Morris Makes it Official, Will Remain in NBA Draft

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Here’s the official athletic department statement on Morris opting to remain in the NBA draft, including quotes from Morris and head coach John Beilein.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan sophomore guard Darius Morris (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward HS) has decided to forego the remainder of his college eligibility and remain as an early entry for the 2011 NBA Draft.

“There have been long discussions with my family, friends and my Michigan coaches,” said Morris. “After gathering all the information possible, I have decided to stay in the NBA Draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball.

“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.

“First of all I want to thank everyone at the University of Michigan and all its great fans. I would not be in the position I am today without the guidance of Coach (John) Beilein and his staff. I appreciate all the support I have received from all my teammates and everyone involved with the program. I will forever be a Michigan Wolverine. Lastly, and most importantly, I must thank God for blessing me with this opportunity.”

“We, as a staff, have watched Darius grow as a Daperson and as a player these past two years,” said U-M head coach John Beilein. “His improvement on the court has been the result of his God-given talent and his intense desire to become the best player he can be. His work habits, especially in our individual skill development time, have been outstanding, and we all witnessed the results of his efforts this season.

“Over the past month, we have worked with the NBA advisory committee and several NBA teams by gathering information to assist Darius and his family in exploring his options. We know they put a lot of thought into this important decision.

“Darius has been a catalyst in the continued growth of our program and we wish him nothing but the best in his professional basketball career and beyond. He will always be a Michigan Wolverine.”

Morris, who was an All-Big Ten Conference third team selection by both the coaches and media, helped the Wolverines to a 21-14 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament third round in 2010-11. He recorded the largest margin of improvement in scoring in the Big Ten, jumping from 4.4 points per game as a freshman to a team-best 15.0 points per game this past season.

Morris broke the U-M season record for assists with 235, becoming just the third Wolverine to record 200-plus assists in a season. He recorded the third triple-double in U-M history with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Iowa (Jan. 30). Morris tallied seven double-digit assist games, including a career-best 12 helpers against Concordia (Dec. 6) and Bryant (Dec. 20). Overall, Morris led the Big Ten with 6.71 assists per game, putting him fifth in the nation.

In two seasons in Ann Arbor, Morris started 53 of 67 career games, compiling 666 career points (9.9 ppg), 197 rebounds (2.9 rpg) and 319 assists (4.76 apg).

The NBA Draft, comprised of two rounds and 60 total selections, will be held Thursday, June 23, at The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

  • umgoblue525

    NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Quick Darshan

    Best of luck, young man. I hope you go in the first round. Failing that, I hope you go to the Pistons.

    • BK

      No offense to him, but I don’t want him on the Pistons. Who wants a point guard who can’t shoot, doesn’t have elite speed, and isn’t a lock down defender? I just don’t see how he is going to be successful in the NBA without at least 2 years to develop. which is what he could have gotten by staying…

      • Paul

        Good passers and assisters who are also clutch @ the end of games are always in high demand – incl in the NBA

      • Quick Darshan

        Tyreke Evans doesn’t have elite speed. He’s doing fine.

  • Mattiz

    I support him in his decision. While everyone would like to see him return, it’s unfair to say he shouldn’t leave. This is his sole decision — if he has even a chance to get drafted in the first round (and is guaranteed a spot in the second if not the first), how could you honestly not take that opportunity? This is his dream. It will hurt the team a bit, but this is how college basketball works and Beilein has done a phenomenal job with freshman talent the last few years. For all we know, Burke will turn into an all-star freshman player and surpass all expectations. I’m happy for Morris — he has a chance to go the NBA. I can’t honestly imagine his stock going up any more by next year as the draft will be deeper next year and it’s unlikely that he’d have stock that places him anywhere earlier than a first-second round bubble prospect. With the additional possibility of a lackluster junior year (unlikely) or a career-ending injury, his decision to stay in makes even further sense.

    Look at Kalin Lucas, for example. His stock was probably at its height after his second year (I believe). He kept playing and now his draft status is completely questionable. He’s looking at free agency as far as I can tell. Some players stay in college to win, some to finish school. Some go with the full intent of playing at the next level. If you work hard and put yourself in a position to play at the next level, how can you turn that down? I won’t sit here and say I’d come back for my team if I was given the opportunity to fulfill my dream. I think it’s clear that this was a tough choice for him, but it’s understandable that he wants to reach his goals and it might prove to be a very wise decision for him to strike while the iron’s hot.

    I do wish he would come back, but I understand entirely why he wants to stay in the draft. Few people in this world can accomplish their life-long goal by his age.

    You can also consider how this will affect recruiting. Beilein will be able to tell prospects that he took a very solid recruit (in the top 150, but far from a world-class or earth-shattering commit) and turned him into a first-round NBA draftee within two years in the Beilein system. This is something that’s very important to recruits — the potential to play at the next level. Beilein is an amazing coach and Morris is a great example of how Beilein’s sytem coaches players to work within a disciplined system, but also allows for their own game and individual talents to prosper.

