Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.
Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.
Column: Otto Porter stays true to form all the way to NBA
There was little doubt what news Otto Porter was going to deliver when he sat down alongside Georgetown coach John Thompson III at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Porter is ready for the NBA, and everybody knows it. He knows it, his family and friends know it, his coaches know it and NBA scouts and executives know it.
"Thanks everybody for being here for this event today," Porter said to kick things off. "I would like to say that I am forgoing my eligibility in college and entering the 2013 NBA Draft."
As he leaned back from the microphone I saw him fight back a smile. Then he fought back a couple more before the reporters in attendance asked their first question, even biting down on his lip more than once to hide the happiness or the relief or the nervousness or whatever that smile might have revealed.
It was a more quintessential Otto Porter moment than a swished 12-footer.
More than any person I've ever met, athlete or not, Porter has the ability to be open without revealing everything, to be honest without telling the whole truth and to somehow be genuine and guarded at the same time.
Those qualities were on full display Monday. He said what he should, that his decision to return to Georgetown or leave for the NBA was a tough one that he'd thought about every night -- but only after the Hoyas season unexpectedly ended in the NCAA tournament's round of 64.
I doubt much of that is really true, and as a journalist, you can't help but hope for players to let you into their world and tell you exactly what they think. But Otto Porter's world is not a place he lets many enter. As a person, I understand.
He tweeted on April 1 that his decision was "still unknown," as he was leaving Southeast Missouri to head back to Georgetown following a visit at home with his family.
The day before he had tweeted, "Every time I go home, the more I want my mom [and] dad [and] bro to leave! The harder I work!!"
He followed that thought up with the hashtags "#motivated" and "#makeitout."
I don't know what prompted this. I've seen his family's comfortable home and I know he takes a great amount of pride in where he came from and in representing Scott County Central High School.
I also know now that by the time he wrote those things he had informed his family that he would enter the NBA where a contract worth millions of dollars waits for him.
That doesn't make him greedy, it makes him smart. While he may be sad to leave Georgetown, as he suggested during the press conference, his decision shouldn't have been, and probably wasn't, a tough one.
Passing up a chance to be a guaranteed NBA lottery pick would not have been a good professional or financial decision, whatever our romantic, if outdated, notions of staying in school and chasing national championships.
I don't know the rest of the story or what binds all these separate thoughts and facts together. I know something does. I know he understands it and could explain it to me if he wanted to, though I doubt he does. His intelligence is as obvious when you talk to him as his basketball talent is when you watch him. He vowed to keep working toward his college degree on Monday, and that I believed.
I couldn't quite make out the exact words of one question he was asked about his preparation for the next level, but his answer was interesting.
"My coaches and teammates got me prepared on and off the court," he said. "As a human being, I'm prepared to take on the world."
I know he is. In so many ways he was made for the opportunity that he has been given, and in many more ways he has worked for the opportunity he has earned through long hours in the gym and weight room.
I'll be watching as he makes his way into the NBA, just like I and so many others from the area have been watching him for years now. I look forward to seeing him fight back the smiles that most people never notice as much as I look forward to watching him swish 12-footers.
The hardest thing to be when everyone is looking at you is yourself, and every person I've ever talked to who really knows Porter has told me that the man we all saw sitting on a stage with all the cameras and microphones pointed at him Monday afternoon is the same man they see every day.
That's how I've come to realize that his simple, soft-spoken answers and shy smile aren't his way of hiding from the spotlight, they are his own way of shining in it.
- -- Posted by hoopaholiczanon on Wed, Apr 17, 2013, at 1:19 AM
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