Crete-Monee coach Matt Ryndak is glowing in his praise for his junior guard Michael Orris.
"He's an old-school, throwback point guard. He's a ball distributor, he's a selfless leader. He's really good at understanding where our guys need the ball, when they need the ball, and how to really get the most out of the four guys on the floor."
Orris played for Palatine as a 6'-0" sophomore but moved to the Crete-Monee school district when his parents took jobs near there. He has grown since then, and Ryndak believes that has helped his game and his attractiveness to college scouts.
"He's definitely grown some, and that's another thing. He's a bigger guard. There's a lot of really good guards in our state, but they're 5'-11", 6'-0." With him being 6'-3", he's a bigger point guard and stronger point guard. That definitely plays into what he does well on the floor. He uses his size, strength and vision incredibly well."
Ryndak is partial to his player, but others have agreed with him about Orris's potential.
"From the feedback I've gotten from a lot of college coaches, he's a lot quicker and more athletic than they might have guessed he'd be at his size. He gets into the paint often. We chart how many times he gets into the paint, and we know when he gets into the paint really good things happen. He's really learned to do that well."
Orris is equally dedicated on the defensive end.
"He plays incredibly hard. He's a smart, heady defender. He uses his strength to his advantage. He's a very good defender actually."
If there is a knock on Orris, it is his reluctance to shoot. Of course, much of that is his unselfishness toward his teammates.
"Yeah, he's got a quickly evolving jump shot. We would definitely like to see him use it more often. He's shooting incredibly well from the floor, and he's very good from the three point line.
"He's such a pass-first point guard. He's done a better job of understanding when it's time for him to score and when he needs to be a little bit more assertive. That just comes with repetition and with being encouraged to do so."
Illinois needs a point guard who can compete on even terms with the great athletes at the major college level. Does Ryndak believe Orris has that kind of potential?
"Absolutely. You look at Illinois's team and the incredible recruiting job they've done in putting high-level basketball players onto their roster. With Michael's unselfish attitude to lead a team on the floor and make sure the ball goes where it needs to go, I absolutely think he'd be a fit for a school like that."
Speaking prior to last weekend's games, Ryndak knows his team's good start to the season is due primarily to Orris and senior teammate Jamie Crockett, a DePaul recruit. Crockett gets most of the attention, but Orris is beginning to share the limelight. Ryndak says that is less important to his young guard than winning.
"Currently we're 12-2. This individual attention is flattering, and I know Michael is flattered by it. But at the same time, he's such a team-first kid that he just wants to put everything on the back burner. He just wants to win and help us get better.
"If he continues to improve and have that attitude about him...he embodies that. He takes it all in stride. He knows there's gonna be great opportunities down the road. He's so locked into his team and locked into getting better that it kind of just rolls off his shoulder."