  • http://umhoops.com Wayman Britt

    I wish Darius well. I did not think he would jump to the NBA, but I understand his reasoning. I hope for his sake that his long range jump shot improves, because he will need to be able to hit jumpers to stay in the big leagues.

  • Aaron

    Good luck Darius. Welcome to Crisler Trey Burke.

  • Tweeter

    Congrats on your decision Darius. Good luck pursuing your dream and keep working hard. We will miss you in Ann Arbor.

  • ToBlav

    Darius, I wanted to stay. Thanks for all you’ve done. Still wish you were staying. Hope to be listing you with a list of successful U-M grads in the NBA several years down the road. Best of luck.

  • JB

    Good luck Darius! Go Blue!

  • Paul

    love the many classy posts here

  • rbillz

    I would like to take back my previous message in some ways. I am happy for him and wish him success, but I don’t think it was the right decision based on where he is at in his skill development (needs to improve his shot, let’s face it he is a bad shooter and a great ball handler ) but i totally understand where he is coming from in terms of draft stock possibly being the highest this year as opposed to future years etc., truly unfortunate though as all of us could envision individuals improvement of Darius which in turn would have lead the team to higher places.

  • smance

    On the bright side we have two back to back NBA players under Beilen. Quite possibly 3 with THJ, so recruits should take notice.

  • Paul

    On a slightly different topic, I see that Javonte Hawkins is now getting the love from ESPN and his recruiting prospect score just shot up into the High Major star category! Would be a nice land for Michigan if we got him. Go Blue!!

  • Dford

    Good luck D Mo and thank-you for a memorable and fun season We all wish you the best and good fortune on the next level where you belong. Go Blue!!!

  • C weezy

    That’s why college basketball needs to do like the college fb situation!! Charles Barkley said it best “the draft is designed for the bad teams to get better right now, and not wait 5 yrs for him to reach his potential for coming out as an infant” I love college sports. The last great season in NCAA basketball was 1995 when the final four was stacked with great all around talent…

  • C weezy

    The Butlers, George Masons, Davidsons, and the Valpos are taking over!!!

  • South Florida Maize Rage

    Somebody get Trey Burke to AA on the next flight. Just seems like this program can’t catch a break. Best of luck to Darius. I certainly don’t blame him for wanting to get his money.

    • *JD*

      We’re heading in the right direction. Maybe not as fast as most of us would like but I still think if a couple of guys make jumps in production from their freshman to sophomore years and The B’s come in and contribute we could still get to the Sweet 16 if we’re lucky.

      That would be great.

      GO BLUE!

  • TrueBlueInNY

    For Darius, on the off chance you read this:
    Best of luck!!! And thank you so much for what you’ve done for the program. As a fan, I’ve truly never enjoyed a season as much as this past year, and you were integral to those achievements. Would have loved to have you back, but happy for you and look forward to watching your development in the NBA. Wish you the best!

  • Dan

    I think Morris is right to go. The NBA is a bad place to learn game skills, since they practice 5 on 5 only a few times a month and unless Morris slips to the early 2nd round he’ll be going to a good team who won’t play a rookie who can’t help the team.

    But Morris is a smart player and a true point. What he needs is a left and a jumper. He can improve those skills working every day in practice. Those are the kind of things you can best improve on working with someone like Thorpe (see Kevin Martin and lots of others) or an assistant coach every day.

    As for Michigan, it sucks. Having Morris, a returning starting frontcourt and bench options like Horford, Metrics, Vogrich, Brundidge and Burke would have given us a real chance to win the Big 10. Instead, guard play should be a problem. I also worry this will force Hardaway into the role of scorer when the shot clock is winding down and he’ll lose the remarkable efficiency of his freshmen year, falling into the Manny Harris territory of playing well but inefficiently. Hopefully the frontcourt can carry us throughout the early year and by conference play Burke can be a confident starting PG.

    Who knows, though? Maybe Morgan will have picked up a post move, Metrics will be confident shooting and putting it on the floor when the D tries to deny his shot and we won’t be so reliant on a PG to make plays.

    Long term, though, this is good for recruiting. A California kid can now point to Michigan as a school in which you can play well and become an NBA talent.

  • drew

    Of course I hope all the best…..but what does this say about the status of basketball both college and pro when a player of Morris’s caliber is believed to be ready for the NBA?

    Maybe I am too old, but I remember when going pro meant one of two things; the player in question was a financial hardship with great skills and later just great skills.Morris improved tremendously but to say he was equal to Spencer Haywood( 1st hardship case) or Jalen Rose or Glen Rice ( 4yr player) would not be true.And great skills meant just that, great skills heads and tails above others.

    But to reiterate I think this is more a reflection on where the sport is and not the individual (Morris).