Scouting Darius Morris (12-18-2008)

One of our commenters, WTHEF, made it to Darius’ game last night. Here are his thoughts about Darius’ play and some video is here.

Darius Morris

Saw Darius play tonight – below are a few thoughts from the game. Keep in mind that I don’t watch a lot (or normally any) high school basketball and am far from an expert. While I’ve been to a ton of Michigan games – I began following them just in time for the entire Ellerbe and Amaker tenures – so I may be dumber for having seen that.

Darius plays for a small private school (less than 500 total students in grade 7-12) that is in a nice part of West LA, fairly close to UCLA. There are only 3 players on their roster over 6’3 – Darius (looks to be a legit 6’3/6’4), Anthony Stover (6’10 going to UCLA) and a 6’5 sophomore. Their opponent, Cleveland High, had a lot of 6’2-6’3 guys but nobody taller than that so Morris was often one of the tallest guys on the court. He did often have a 6’2 defender on him though so it wasn’t a huge mismatch. A sidenote – Denzel Washington’s son, Malcolm, starts alongside Darius in the backcourt and Denzel was among the crowd of about 150.

They won by a dozen or so and led by 20+ but the other team got it closer when Stover and Morris spent a stretch on the bench with foul trouble. Morris probably had about 15 points (ED: He might have had a few less. Morris and Stover combined for 13) – he could have been well over 20 but had some trouble finishing. Stover didn’t look impressive, especially since he had 7 inches on the biggest guy from Cleveland. I think with big guys you have to really know what to look for and if UCLA offered he must have it, but I wasn’t seeing it.

I watched Darius in warm-ups when they took the court and he led all the drills and acted like the captain. Seemed relaxed and friendly with teammates but was still focused. After introductions, he took off his shooting shirt to reveal a Block M long sleeve t-shirt over his jersey.

All game I was trying to think of who to compare him to and I can’t really come up with anyone. Jamal Crawford or Sean Livingston was all I could come up with but he isn’t as rail thin or quite as tall as them and while his game is flashy – it’s not that flashy. He has a great handle and dribbled his way through a press and multiple defenders several times – but also had the awareness to pass it to get out of trouble at times instead of just putting his head down and forcing his way through. Denzel’s son who is about 5’9, shared the role of bringing the ball up.

Darius could get to the basket at will and made some incredibly athletic moves but a lot of them just didn’t fall. He had one sick move that he did finish – before I figured out how to record with the camera. Some of them looked a little forced but he’s so athletic that for him they could be high percentage shots. He also threw some beautiful passes off his drive but his teammates couldn’t always finish. I talked with him briefly after the game and he mentioned that he had been injured and had only been back for a couple weeks so he is probably a little rusty. He mentioned that he needs to get his conditioning back which may also have affected his ability to finish. His mechanics looked good on his shot and he knocked down a couple threes.

On defense he spent some time out front but also played down low a lot because of his size. I wonder if that will make him even better prepared to play along the baseline in the 1-3-1. I think he’ll be fast enough to play down there and his long arms and added height will be a real asset. He did a nice job challenging shots and his body control saved him from some fouls. He worked hard on defense and has all the tools to be an excellent individual defender.

Overall I think he will be a great complement to our current roster as there is nobody on our team that has his skill set. He brings athleticism, quickness, size, and he showed an ability to penetrate and finish it himself – but often looks to kick it out or drop it off to a big man. On top of that, he also seems to be a really nice kid that will fit in well and does not bring an ego or arrogance with him.

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