Portis Continues Quest To Be Like Big Nasty

Arkansas sophomore forward Bobby Portis has long wanted to be just like his mentor Corliss Williamson and took a step in that direction on Monday when he was named the SEC Player of the Year.

Now that Arkansas sophomore Bobby Portis has accomplished something that his mentor Corliss Williamson did, Razorback fans are no doubt hoping he will match him by sticking around at least three seasons.

Portis (6-11, 242) was named the SEC Coaches Player of the Year on Tuesday to became the first Arkansas player since Williamson - nicknamed Big Nasty - did so both in 1994 and 1995.

He noted that he had not talked yet with Williamson - his former AAU coach and father figure who he first met in the second grade - yet since winning the award.

“No, hopefully tonight,” Portis said. “Hopefully he will call me and try to talk stuff to me and tell me to try and do it twice. It is a motivation for me.”

Portis, who was born in 1995, noted that he has wanted to be just like Williamson for a long time.

“Actually that was always my goal as a kid,” Portis said. “I kind of idolized Corliss a lot growing up. Going to his house and seeing all the accomplishments that he did, sixth man in the NBA and SEC Player of the Year twice.

“That is something I want to do also,” Portis added. “I want to model to like try to model my game after him and just try and be the person he was on and off the court for the Razorbacks and just try to be a true Razorback.”

Williamson - who had a banner lofted to the rafters last month - noted that he is extremely proud of Portis on and off the court.

He noted that “I’ve always considered Bobby like a son.”

“I am so very proud of not only the basketball player that he has become, but also of the young man he has become,” Williamson said.

Portis, who averaged 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds this season, certainly sees the similar paths between the two.

“A lot goes through my mind,” Portis said. “He won it and I come back and 20 years later and win it again, not just for myself, but for my state also. I don’t look at this award for just me. I look at it for the entire state of Arkansas because I feel like the Hogs basketball is on our way back to the glory days it was.”

Portis made it clear when he signed with Arkansas that he wanted to lead the Razorbacks back to the glory days when Williamson led the program to the 1994 national championship and 1995 national championship.

“I feel like I have had a huge impact on this program,” Portis said. “Just coming here and being from Arkansas and just coming to represent how I have done, I feel like I have done that thus far but I still have got a long way to go.”

Portis admits he thought one of Kentucky’s players might win the award because of their team success.

“I was kind of shocked,” Portis said. “I thought that the Kentucky players would kind of dominant awards because of their record.

“I think I had a great year,” Portis added. “I tried to stay consistent throughout the whole season and tried to be that man for my team and just tried to help my team to more wins this season. I felt like I was honored in like a great way.”

No. 21 Arkansas (24-7, 13-5) will open up play in the SEC Tournament in Nashville Friday night at 6 p.m.

The Razorbacks will play the winner of Thursday night’s game between Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

“It's big,” Portis said. “But like Coach A always says, "The past has nothing to do with this year.' We are just trying to stay on a level head and just come out there and play basketball and at the end of the day of we win, we win and if we lose, we lose.

“Just try and play our style of basketball and just try to create some chaos out there for the other team, whoever we play,” Portis added.

Bobby Portis

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