By Jeff Griesch
Nebraska Athletic Communications
Ruby Porter is ready to join the Big Red.
Porter, who signed her Letter of Intent at 7 a.m. local time in Australia on Nov. 13, 2019 (Nov. 12 in the United States) was the first of seven Nebraska women’s basketball newcomers to sign to become Huskers, but she will be the last newcomer to actually make it to Lincoln.
One of the top young players in the Australian National Team program, Porter has been waiting at home in Adelaide during the world-wide coronavirus outbreak. She was also waiting on her student visa, which she officially picked up in Sydney on Aug. 5, and she hopes to be on campus in Lincoln for the start of fall classes on Monday, Aug. 24.
“I was due to arrive (at Nebraska) in late-May/early-June, so when COVID first came along, I knew pretty well straight away that might possibly not be happening,” Porter said. “Mentally it was hard to readjust as I had prepared myself to leave. Flights were canceled. No student visas were being issued, and I wasn’t allowed to leave the country, so really there was no hope until now that I could come to Lincoln.”
Porter, who might best be described as rambunctious out on the court, has been chomping at the bit to start her college basketball career at Nebraska.
“Oh, I couldn’t be more excited,” Porter said. “The group this year seems like they are going to be fun teammates and a second family to be around. In regards to playing, I haven’t played a proper game of basketball for a while now, so the thought of wearing the Red and White makes me shake. I am so excited to be a part of this program.”
Nebraska Coach Amy Williams and the rest of the Huskers also have been looking forward to Porter’s arrival at the Hendricks Training Complex.
“We are so excited to finally have a date set for Ruby’s arrival in Nebraska,” Williams said. “She has been so eager to get here and get to work with her teammates, and we are anxious to have the final piece of our roster in place.”
Porter, who said she hopes Husker fans will love her “true Aussie-English” accent, will join fellow Australian Isabelle Bourne on the Husker roster in 2020-21. Bourne, a sophomore from Canberra, made a significant impact for the Huskers inside as a freshman. Bourne was also the host for Porter’s visit to Nebraska during the fall of 2019.
“I’ve never really played with Is – only against her – but I could not be more excited to be her teammate,” Porter said. “Her skills and confidence on the court are so inspiring, and I cannot wait to represent Australia as Huskers together. The team looks great this year, and I’m really looking forward to playing with all the returning Huskers and newcomers. Seeing and hearing how much she loved Nebraska when I visited last year made me fall in love, too.”
While Porter has been waiting to get to Nebraska, she has been working on her game. The feisty guard with a mighty motor has been able to work individually and with small groups in the Adelaide Lightning facilities.
“At the start (of the pandemic), it was quite difficult with no access to an indoor basketball court or gym, but we did have access to an outdoor court and some home facilities,” Porter said. “When courts finally reopened, we started up some small group workouts with the Lightning, which was fantastic. A friend and I joined a local gym to get some reps up initially, then we found a personal trainer to work with me leading up to college. When allowed, we began small group scrimmages like 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 to get some competitive training.”
Porter has also been able to access Nebraska Strength and Conditioning Coach Stuart Hart as a resource to help her transition to her upcoming workouts with the Huskers.
“Coach Stu has helped me out immensely, sending through some specialized programs that I could use in the gym, and keeping me up to date with new workouts to do while I’m here in Australia,” Porter said. “When the Huskers first arrived on campus they had full access to the gym, so that put me at a slight disadvantage. Now having a personal trainer and using the workout Coach Stu provided me with, I’ve been able to get the best work possible done. In fact, with some soccer skills we were given, I and a friend went to a field every day to do the workout during COVID.”
Porter has used some of her time this summer to work on her physical strength in hopes of becoming a stronger rebounder as a 5-10 guard. She knows she has some attributes that can help any basketball team on the offensive end.
“I think one of my biggest strengths is being a scoring threat both inside and outside the arc,” Porter said. “I also read the ball and run the floor quite well, providing scoring options for my teammates.”
In February of 2019, Porter averaged 15.9 points per game for the Sturt Sabres in Australia’s Premier League at the U20 National Championships. In April of 2018, she averaged 16.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals in helping South Australia to a silver medal at the U18 National Championships.
