the search committee.
"We were committed to go for the very best coach we could find, and Kevin, even though he has no coaching experience, is our man. Eleven seasons in the NBA gives him the knowledge and the discipline we're looking for, and as an alumnus, he understands the role of religion at our school and what we expect of our students and athletes. His name alone will do a lot for St. Francis."
Porter said having no coaching experience isn't a major concern.
"My goal all my life was to be a head college coach, but I was waiting for the right opportunity," he said. "I'm confident I will do well. My immediate goal is to increase the number of wins to 18 or 19 and get an NIT bid."
The entire 1982-83 team returns next year.
Porter was drafted by the then-Baltimore Bullets in 1972.
"Kevin has mellowed over the years," said former teammate, and close friend, Wes Unseld. "He has the ability to communicate and he knows the game and he can deal with young people. That will all serve him well. He's willing to work, too, and the type of setting is great for him."