Darius Morris, the Laker’s rookie point guard, is one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft class. With fantastic size for a point guard at 6 feet 5 inches, prolific passing skills, and good defense, he could grow into one of the top 15 point guards in the NBA. Darius was kind enough to do an interview with me through Twitter. Here’s what I learned.
Darius Aaron Morris was born on January 3, 1991 in Hawthorne, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. His family moved to Redondo Beach, and then Carson, to find a better education for their kids. In middle and high school Morris played in the inner-city parks of Los Angeles, even though he wasn’t an inner-city kid, to make him tougher. He went to Windward High School, a small private school, winning the California Division V State Championship in 2009.
Q: What was the recruiting process like coming out of high school?
A: The recruiting process was cool. It felt good to know that multiple schools wanted me to play for their teams.
Morris was ranked the 11th, 15th and 20th best high school basketball point guard in the nation by ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com, respectively. Darius was awarded the John Wooden High School Player of the Year Award in his senior year as well.
Q: You’re from L.A. Why did you choose to go to Michigan?
A: I chose Michigan because of the opportunity to play right away, and help rebuild a program and tradition. I also loved Coach Beilien and the academics Michigan had to offer.
In his junior year of high school, on September 26, 2008, Morris committed to play at the University of Michigan, Morris during his sophomore season enrolling after graduation in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts . He won the starting point guard spot midway through his freshman season, averaging 4.4 points and 2.6 assists per game. Morris upped the ante in his second season; some of the highlights were recording the first triple-double in Michigan basketball history with his 12 point, 10 rebound, 11 assist outburst against Iowa, setting the school record for assists in a season with 235, and being named 2nd team All Big Ten by the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches). The Wall Street Journal calculated that Darius was the most valuable player to his team, because his combined field goals and assists accounted for 53 percent of his team’s points. Following the season, Morris sought the advice of the NBA’s undergraduate advisory committee to determine his draft prospects
On May 4, Morris announced his final decision not to withdraw his name prior to the May 8 deadline and to enter the June 23, 2011 NBA Draft as a sophomore. In his statement he said, “This was a difficult decision; however, in the end I decided to go with my heart. Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan; however, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction.
Q: How does it feel to be drafted?
A: I feel blessed to be drafted, it’s the highlight of my career so far.
Prior to the draft, most draft experts predicted Morris would be a mid-to-late first round pick, comparing him to players such as Andre Miller, Ramon Sessions and Jrue Holiday. He was picked 11th in the second round by his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
Q: Who do you model your game most after?
A: I model my game after Magic Johnson, as far as passing, and Deron Williams.
Q: Were you excited to be coming back home to LA when you were drafted?
A: I was super excited to come back home, since I was away for two years.
Q: What are your goals for your rookie season?
A: Goals for my rookie season are just to work hard and do the best I can do.
It’s an ideal situation. Morris returns home and gets to learn from one of the top veteran point guards in the NBA, the Lakers’ Derek Fisher, and then take a larger role when Fisher retires. The Lakers are certainly hoping Morris turns out to be the steal of the draft.
Q & A
Q: At 6 foot 5, how much of an advantage do you think it gives you over other point guards?
A: My height definitely gives me an advantage over smaller guards because I’m able to see over them and make plays and passes that shorter guards can’t make. It also helps me with scoring different ways and able to use my length on defense.
Q: Who’s the best dunker you’ve ever played with?
A: The best dunker I have ever played with would have to be Blake Griffin during this summer.
Q: What do you think about this year’s Michigan football and basketball teams?
A: I think both Michigan football and basketball will have their best year in recent years and will be top in the nation in both.
Q: What is your favorite sport besides basketball?
A: My favorite sport besides basketball is football.
Q: Who was your toughest matchup in collegeWho was your toughest matchup in college?
A: My toughest matchup in college was probably Evan Turner.
Q: Why do you wear number 4?
A: I wear number four, because there are three people in my family plus one for God, the reason for my success.