Versatile guard Chris Dorsey finds way into starting lineup in first year with men’s basketball

GVL / Luke Holmes - Chris Dorsey (14) protects the ball from the defender. GVSU Men’s Basketball lost to Ferris State University on Monday, Jan. 30, 2016.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Chris Dorsey (14) protects the ball from the defender. GVSU Men’s Basketball lost to Ferris State University on Monday, Jan. 30, 2016.

Beau Troutman

Grand Valley State junior Chris Dorsey is a man of many talents. He can score, pass, play different positions, defend the rim and just about anything else on the basketball court.

His most important talent, though, transcends the hardwood. Leading a fast break down the floor? Forget about it. Feeding a perfect pass to a teammate? That’s definitely up there. No, Dorsey’s most impressive talent is his ability to do one thing: work hard.

It is a skill that has defined his collegiate basketball career.

“It’s a dream come true to be honest, to even be here, coming from a community college,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey is in his first season with the GVSU men’s basketball team after transferring from Macomb Community College, where he played for two seasons. After beginning the season as a role player, he has worked his way into the starting lineup, and has started the past four games at point guard. He’s averaging 6.5 points per game this season and is second on the team with 57 assists.

Standing at 6-foot-3, he isn’t your average point guard.

“He’s made the adjustment (from community college) pretty quick,” said GVSU coach Ric Wesley. “He’s a unique player. He’s a multi-positional player, he doesn’t exactly fit in to any category. As time’s gone on, his execution has gotten way better. His ability to run our team really improved.

“It made sense to give him that opportunity.”

Dorsey attended Troy High School in Michigan, where he earned all-state, all conference and all-city honors as a captain of the team. Despite the success, Dorsey says he received little interest from college teams. College basketball wasn’t on his radar until an open gym workout at Macomb.

“I went to an open gym, and I played really good,” Dorsey said. “One of the coaches, (Chris Shepard), saw me and he immediately offered me a scholarship. I just decided to take it, and it was a great decision.”

After nearly deciding not to pursue basketball at all, Dorsey became a star at Macomb. He was named Freshman of the Year by the Michigan Community College Athletic Association and was voted to the MCCAA Eastern Conference Second Team. In his second and final season there, Dorsey averaged 13.6 points, 5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Though starting at a community college could be looked at as a disadvantage, Dorsey says his experience at Macomb prepared him for the road ahead.

“I learned that dog mentality,” Dorsey said. “Just playing hard at all times. At (Macomb’s) games there’s not many fans there like we have here, so we didn’t really have as much attention, but each night you still had to come out and fight. I learned a lot about just fighting, if that makes sense.”

That fighting mentality brought Dorsey to GVSU, which he said was his favorite option out of all the schools recruiting him.

With Dorsey’s emergence at the point guard position, it has given GVSU a one-two punch with him and guard Myles Miller, who started the first 21 games at point guard. At 5-foot-10, Miller is quick and his burst makes him a valuable player off the bench who can spark the offense.

“Dorsey was the one guy that had been consistent off the bench, so it made sense to give him a try,” Wesley said. “He’s got a little more size in there defensively against some of these point guards (in the GLIAC). Myles is a little bit more of a natural scorer, so it’s kind of nice having that spark plug coming off the bench.”

Dorsey’s first start came against Wayne State Thursday, Feb. 2, in Detroit near his hometown, Troy. In front of friends, former teammates and family, Dorsey had his best game of the season. Dorsey had 17 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in 35 minutes of action in a 65-62 loss to the Warriors.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous,” Dorsey said. “It happened to be in my hometown also. As the game went on, I felt comfortable.”

The Lakers (15-10, 11-7 GLIAC) will need Dorsey to be comfortable with just three games remaining this season. The Lakers host Michigan Tech Thursday, Feb. 16 and then Northern Michigan Saturday, Feb. 18. They end the season at Ferris State Thursday, Feb. 23. Currently tied at fourth in the GLIAC with Lake Superior State and Wayne State, a win or loss by any team could swing the conference standings in a different direction.

In the Lakers’ most recent game, a 71-69 victory over LSSU, Dorsey showed what his size can bring to the team. LSSU features one of the top point guards in the GLIAC in Akaemji Williams, who is third in the conference with 21.5 points per game and first with 8 assists per game. The Lakers played defense primarily out of the zone with Dorsey defending the top of the key. Williams struggled, scoring just 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

Williams had a chance to win the game with a last-second 3-pointer, but Dorsey got a hand in his face, forcing an awkward shot.

Dorsey said his biggest goal at GVSU is to simply win games. The only way to do that is to do what got Dorsey to GVSU in the first place—work.

The former community college player understands the privilege of this opportunity maybe more than most.

“A lot of people, they tend to take it for granted,” Dorsey said. “They come out of high school already getting a bunch of scholarships. People at junior college, after those two years, it’s over. Just coming out of there and working my tail off every single day and finally being rewarded is really nice.

“I made it to junior college. I wasn’t satisfied with that, I still wanted to keep getting better. I ended up here, and I don’t want to be satisfied here either.”