As a member of the Australian U17 National Team, Porter competed with the Sapphires at the 2018 World Championships in Minsk, Belarus. She was also a member of the Australian U18 3×3 National Team in 2018-19. She competed in the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October of 2018, before helping the Australian 3×3 squad to a gold medal at the Asia Cup in the summer of 2019.
In between those two major international 3×3 competitions, Porter participated in “Next Generation Saturday” at the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa.
Porter is confident that her international experience will help her make a quick adjustment to college basketball.
“Playing both for Australia and in the Australian Women’s National Basketball League development program, I have been able to get an experience and opportunity not many players have received,” Porter said. “The competitiveness and style of play will make it easier to adapt to the Huskers’ style of play and NCAA competition.”
While Porter has kept her focus on basketball, she has embraced the extra time at home in Australia with family and friends as a blessing from the unlikely source of the pandemic.
“It seems like forever ago, but I do remember sitting in the Bali Airport with my family waiting for our flight back to Adelaide and being told we would have to isolate,” Porter said. “This came as a crazy shock for us. We had no idea what was going on. At the start of COVID-19 in Australia, we all seemed to not take it seriously, go about our lives like normal. Then when the number of cases and deaths started to rise, we second-guessed things. It has been a crazy few months, but to a certain degree some of the best moments happened during that period. I’ve been able to be at home with my family more and spend time with friends I’d never thought I would be so close with.”
Ruby’s father, Gavan, is employed at the airport in Adelaide, but he has not been able to work since the outbreak. Her mother, Sandy, is an administrator for a pharmaceutical company. She worked from home for several months before recently being able to return to her workplace.
“Adelaide hasn’t been so bad in regards to cases, so the restrictions have eased. We still have to distance ourselves, wear a mask where possible and stay home if sick,” Porter said. “However, lately I have felt a little bit of the norm back, which is good for my last few weeks at home.”
That “norm” feeling for Porter has included a great appreciation for the role her parents have played in her rise as a basketball player.
“Both my parents have played a huge part in my development and growth as a basketball player over the 11 years I’ve been playing,” Porter said. “My mum was my junior coach for several years, and still to this day supports me like no other. They have traveled the world with me, always there for my highs and lows.”
While Porter has found great value in strengthening her family connections with extra time at home, she also has been building strong relationships with her new Husker family in Nebraska.
“We have done regular weekly phone calls with the team and in small groups, and I catch up with some of the girls on calls, in particular Anni (Annika Stewart) and Whit (Whitney Brown),” Porter said. “I probably call them once a day, which is great. I already feel like I’ve known them for years. Connecting with the girls is something that is bringing me over to Lincoln and pushing to be there as soon as I can. I don’t want to start my freshman year behind Anni and Whit, I want to graduate with these girls.”
Porter is also eager to bring her own basketball personality to the court while instilling the team values the Huskers have been working throughout the summer to build.
“Being a loud communicator is a big part of the way I play,” Porter said. “I don’t think it will take too long for me to settle in and bring that to the team. I’m going to Lincoln with a positive mindset. I will work as hard as I can and be a great teammate. I will work for the opportunity and no matter what, I will be dependable for my teammates. This summer, we have established team values that should always be shown on and off the court. I believe the ones we chose are so vital to a great team and great teammates.”
Coach Williams has seen Porter’s personality and communication skills already benefiting the Huskers prior to Porter’s arrival in Lincoln.
“Ruby brings great versatility in the guard position, but my favorite thing that she brings is just a relentless motor and a high-level of communication,” Williams said. “It has been fun to watch, even over zoom meetings and from thousands of miles away, how her communication can positively affect our program. It will be fun to have it in person moving forward.”
Now that the outgoing, energetic, competitive, caring and honest Porter is counting the days until she can get on the court with her new Nebraska teammates, she can’t wait to show her game and her personality to Husker fans.
“I’m a very outgoing person, approachable and love being around people,” Porter said. “I adore kids and love giving back to the community. I love having some fun and doing things outside my comfort zone. I am coming in as prepared as I possibly can, and when the season starts up, I’ll be giving it my all.”