Monday, September 22, 2014
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Michigan-bound guard is a role model on and off the court

When L.A. Windward senior Darius Morris wraps up his career, he'll have plenty to be proud of.

Putting his private school on the map for something besides academics and attracting children of celebrities? Check. A scholarship to Michigan? Check. Ranked as one of the best guards on the West Coast? Check.

But his most enduring legacy is what he's done off the court. Just ask head coach Miguel Villegas.

"He's a great basketball player but it's more important to note that he's an even better person and a great student," Villegas said.

Part of the reason for Morris' character is that's he grounded by his faith. He listed his priorities as God, school then basketball, which makes you almost forget that he was one of the most sought guards in California.

In his first three seasons, he's had to carry the team but come postseason, they always fell short of that CIF title. Last year the Wildcats went 24-5 and Morris did his part - averaging 27 points, six rebounds and five assists - but the team lost in the CIF Division III-AA quarterfinals.

This year, the load has been lighter with the aid of 6-foot-10, UCLA-bound senior center Anthony Stover, who transferred from Renaissance Academy over the summer.

"The last three years, we've been a really scrappy team but we just never had a presence down low," Morris said, "With Anthony coming in, it helps with rebounds, blocked shots and taking pressure off everybody else and let's them play their natural position.

            It's also given the 6-foot-4 point guard more freedom to create on the perimeter where he's comfortable pulling up from mid-range or taking his defender to the rack.

Morris is also focused on life beyond basketball. He's taking a 3.6 grade point average to Michigan and plans to study at one of the top business schools in the country.

"If things don't work out going into the NBA, I'll always have an education," he said.

He'd like to pursue a career in sports or business management and he's focused on getting his degree while contributing to a program that heavily recruited him.

But at his core, Morris is a kid who knows it's a privilege to play basketball and strives to carry himself in a manner that best represents his school and family.

Growing up, he learned most of his skills watching his older brother Dewayne, a former All-CIF player at Mira Costa High School who played at the University of San Francisco and now plays in Germany.

The two are still very close and Darius took note from both his successes and mistakes. It's the same plan that younger classmates have followed with him.

"[They] look up to him as a role model and he has influenced them to be better people," Villegas said.

Perhaps that's the best mark of Morris' resume during his career. Not the success he brought the school on the court as a four-year starter, but the lives he impacted off of it.

Category: Basketball


 

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