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Versatile Otto Porter Jr. could make immediate NBA impact

Otto Porter Jr. never played AAU basketball as he was growing up in a rural area of southeast Missouri.

He didn't need to.

His father, mother, uncles and cousins were there to help him become a better player.

Relatives on both sides of his family had turned tiny Scott County Central High School into a small-school basketball powerhouse. In 1976, his dad, Otto Porter Sr., was a star forward when the Braves won the first of 16 boys state titles. In 1982, his mom, the former Elnora Timmons, led the Bravettes to the first of seven girls state titles.

"I think it was an advantage for me: staying home and working on my skill a lot more, just being disciplined with my dad helping me work out," Otto Jr. said.

All that hard work paid off, because Otto Jr. has become the most decorated basketball player in his family. On Thursday, the 6-foot-8 small forward almost certainly will be one of the first players selected in the 2013 NBA Draft.

There are more athletic and more highly touted players in the draft, but perhaps none of them is better prepared to make an immediate contribution in the NBA than Porter is.

During his sophomore season at Georgetown, he was named the 2012-13 Big East Player of the Year as he averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He also made 42.2 percent of his shot attempts from 3-point range.

Georgetown coach John Thompson III once referred to Porter as the "most prepared freshman" he ever coached.

Hoyas fans nicknamed him "Otto-Matic."

Back home in Morley, Mo., a town of 697 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, his family and former coaches still call him "Bubba."

"You couldn't ask for a better kid," said Ronnie Cookson, the former boys basketball coach at Scott County Central.

"He's a great kid with great work habits. He's just a dedicated person. He's really dedicated towards whatever he's trying to do. He's just a great kid. Wherever he'll go, he'll end up being pretty successful. He's really going to work hard."

Cookson was the coach at Scott County Central when Otto Sr. was a star forward. After a brief retirement, Cookson also served on the school's coaching staff when Bubba led the Braves to consecutive state titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Cookson calls Otto Sr. and Bubba "two peas in a pod" because of their almost identical work ethics.

Father and son spent countless hours together developing Bubba's game.

No wonder Bubba says his dad is the most influential person in his athletic career.

Their work helped make Bubba the best small forward prospect in this draft.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the top overall pick, need help in their frontcourt. Porter Jr. could be their answer if the Cavs pass on Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Maryland center Alex Len.

Small forward isn't a position of need for the Orlando Magic, who are slated to pick second. Maurice Harkless started 59 games for the Magic last season as a rookie, and team officials like his potential.

Still, the Magic seem inclined to draft the best player available instead of draft strictly for positional need. Team officials hosted Porter in Orlando within the last several days for a workout and interviews.

During last month's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Porter mentioned the Magic as one of the teams that would be the best fit for him.

Then again, a lot of teams could benefit from his skills.

"My versatility — I think that's definitely going to show when I get to the NBA," he said. "My ability to rebound, bring it up the court, make something happen or set up the play. Anything the coach has in store for me, I think my versatility is going to carry over." Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

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