NBA lottery picks Michael Porter, Jaren Jackson have deep ties to New Orleans
Suffice it to say that the names are being carried forward in the basketball world.
While it was fantastic to see Melvin Frazier of Higgins and Tulane and Mitchell Robinson of Chalmette get drafted Thursday evening in the second round of the NBA Draft, a pair of players with New Orleans ties went in the first round, though they never lived or played here.
Power forward Jaren Jackson, Jr. of Michigan State was the fourth overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies while small forward Michael Porter, Jr. was the 14th selection overall by the Denver Nuggets.
Both lottery picks carry the names of their fathers, each of whom has deep ties to New Orleans.
Born and raised in neighboring Mississippi in the college town of Hattiesburg, Michael Porter, Sr. came over to play at the University of New Orleans from 1985-88 and graduated in 1989. He currently serves as special assistant to head coach Cuonzo Martin at Missouri.
Porter was recruited to play in the powerful ACC at Wake Forest but a coaching change would change everything.
Porter opted to transfer closer to his home base to New Orleans. He was recruited by UNO from Wake Forest by the staff of then-Privateers head coach Benny Dees.
In the 1985-86 season, Porter averaged 10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Privateers, who went 16-12. Porter missed the 1986-87 season injured, when UNO went 26-4 and won its first and only game in the NCAA Tournament in program history, beating BYU 83-79 in the opening round of the tournament at Birmingham before falling to Alabama in the round of 32.
With Porter, UNO went to the NIT in the 1987-1988 season. Porter averaged 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists that season for the Privateers.
I was fortunate to be the play-by-play voice of the Privateers when Porter was at UNO. He was truly one of the nicest young men, not only on the UNO team but one of the nicest I have every encountered in my years of doing games on every level.
Porter could shoot and find ways to score.
Missing the 1986-87 season was a blow that really set him back. Porter flourished under Dees and with Ronnie Grandison and Gabe Corchiani in tow. The addition of another future NBA player, Ledell Eackles, put UNO over the top the next year when the Privateers went 26-4 and won an NCAA game without Porter. One can only wonder what they could have done with him that season.
Jaren Jackson was simply known as Jaren Jackson in his high school days at Cohen. The Green Hornets were building an outstanding program under Alvin Gauthier and would eventually win back-to-back state titles in Class 4A in 1990 and 1991 with Duane Spencer leading the way, another New Orleanian who went to Georgetown.
Jackson was a big guard, strong, with ball skills, who manhandled competition. I had the chance to see him play twice in his senior season, including in a playoff victory over Archbishop Rummel. He was truly a man among boys.
Jackson starred for the Green Hornets before signing to play for John Thompson and Georgetown. He played four years for the Hoyas and averaged 12.3 points per game as a senior, starting all 34 games. It was a time at Georgetown when Thompson was stealing all of the best players from New Orleans, including Spencer, Dwayne Bryant of De La Salle and Perry McDonald of Carver.
NBA talent evaluators somehow missed Jackson, who went undrafted.
Undaunted, he went on to show what a mistake they made, fashioning a 13-year career in the league and he was part of an NBA championship team with San Antonio in 1999.
At one point, Jackson, Sr. was a candidate for the UNO basketball head coaching job but did not land it. Imagine if he had gotten the job and his son had followed. Imagine him hiring Michael Porter, Sr. and his son following him to New Orleans.
Dreams are a good thing, though they seldom become a reality.
The dreams of Michael Porter, Sr. and Jaren Jackson, Sr. are being lived through their sons and that is a good thing. New Orleans should be proud.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…