LITTLE ROCK – Five-star power forward Bobby Portis paused, looked down at the papers in front of him for a few moments, and let out a sigh.
Bobby Portis is the No. 1 player in Arkansas and the No. 23 player in the nation.
And then, after more than 15 months of being committed to the Arkansas Razorbacks, he officially became a Hog, signing his letter of intent at a ceremony at Little Rock Hall High School on Friday afternoon.
Portis (6-9, 225 pounds) is ranked the No. 3 power forward in the nation and the No. 23 player overall for 2013 by 247Sports.
He signed early with Arkansas one day after his best friend, Huntington (W.Va.) Prep four-star Moses Kingsley, also signed with the Hogs. Kingsley is ranked the No. 4 center in the nation and the No. 32 player overall.
When Portis was a sophomore, he said he watched other Little Rock kids sign letters of intent and dreamed that one day he would be do the same.
“Now, it’s finally me,” he said, “and it’s crazy. It’s like a dream.”
Baylor, Florida and Kansas were the teams that tried the hardest to get Portis to change his mind, he said. But he stuck with the pledge he gave Hogs Coach Mike Anderson in August 2011.
“It feels great to get the pressure off me and finally making it official,” Portis said. “Back in 10th grade, I committed, and I had a bunch of people on me to telling me to go to this school and go to that school. But I stayed with it, and I think it’s … big to be a Razorback in your own state because of the fan support and the family atmosphere and stuff like that. It’s pretty cool.”
Anderson caled Portis "one of the best skill forwards in the country."
“He is a perfect fit for our program and has the ability to be an impact player," Anderson said. "For a player of his size, he can score, defend, has the versatility to play inside and out, has a high motor, runs the floor, rebounds and is a proven winner. I love his passion, basketball IQ, leadership qualities and his work ethic is second to none."
With recruiting out of the way, Portis can turn his full attention toward school and helping Hall win a fourth consecutive Class 7A state championship.
“It’s been building up and building up, and everybody’s been very excited, anticipating this day,” Hall Coach Jon Coleman said. “It seems like it got here fast because I t just seems like it was yesterday when they were all ninth-graders. But I think he is relieved and he’s ready to get on with his last year of high school. And I think he’s real excited about that and we’re looking forward to an exciting season.”
Landing Portis was “huge for the university,” Coleman said.
“Bobby is a very versatile athlete and versatile basketball player,” Coleman said. “He’ll be able to play with this back to the bucket. He’ll be able to step out and shoot the basketball like some of the athletes did when Coach (Nolan) Richardson was there. He’ll be able to score and get at the front of the press and just cause a lot of pressure for people. He’ll fit in well at the university.”
Portis agreed that Arkansas is the right fit for him. Getting the chance to continue playing with Kingsley, his best friend and former Arkansas Wings teammate, is an added bonus.
“I think my game will translate good cause I’m a leader on the court. I think I can help lead that team and I can make my teammates better,” Portis said. “That’s what I do best is make my teammates better.
“Me and Moses on the court together is crazy because what I can do, he can’t do. and what he can do, I can’t do. So we just feed off each other and play hard.”
Portis was one of three Hall athletes who signed letters of intent Friday. The other two were girls basketball players. Highly regarded 5-9 guard Tyler Scaife signed with Rutgers, and 6-4 center Katelyn Weber signed with Missouri State.