When Georgetown opened Big East play with a pair of disheartening losses to Marquette and Pittsburgh, sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. missed 12 of the 19 shots he attempted and grabbed just nine rebounds. There were, in those first days of January, legitimate questions about what Porter and the Hoyas would become.
Tuesday, though, Georgetown put the final bow on a stellar regular season when Porter and Coach John Thompson III were named the Big East’s player and coach of the year, respectively, honors doled out to the leaders of the team that earned the top seed in this week’s Big East tournament.
“The Big East is the best conference in college basketball, with many great players,” Porter said at a news conference Tuesday in New York before the Big East tournament began. “To be recognized among this group, it means a lot.”
Porter was a unanimous choice for player of the year by the Big East coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players. The versatile 6-foot-8 forward started only eight games as a freshman, but became a force for the Hoyas this season. He ranked in the top 10 in the Big East in scoring (eighth at 16.4 points), rebounding (fifth at 7.5 points), field goal percentage (eighth at 50.2), steals (sixth at 2.0), three-point percentage (second at 44) and minutes played (ninth at 34.8).
Porter’s scoring average went up to 18.1 points in conference games – second in the Big East — and he became stunningly efficient. In a late-January game against Louisville, Porter had seven turnovers. In the 11 games since, he has nine.
A Georgetown player has now won the award eight times, breaking a tie with Connecticut for most in conference history. Porter joined Jeff Green (2007) as the only Hoyas to win the award since Alonzo Mourning in 1992. On Monday, Porter was the only player to be unanimously selected to the all-Big East first team.
“He does everything,” junior forward Nate Lubick said. “And I think the biggest thing is that for how good he is, and for how good of a player he is, and the national recognition that he’s finally gotten this year, he still does all the little things on the basketball court.
“He’s talking every day, constantly in practice. He’s boxing out every possession. He’s getting his teammates involved. He’s making sure everybody’s ready to play and on the same page. To have somebody that good who’s willing to do those things as well is a great thing.”
Thompson won his first coach of the year award in his ninth season at Georgetown. His father, Hall of Famer John Thompson Jr., won the inaugural Big East award in 1980, the first of his three coach of the year honors.
After the Hoyas dropped those first two Big East games, Thompson led Georgetown, which was picked fifth in the preseason poll, to an 11-game winning streak. The Hoyas punctuated a 24-5 regular season with an emphatic 61-39 victory over rival Syracuse on Saturday, earning the top seed in the Big East tournament. On Thursday, they’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s game between Providence and Cincinnati in the quarterfinals.