This season, Torin Dorn is averaging career-highs in points (21.6), rebounds (5.9) and assists (4.8).
The 6-foot-4 senior has put up those numbers while playing out of position – and with four brand new starters – on Vance High’s boys’ basketball team.
“We were anticipating Torin having a fantastic senior year,” Cougars coach Will Robinson said. “What has, I think, been the most admirable (part) is the fact that he’s done so while playing out of position.”
After averaging 13.9 points per game as a junior shooting guard, Dorn has taken up point guard duties for Vance (5-12 through Jan. 30) this season.
“It’s been challenging for Torin this year,” Robinson said. “ … He’s been thrust into one of the toughest conferences in the state (MECKA 8 4A) and asked to be the point guard after spending his whole playing career as a shooting guard.”
But Dorn has still put up career numbers this season, including a season-high 33-point outburst in an 85-69 loss to North Mecklenburg – at the time, No. 4 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 – on Jan. 10.
“I’ve found better opportunities to attack,” said Dorn, who has committed to play for UNC Charlotte next year. “That’s coming from pitching the ball ahead and finding my teammates. That has taken some pressure off me so then when the defense shifts, the ball can come back to me, and I can knock down open shots and get into the lane.”
With all four of Dorn’s starting teammates from last year’s 20-6 team having either graduated or transferred, teams are now tailoring their defenses to stop Dorn.
“In the past, we’ve always been experienced,” Dorn said. “We’ve had guys that have played multiple years, or we’ve had really talented young guys. It’s just different playing with guys that are less experienced; that’s the biggest change from this year to last.
“It can be a little bit frustrating. But it’s mostly just different, and something the whole team and I have to get used to. We’re in uncharted waters here as a team, and I’m in uncharted waters, too.”
Dorn has seen double teams almost every game. He’s been denied the ball and followed by the other team’s best defender in box-and-one defenses. But none of that has gotten him down.
“In the past, teams couldn’t really double-team me because we always had other guys. But this year, I’ve seen everything,” said Dorn, who doesn’t look at the extra defensive attention as a negative.
“In college, the guys are a lot faster, quicker and stronger. So playing against two guys now will only help me in the future. If I’m blessed to be in an opportunity where I’m getting double-teamed in college … then it’s good that I’ve been through that experience before.”
As a shooting guard for the past three years, Dorn’s role was simple: Try to get open and score.
Playing the point has come with an entirely new set of requirements.
“The most difficult aspect has been learning when to attack and when to control the game and point my teammates in the right direction,” Dorn said. “I’m now tasked with managing how to win the game, as opposed to when I was on the wing. As a shooting guard, you still make plays. But your job is mainly to score and get to the basket, and you’re playing more of a secondary role. Now, I’m the one calling the shots and telling everyone where to go.”
Initially, the idea of playing point appealed to Dorn.
“I’d always wanted to try it,” he said. “But personally, I didn’t know what it took be the guy, the point guard, and run the team. I just wanted to play it because I felt like as the point guard you got to handle the ball the whole time. I didn’t know the responsibility that came with it.
“Now that I’m actually playing it, I’m seeing that it’s not as easy as people may look at it. It’s not just breaking your man down and scoring. It’s a lot more complex.”
What’s helped Dorn in the transition has been the presence of two former points guards on Vance’s coaching staff – Robinson and assistant coach Brian Frazier – as well as his high basketball IQ and overall smarts; He carries a 4.2 GPA.
“He’s been able to adjust probably rapidly as any kid I’ve ever coached,” Robinson said. “He’s having a fantastic year. I’m sure that he – along with the rest of us – wishes that our team was having a fantastic year, but we’re starting to buy in.”