BOGACZYK: Porter Happy with Herd `Homecoming'
The Word on the Herd-August 9, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The hometown focus of coach Matt Daniel’s talent searching is tailor-made for the latest addition to Marshall women’s basketball.
Taylor Porter is back where she wants to be -- which is in the neighborhood.
The Huntington-born Wayne County resident (Fort Gay), who starred across the Tug and Levisa Forks at Lawrence County (Ky.) High, has transferred to the Herd program from Murray State.
“We’re happy to have Taylor back home,” Daniel said. “It’s a great fit as far as I’m concerned. This is where she wanted to be.”
The 5-foot-9 Porter was to No. 2 scorer at Murray State last season, averaging 10.9 points and 26.7 minutes per game, with 17 starts in 28 contests. She had a 25-point game against Southeast Missouri and was voted by Ohio Valley Conference coaches to the league’s five-player All-Newcomer Team.
That was after she lit up things in Louisa, scoring 1,910 points – 25.3 points per game, the No. 3 scorer in the Bluegrass State -- as a Lawrence County senior. Porter also averaged 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists and had a LCHS record (boys and girls) 47-point game.
She was a Kentucky All-State first team pick and played in the Kentucky-Indiana and Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Games.
Porter wanted to sign with Marshall out of high school, but the Herd’s 2012 summertime coaching change to Daniel created a degree of difficulty. Since then, Porter’s personal life has had a major impact on her college career.
“Taylor wanted to come to Marshall out of high school, but we got here too late (as a staff), getting things going in July,” Daniel said. “When you do that, you’re essentially trying to hang on for dear life and we couldn’t get to see everybody.
“We were in a period where we couldn’t get there to evaluate her and she had to make a decision and she went to Murray, had a phenomenal freshman year and she wanted to come back home. Her family has struggled with tragedy.
“Two of her grandparents were terminally ill when the whole process started, and since then one has passed. The grandparent that’s still here is very important to her. It’s been a bad deal, rough on the whole family, but we’re happy to have Taylor back home.”
Porter said her paternal grandfather, Earl Nelson, died June 9 after a battle with cancer. Her maternal grandmother, Kathleen Doss, is fighting cancer “but the chemo isn’t doing anything … It’s been hard on all of us, hard on me,”
Daniel said Marshall could have tried to get a hardship waiver from the NCAA to allow Porter to play immediately, but that won’t happen.
“Taylor wants to sit out,” the Herd coach said. “She wants to sit a year, and I’m big on it, because it’s their dream. She’s on scholarship and she’ll get here for the start of classes (Aug. 25) and join us (for practices), and have three years to play for Marshall.”
Porter added: “I think taking off a year is best for me.”
Porter said her desire to play for the Herd had deep roots. She attended Marshall football and men’s and women’s basketball games while she was growing up.
“Murray State offered me and it was Division I and I had to make a decision,” Porter said. “I appreciated being there, and Coach (Rob) Cross was great to me. I really liked him, but Marshall is where I wanted to be. After watching them all these years, to say I’ll be part of the team and the school is a dream for me.”
Porter will join a Herd roster that already has three West Virginia players in former Huntington High stars Talequia Hamilton (a Cincinnati transfer) and Kiana Evans, and guard McKenzie Akers of Princeton. When Porter becomes eligible for 2015-16, she will essentially be part of a new class that will be overwhelmingly in-state and Tri-State based, considering Daniel’s reported commitments.
“Taylor is a combo guard, a one and a two,” Daniel said of Porter. “She’s a crafty, gritty, ‘one of us’ players, just a good hard-nosed player.”
At Murray, Porter was known for her perimeter skills, particularly as a mid-range spot-up shooter, and she also was 38-of-100 on 3-point attempts. She said she wants to major in pre-veterinary sciences. “I’ve wanted to be a vet for a really long time, since I was little,” she said.
When she was named to the All-OVC Newcomer Team, Cross, her Murray coach, said Porter “is a tremendous young lady who has worked hard this season. She was already talented when she arrived here this summer, but her work ethic and diligence have helped take her game to the next level.”
Daniel was happy to add another homegrown player to his roster, too.
“She’s one of us,” the third-year Herd coach said. “Her mom and dad (Katrina and Stewart Porter) came on campus with her to make sure it was the right fit. As soon as she got her release from Murray State, she came over to look at campus on her own.
“Shoot, she’s more familiar with Huntington than I am. It’s a great fit for her and us as far as I’m concerned.”