Former Carver High great Ashley Porter determined to win CIAA championship ring

Former Carver High great Ashley Porter determined to win CIAA championship ring
June 18
00:00 2015

In photo above: Ashley Porter (14) has blossomed as a bonafide low-post force at both ends of the floor for Johnson C. Smith. (Photo by Johnson C. Smith University Athletics)

   When Ashley Porter left home three years ago to play basketball for Winthrop University (in South Carolina), the future looked promising. Porter, a two-time all-conference pick at Carver High School, was expected to flourish at the next level.

   Instead, the 6-foot-3 center suffered from burn out. Convinced that it was time for her to leave the game for good, Porter left Winthrop after her freshman year. The summer of 2013, however, proved to be a pivotal point.

   Porter attended summer school at Johnson C. Smith University and decided to give basketball one more try. Since then, she has evolved as a formidable presence in the paint for the Golden Bulls, who are expected to make a strong run at the CIAA title next season. Because Winthrop is a Division I school, Porter didn’t have to sit out a season as a transfer because J.C. Smith competes in Division II.

   In her sophomore season, Porter averaged 6.2 points and 5.2 rebounds and was voted All-CIAA as a key figure coming off the bench. This past season, Porter moved into the starting lineup and further solidified her reputation as a low-post threat at both ends of the floor (9.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game).

   “As a team, all of us feel like we can go a long way next season,” said Porter, a rising senior and sports management major. “We’re deep at every position. It’s just a matter of everybody getting on the same page. The No. 1 goal is to get that (conference championship) ring.”

   Porter’s arrival at J.C. Smith was somewhat ironic. Stephen Joyner Jr., the Golden Bulls women’s coach, knew all about Porter during her high school days. At that time, Joyner was the women’s coach at Winston-Salem State University.

   “Having watched Ashley for two years, I was already very familiar,” said Joyner, whose team posted a 20-8 finish this past season. “There was never a doubt that she would go Division I. But we still reached out to her to let her know that she could always join us if things didn’t work out at Winthrop.”

   As things turned out, the timing couldn’t have worked out better for the Golden Bulls and Porter, who was also recruited by Clemson, South Carolina, East Carolina and Norfolk State. At the time of Porter’s departure from Winthrop, Joyner had just completed his first season at J.C. Smith. Once the coach and former recruit reconnected, it was hardly surprising that Porter would resume her basketball career at JCSU.

   “With me being a familiar face, I believe that had a lot to do with her joining us,” said Joyner. “Ashley has grown and matured so much. If she controls the paint, Johnson C. Smith will be successful. She’s so effective that she commands double-teams every time she touches the basketball.”

   “I’ve told Ashley that the paint is her home. Nothing should happen in her home unless she allows it to happen. We have a lot of pieces on our team for next season, but she’s clearly one of the key pieces that have helped to turn our program around.”

   Aside from Porter’s low-post skills, she’s evolved as a leader who sets the emotional tempo with her energy, dedication to the game, and words of encouragement to teammates. Entering her final college season, Porter has fully embraced her role.   

   “Ashley has never been the type of athlete who looks for the limelight,” said Joyner. “She could produce a double-double and not want to talk about it. She would rather talk about the point guard who fed her the ball that enabled her to get that double-double. Now she’s more at ease in talking about her game and what she’s able to contribute.”

   Porter never envisioned having a basketball career after high school. During her early years at Carver, she never thought about college hoops. It wasn’t until after her sophomore year at J.C. Smith that she warmed up to the idea that she is more than capable to hold her own at the college level and beyond. Porter has already attracted interest from women’s pro teams overseas.

  “When I was in high school, I didn’t have any desire to play in college,” she said. “Looking back on where I was then and where I am now, I’m way beyond where I thought I would be as far as playing basketball. I’ve come to realize that my basketball career doesn’t have to stop when my senior season of college is over.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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