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Tuesday, Sep. 23, 2014

Porter's talent and character awed fans

Sunday, April 24, 2011

(Photo)
2010-2011 Standard Democrat Male Player of the Year:

OTTO PORTER * SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL

Otto Porter's senior campaign had more of a rock star atmosphere than anything else.

The Scott County Central senior was on the mind of every high school basketball fan in Southeast Missouri in 2011, whether it was about how many points and rebounds he had the night before or which college he chose to further his basketball career.

Every move the prep star made was under the watchful eye of thousands of adoring fans.

And although the spotlight shown the brightest in his presence, the ever-humble Porter never seemed to let his star shine too bright.

"It would be different if he was kind of standoffish or had what we call a 'bighead'," said Scott Central Superintendent Al McFerren.

"I don't think he'll ever change. We anticipate big, big things that's going to happen in his future. But, I can't see it changing him."

That combination of character and pure talent on the hardwood captured onlookers attention in a way that would be a great challenge to rival. That's why Otto Porter is the Boys Standard Democrat Player of the Year.

"I couldn't have had this season any other way," Porter said. "It was just crazy how everything turned out. At the end I'm just happy to be where I'm at."

Porter has one of the most well-rounded games in high school basketball which undoubtedly caught the eye of some of the top college programs in the nation, especially Georgetown -- the stage Porter will try and hone his craft a bit more for the next step.

The first of his many weapons, and possibly his most deadly, is his jump shot. With the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor, Porter imposed a scoring will like none other in the 2011 season.

"I thought he had a fantastic season," Scott County Central head coach Kenyon Wright said. "He did a lot for us throughout the whole season, but he did a lot for us at the first of the season, especially. He pushed everybody else to get involved towards the middle of the season and make everyone go.

"The kids really took a hold of what we were doing and he was a big part of us playing together like we did."

His shooting talents are almost unstoppable when mixed with his long and lean 6-9 frame. Not only was he taller than just about any player he faced, his wingspan stretched nearly across the painted area giving him an advantage not many have seen.

He continued to build on a fantastic junior year where he averaged 28 points and 14 rebounds a game. Porter, a model of consistency, averaged 30 points and 14 rebounds his senior season while guiding the Braves to their third-straight Class 1 state championship -- an accomplishment that is worked toward every single season at Scott Central.

"It's just all hard work," said Porter when asked about state championship hopes while playing for SCC. "It's about practice and it's what you do at the beginning of the school year. Coach sits us down on the bleachers and asks us what our goals are and ours is to win state. That's what we always said every year that we won."

On his journey toward a third state title, Porter met an overwhelming number of fans and supporters along the way wanting pictures, autographs or a simple handshake from the next big thing.

"He's a very good kid when it comes to those things," Wright said. "He's very humble and he knows that's just one of them things that happens. He's a smart enough kid that he didn't let that stuff get to his head."

Some fans, however, took it a bit further. On one occasion, Porter admitted that he actually signed a baby.

"That kind of comes along with everything," said Porter about the fandom that surrounded him. "It's just all great. You have to take it all in."

Of course, all of his attention was well earned. Porter flourished during every game this season leading the Braves to their many lop-sided wins.

In all but two games, a 108-41 win over the Risco Tigers during the Class 1 Sectional, where Porter was less than 100 percent due to sickness, and a 97-21 stomping of the Greenville Bears in the opening round of the Oran Invitational Tournament, Porter was the Braves' leading scorer.

Wright believes Porter's best all-around game though was the championship game of the seMissourian Christmas Tournament against Class 5 Jackson. Porter scored 30 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, had eight steals and four assists.

"He did a good job in the Christmas Tournament against Jackson," Wright said. "He done a good job of showing his ball handling skills and his unselfishness."

Although there were countless blowout wins that Porter helped construct, there were two games that meant somewhat more than the others -- a 68-60 loss to North Little Rock, Ark. in their first game of the year during the Riverbend Classic and a 76-50 loss to the then-ninth ranked team in the country, Chicago Simeon, during the Best of the Midwest Shootout in Marion, Ill.

"Our first game, that was probably the toughest because it was our first and playing against a tough opponent," Porter said. "We learned a lot from that game. Simeon also built us up to get us used to playing against tough competition."

"It helped me but it also helped my teammates to get prepared for state."

Added Wright, "Those two games were definitely a motivating factor. He was playing against kids of his ability level. That was one of those things where he said, 'hey, I can get better at this.' He had 22 or something against Simeon and 37 against North Little Rock.

"He scored plenty but I think he realized he had to get the team more involved if he wanted to compete at that level."

His senior year culminated into a full-ride scholarship to Georgetown University.

He chose the Hoyas over Kansas and Missouri. The Tigers fell out of the picture after a sudden coaching change which involved former head coach, Mike Anderson, left for the University of Arkansas.

"Whenever they lost their coach, basically," said Porter when asked about Mizzou's chances of landing the top-50 recruit. "That was a big thing."

Porter's days of playing basketball at Scott County Central High School, a school with arguably the deepest basketball roots in recent Missouri history, may be over, but the mark he left may end up being the most significant.

"He left his mark on Scott Central along with the many people that has," said Wright. "I was very lucky to have a kid with that ability level, academically and athletically. He's a very good student and a very good kid. It's been really enjoyable to have a kid that willing to put in that time and that work to reach a goal. I think he done that during his time at Scott Central.

"He's right up there at the top with all of the good ones that came through Scott Central."

Porter has left a great mark on Scott County Central basketball like so many others before him. Although he made thousands of heads turn with his dominant play in high school, his time to do it on a national scale will soon come. Not many have their doubts heads will turn there too.

"This is not just a student who did well on the basketball court," McFerren said. "This is a young man that did well in the classroom and never got himself into any trouble whatsoever as far as being able to get along with others.

"We know that he will be able to go out into the world and represent us to the utmost without any troubles whatsoever. I would bet my house on it. He's just that special."