By JOHN F. SILVER & ADAM ZAGORIA
STORRS, Conn. – Jim Boeheim believes that not only is Otto Porter Jr. the Big East Player of the Year, but the National Player of the Year as well.
“He’s the best player in college,” Boeheim said Thursday on the Big East conference call. “There’s no question in my mind.”
As we reported Monday, an informal survey of Big East coaches revealed that Porter Jr. was the unanimous top choice for Big East Player of the Year honors, which will be announced during the Big East Tournament.
Boeheim said Porter Jr. — who went for 33 points Saturday when Georgetown won it’s last league game at the Carrier Dome, 57-46 — deserves national honors over options like Michigan’s Trey Burke, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Creighton’s Doug McDermott, too.
“Georgetown is certainly the surprise team of the league and Porter’s the reason,” he said. “He’s the most versatile player that I’ve seen in a long time. He can dribble the ball, pass the ball, rebound it, he can block a shot, he can shoot the 3.
“He’s the most versatile player we’ve seen in this league in a long time.”
Porter Jr.’s latest heroics came Wednesday night when he scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half and overtime of a dramatic 79-78 double-OT victory at UConn, Georgetown’s 10th straight win.
“He makes winning plays,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “I said let’s get a stop and get it to Otto and go… We got ball to the right person and got to the win.”
For the season, the 6-foot-8 Porter Jr. is averaging 16.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
DraftExpress.com has him No. 15 on its 2013 Mock Draft, and NBA scouts compare him to Jeff Green and Tayshaun Prince.
There is an easiness to Porter Jr’s game that will bode well in the NBA. His scoring is effortless and graceful. Most of all, however, is his penchant for hitting big shots. With the Hoyas (22-4, 12-3 Big East) trailing by seven with 2:03 left Porter Jr. put the Hoyas on his back, just as he had five days before in Syracuse.
He nailed a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:49 left to begin an 8-0 run. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera canned another 3-pointer with just over a minute to draw the game to 78-77. With 15 seconds left, the Hoyas forced a turnover from Shabazz Napier and found Porter up the left sideline. In transition is where the athletic Porter Jr. flourishes.
He took the ball to the middle of the floor and dove towards the basket. He was too athletic to stop and beat three defenders to the rim with an acrobatic layup for a 79-78 lead.
“First, we were just trying to get the stop,” Porter Jr. said of the final play. “That’s what I was worried about. Once we got it, I just sprinted to the lane.(Smith-Rivera) was able to hit me and I saw Mikael (Hopkins) sprint to the rim. So, I was able to use him to get to the rim.”
Porter Jr. may have clinched the Big East Player of the Year honors with his eye-popping performance at Syracuse last week. That’s the kind of game that people don’t forget.
Now he is just adding to his resume and Boeheim, for one, thinks he’s done enough to be named National Player of the Year.
Photo: Daily Orange