Winning is obviously a big factor when it comes to naming a national player of the year, and at all levels of basketball one player can change a team’s fortunes. The latter was clearly was the case at Nathan Hale (Seattle), which went 3-18 during the 2015-16 season. The off-season saw returning second team All-American Michael Porter Jr. transfer into the school from Father Tolton (Columbia, Mo.), and to say he made a big impact would be an understatement.
Hale started out FAB 50 ranked, but very few, if any, predicted Hale would end up as mythical national champions. Behind the play of the 6-foot-9 silky smooth forward from Columbia, Missouri that’s what happened, as Hale became the first team ever team from the state of Washington to earn the FAB 50 national champion tag. Just as Hale earned a lofty status no other team from the Pacific Northwest ever has, Porter’s individual production on an unbeaten team earns him an honor no other Washington player has ever achieved: the title of 2016-17 Mr. Basketball USA.
Porter led Hale to a 29-0 record by averaging 37.6 ppg, 14.5 rpg and 5.2 apg and coming through when the Raiders needed him most in their big games. The presence he brought to the court was a factor in his selection, as no matter the opponent, Porter was the best player on the floor in each game.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Porter when officially informed of his selection as 2016-17 Mr. Basketball USA. “I’ve been grinding so hard and it’s rewarding to see my hard work pay off in ways like these.”
“Michael was what as a coach I called the impossible matchup,” said Rainier Beach (Seattle) coach Mike Bethea, whose fellow Metro League club lost to Hale three times during the season. “Six-foot-10 with a 8-foot wingspan and Michael Jordan type skills….shoot, handle the ball, post game…Most of the time seemed bored on the court. You have to understand if he would have been in college last year he would have been the best player in college no doubt. The game is easy for him. When he gets bigger and stronger, I don’t even want to think about how scary he’ll be.”