June 29, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) Growing up, Bobby Portis got accustomed to being the last player picked. So he prided himself on being the one who out-worked everyone else.

Now, the Chicago Bulls first-round draft pick and the reigning SEC Player of the Year is ready to do it again.

With his new team already well stocked in the frontcourt, Portis understands that working his way into coach Fred Hoiberg's rotation won't come easy. But armed with a work ethic he credits to his mother, Tina Edwards - who raised Portis and his three younger brothers in Little Rock, Arkansas - the 6-foot-11, 248-pound power forward is prepared to prove himself all over again.

''I'm a guy that grades himself on hard work,'' Portis said at his introductory news conference Monday. ''I've never been the guy that goes outside my boundaries and does the things I can't do.''

Portis grew up around gangs in a place he said where ''no one really makes it.'' Edwards made it clear to Portis that even though he wasn't the most talented player, he could stand out through hard work.

''She always told me to be a sponge out on the court, to be that garbage man,'' Portis said. ''Even if I don't get the ball, go get it off the offensive glass and put it back in.''

Portis took the message to heart, playing an emotionally charged style that drew the attention of Arkansas coach Mike Anderson. In Portis, Anderson saw a player that he characterized Monday as a ''self-made'' McDonald's All-American who transitioned into the SEC's top player as a sophomore at Arkansas.

Last season, Portis averaged 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while showcasing a versatile skill set that made Portis attractive to the Bulls.

Portis' work ethic, Anderson said, is what makes the rookie special.

''He's got that mindset that he don't want to be a good player, he wants to be a great player,'' Anderson said.

Some projected Portis as a possible lottery pick but he fell to the 22nd overall pick at last week's draft.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman admitted they never expected Portis to be available. He and Hoiberg knew they could use Portis despite already having a frontcourt that includes Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic.

Hoiberg said the NBA's summer league provides Portis a chance to not only learn the Bulls system, but gain some confidence and showcase what kind of player he can be. Hoiberg will go into training camp with an open mind as far as playing time goes, giving Portis the chance to play his way into Chicago's rotation.

''Guys will earn their minutes,'' Hoiberg said Monday. ''I know (Portis) is going to work extremely hard.''

Portis doesn't know any other way.

Portis also wants to make a name for himself as a Little Rock native after growing up with few basketball role models who grew up in his hometown outside of fellow natives Joe Johnson, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets, and former NBA guard Derek Fisher. Portis established a close relationship with former Arkansas star Corliss Richardson, who now serves as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings.

''As a kid I wanted to be that guy that my brothers can look up to and other kids can look up to,'' Portis said. ''Now I've got to that position and I have to run with it and make myself a better basketball player so kids back home can look up to someone.''

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