By Jon Rothstein
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Otto Porter will never again start a season in the shadows.
A year ago as a freshman, Georgetown’s star forward was viewed as talented but unproven. Twelve months later, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Porter is the Big East’s Preseason Player of the Year — he’s that good.
“There’s not too many guys in the country better than he is,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said of Porter, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his first season of college basketball. “He was the most prepared freshman I’ve ever had.”
And he figures to get even better as a sophomore.
Under Thompson’s watch, the Hoyas have averaged 23 wins a season and Porter is the main reason why Georgetown is again expected to compete for another Big East title as well as a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“There’s not too many players who take pride in every aspect of the game,” Thompson said. “Otto does that. He gets as much of a thrill at getting a deflection as he does of getting a dunk.”
Porter will be the household name when the Hoyas start next season after Georgetown lost its three top scorers from a year ago in Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson, and Henry Sims. In Thompson’s eight years as head coach, replacing key contributors have become an annual occurrence.
“We’ve always had players here that have been ready to step up when the time has come,” Thompson said. “That’s why we’ve been able to sustain things.”
With Porter, fellow sophomores Jabril Trawick and Greg Whittington as well as junior point guard Markel Starks, the Hoyas should have more than enough underclassmen ready to take the baton.
“Whittington will have a huge jump as a sophomore,” Thompson said of the 6-8 forward, who averaged 4.3 points and 2.9 rebounds as a freshman. “He can play four positions and had a really good spring and summer. Markel (Starks) is more ready for his position now because he’s grown into understanding what his coach wants.”
Veteran big man Nate Lubick returns along with 6-9 big man Mikael Hopkins but perhaps the most intriguing player for Georgetown entering next season is freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Like former Hoyas that preceded him in the back court, Smith-Rivera is more than capable of either scoring or facilitating.
“He’s going to get big minutes,” Thompson said of the 6-4 Smith-Rivera. “He can really score but he likes to get others baskets as well. He has a good balance about him.”
Thompson is also high on Stephen Domingo, a 6-7 wing that was originally classified in the Class of 2014 but opted to come to Georgetown a year early. Domingo’s presence should give the Hoyas a lanky shooter that could replace some of the outside shooting that was lost with Clark and Thompson.
“He gives you some of what we lost with Hollis (Thompson),” Thompson said of Domingo.
One thing is for certain — the Hoyas, much like they were last year will be very long. Traditional lineups appear to be a way of the past at Georgetown. Last season, Thompson went for long periods with five players on the floor standing 6-4 or better.
Expect more of the same in 2012-13.
“I like people who are position less and usually that means, you have some size and length,” Thompson. “Building a roster like that starts with recruiting. We knew a few years ago we wanted bigger and longer. As a coach, you get caught up in how you want to play. I know for me personally, I want to play with guys who are really long and not classified as a specific position. That’s the path we’re headed.”
What’s your take on Porter and the Hoyas? Be heard in the comments below…