CHICAGO -- The Elite 8 match-up between the University of Virginia and Syracuse University, Sunday at the United Center in Chicago, will feature one of the Richmond-area's brightest high school basketball stars.
But that star does not shine for the school 70 miles from home -- rather the one situated in a snowier setting -- nearly 500 miles away in upstate New York.
Michael Gbinije, the Syracuse Orange do-everything point guard, lives in Chesterfield County and attended Benedictine High School his junior and senior year.
It was there, the basketball star learned some important lessons both on and off the court.
"It was an all-boy military school. So if you did not learn discipline there, I do not know where you would learn it," Gbinije said about his time at Benedictine. "I learned how to interact, especially with my teammates."
He also learned how to win.
Gbinije led to Cadets (26-5) to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I State Championship his senior year. He was also named VISAA Division I State Player of the Year.
His high school success resulted in Gbinije being recruited by Coach K and perennial college basketball powerhouse Duke. But he only stayed in Durham one season.
Gbinije transferred to Syracuse after his freshman year in search of more playing time.
He found more playing time in Central New York where he eventually took over as the starting point guard for the Orange.
His 6'-7" frame allowing him to see over smaller defenders. His quickness helping him slash to the basket and score. His shooting stroke is much more consistent as a 23-year-old fifth-year senior.
Gbinije averaged nearly 18 points per game this season and has scored double-digits in every contest.
"Of all the players I've ever coached, he's the most underrated player that I've ever coached," Jim Boeheim, Syracuse's Hall of Fame head coach who has led the Orange since 1976, said after Friday's night's Sweet 16 win over Gonzaga. A game in which Gbinije led the Orange in scoring with 20 points.
From underrated, to sweet, to elite, Michael Gbinije has the chance to cement his name in Syracuse basketball history as a star who led the Orange to the Final Four.