Bobby Portis made his decision last Tuesday. He made it official a week later.
The Hall High School (Little Rock) product ended his 22-day silence in regards to his basketball future, and announced he would leave the UofA to pursue a career in the NBA.
“Today is a good day for me to try to take the next step and go to the NBA,” Portis announced Tuesday. “All kids grow up wanting to go to the NBA, so for me and myself, I finally had that first chance to go to the NBA this year. So I kind of took that opportunity and tried to run with it.”
It was a decision Portis openly admitted was a tough one for him, especially being an in-state kid. His family situation has been well-documented over the last few months, overcoming poverty and his mother’s violent boyfriend.
Portis’ mother Tina, a bread-deliverer, looks after Bobby’s three younger brothers. But despite the struggles the family has gone through, she advised her oldest son not to make his decision just for her.
“My mom wants me to make the decision for me, not her,” Portis said. “That’s something she always preaches, not trying to make me make a decision to change her life and my little brothers’ lives. She wants me to live my dream and try to be the best basketball player I can be.”
Portis, who finished his sophomore season with his name all over the Arkansas record books, will go down as one of the program greats, said Mike Anderson, who made it a point to travel to Hall High to watch Portis workout as a sophomore when he was hired in the spring of 2011.
In his two seasons with the Razorbacks, the program reached the postseason twice – the NIT in 2013-14 and the NCAA tournament, for the first time since 2007-08, last season.
“He’s done some great things for us here at the university and took us to some places we haven’t been in a while,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of places he could’ve went, a lot of other programs he could’ve went, but he chose the University of Arkansas.”
“At the end of the day, it was Bobby’s decision, and I think one thing about it is, for him, I think he made the right decision,” he continued.
Now that he has made his decision public, Portis plans to finish out the spring semester at the UofA before finding a trustworthy and “genuine” agent and attend a couple of pre-draft combines to get acclimated with what will be expected of him during the May 12-17 NBA Draft Combine.
“People tell me late lottery to No. 20, but I feel like I can move up because of my character and my work ethic,” Portis said of the feedback he’s received from those close to the NBA. “I feel like I can move up to 10, 11, 12.”
The departure of a second team All-American and the SEC Player of the Year is a big hit for Arkansas, and will require progression from returning players such as big man Moses Kingsley and forward Jacorey Williams if the program hopes to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.
“I have trust in my guys,” Portis said. “I’ve laid that foundation and set the bar kind of high, and they have to come in and fill my footsteps.”
It has been some time since an in-state talent, in any sport, has become the face of Arkansas. Portis not only did that, but handled it with great maturity and class.
“Whomever has an opportunity to draft this young man, they will get a gem and a guy that will shine,” Anderson said. “He will shine in your program and be a team player. I can’t say enough good things about what he’s meant to this program and to this basketball team.”