Nearly every American player selected in the NBA Draft over the last decade or so played AAU basketball at one point or another in his career. When the 2013 NBA Draft ended Thursday, Otto Porter, who was taken by the Washington Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick, became one of the very few exceptions.
Porter never played AAU ball growing up. For those unfamiliar with what AAU ball is, it's essentially a bunch of glorified scrimmages involving some of the nation's top high school prospects. There's a lot of scoring and often very little defense. College coaches from around the country can be found at every tournament. As SB Nation's Jonathan Tjarks notes, it has emerged as a successful business over the past 20 years.
Instead of spending his summers playing these kinds of games, Porter spent his time playing against his father, cousins and uncles. He learned to play up against his competition despite being undersized and the youngest guy on the court. Instead of having AAU coaches that often don't coach their players, Porter learned from family members who would truly prepare him for his two-year stint at Georgetown.
During Porter's freshman campaign with the Hoyas, it was pretty clear he held an advantage over his counterparts. He averaged an efficient 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds a game, shooting 53 percent from the floor. One of the greatest arguments against club basketball is there is little (or no) emphasis placed on developing good defensive habits; Porter stepped on campus and immediately became one of the better defenders in the Big East.
His sophomore season was when he emerged as a surefire lottery pick. Porter averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and nearly two steals a game, earning him the Big East Player of the Year Award as well as a spot on the All-America Team. Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, who coaches Georgetown's longtime rival, Syracuse, called Porter the best all-around player in Big East history.
As a pro prospect, Porter does or has a lot of things NBA talent evaluators drool over. At 6'9 and 200 lbs., his length and athleticism will make him a very tough matchup at the next level. He shot the ball well this past season, hitting 42 percent of his three-pointers. He features a very high basketball IQ coming from a family with strong basketball ties. With a 7'1.5 wingspan, he should be a reliable defender in the early stages of his career. And after growing up in a small Missouri town of about 17,000 people, the bright lights and luxurious lifestyle that comes with being a professional athlete should not overwhelm him given his hometown roots.
All of this is to say Porter's development is a nice change of pace for basketball fans everywhere. While some kids as young as 13 are landing college scholarship offers while being pimped out to coaches, Porter stayed home and worked on his game with family. It resulted in him becoming one of the more fundamentally-sound top-prospects to come out for the draft in recent years, and it's a more than welcome change.