He played his last game in an Aggie basketball uniform in the Mountain West Tournament championship game.
But it may not have been his final contest as a college athlete.
Abel Porter confirmed to The Herald Journal on Tuesday that he has entered the transfer portal. He does has have one year of eligibility left and discussed his future with Utah State head coach Craig Smith before making a decision.
“Yeah, I’m looking at opportunities that are out there and making sure I take into account everything I could do,” Porter said. “I’m just taking it all in. I talked to coach Smith, and he is 100 percent supportive and actually helped me. Right now I’m just seeing if there is a great spot to play basketball and to continue my education. If not, it is what it is.”
Jeff Goodman, a national basketball analyst, was the first to announce that Porter was looking to play one more year.
“We are looking at some different places and some different coaches have reached out to me,” said Porter, who is married to Presley. “We are seeing if there is a good fit for education and basketball. If we can find that fit, then we’ll take it and if not, then we will be all right.”
Porter, who graduated last May with a degree in business administration and is wrapping up a masters degree at USU in human resources, was honored with a trio of Aggie seniors on Senior Night on Feb. 25. A month ago he said it was time to move on and take the next step in his life. That may include playing in a different uniform next season.
“I’ve just been trying to figure out everything,” Porter said. “School is different, families, social interactions. I’m just trying to navigate through it all.”
Porter started all 34 games this past season at USU — one of just two on the team to start every game. He has 55 starts during his Aggie career and seen action in 94 games.
“Abel was very up front last summer and said he was going to treat this (past season) like my senior year,” Smith said. “We met a couple of times during the season and I checked to make sure that is what he wanted to do. We were good with it. We had great communication and he is a person of great integrity. We honored him on Senior Night.
“Then a situation came up. There is a specific school, a high academic school that I’m not going to say who, that is interested in him. Abel is a smart guy. ... If he has an opportunity to go to a very, very prestigious school and play, more power to you. So, I said, ‘let’s put you in the portal,’ and he said ‘okay, let’s roll with it.’ I know how things can get misconstrued. If it works out, great. If he decides to move on with life, then he will do that. There is no ill will. We have had great communication.”
As a junior, Porter averaged 25.7 minutes a game while dealing with a back issue and an injured ankle. He finished the season averaging 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game.
He dealt with back issues at the conference tournament, but was looking forward to the NCAA Tournament. The team was informed Thursday that the Big Dance had been canceled because of the coronavirus.
“We were all planning on practicing and working out,” Porter said. “I usually get there an hour early, but it was already all over Twitter. So, there was no formal announcement. We already knew.
“So, instead of practice, we all met on the Spectrum floor. It was a emotional. Guys were crying. There were blank stares. Guys were thinking of what could have been. It was definitely emotional, sad, depressing, any of those type of adjectives is how we were feeling.”
The Aggies did go out on a high note by winning the Mountain West Tournament. Many leagues did not get to finish their tournaments.
“We are blessed to have that opportunity and Sam (Merrill) especially to have that moment,” Porter said. “So many college kids didn’t have that opportunity. Sam and I were talking yesterday how lucky and blessed we are to have that opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament last year. I have friends on teams that are seniors that didn’t get that. My friend Dalton Nixon at BYU is a senior and this is the one time he was going to be playing in a NCAA Tournament. Now he doesn’t get that opportunity. I really feel for him. I’m lucky that I had that opportunity.”
Porter doesn’t even want to think about what seed or how the Aggies could have done at the NCAA Tournament.
“There is nothing worse than thinking, ‘what if’ or ‘what could have been,’” Porter said. “It sucks thinking about the match ups. We are trying to find a way to have closure, but that is hard. I still haven’t been able to do that.”
But he may get another chance next season to go dancing. That is if he decides to keep playing and the team does well.