INDIANAPOLIS—After the Bulls’ Dec. 26 road game against the Pacers was postponed due to a snowstorm in Indiana, rookie point guard Marquis Teague was forced to wait for more than a month to make his NBA debut in his hometown.
That hasn’t dampened the 19-year-old’s enthusiasm, as the Bulls take on the Pacers in the rescheduled contest Monday evening.
“It’s going to be fun. I’m real excited. First time I get to play at home in a while. I’m just going to go out there and have fun,” said Teague, who noted that he has “a lot of people coming” to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and while he didn't "know the exact number," he guessed that over 50 friends and family, including his parents, would be in attendance. “People have been calling me. A lot of people want to come to the game and see me play. It’s exciting.
“It’s always good when you’re playing in your hometown. That’s always a good road trip, playing in front of your friends and your family. We don't get that opportunity a lot, so it's going to be fun. I’m going to enjoy it,” he continued. “We just want to come out and play like we play in any other game. Come out and compete, get a win.”
Pacers starting point guard George Hill, himself an Indianapolis native, is familiar with Teague, as he grew up playing against Jeff Teague — Marquis’ older brother and the starting point guard for the Hawks, whom the Bulls beat Saturday night in Atlanta—in local high school and pickup games.
The younger Teague was a constant presence, tagging along to play against older players, as he became one of the top high school talents in the Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and the nation before his lone year at the University of Kentucky, where he won a national title a year ago.
“I think he’s learning, getting better. I’m glad he went to system like Chicago, a coach like Thibodeau, who’s going to push him to his maximum skill level and push him to be the best player that he can possibly be, so I’m praying that he stays injury-free and continues to get better,” Hill told CSNChicago.com. “I’ve seen him since high school. We have the same trainer, so I’ve seen his games grow tremendously. I have high hopes for him. I know that he has a lot more than what he’s showing now, so I continue to wish him the best and hopefully he starts to get polished up.
“One thing that I learned getting to the NBA is be a sponge, soak up all the knowledge that you possibly can because eventually, that person in front of you is not going to be there one day, so as much as you can soak up, the better off you’re going to be when you get the reins to run your own team,” continued Hill, who backed up All-Star Tony Parker in San Antonio before being traded to his hometown team. “I learned a lot coming from Tony [Parker] and even Jacque Vaughn. Just how to be a leader, maybe not a full point guard right now, but I’m learning to be a full point guard. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take steps, but I’ve learned things that can help me.”