Michael Orris is signed, sealed and delivered to play for Illinois beginning next fall. The Crete-Monee point guard has the skill to help the team early in his career, especially as a passer and defender. But he wasn't able to demonstrate all his talent at the recent Shootout at Parkland due to an injury.
"I sprained my left ankle in three different places, outside, instep and high ankle sprain. I came back after just 10 days; it was a miracle. I did the right things in the healing process, so it speeded up."
He claims nearly 100% recovery, but the pronounced limp he displayed after sitting for the post game press conference reminded how tough it is to return to action quickly after a high ankle sprain. It also didn't help that he played against a strong and balanced Niles Notre Dame team.
"They were very disciplined, especially on the offensive end. They ran their sets, did things methodical and hit the open guy. Same thing defensively. They played really good help defense. Everyone was in the passing lanes and doubling the ball screens hard. Just an overall great game for them.
"I felt they did a really good job of trapping the ball screens when I came off of that. And their guard was very strong with quick hands."
Orris had played just two games prior to the Parkland game. According to his coach Thomas Cappel, Orris had his better game the night before.
"I don't doubt that he's a little pooped after last night, I'll make the excuse for him. We had a relatively rough game last night, and he had 6 threes. He didn't get those off today. We're hoping to get this team better jelled by Christmas. With Michael as the leader, I have no doubt we'll get that done."
Illinois recruits always get extra attention from opponents who want the ego trip of outplaying them. Orris says he doesn't fear the extra attention.
"Not really, I love it. I have a target on my back, and so be it. I wouldn't have it any other way. Just play my game, do what I do and the rest takes care of itself."
Of course, he had the added responsibility of playing in front of the entire Illinois basketball team, there to support their future teammate.
"I wouldn't say pressure. I've hung around them enough, and they know me. There were a lot of fans, so I guess there was a little bit of pressure. When things aren't going your way, and defenses are throwing a couple different things at you, you aren't shooting the ball well, the pressure adds. But it's always fun to play in front of these kinds of crowds."
Orris is also accustomed to playing in front of Illini coaches Bruce Weber and Jerrance Howard, there to watch his every movement. He says it was a fun experience.
"Oh yeah. They were at almost every game during the AAU season this summer, so I got to play in front of them then. And I got to play in front of them last high school season. So I'm kind of used to it.
"It was nice for the whole team to be there; that was cool to play in front of them. I just wish I performed better for them. I didn't play up to my abilities."
Cappel wasn't hired to coach Crete-Monee until September. But he knows Orris well enough to make a glowing assessment of the future Illini.
"He might take this as an insult, but he's a throwback to guard play. He's not flashy, he just gets it done. He's improved his shot so much.
"Illinois is lucky to get Michael. He's a wonderful young man. He's not only a good basketball player but a good person. In life, we know that sometimes means more than being a good basketball player. He's the whole package; anybody would be proud to have him on his team."