FAYETTEVILLE – For his work in propelling the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 2-0 SEC start — and raising the Razorbacks from 23rd to 19th in Monday’s AP poll going into tonight’s SEC game at Tennessee — Bobby Portis was named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday by the SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala.
Arkansas opened its SEC season last week beating Georgia 79-75 last Tuesday in Athens, Ga., and defeating Vanderbilt 82-70 Saturday at Walton Arena.
Against Georgia, Portis, a 6-11 sophomore forward from Little Rock Hall, scored a game-high 21 points with five rebounds.
Against Vanderbilt, Portis tallied a game-high and season-high 32 points with 11 rebounds and four steals.
For the two games earning his honor, Portis averaged 26.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals.
“It is good to see guys rewarded for the hard work that they are putting in and is it paying off,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said Monday afternoon. “He keeps working extremely hard and it is just a matter of time before things start coming his way. What I like about Bobby is that he is totally focused on being the best player that he can be and the best teammate that he can be. What happens after that, happens after that.”
Earlier Monday on the SEC coaches teleconference, Anderson was asked about Portis’ progress over last season.
“Bobby is a year older now,” Anderson said. “I thought for a guy his size, he was weak and coming in at this level here, guys came at him. I think this year he is much more prepared. Bobby is a student of the game and I think through the course of what took place last year he has learned from it. His core is a lot stronger now and that means that people are not just moving him around,” Anderson continued. “I think he is more active defensively, rebounding the basketball as well.”
Anderson said his teammates are better educated about his value.
“I think one of the biggest components is our guys are now recognizing that he is an advantage,” Anderson said. “When you have a 6-11 guy that is as skilled as he is, it makes sense to utilize him. He can really pass the basketball. He causes a lot of problems for our opponents, and our guys are now realizing that and getting him the ball at the proper time. He is playing well and playing with a lot of confidence.”
Portis certainly impressed Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings.
“He was the most dominant player by a significant margin on the court today,” Stallings said after last Saturday’s game. “We didn’t have any kind of response or any kind of answer for him. He had his way, and it didn’t matter which one of our guys tried to guard him. He just kind of did what he wanted. He’s a very complete player. He’ll play for a long, long time.”