Sophomore Andrew McAuliffe is just your ordinary 6-foot-7, math loving, 16-year-old—who's averaging better than 19 points a game for (GBN) basketball.
McAuliffe, who has scored in the double figures in each game so far this season, is a large reason why GBN has raced out to a 7-0 start entering a Friday night Central Suburban League North showdown at Highland Park.
In his second varsity season, the Spartans' forward/center has already made a name for himself, earning MVP honors at the Billy D. Schnurr Thanksgiving Tournament and establishing himself as one of the most versatile offensive threats that David Weber has seen in his 15 years as head coach at GBN.
"We've never had anyone like Andrew McAuliffe," said Weber, who has coached such players as Duke All-American Jon Scheyer and Notre Dame freshman Alex Dragicevich.
"He's someone who can finish inside, who can dunk the ball easily, and can use both his right and left hand. We've been loaded with guards, but he's been the best post presence, and he's got a couple of years left. He's only going to get better," Weber added.
Still, as McAuliffe continues to improve and garner interest from Division I universities, he remains humble, putting his team before himself as opposing defenses do all they can to shut him down.
"Of course I want to score, but most importantly, it's about winning as a team. If I don't score as much and the other guys are getting good looks, then that's great. I'll help out the team anyway I can," he said.
A leader both on and off the court, McAuliffe has been a welcome addition to the Spartans' locker room, earning respect from his peers and coaching staff alike. Though he acknowledges that most of his time is spent on the hardwood, McAuliffe really is just like any other teenager with a sense of humor and a big appetite for Chipotle.
"Those burritos have a lot of calories for me," he joked.
But also like other teenagers, McAuliffe needed time to grow into his body. "You should have seen me in sixth grade. I was one of the most awkward kids out there," he said. "I was pretty lanky then, but now, growing into it, it's nice because I can use my body to my advantage."
Though McAuliffe is one of the tallest students playing in the Central Suburban League, he's certainly not alone. Including seniors Peter Szostak and Tommy Fernitz, Glenbrook North boasts three players standing 6-foot-7, but don't think for one second that the youngest of the three towers has it easy.
"He's just a sophomore, so of course we give him a hard time," Szostak said laughing Wednesday. "Sometimes we'll even pull pranks on him around school or in the locker room. But I have to give him a lot of credit. We battle hard in every practice and he definitely holds his own."
Weber was also quick to comment on the sophomore's easy demeanor.
"He's a good leader. He's very calm and has a great presence, and that's what makes him such a good player," said the coach. "He doesn't get rattled. I haven't really seen him get shaken up on the court. As a freshman, he'd walk in there and at times he'd be our most mature player."
McAuliffe also has the essential confidence to become Glenbrook North's next star. Despite the added pressure placed on his shoulders, he firmly believes the Spartans will capture their 10th consecutive CSL North title, and use their experience at next week's Proviso West Holiday Tournament to pace themselves through a tough conference schedule in 2011.
Until then, the sophomore standout will be keeping busy with one of his favorite activities off the court—math homework.
"I'm a big fan," he said. "People complain about math, but I really don't think it's that bad."