Dillard’s return gives Vikes another playmaker
Niles North's Lorenzo Dillard drives for a layup as Vernon Hills' Trenton Fulton tries to defend him on Dec. 26 at Wheeling's 35th Annual Wildcat Hardwood Classic. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:35AM
WHEELING — Niles North senior guard Lorenzo Dillard took the local basketball scene by storm last winter.
After sitting out most of the season because of a suspension, Dillard returned in early February, scored 45 points against New Trier in just his fourth game and helped lead the Vikings to the sectional final.
The 6-foot-2 Dillard missed the first seven games of this season for disciplinary reasons, according to Niles North coach Glenn Olson.
His latest return has been a little more low-key, but Dillard did score a team-high 21 points in a 71-57 win over Vernon Hills at the Wildcat Hardwood Classic on Dec. 26.
He then had 11 points and five rebounds in a 64-49 win over a talented Loyola squad the following day.
Dillard said he’s just trying to establish his role on a Niles North team that, despite the presence of talented seniors Malachi Nix, Billy Voitik and B.J. Beckford, skews a little younger and is less experienced than the 2011-12 squad.
“I’m trying to get with the system, be a better player, be a leader. I’m just trying to better myself every way I can,” Dillard said. “We have a lot of young kids and they’re learning. But (the veterans) have to be the leaders and teach them. It’s a big job and a big role to play.”
Though he stole headlines with his scoring outburst last year, Dillard said he is just as happy to set up baskets.
“I’m a pass-first point guard,” he said. “I really don’t care about points. I can dominate a game without scoring. That’s what I love doing, I love passing the ball, I love making other people look better, it looks better on me at the same time.”
A one-time recruiting target of Marquette, Dillard said he now is looking at prep schools and junior colleges for next season.
“When you are in a hole (academically), you have to go a different route,” Dillard said. “I’m waiting for any school to come to me and pay for my education and help me get prepared for being a professional (basketball player).”
Olson said he has been satisfied with Dillard’s progress on and off the court.
“He’s doing great in the classroom and doing a real good job for us,” Olson said. “We’re impressed with where he’s at right now.”
Though the one-time Evanston student has had some challenges off the court, Dillard said he’s committed to making the most of his considerable gifts and setting a good example for youngsters.
“When you have something, there is no point in not using it,” he said. “You want to do good things and you want to make yourself look productive, you want to be presentable to little kids.
“Some kids look up to me and I have to represent myself the right way.”