By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON — A week ago, when it was mentioned to Otto Porter that he had moved up to No. 9 in an NBA mock draft, he stroked his chin and gave a little nod — with perhaps just a bit of a twinkle in his eye.
Doesn’t sound like much. But, with Porter, it’s about the best reaction he’ll give.
Porter’s breakout performance — 33 points, eight rebounds, five steals while playing all 40 minutes — in Georgetown’s final Big East game at the Carrier Dome left no doubt that both the sophomore forward and his team belong near the top.
The win over Syracuse not only boosted Porter in the mock drafts, it also propelled the Hoyas to No. 7 in the AP poll, making them one of only one of four schools to crack the top 10 in each of the last seven seasons.
Georgetown (21-4, 11-3) sits alone in first place in the conference headed into Wednesday’s game at Connecticut. Meanwhile, the NBA scouts attending the Hoyas’ games can only be impressed by the 6-foot-8 Porter’s all-around game, which included a career-high five 3-pointers against the Orange.
“Growing up, I did want to go to the NBA,” Porter said. “That was one of my main goals, and it still is. … We’ll have to see after the season.”
Coach John Thompson III said he has spoken to Porter about the NBA, but those conversations will remain a secret for now. Interestingly, it was only a few games ago that the coach was wondering aloud how Porter could be flying under the radar, publicity-wise.
That’s certainly not an issue any more, but the coach feels Porter can handle the attention just fine.
“Otto Porter is every day. He’s steady,” Thompson said. “He honestly doesn’t care. He wants to win.”
Thompson likes to use the word “humble” to describe Porter, and Porter says he likes being under the radar. Even when Porter was the be-all and end-all off the Georgetown attack against Syracuse, the player from small-town Missouri who passed up AAU ball wasn’t doing the prima donna thing.
“Some people when they get hot like that, they’ll be like, ‘Get me the ball. Get me the ball.’ And he doesn’t do it like that,” teammate Nate Lubick said. “He really just stays in the game. … He realizes that he’s hot. We realize that he’s hot. That’s how we play. We’re going to play through him when he’s scoring the ball like that.”
Because Porter might be two-and-done, and because there’s no runaway national favorite in the country, the Hoyas might as well as make their goals as lofty as possible this season. Thompson has made it a point to tell his players not to bask too long in the glow of the Syracuse win.
“They’re still kids. They’re still young men,” Thompson said. “They’ve spent the last couple of days with everyone telling them how great they are.”
“I think we have bigger fish to fry,” the coach added. “I don’t want this season to be defined by the Syracuse game at the Dome. I don’t want it also to be defined by the seventh year in the Top 10. We have bigger aspirations.”