USC basketball’s Kevin Porter Jr. was a highly-touted recruit and underrated NBA Draft prospect, but now he’s getting the recognition he deserves.
RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish. The three Duke freshman star headline the 2019 draft class, but the rest of the playing field is wide open. In what is becoming a hard to predict draft class, USC basketball’s Kevin Porter Jr. has been making waves for his stellar play thus far.
Porter has been one of USC’s most highly-touted recruits in history, coming in as the highest-ranked recruit since Demar Derozan was at USC 10 years ago.
A star at Rainier Beach High School in Washington, Porter was notorious for his shifty handles and monstrous dunks. His commitment and signing to USC was a testament to coach Andy Enfield’s rebuilding of the basketball program.
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Despite his many accomplishments coming into college, Porter was predicted to be picked surprisingly late on draft boards during the preseason. Sports Illustrated put Porter in the 18th spot, still in the first round, but not a lottery pick. Bleacher Report predicted that Porter would go 22nd, just a couple spots later, in the first round.
However, five games of play this season, Porter has slowly been proving that he is more than a mid-first rounder, showing signs worthy of a potential lottery pick just behind the three Duke stars.
Averaging about 14 points per game, Porter has been shooting at an incredibly efficient pace, above 50 percent. In doing so, Porter has also portrayed his elite ability to score, pulling off a variety of step back jumpers and dribble drive finishes that all included his quick ball handling skills.
It helps that Porter is already of NBA size, standing at 6-foot-6 and 218 pounds, with a large upper body along with speed and hops to top it off.
One important thing to note that cannot be demonstrated on paper is Porter’s ability to create within the offense. In his few games this season, Porter has not forced many shots and there is no sense of pressure to perform. Many highly-ranked recruits in his position would have felt the need to put up big numbers and contribute right away.
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Porter did not even begin the season as a starter, as sophomore Jordan Usher held the position. After the first two games, he proved that he was ready for the role.
Instead of thinking about his stat line and draft prospects, Porter has let the game come to him and his patience has resulted in solid, consistent outings, which in turn have helped him to rise in almost all mock drafts.
The left-handed Porter particularly showed flashes of an extremely high upside after his performance against Vanderbilt. Although he fouled out in the second half and USC ended up losing the game, Porter clearly stood out from the rest of the court as he kept the Trojans within arm’s reach the whole game.
The main knocks on Porter coming into the season were that he is mainly just a scorer who lacks defensive intensity and can be inefficient on the offensive end at times. So far, Porter has produced at a very efficient rate, based on his shooting percentage and shot selection, and is slowly proving his worth on the defensive end.
If he continues to perform at the elite level that he is currently playing at offensively and demonstrate that he can play better defense, I would not be surprised if he found his way up a couple more spots in the draft, and knock on the door of the top five picks.