Lying face down on a trainer's table as his leg is being stretched, Tyler Dorsey is smiling. Who knew that pain could feel so good?
Dorsey does a lot of smiling these days on the basketball court and while walking around the campus of Pasadena Maranatha.
"I'm just a happy-go-lucky kid," he said. "I'm always having fun with this game and just keep a smile on my face. That's my personality."
By all accounts, Dorsey's transfer to Maranatha from Bellflower St. John Bosco has surpassed expectations. He's averaging 34.1 points a game, with nine games of 40 or more points. The Oregon-bound senior has helped lead the Minutemen (16-8) to the Olympic League championship and a No. 1 seeding in the Southern Section 4A playoffs.
And on Wednesday night, 6-foot-10 Trevor Stanback returned to the court for the first time all season (he had been sidelined with a medical condition), which means we'll be seeing a lot of Dorsey and Maranatha for the next month.
"I'm just glad Trevor is back," Dorsey said. "It's a big asset for the team. We've been missing him all year. I feel if he was healthy and in shape, we could have played in the Open Division. But it didn't pan out that way."
Dorsey won a state Division II championship last season with St. John Bosco and got to play against the best in the Trinity League. That raises the question why would he leave?
St. John Bosco Coach Derrick Taylor had nothing but praise for Dorsey. "He wants to do right," he said. "He's a good passer. He's a good kid. He's a good teammate."
But Taylor said there was a "difference in philosophy" with Dorsey's father, Jerrid.
Jerrid Dorsey said he wanted his son to play basketball in his hometown of Pasadena. His daughter already attended Maranatha, and when Tim Tucker was hired as coach, the family wanted to put an end to rising at 5 a.m. to make the drive to Bellflower.
"Maranatha is where he should have been his whole career," Jerrid Dorsey said.
Said Tyler: "The first day I stepped on campus, I just felt at home. It was my city and I just wanted to go back and [play] for my city."
Tucker, a former Pasadena High coach hired last year, said there have been zero issues with Dorsey or his father.
"He's a total team player," he said.
Dorsey is at his best with the ball in his hands, and at 6-foot-5 with outstanding strength, he has been scoring from inside and outside this season. His 10.8 rebounds a game indicate how valuable he has become for the Minutemen.
"I'm having fun every game," he said. "I just want to end my senior year in a great way by winning a CIF or state title."
And when the games gets tough and the pressure is on, Dorsey will be ready to deliver
"I love big games," he said. "That's what you live for, the big shot. I'm always relaxed, calm, cool, collected."
The state championships are next month in Berkeley's Haas Pavilion, where Dorsey will be visiting when he's playing in the Pac-12 for Oregon.
Don't be surprised if he gets an early chance to see whether he likes the hoops of Haas Pavilion.