Craig Porter Jr. plans for pressure of leading team


Rachel Rudisill/ The Sunflower

Senior Craig Porter Jr. drives down the court before passing the ball to his teammate on Oct. 27 in Charles Koch Arena.

Craig Porter Jr. spent his offseason time watching videos of Ja Morant, an all-star point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. Porter said watching Morant’s transition from college basketball to the NBA was encouraging. 

Now, the Terre Haute, Indiana, native said he is ready to lead the Wichita State men’s basketball team this season.

“He’s responded well,” head coach Isaac Brown said, who sent Porter videos of Morant. “We talked about it all summer long about him being more of a vocal leader.” 

Porter decided to enter the transfer portal along with eight other players after last season in April. A few days later, he decided to remove his name from the portal after two former Wichita State baseball players formed a Name, Image and Likeness Collective called Armchair Strategies.

“Wichita, I’m back, thanks to Armchair Strategies, Wichita Sports Forum and Aegis Group,” Porter said in April. ” I want to thank them for being a great business partner and keeping me home!”

Porter is the only starter back from last season’s roster and is the tenured player on the roster. 

“I’m a quiet guy,” Porter said. “It was a big adjustment because it’s something we need and something I need to focus on with myself, just being an overall leader, and knowing that … this year everybody is depending on me.”

Porter led in several categories on the box score last season. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 26.9 minutes a game, 7.3 points and 4.9 rebounds. He had a total of 91 assists, 39 steals and 28 blocks. 

Brown said Porter is a versatile player on the basketball court, leading the team in steals and blocks last season.

“He means the world to this team,” Brown said. “Just having him on the floor makes a complete difference. He’s one of the best guards in the conference; one of the best guards in the country.”

Porter said previous experiences in his college basketball career have prepared him for the pressure he may face as the ‘leader’ of the men’s team. Before transferring to Wichita State, Porter played for junior college Vincennes University. During his freshman season, they won the 2019 NJCAA National Championship. 

“I feel like I’m more than prepared and ready to do this,” Porter said. “It’s kind of the same situation I went through at my second year in junior college, so it’s something I’m kind of prepared for and willing to do.”

With 12 new players on the Shockers roster, and a bottom four preseason American Athletic Conference poll pick, Porter said it lights a fire under him to do well this season. 

“It’s not about where you start at,’’ Porter said. “It’s where you finish at.”

Porter credits his family and girlfriend for helping him stay in a leadership mindset before each game. He said they help him stay calm and cool. 

“[They let] me know that life is bigger than basketball, but this is the main thing I want to do,  makes me the happiest,” Porter said.