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Henricksen: UT-Chattanooga lands Maurice Commander

Marist's Maurice Commander (3) dishes the ball away against Brother Rice. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

The rise of Maurice Commander was a work in progress.

The 5-10 point guard didn’t have a single Division I offer four months ago. By the time July played out and August rolled around the Curie senior was flooded with interest and 15-plus scholarship offers.

You’ll have to excuse Commander for being a bit deluged the past couple of months by it all. He sorted through the process, eliminated persistent schools and coaching staffs quickly and narrowed it down to two programs in the end –– Tennessee-Chattanooga and UC-Davis.

“I was definitely feeling a little overwhelmed,” Commander said of the rise in interest and offers over the past couple of months.

But the scoring lead guard lifted a big weight off his shoulders Tuesday with a commitment to Tennessee-Chattanooga and first-year coach Lamont Paris.

“I was really comfortable with coach Paris and the staff,” said Commander, who officially visited Chattanooga and UC-Davis and offers from Missouri State, Evansville, Murray State and several other mid-major programs. “I could really feel their belief in me. Deep down I felt wanted, and I could trust what they were saying. It’s a relief that I found the best spot for me.”

While the rise and the recruitment was a work in progress, Commander’s individual game has been as well. The knocks on Commander ranged from being too small to not being a good enough shooter to questions about being a true point guard.

Commander developed nicely while at Marist over the course of his junior season, where he was named the East Suburban Catholic Conference Player of the year this past season. He then took his game to a new level this past summer. Commander became a better facilitator and evolved into an all-around scorer with his improved consistency with his jumper.

Commander says he has felt a change in himself as a player and felt a new level of confidence this past summer, saying he also went with the adage of “playing every game like it was my last.”

“The biggest change in my game is my knowledge and feel for the game and the point guard position,” Commander pointed out. “That area has really improved –– knowing where guys should be and where to get the ball as a point guard. My shooting has also improved as there’s been a big boost shooting percentage wise.”

Commander will help fuel a Curie team that figures to be among the top teams in the Chicago Public League and state this winter. And he will continue to play with a chip on his shoulder.

“I know a lot of people doubted me because of my size,” says Commander, who vaulted to No. 12 on the City/Suburban Hoops Report player rankings in the Class of 2018. “But my confidence is really high, and I feel like I can go out and play with and compete against anyone.”

Follow Joe Henricksen and the City/Suburban Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport