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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Boy's Player of the Year: Otto Porter

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Porter has stand out season for state champions

SIKESTON -- It's not hard to spot Otto Porter.

A crowded school hallway, the basketball court; it doesn't matter. His tall and skinny 6-8 frame rises above them all.

However, it's not his height that makes him stand out. It's not even his 747-like wingspan that he calls arms. Otto Porter is the reason Otto Porter stands out. His tireless work ethic and his general personality has placed him towards the top of the Missouri recruiting ladder as one of the most sought after junior recruits.

He has also secured his spot as the Standard Democrat Player of the Year.

"He's a great student, makes good grades and he's a funny kid," Scott County Central head coach Kenyon Wright said. "Everybody always wants to know 'how is he? What kind of kid is he?' He's just a normal kid.

"He likes to have a good time, have fun and joke around. He has a very good personality."

The type of player and the personality that Porter has become known for shows every single minute of every single game. It's what has attracted many Division 1 programs from around the country to come and scout the junior.

"When that ball goes up in the air, it's business to him," Wright said. "That's the difference between other kids. All the work that he puts in comes down to those 32 minutes out there on the court. And he plays all of those 32 minutes as hard as he can play."

Porter sees himself as just a normal kid who likes to play the game of basketball. Although, there's nothing 'normal' about the way he performs on the hardwood.

"I just have fun playing," said Porter. "I'm kind of a relaxing guy and just a real hard worker out there. I just go out there and play the game."

That business-like attitude on the court lifted Porter to his most decorated season to date. He led the area with 28.2 points and 14.1 rebounds a game and was a vital part of the Braves' back-to-back Class 1 state championships.

"It was a great season," Porter said. "We had a good team, great coaches and it was fun playing this year.

"It's going to be even more fun next year being a senior."

After seeing significant playing time during his freshman and sophomore seasons, which included a third place finish and Scott Central's 13th state championship, Porter burst onto the scene his junior year in more ways than one.

He, along with senior Bobby Hatchett, led the Braves to a 29-2 season and put up impressive individual performances along the way.

After rolling through both the Oran Invitational Tournament and the seMissourian Christmas tournament, Porter scored a career-high 43 points against the Portageville Bulldogs in a 102-63 Braves win.

A week later he torched the Charleston Bluejays for 33 points and was the difference maker in Scott Central's 19-point victory over the Sikeston Bulldogs on Feb. 10.

The Braves continued their long winning streak after that which included a road win over the defending Class 3 champion Maplewood-Richmond Heights. They rolled through districts and sectionals with a 96-46 win over St. Elizabeth that had a few extra spectators on hand.

Porter was seen by the University of Missouri men's basketball head coach Mike Anderson as well as scouts from Purdue University and the University of Illinois.

"It's a good feeling," Porter said about having scouts come to view him. "You see these teams on TV and just seeing good colleges like that is a good feeling."

His biggest individual spectacle was performed on the biggest stage of the year. Porter grabbed a state record 35 rebounds in the Braves' 14th state title game against Pilot Grove at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. He surpassed his father, Otto Porter Sr., who set the same record with 25 rebounds in 1976.

Porter also set the two-game record with a total of 49 rebounds. A record also held by his father.

In all of his big-game instances there was one constant; the way that he played and his overall stature was above everyone else's.

"He's just one of those kids where it doesn't matter what the score is," said Wright. "If he's out there playing he's focused and his mind is set on doing what he has to do and working hard no matter what's going on in the game.

"He's just a good kid that likes to play basketball. He works hard at it and I'm glad that he gets rewarded for it."

Wright noticed throughout the course of the season that Porter was beginning to open up a bit in practice. The usually quiet Porter was starting to voice his opinion on how things should be done.

He learned from watching his cousin Hatchett who implied that the example that you set for yourself is usually followed by the rest of the team.

"He taught me a lot," Porter said about Hatchett. "I watched him all year. I just learned if you go out there and do it, people will start to follow along with you. You don't even have to say anything to them really. You just go out there and do what you have to do."

"Before, he was normally a quieter kid than what Bobby is," Wright added. "But, this year he kind of broke out of his shell a little bit when it came to saying things in practice."

Learning that leadership role will be pivotal next year as a host of seniors will be gracing the starting lineup for Scott Central. Porter will no doubt be looked upon as the leader.

"I could tell by watching him all year he was trying to learn and understand the leadership role," Wright said. "He's a good leader out there on the floor as it is but, when it comes to being a vocal leader, I think he'll step into those shoes fine."

If the Braves represent in any way what Porter is all about, they are sure to be successful once again.

"I just try to make everybody else work hard too," Porter said. "I just try to make everybody else better. I have to take over that leadership role. I have to carry the load next year."

Porter will be working towards two things in his senior year -- his third-straight state championship and a chance to earn a college scholarship.

He knows from experience what has to be done to accomplish his first goal, and he also knows he will need to improve on certain things to obtain his second.

"Just about everything," he said. "Ball handling, shooting, lifting weights, everything.

"It's going to be tougher so I have to get prepared for it."

Lifting weights and becoming a more physical player is one of the tops on Porter's list of improvements. Wright believes it's important as well.

"At the college level he's going to have to be," said Wright. "He's working towards next year, but he's also working towards playing at a college level. To do that, you've got to be a strong kid.

"I know he can because he works hard. No matter what you tell him to go do he's going to do it."

Porter has his entire senior year to build on what he started as a junior. And if this season is any indication of what is to come, Porter may be spotted on a much bigger court by a few more people in the future.

"It was a good year, but I still have one more," said Porter. "We'll see."