By Grady Thompson
Sun Sports Contributor
SYRACUSE - Michael Sutton has been spotlighted as The Evening Sun’s Chenango County athlete of the week as a Norwich alumni and current member of the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team that will be competing in the Final Four this Saturday night versus the number one seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in Houston, Texas.
Michael Sutton graduated from Norwich High School in 2014 and was a player on the basketball and football teams for the Purple Tornado. Today he is a sophomore at Syracuse University where he is undergoing his second season as a member of the Orange basketball team. Although he is in the process of changing and deciding majors, Sutton has a dream of one day coaching the sport that has captivated so much of his life.
“When I first got here it was almost overwhelming to be at a school and on a team that I had always dreamed of playing for,” Sutton said. “Playing for Coach Boeheim is an honor. Especially since I want to be a coach, I really try to learn from him as much as I can.”
Although Sutton has been playing basketball for as long as he remembers, it became his passion around the age of 12 once he began playing year round for AAU teams.
It goes without saying that playing Division I basketball for one of the premier teams in the nation is a huge jump from high school, but as time goes on Sutton continues to settle in and find himself at home as a member of the Orange.
“As I’m getting more comfortable this year, my perspective is a little bit different. Instead of seeing these guys as idols and superstars, they’re just my teammates, my friends, my coaches,” Sutton said.
As for the amped up level of competition, Sutton is becoming more comfortable there too.
“My freshman year the major adjustment I had to make was just getting used to the crazy athleticism and speed of the game,” said Sutton. “Going into this year, once the game sort of slowed down for me, it was more about trying to gain a little bit of confidence and starting to compete in practice and pick-up instead of just trying to get in there and hold my own.”
Sutton has been plagued by injuries this season that have hindered his progress on the court, but they haven’t prevented him from continuing to live out his dream.
“I still haven’t had a whole lot of time to really reflect on it all. Isn’t this what every young basketball player in the nation dreams of? I’m on a team playing in March Madness, now in the Final Four, I’m just trying to live in the moment and enjoy everything that’s going on.”
Going into the tournament, many college basketball analysts openly criticized whether or not Syracuse was even worthy of a tournament berth. But after Sunday night’s incredible 16-point comeback versus number one seeded Virginia, the Orange have validated their belonging and thus punched their ticket to the Final Four.
Despite all the hype going on around them, Sutton and his teammates are still expected to fulfill their duties as students before their athletics.
“That’s been the toughest adjustment, it’s definitely difficult to manage [academics and basketball], especially in season with all of the traveling going on,” Sutton said. “But we have access to tutors and our academic advisor does a good job of making sure we are on top of our work.”
Michael Sutton and the Orange will face the North Carolina Tar Heels this Saturday evening at 8:49 p.m. They hope to keep their run alive and advance to the National Championship game, where they would face the winner of number two-seeds Oklahoma and Villanova.