By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
Bobby Portis is being looked at as a middle of the first round prospect by most draft experts heading into the NBA Draft. The 6’11” 240 pound power forward from Arkansas was the SEC Player of the Year this past season averaging 17.5 PPG and 8.9 RPG as a sophomore. CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie has him as the 2nd best power forward prospect in the 2015 draft class trailing only Latvian Kristaps Porzingis who is expected to go in the Top 10. In the CBS Sports mock drafts he’s listed anywhere from the Atlanta Hawks at 15 to the Toronto Raptors at 20. He’s been listed as a possible sleeper and has a compelling backstory.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
I had the chance to speak with Portis over the phone about the draft process and where he sees room for improvement in his game as he looks to make an impact at the NBA level.
Mayer: What’s the feeling, as you get ready for the draft, when commissioner Silver calls your name and you finally find out where you’ll be headed?
Portis: I think it’s crazy. It’s an unreal feeling. As a kid I worked hard every day, dreaming of making it to the NBA, so to think about tomorrow night, it’s an unreal, crazy feeling.
Mayer: How has the draft process gone for you?
Portis: It’s been going great. I started about 2 months ago in Chicago getting ready for the workouts; I had 11 workouts to do with teams. I think it was like 11 cities in 26 days, which was kinda crazy. It was good to see all those cities. In 4 years I could be picking one of those teams so it’s good to make those relationships.
Mayer: Has anything surprised you about the draft process? You mentioned the 11 cities in 26 days; did it surprise you how much you had to move around?
Portis: One thing that surprised me is the sleep. I haven’t been getting much sleep during the process because I’ve been so hyped. I’ve just been so hyped for each workout. I think I gave my best in each workout; I didn’t have any bad performances in workouts. It was interesting to see the business side of things too. Because these guys it’s their job to get us through the process, so that was interesting to see as well.
Mayer: Going through the interview process, you hear guys talk all the time about some of the odd questions that are asked…
Portis: (laughing) Yeah absolutely.
Mayer: What was the oddest question you got, the one that sticks out the most?
Portis: The question that sticks out the most, I forget which team asked me it, but they asked ‘How many balls can fit in this room?’ I was like what? 10,000? They said ‘No Bobby that’s the wrong answer, c’mon.’ I said I don’t know. Then they said you don’t know? C’mon Bobby. Then I said 50,000? And they said that’s the right answer.READ MORE: Ghosts of Ybor City | 5 Part Series
Mayer: You’re entering the draft after 2 years in school, good freshman season at Arkansas and then SEC Player of the Year this past year. What made you decide that now was the right time to come out?
Portis: I feel like it was the right time. God blessed me and put me in a position to be able to have this opportunity. I don’t know if next year I would have had this same opportunity. Every kid growing up plays NBA 2K dreaming about one day playing in the league and I felt like this was my opportunity to make that happen.
Mayer: On draft night, if you’re being honest with yourself what team do you want to hear call your name?
Portis: Honestly sir, I don’t care what team it is. I just want a system that fits. Any team I go to, they’re getting a guy that’s going to come to work in the gym every day. Any one from 10-20, it doesn’t matter who it is, they’re going to get a guy that coming to work in the gym every day.
Mayer: In today’s game you’re seeing it get more spread out. You showed plenty of ability to hit jump shots in college and at times extended out to the three-point line is that something you’re really looking to develop that three point shot?
Portis: No doubt. To be a dominant stretch 4 you have to be able to hit three’s. That’s something that I’m definitely continuing to work on. In the league today with the pick-and-pop game stretch 4’s have to be able to knock down shots. If I’m going to get to where I want to be, as a dominant stretch 4 in this league, I need to hit three’s.
Mayer: What’s the biggest area of your game that you’re looking to develop as you look at the next level?
Portis: Better my core. People say that I don’t jump that high, but when you look at that it’s really having a strong core that helps you get up higher. I didn’t have that in college. So I’m really working on bettering my core.
Mayer: Final question for you, who’s the player that you model your game after? What’s the comparison you when you think of your game at the NBA level?
Portis: I like old-school Kevin Garnett. I like LaMarcus Aldridge. My grandfather loved Tim Duncan so he always made me watch Tim Duncan when I was growing up, so I kind of fell in love with his game too.
For full coverage of the 2015 NBA Draft (analysis, commentary and photos) visit our live blog.MORE NEWS: FCS Hiring Event For Bus Drivers, Bus Driver Trainees And Transportation Assistants
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email him.