It's not too often that a high school kid is so specific about his future.
But Antioch senior AJ Marsiglio has known for a while now that he wants to be a biomedical engineer. A high-level student, he's already been accepted to some of the top college programs in the country.
"I did a lot of science experiments at home when I was a kid. Probably the worst thing I ever did was set a paper bag on fire," Marsiglio said with a laugh. "I had a lot of fun with stuff like that and I think I've always wanted to go into some form of biology. I also really like math. I would read math books when I was younger, so that's where the engineering comes in."
The idea to combine biology with engineering is personal for Marsiglio.
"My aunt died of cancer when she was really young and that made me really interested in being able to design the machines that are used in cancer treatments and cancer research," he said. "I really want to help cancer patients."
That's the point guard in the 5-foot-7 Marsiglio. He's a helper by nature. And he's become quite good at helping his teammates all over the court.
Marsiglio has helped the up-and-down Sequoits (7-18) stabilize in February with a 3-0 record. The big test is tonight when rival and sister school Lakes stops by for a North Suburban Conference Prairie Division showdown.
"I like helping others vocally, but also through my actions," Marsiglio said. "I've been a point guard every year I've played basketball, since I was 5. I like to facilitate the team, I like to help people get to where they need to go.
"I'll score when I need to, but I also like to get my teammates involved with good passes. I think passing is the most important part of the game. I'm always trying to make my passing better."
Marsiglio is a relentless worker across the board.
Being undersized has lit a fire inside of him. He figures that having a serious work ethic is the best way to compensate and keep up.
"I like a sport like basketball because you can be in charge of how good you are, depending on how hard you work. I like being point guard and I like working at it," Marsiglio said. "I like trying to make myself better."
Marsiglio was already one of Antioch's top players last year, but he has improved in every area since then.
He's averaging nearly 14 points per game while taking better shots this season. He's hit a team-leading 44 3-pointers and is also dishing out about 2 assists per game, also a team-best.
Meanwhile, Marsiglio is avoiding many of the turnovers that plagued him last year. He's more confident and is making better decisions with the ball.
"AJ is very disciplined and is all about hard work," Antioch coach Jim White said. "He's the kind of kid who always wants to do more: more practice, more sprints. He'll look at our practice plan and if he doesn't think there are enough sprints on there, he'll ask for more.
"It's almost hard to push AJ to the point where he can't go anymore."
Marsiglio's go-go motor is still humming away long after basketball practice. He works three to four nights a week and some weekends at a local Jewel stocking shelves.
After basketball practice, he'll stop at home for a shower and a quick bite to eat, and then it's off to Jewel for four hours. When he gets home at around 10 p.m., it's time for homework.
Marsiglio is still deciding between the engineering programs at Illinois and Oregon, so he wants to keep his grades in tip-top shape. He's already an Illinois State Scholar, which recognizes students in the top 10 percent of their class statewide.
"By the end of the day, with school and basketball and work, I'm pretty exhausted and I just get right to bed," Marsiglio said. "But it's been good. When kids in my family turn 16, my Mom makes us get a job because she thinks it's a great way to teach us about responsibility.
"It's different skills you're working on, but you've still got to work hard. I like that part of it."
• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw