Hoyas' Porter leads NBA Draft parade
On a day in which several underclassmen declared for the NBA Draft, none was more high-profile than Georgetown All-American Otto Porter Jr.
On Monday, Porter announced he is leaving Georgetown after his sophomore season and declaring himself eligible for draft.
''The toughest part was knowing you're going to leave a great place like this,'' Porter said Monday at a news conference on campus alongside Hoyas coach John Thompson III. ''I love this place.''
The other big name to declare on Monday was Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, whose season ended prematurely after he tore his ACL. Noel was the nation's top recruit a season ago and, before the injury, was viewed by most as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
''I've learned so much here at UK and am thankful for Coach (John) Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support,'' Noel said. ''I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I've received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I'll always be a Wildcat!''
Also declaring were Maryland sophomore center Alex Len and Georgia sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
But none of the players carry the accolades or pedigree into the draft that Porter sports. He was the Big East player of the year and finished second in the voting behind Michigan's Trey Burke for The Associated Press player of the year award.
Burke declared for the draft on Sunday.
Helping a team that was unranked in the preseason reach as high as No. 5 in the AP poll, Porter averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds, both highs for Georgetown.
The Hoyas were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, but lost their opening game to Florida Gulf Coast and finished 25-7.
The 6-foot-8 Porter, of Sikeston, Mo., was Georgetown's sixth All-America selection and first since Allen Iverson in 1996. He also was a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award.
He is widely seen as a likely lottery pick in June's NBA draft — and perhaps a top-five selection.
It's Porter's all-around game that impresses, with an ability to score inside or from beyond the 3-point arc, to rebound, to set up teammates and play defense.
''Whatever they ask him to do, he's going to be able to do,'' Thompson said.
Porter's breakout performance — the one that put him on everybody's radar — came on the road against Big East rival Syracuse on Feb. 23. Porter produced 33 points, eight rebounds, five steals and hit five 3-pointers while playing all 40 minutes in a Hoyas victory.
After Porter had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists when Georgetown beat Syracuse again on March 9, Orange coach Jim Boeheim declared that Porter ought to be the No. 1 overall pick in the next NBA Draft.
Well, now everyone will get a chance to find out exactly where NBA teams think Porter stands.
''On draft night, we don't expect him to be sitting around too long,'' Thompson said.
After an uneven freshman season with the Terrapins, the 7-foot-1 Len averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 2012-13. The Ukraine native led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 78 blocked shots and is expected to be a top-10 pick in the June 27 draft.
Len says he's ''grown a lot over the past two years'' and is ''looking forward to the next chapter of my life.''
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon says he's proud of what Len has accomplished, and the center has ''earned'' the opportunity to play in the NBA.
As for Caldwell-Pope, Georgia coach Mark Fox also announced Monday that the guard has hired an agent, ending his college career.
Caldwell-Pope decided to turn pro after finishing second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 18.5 points a game. He also swept the player of the year awards handed out by The Associated Press and the league coaches.
In his final college game, Caldwell-Pope scored a career-high 32 points in a loss to LSU at the SEC tournament, making him the 43rd player in Georgia history to reach 1,000 points.
Caldwell-Pope led the Bulldogs in scoring, rebounding, steals, minutes played, as well as field goals, 3-pointers and free throws made. He ranked among the SEC's leaders in nine of 13 categories.
Also, he was one of just nine players in Division I to reach double-figure scoring in each of his team's games this past season.