A few years ago, I had the privilege of doing play by play for the University of St. Francis, and over the course of my tenure there the Saints hosted Lewis a handful of times. There was a young man who stood out more than pretty much any other player I had a chance to cover. Max Strus.

Strus is coming off one of the best games of his life. Twenty-one points with five 3-pointers on Thursday vs. the Rockets (check out the highlights above).

He’s a local kid out of Hickory Hills. He played baseball and basketball in Stagg HS before joining the D-II Lewis squad in Romeoville. He led the Flyers for his freshman and sophomore years before transferring to DePaul (passing on offers from the likes of Louisville, Oregon, and others) and being a staple for the final two years of his eligibility.

What a great never-give-up story. Max just worked hard, busted his butt and climbed the ladder.

HS > DII > DI > G-League > NBA .

One rung after the other, he’s excelled and kept climbing.

After an injury set him back after a short stint with his hometown Bulls, he has found his niche playing along side former Bull Jimmy Butler with the Miami Heat.

He focused his efforts on improving his shooting ability, and has earned the trust of the one of the best in the NBA. Read this quote from Butler as reported by Joe Beguiristain with NBA.com.

“[I have confidence in him] because I see him shoot the ball when nobody’s looking. Like, the amount of reps that he puts in, I want you to do what you are comfortable doing,” Butler said. “Obviously, he turned the corner and yammed it on John Wall, but…what he does is shoot the ball. I’ve seen him do it every single day. I don’t care if somebody’s in front of you, if I pass you that bad baby, if Bam passes it, if you can get you a shot off, get you a shot off because that’s what you do, that’s your role on this team. And he’s really f’n good at it.”

I love seeing stores of local kids doing well and performing at the highest level in their chosen professions.

Keep getting after it, Max! We’re all rootin’ for ya!