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Porter embraces small-college basketball

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By SCC Sports Information

Every time a ball hits the court in the state of Kentucky, it is a guarantee that a young athlete somewhere is dreaming of playing college basketball. For Nick Porter, the St. Catharine College Patriots made his dream a reality.

Porter, a 2012 graduate of Apollo High School, is the starting point guard for the national tournament-qualifying Patriots. However, it may not be apparent to all those who meet Nick, that he is a college basketball player. After all, he only stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs a quaint 175 pounds. But for those who have to compete with Porter on the court, it is all too apparent that he is one of the best on-ball defenders in the Mid South Conference.

“Nick is just one of those kids who will do anything for you,” head coach JT Burton said. “You have to have kids like him in order to be successful.”

Kids like Nick aren’t exactly the most popular choices of players.

“In high school, people knew me for finding trouble,” Porter said.

Despite his mischievous past, Porter found ways to make basketball a priority.

“My coach would always make me participate in basketball camps and practice all the time, just to keep me out of trouble.”  

For the Patriots, Porter was worth the risk.

“I like the way he played. He was, and still is, a great team leader,” Burton said.

When the time came for Porter to make his decision, his choice was obvious.

“There wasn’t a single team recruiting me out there, but St. Catharine was definitely the right fit,” Porter said. “I figured it had to be a good place where I could stay out of trouble.”

Porter, a sophomore, has done more than stay out of trouble since his arrival on St. Catharine’s campus; he has caused all kinds of trouble for his opponents.

In 2012-2013, he became a regular for frustrating opposing players, so much so that a technical foul was the result for their reactions on multiple occasions.

“At one point in the season, I would look at an official and they would be shaking their head at me before I would even do anything,” Porter said. “I liked being the aggressor and forcing the other team into a mistake.”

However, 2013-2014 brought a whole new challenge for Porter. At the beginning of the season, a rule change aimed at aggressive defenders was announced and required Porter to change his approach.

“I just had to learn to play smarter,” he said. “The officials changed the way that they call the games, so I had to make the adjustment to keep from getting hurt in the end. I mean, I would like to be more aggressive, but this is better for my team.”

A rule change wasn’t all that was different for Porter. With the unveiling of new uniforms, it was required that Porter go from wearing No. 55 to No. 4, which was not the most popular decision in the beginning.

“I didn’t like it at first, but it gives me a new identity,” he said.

Not only was there a number change, but the quick-footed point guard brought out the addition of leggings to his repertoire.

Porter simply replied, “They’re comfy, [so] why not wear them?”  

For Porter, being the starting point guard for the Patriots has been a big deal, especially now that he is allowed to shoot the ball on top of all of his passing duties. He has nailed 41 percent of his shots from behind the arc, three of which came against rival Lindsey Wilson College.

“It’s a testament to the coaches here that I am shooting the ball well. I probably shot the opposite 14 percent in high school,” chuckled Porter. “I take pride in the fact that I am the only high school player to start here in my first two years, so I try to buy into everything that the coaches say.”

Never fear, though. Porter’s success on the court hasn’t changed his image with his team.

“Nick is just a hard worker,” senior teammate Stephen McCray said. “He’s the type of guy that will sacrifice his all for the team.”

Porter will try to continue his success when the Patriots travel to Kansas City, Mo., to take on the No. 5-seeded Southwestern Assemblies of God University Lions in the first round of the 2014 Buffalo Funds NAIA-Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship.

The Patriots will have their hands full with the Lions’ Dominique Rambo, who is averaging 23.6 points per night.

“He is a great player,” said Porter. “I will try to play him aggressive and make him uncomfortable.”