By: Lauren Jones
Drew League Team: Hard Times
High School: Desert Pines High School (2 years)
College: Compton CC/ Creighton University Bluejays
Position: Point/Shooting Guard
The Most Valuable Player is a coveted title bestowed upon a player, or in this case players, who contribute invaluable quality to their team, possess exceptional leadership skills and demonstrate consistency across the board –stats, game attendance and performance– especially during key matchups. In true Drew League fashion, to keep it fair, the player’s team has to have a decent record. The stakes are high and the competition is stiff for the MVP race. This is the first time in Drew League history that co-MVPs were selected, Nick Porter of Hard Times and NWA’s Jonathan Gibson.
“We compared their stats from each week and it was the closest overall stat comparison I have ever seen,” Chaniel Smiley, daughter of the Drew League Commissioner Dino Smiley, said. “Their averages were literally 99% the same.”
Nick Porter made noise throughout the 2013 season carrying his star-less Hard Times team to the playoffs. In the last week of the regular season, Porter solidified his candidacy for MVP after an explosive performance tallying 34 points and 11 rebounds. This was a do or die situation, as the win decided whether or not Hard Times had a secure spot in the playoffs. Indicative of Porter’s role on the team, he commanded the stage, demanded the ball and pulled off a miraculous win to ensure his team’s spot in the playoffs.
“I watched him [Nick] on the bench where his teammates would pump him up to takeover and in all his games he was consistent,” Dino Smiley, Drew League Commissioner, said of Porter. “He didn’t have a great team, but with his energy and passion he was able to take that team and will them to the playoffs.”
Porter’s game is centered around the fundamentals. He is a point guard who gets to the rim, scores at will and has an especially high basketball acumen.
Without an NBA team attached to his name, however, Porter says he is one of the skillful players who often goes overlooked. He made sure that during the 2013 season at the Drew League, people would have no choice but to pay attention. Porter consistently rallied his team to beat some of the best teams in the Drew League.
Earning respect for his game, has been a challenge Porter has experienced since his days at Creighton.
“I always felt like I didn’t get the proper credit I deserved,” Porter said.
In his sophomore year, Porter transferred to Creighton University from Compton Community College, with many doubting his ability to compete at the NCAA Division I basketball level. Due to a microfracture in his knee, he was forced to sit out his first year creating even more question marks on whether or not the point guard from Compton would be a bust.
The following year he came back with an answer, averaging 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds. Porter seized the day and made history being the first in university history to earn Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Newcomer of the Year. Following in Porter’s footsteps, fellow Creighton alum NBA guard Kyle Korver and the 2014 Naismith Men’s Basketball College Player of the Year, Doug McDermott, both earned that award.
Although Porter had a successful debut season with Creighton, a combination of injuries and unforeseen circumstances caused him to go as an undrafted free agent after declaring for the 2007 NBA Draft the year after earning MVC Newcomer of the Year.
Since then, Porter has struggled to find a gig as a professional basketball player. In the last year, Porter signed with a new agent in hopes of landing a job overseas. Despite his troubles in finding his next opportunity, playing in the Drew League and earning MVP honors has gained Porter just the exposure and connections he needs.
“Getting MVP at the Drew keeps me humble, hungry and wanting more,” Porter said on the honor.
As the summer heats up, we will see if he can make another run at the MVP title although both he and Hard Times have been living up to their names as they are out to a 0-3 start this season.
Q&A with co-MVP Nick Porter
DrewLeague.com: What was your major in college? How does that translate to your game?
Porter: I majored in communications in college and it helped me understand that on a team you have 12 people with 12 different personalities; everyone is different. Being a comm major gives me the leeway to understand everyone’s perspective. I know that I can’t talk to one dude the way I would the next. For example, yelling at one guy might work to get him to go out and perform at his best. My strategy is to observe and grasp each player’s personality off the court to understand what it is I need to do to fire them up.
DrewLeague.com: If you could play against or with any player who would it be?
Porter: I would probably play against Zach Randolph just because he’s a thug on the court.
DrewLeague.com: Who is your all time favorite player?
Porter: Kevin Garnett is easily my favorite player all time. From his energy to his toughness and I can’t help but respect that he is all for his teammates.
Lauren Jones is the co-editor of DrewLeague.com and has been with the league for the past three years. She is also a recent graduate of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism where she earned her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and Sports Media Studies. She currently works as a freelance journalist with her work published on sites such as Yahoo! and SB Nation. Her long term career goal is to be an on-air sports reporter and an entrepreneur specializing in financial literacy, crisis and brand management for professional athletes. Her past internship experiences include working for the Los Angeles Clippers, USC Athletics Dept., BET and EAG Sports Management.