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Pryor Commitment: Saints' star ready to take game to next level
By Christine Bolin | Daily Herald Staff

St. Charles East star Collin Pryor.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/16/2007 12:16 AM

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"He hasn't even come close to reaching the tip of the iceberg."

Those were the words St. Charles East boys basketball coach Brian Clodi used to describe the way Collin Pryor played for him and the Saints last year in his breakthrough junior season.

It's been eight months since last season ended. Has Pryor reached the tip of the iceberg yet?

"He's not even close still," Clodi said. "He has a lot of personal goals and a lot of great team goals to achieve."

One of the things Pryor wanted to do before the Saints' season started was get his college choice taken care of and paid for.

In mid-October, that was no longer an issue, as Pryor committed to Northern State University, a Division-II program in South Dakota.

"It's a great fit…but he's got a long way to go, but he's excited for the upcoming season," Clodi said. "He's been waiting. He's been working hard. We just can't wait to get started."

The wait is over. The boys basketball season is finally here. This is Pryor's year to prove last year's averages of 16.9 points and 9 rebounds per game was not a fluke.

"We are very fortunate to have Collin Pryor in our program," Clodi said. "He likes this place, and we like him."

What's there not to like about Pryor? When a player from last year's team violated team rules and did not play with the Saints, Pryor used that opportunity to his advantage.

As a result, Pryor took the player's place and averaged almost a double-double, led the team in scoring and rebounding and did even better in Upstate Eight Conference play (18 points, 11 rebounds per game).

"I knew I had it in me, but it definitely was a surprise," Pryor said. "It was a fun season."

"He had an unbelievable year," Clodi added.

"He's definitely an all-around player," added teammate Kevin Senechalle. "He can do it all."

Pryor's success at the varsity level couldn't have been that big of a shock. As a sophomore, he was the star of the sophomore team. Clodi said that if he would have brought him up as an underclassman in the 2005-06 senior-dominated team, he wouldn't have played that much.

"He was going to fight for minutes and wasn't going to be a starter," Clodi said. "We believe the only way you get better is if you are on the court, not sitting there watching.

"On the sophomore team, he was the go-to guy and got 15-16 shots. He was going to play every minute."

Sounds exactly like the role Pryor will be taking on this year. The difference is, he'll be doing it as a shooting guard -- a 6-foot-6 guard -- not as a forward.

"(The switch) will make our team better," Clodi said. "We have reasons, and you will find out why during the season. He's explosive. We feel he can do a lot of things with the basketball.

"We want the ball in his hands as much as we can and we feel pretty excited about playing him there."

Pryor is also the backup point guard to another tall senior in 6-foot-7 Brian Lankton. The move will also help Pryor prepare for college.

"I'm excited," Pryor said of the switch. "I've been waiting to play guard or point guard my whole life. It's tough learning the plays, but it will be fun."

So will this season, now that Pryor has one less thing to worry about in choosing his perfect college.

Within a few weeks right before the season started, the whole process was completed. Pryor had other options like the University of Dayton, Lehigh University (in Pennsylvania) and Hillsdale College in Michigan. NSU, however, appeared to be the best fit, as coach Don Meyer is the fifth winningest college basketball coach in his 35 years in coaching.

Northern State also leads Division II schools in attendance.

"It's definitely a big weight lifted off my shoulders," said Pryor, who plans on majoring in sports management. "It's going to allow me to play a lot easier and be able to help out my teammates a lot more. I don't have to worry about who is in the stands watching me."

Chances are, the people watching him in the stands -- at least the St. Charles East fans -- will like what they see.