The recently named All-American had 37 points as the Raiders held off the prep school power 80-77.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Nearly 3,000 miles separate Nathan Hale High School and Springfield College’s Naismith Court at Blake Arena. Michael Porter Jr. and the rest of the Raiders felt no jet lag from the trip, putting away Oak Hill Academy 80-77 Monday in the Hoophall Classic.
Porter, who was named a McDonald’s All-American on Sunday, dropped 37 points on the Warriors, 20 of which came in the first half. He added five rebounds with four assists and a trio of steals in the game televised on ESPNU.
“Maybe this is the first time a lot of people have seen us play, but (Porter) is the type of guy that tries to do everything — and he can do a lot,” Nathan Hale coach Brandon Roy said.
“He’s just doing an unbelievable job, I’m getting spoiled my first year coaching here. He’s a great player.”
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Virginia’s Oak Hill, ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today and equipped with Kansas, Iowa State and Creighton commits Billy Preston, Lindell Wigginton and Ty-Shon Alexander, respectively, was no walk in the park for No. 8 Nathan Hale. Still, the Raiders (14-0) answered the call.
After a quick start, Nathan Hale trailed for a majority of the first half. It found some timely shooting and hit an 11-4 run to end the half up by five.
Oak Hill (18-3) dropped a quick six points at the start of the third quarter to regain the lead. After the sides traded points up to a 51-51 tie, the Raiders went on a 9-2 run and never trailed again.
Though Porter drove the bus offensively, he was far from alone. P.J. Fuller II provided a spark on the offensive end of the floor, dropping shots from the perimeter and scoring 17 points. Jontay Porter had 13 points with seven rebounds and a pair of assists.
“My team just sticks together and I think that’s what separates us,” Michael Porter Jr. said. “Today, I’m just proud of my team. They got me the ball and they attacked more, which opened up stuff for me, so all the credit to my teammates.”
Fuller’s most defining moment came off an inbound following a pair of Wigginton free throws at the end of the third quarter. While most everyone on the court dismissed the pass in as a mere formality, the sophomore caught it at the free-throw line, heaved it three-quarters down the court and drained it as time expired. The miracle shot extended the lead from what would’ve been five points to eight, and ultimately ended up being the deciding margin.
“I have never made that shot in my life. I was shocked, I didn’t know what to do,” the sophomore said.
With the tradition of success and the star-studded roster Oak Hill brought to Springfield, it further validated the quality of play Porter brings to the court. Porter regards many of his opposing players as his friends.
“We’re all close, the players in my class are close, so playing against (guard Matt Coleman), Billy, it’s always cool,” he said.
• Porter Jr., already signed with Washington, indicated his younger brother Jontay, a junior, could possibly enroll early as a member of the Huskies.
“I’m going into an environment where I can make a big difference. So I feel blessed, it’s an opportunity,” Michael said. “I think my brother might be enrolling early, but we’ll see, but it’d be awesome to play with him in college and make a big difference for the program.”
When asked about the likelihood of that happening, Porter tied it into his own situation.
“About fifty-fifty. Same chance I might stay two years. We’ll see,” the senior said.
• Fuller announced he’s recently received an offer from USC.
“It’s going well right now. I just got an offer from USC like a week ago. And I have (offers from) Montana, University of Washington and TCU and then I just have a bunch of interest for now too.”
USC is a compelling option for Fuller, who is close with current Los Angeles Lakers and former USC swingman Nick Young.
“I was really excited, I’m really close with Nick Young, so it was pretty cool,” he said. “And I really like the coaching staff there (and) I like California schools.”
The offer from Washington was positive for Fuller given his genuine enjoyment of the city. But while staying in Washington would be nice, it isn’t imperative.
“I really love Seattle. I put Seattle over everything,” said Fuller. “I love the coaching staff at the University of Washington and I love the University of Washington, but I’m also willing to get out and see what else is out there for me.”