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Southeast Missourian player of the year: Scott County Central's Otto Porter
Otto Porter said the attention from college coaches increased significantly over the last month.
Snaring 35 rebounds in the state title game will do that.
Porter excels in every facet of the game. The 6-foot-8 junior possesses a smooth jumper, rebounds with tenacity and creates havoc at the top of Scott County Central's pressure defense. After leading the Braves to the Class 1 state championship for the second consecutive season, Porter is the Southeast Missourian boys basketball player of the year.
"His work ethic really stood out toward the end of the season, how hard he worked, how bad he wanted to make it to the state tournament," SCC coach Kenyon Wright said. "His desire, I think, really helped us in a big way."
Porter averaged 28 points and 13.3 rebounds a game, but he saved his best for the state's biggest stage. He broke his father's rebound record with 35 boards in the title game.
"He's OK with it," Porter said about his father's attitude about the record. "He was very impressed, happy for me. He just told me I have to keep working harder. He said you got 35, why didn't you get 40?"
Porter averaged 31 points and 24.5 rebounds in the two games at the final four.
"He just handles his business," SCC senior Bobby Hatchett said. "He's put in his time. He works hard for what he gets. It pay off."
Porter earned his first state championship ring as a sophomore, but played an even bigger role this season. He led the team in scoring and rebounding while shooting 63 percent from the field.
"It was better because it's your second time," he said about this year's state crown. "It's a good feeling, really. It was a little bit harder, I think. I guess because we played against more competition."
The Braves ran over most of their competition on their way to the state title. Only four of their 29 wins were decided by 15 points or fewer. Porter never saw the court in the fourth quarter of many of those games.
"Coach motivated us to try to keep getting better," Hatchett said. "Basically me and Otto, we know we going to go to another level, so we got to get prepared for those kind of things. But at the same time, we had fun. We worked hard, had fun and it made things easier."
Porter presented a headache for opposing defenses because of his ability to shoot from the outside and drive to the basket.
"If you didn't get right up in his face, he'd make the jumper right there," Notre Dame junior Jacob Tolbert said. "If you did go for the block, he'd go right around you and finish at the rim. He's just a real offensive threat."
Tolbert was one of the few players who got to enjoy a victory over Porter's Braves. Notre Dame handed the Braves one of their two losses, a 71-62 setback Jan. 26. He said that game was one of his favorites during the season.
"Whenever you have someone who can play like that, you have to work extra hard on defense," Tolbert said. "You can't let them have the shot. You've got to not give them enough room to shoot because they'll make it. But if you get up too close, they've got a good first step and they're quick enough to go by you."
Porter's abilities have drawn plenty of interest from college coaches. There often were at least a few coaches, including Southeast Missouri State's Dickey Nutt, who took in the Braves' games. When the Braves played Notre Dame, two rows of bleachers at one end of the gym were reserved for college coaches so they could get a look at Porter and Hatchett in action.
"It's been surprising for me -- couple coaches that have called, like Xavier and Purdue," Porter said of the recruiting. "I'm just taking it easy right now, really. All the coaches know I've got one more year."
The expectations will be great for Porter during his senior season. He's already set the bar high after his 29-point, 35-rebound performance in the state title game.
"Obviously I want our goals to win it again," Porter said. "Our goal it just to push ourselves to get better."