Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Former Brookwood basketball player Chad Porterfield did not see much action as a junior, but developed into a well-rounded player as a senior and will play for Ogelthorpe next season.
Even the most devout Brookwood basketball fans may have missed Chad Porterfield's varsity action his junior season.
It would have required being at one of the four blowout games when he snuck onto the court. Seeing him score that season was even more of a rarity -- he had two points on 1 of 6 shooting.
Mostly he was seated on the bench, occasionally standing to cheer or towering over team huddles as the Broncos' tallest player. He was filled with potential at 6-foot-7, though he hadn't tapped into it yet.
"I didn't play much at all," the recent Brookwood grad said. "I think I played like two games the whole season."
The bench role didn't sit well with him. He felt helpless not contributing on a team that could have used his height on the interior, so when that high school season ended in February 2010, Porterfield went to work.
The results were visibly evident with a quick glance at his frame -- he added 30 pounds up to 205 prior to his senior season -- and with his play on the court. He started all 28 games and led the Broncos' state tournament team in blocked shots.
For the first time ever, he could handle the physical rigors of Region 8-AAAAA basketball. The same kid who scored two points his junior year scored 19 in the Archer game alone.
The reward was not only an expanded role with his high school team, but an opportunity to play college basketball. He ended up choosing Oglethorpe over LaGrange and Oxford.
"In my five years as a head high school coach, Chad's improvement from his junior season to his senior season is the largest jump I've ever seen," Brookwood boys basketball coach Daniel Bowles said. "That says a lot, not only about Chad's work ethic, but also his character. Oglethorpe University is getting a good person, player and student. I truly believe Chad's best basketball is ahead of him."
Porterfield's rise to a college post player wasn't easy, and it took bouncing back from a painful surgery to his chest. He suffered from pectus excavatum, where the center of his chest sunk in and made breathing difficult at times. The solution was a difficult surgery, an expected three-hour procedure that turned into six.
It required opening up his chest, completely flipping his sternum bone and placing a seven-inch titanium rod under his chest and ribs. The surgery kept him from playing contact sports the summer leading into his junior year, which cost him in his basketball development and kept him from playing another sport he had played for years, baseball. He signed up for baseball, but couldn't even swing because of the pain and mobility problems.
Though he couldn't play basketball, at the time he didn't seem to care.
"I don't know if I really missed (basketball) because I wasn't that good," Porterfield said. "I was ready to give up on it because I wasn't doing very well. I only played in two games as a junior. But once I actually worked out and felt better, I really started loving basketball.
"My physical game in basketball really improved. It's really helped my overall game. It gives me a lot more confidence that I can be more physical on the court."
Eventually, he was able to work out and he boosted his diet to add muscle to catch up to his growth spurt -- he grew from 6-1 to 6-7 his freshman year. Training with Ryan Goldin at The Factory, he turned those 30 pounds into muscle. He also saw great improvements in his basketball skills, crediting his time with the Metro Gladiators AAU team helping him get tougher.
It paid off during the high school basketball season that served as a springboard into college basketball.
"I think it was my parents pushing me to do my best, everyone supporting me, my friends supporting me, that made a difference," Porterfield said. "I knew I had to step up for the team. I was the tallest guy but I didn't really play. I knew it was up to me to have a presence."