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Gwinnett Grads: Former Hawk star nearing D-I commitment

Porsha Porter was clearly one of the state's top point guards during her record-setting career at Mill Creek, flashing the skills of a major college prospect. Unfortunately, she didn't have the grades to match.

That combination forced the speedy Porter away from the hustle and bustle of metro Atlanta to a much slower-paced lifestyle in Hillsboro, Mo., home of women's basketball powerhouse Jefferson College.

In Hillsboro, academics and basketball rule Porter's life.

"I call it nowhere land," she said of her college. "There's nothing to do, all we do is play basketball, go to study hall and go home. Since we don't have anything to do, all we can do is get better."

While the quiet setting doesn't fit Porter's preference -- she's a Chicago native -- it has helped in two regards. Most importantly, her academics are better and she is on track for a May graduation. She also has worked tirelessly on her game while playing for one of the nation's top junior college programs.

Jefferson is 12-1 this season and is ranked third nationally.

"I like (the basketball team) a lot, all we do is run, run, run," Porter said.

Her team's up-tempo style suits her much better than the location of its gym.

Porter leads the team in scoring (18.0), steals (4.0) and assists (3.8), and is among the top rebounders (4.1) despite being 5-foot-6. She also has been a more steady outside shooter, making 22 of 55 3-pointers (40.0 percent).

Those numbers are up from her freshman season, when she averaged 11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.7 assists.

Along the way, she hasn't lost many games with Jefferson.

"It's fun to win and every night everybody gives us their best game," Porter said.

The junior college route also has set Porter up with some nice options for a four-year program. She has visited Mississippi State, her current favorite, and Morgan State, and also plans a trip to South Carolina.

She hasn't decided her other two visits, but plans to take them in the near future before the spring signing period.

"I'm just trying to go in somewhere and help them get better, help them move up in the rankings and make them a better team than they were before I got there," Porter said.

BASKETBALL

Fast break

Tiffany Clarke had the best game of her young college career Monday night, powering 18th-ranked Vanderbilt to a 96-83 win over East Tennessee State. The Norcross grad had career highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds, while making 10 of 13 shots. ... Fellow Norcross grad Al-Farouq Aminu also had a monster game Monday night with 23 points and 17 rebounds as Wake Forest defeated UNC-Greensboro 75-60. ... Fordham senior Brenton Butler, also a Norcross grad, scored 25 points Tuesday night in a return to Atlanta, but it wasn't enough as his team fell 79-66 to Kennesaw State.

BASEBALL

Heffley named an All-American

Brookwood grad Ross Heffley, a sophomore at Western Carolina, was named to the preseason Louisville Slugger All-American Baseball Team.

Heffley, last season's Southern Conference freshman of the year, hit .391 with 51 RBIs to earn Baseball American freshman All-American honors. He started his career on a 13-game hitting streak, then went on a 14-game streak to finish the season.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.