Otto Porter and Trey Burke battled last season without ever playing each other. The opportunity for a true head-to-head matchup comes Wednesday at the Verizon Center.
Porter's stellar play during the 2012-13 season at Georgetown, particularly in Big East games, propelled the sophomore into national Player of the year discussion.
Burke entered the season at that level. The University of Michigan point guard essentially served as frontrunner throughout.
Before the Wizards selected Porter third overall in the 2013 draft, he was named a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith awards. Burke, the ninth selection, eventually won both.
The pair was also named first-team All-Americans. Another member of the elite team, Creighton's Doug McDermott, played at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night against Georgetown.
There has been no battle this season. Porter started on the sideline due to injury. It's been catch up from there. He simply hasn't been part of Washington's rotation, though he made two 3-pointers during the fourth quarter of Monday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Porter received only three minutes of playing time when the Wizards lost 104-101 at Utah on January 25. Burke had 12 points and eight assists in 38 minutes.
The 6-foot-1 guard also suffered an early season injury, specifically a bone fracture in his right index finger. Since then he's played in 48 games with 46 starts for a Utah squad focused more on the future then the current campaign. Burke averages 12.5 points, 5.4 assists and a tidy 1.8 turnovers. Though he's been quiet during the current three-game losing streak, Burke has moved into the Rookie of the Year discussion especially since Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams' play dipped from his scorching start.
The reference above says the two college stars "battled" for awards last season. Eh, not really, as there really wasn't much of a national argument about which one would take home the main hardware. In retrospect, maybe there should have been.
That's no knock on Burke, who averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists while leading Michigan to the National title game. Not all award deadline dates are the same meaning some accounted for the NCAA Tournament run while others did not.
Obviously, Porter's résumé wasn't helped by Georgetown's round of 64 loss to Florida Gulf Coast. Of course, the Hoyas were in position as a No. 2 seed largely because of the Big East Player of the Year, the one Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim called "the best all-around player I've seen in this league."
Now look at the college programs the year after their respective stars left. Michigan enters the final week of the regular season ranked No. 12 and leading the Big 10. The Wolverines came in second last season with Burke - and New York Knicks rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
Georgetown certainly has had a roller coaster of a campaign in terms of results and the roster, but Porter was the only key player not back. Last season the Hoyas finished 25-6. This season they're 17-12 and only hoping to reach the NCAA's.
Anyway, the past is, as they said, the past. It's time to look forward toward the next battles, starting with Wednesday's matchup.