Porter’s scoring adds to improved Shocker offense


Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

Junior Craig Porter Jr. dribbles down the court, looking for a teammate to pass to.

The importance of junior point guard Craig Porter Jr. hasn’t gone unnoticed during Wichita State’s midseason resurgence. 

Porter has the ability to create offense for himself and others, which was showcased in Sunday’s double overtime loss to No. 14 Houston. Porter scored eight of his 17 points in double overtime. 

The Terre Haute, Indiana native’s late scoring punch allowed the Shockers to hang with the American’s best last weekend, including a game-tying stepback three-pointer in the final seconds.

“He’s got an old man’s game. He looks like a dad backing his son in the paint and scoring in the paint over the top of him,” Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said of Porter. “I don’t know if he’s great at everything but I don’t know if there’s anything he’s not pretty good at. He doesn’t get flustered. He’s the kind of kid that his style of game will travel and he doesn’t get too high.”

Although the Shockers are 1-3 in their last four games, Porter has delivered an offensive spark, reaching double-figure scoring in three of those games. During that stretch, Porter is averaging 12.8 points per game, the third-highest on the team.

Junior Craig Porter Jr. goes up for a two pointer against Houston’s senior Josh Carlton. Porter had 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists. (Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower)

With Porter’s increased offensive output, the Shocker offense is averaging 72.3 points per game, up from their season average of 68.3. Porter’s scoring ability has made the Shocker offense more difficult to defend, although the results haven’t ended in wins yet.

“It wasn’t anything special,” Porter said. “It was just overall just trying to give my team whatever we needed to compete. Our big focus is turning this thing around and getting in the right direction, especially heading into the conference tournament.”

When Porter arrived on WSU’s campus last year as a transfer from Vincennes University, he was known more as a “pass first” point guard. Porter was effective in limited minutes off the bench, averaging 2.1 assists per game while averaging 12.9 minutes. 1

This year, Porter has consistently found his teammates, even with his increased scoring, tallying a 1.75 assist-to-turnover ratio. Porter’s assist rate of 28.5% is also No. 98 in the country.

“He makes guys around him better, but his offense has gotten better,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “Last year, if you would throw Craig the ball late in the game, he would drive it and kick it to someone, and we’d get a shot clock violation. 

“Now when you throw it to him after guys do a double team, he’s got enough confidence to step up and make a wide-open three, or he can drive the basketball and finish at the rim. His all-around game has gotten totally better.”

Porter has battled injuries and COVID-19 during his time as a Shocker, but Brown said it’s been a welcoming sign to have him on the court. Last year, Porter missed almost 50 days due to COVID and played in 19 of WSU’s 22 games. Porter has missed one game this year due to protocols and one other game with an ankle injury. 

“Having him is like having another assistant coach on the floor,” Brown said. “He does a good job just leading the game, getting everybody in the right spot. We don’t turn it over because he’s at the head of the press attack. He’s getting the ball to the right guys and he’s done a great job. We need that to continue.”