The Windy City Bulls tip-off the G League season this weekend with a home and home series against the Wisconsin Herd. NBC Sports Chicago will televise all 24 home games this season from the Sears Centre either live or on tape delay.
The Bulls’ G League affiliate starts the season with a brand new coach in Australia native Damian Cotter and a promising roster, featuring Bulls’ two-way players Max Strus and Adam Mokoka, former Loyola star Milton Doyle and P.J. Dozier — a high-scoring two-way player for the Denver Nuggets who has been assigned to Windy City.
Strus is an especially intriguing prospect after setting a DePaul record with 113 made 3-pointers during his senior season with the Blue Demons in 2018-19. The Hickory Hills native earned second team All-Big East honors last season after averaging 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Strus wasn’t selected in the NBA draft in June, but quickly drew the attention of scouts and executives with a strong performance for the Boston Celtics Summer League team in Las Vegas. Boston signed Strus to a two-way contract but released him at the end of training camp, and the Bulls swooped in to add him to the roster with their one remaining two-way spot.
It’s been an amazing success story for a player who didn’t attract much recruiting attention in high school and started his college career at Division II Lewis University. So, Strus is more than ready for the challenges ahead in trying to prove himself worthy of an NBA roster spot.
“I’ve always believed in myself, starting Division II out of high school I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder, so I still carry that with me," Strus said. "People still don’t know who I am, but that’s okay. Hopefully I can make the hometown proud here, keep getting better individually and making this organization better as a whole as well.”
Since Windy City will run the exact same plays as the NBA Bulls, the players on the roster can make a smooth adjustment in the event of a mid-season call-up. Don’t forget, the Bulls signed both Walter Lemon and JaKarr Sampson after a rash of injuries last season. Strus’ 3-point shooting ability makes him a prime candidate to catch on with an NBA team at some point, but for now, he’s just focused on enjoying some success at the G League level.
“For me, playing in the NBA is probably going to be about making shots and defending, so that’s really what I’ve got to focus on," he said. "Do that here and then carry it over when I get lucky enough to get the chance to get called up to the Bulls, but just got to keep working hard every day and the coaches will put us in a great situation to make that happen.”
Two years ago, Loyola coach Porter Moser and most of the Loyola players came out to the Sears Centre to support Doyle, who was playing as a visitor for the Nets’ G League team, and Strus anticipates the same kind of support from his former coaches and teammates at DePaul.
“Oh absolutely, I guarantee there will be at least a few," he said. "It’s a great relationship I have with coach [Dave] Leitao and the players that are still there from behind. I’m still talking to guys there and they’ll for sure be at a couple games.”
For local high school stars like Strus and Doyle, getting the chance to pursue their NBA dreams right at home makes the anticipation of a new season even more exciting.
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