Mount Saint Joseph All-Metro guard Morsell chooses Terps

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

Dwayne Morsell called long­time Mount Saint Joseph bas­ket­ball coach Pat Clatchey on Mon­day to tell him that his son, se­nior guard Dar­ryl Morsell, was ready to an­nounce his col­lege de­ci­sion.

That the younger Morsell wanted to do it at the school pre­sented some­thing of a lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lem for Clatchey, who knew that the news of where his star would wind up had be­come a hot topic.

“I was like, ‘I’m good, but you def­i­nitely need to give me to at least Wed­nes­day,’ ” Clatchey re­called.

The in­trigue ended Wed­nes­day when Morsell thanked his par­ents, coaches and God, ripped open a flat pack­age wrapped in pur­ple pa­per and held a pic­ture of him­self wear­ing a red Mary­land uni­form.

In the end, Morsell chose the Terps over Notre Dame.

A room filled with rel­a­tives, friends, team­mates, fel­low stu­dents, coaches and school ad­min­is­tra­tors burst into ap­plause. Af­ter the cheer­ing sub­sided, Morsell (pro­nounced Mor-SELL) said it came down to play­ing for the “home­town school” and a coach who had made a sim­i­lar choice more than 30 years ago.

“I al­ways liked Mary­land,” he said. “When I grew up, I watched them. I al­ways

had a feel for them and a fa­vor for them. … Coach [Mark] Tur­geon, he’s from Kansas City and he went to Kansas, also like his home­town school. He helped me out and talked to me about how that would be.”

An All-Metro first-team se­lec­tion last sea­son, Morsell helped lead the Gaels to the Mary­land In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion and Bal­ti­more Catholic League ti­tle games, av­er­ag­ing 10.6 points, 5.1 re­bounds and 1.7 as­sists per game.

Tur­geon made the four-star re­cruit a pri­or­ity this fall, as the only guard he brought on cam­pus for an of­fi­cial visit. Tur­geon and his staff, in­clud­ing lead re­cruiter Bino Ran­son, took the team bus to the fam­ily’s home, where Morsell tweeted a pic­ture last month. Tur­geon also made one last home visit last week af­ter the Rip­ken Foun­da­tion lun­cheon in Bal­ti­more.

“They made me feel like a pri­or­ity,” Morsell said. “They didn’t put me sec­ond to any­one. That was a com­fort­ing feel­ing. Coach Tur­geon just made a strong pitch for me. He wanted me to come be­cause I’m the lo­cal kid, re­gard­less of ranking. ... He made it known that he wanted me and that’s some­thing that I liked.”

NCAA rules for­bid coaches to talk about re­cruits un­til they sign a na­tional let­ter of in­tent, so Tur­geon was not avail­able to com­ment about Morsell.

Morsell is the first Bal­ti­more high school player to com­mit to Mary­land that Tur­geon re­cruited from start to fin­ish since he be­came the Terps’ coach in 2011. He is the first Mount Saint Joseph player to join the Terps since Dino Gre­gory in 2007.

“Bal­ti­more has pro­duced a lot of good play­ers. It’s just crazy to think about,” Morsell said. “It’s a good feel­ing to know, but my work isn’t done yet.”

Nei­ther is his growth. Morsell, who is listed be­tween 6 feet 4 and 6-5, and be­tween 195 and 200 pounds, joked that he would rather be listed as 6-5 “be­cause it sounds bet­ter” and that while he re­cently weighed198, “you could round it upto 200.”

Morsell said he called Notre Dame coach Mike Brey on Satur­day to tell him he was lean­ing to­ward Mary­land, and again Tues­day night to tell him he had made up his mind.

Some be­lieved he was headed to Notre Dame be­cause the Fight­ing Ir­ish might need in­com­ing guards to play right away.

Mean­while, the fu­ture Mary­land back­court ap­pears pretty crowded al­ready, with cur­rent fresh­men An­thony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter, red­shirt sopho­more Dion Wi­ley as well as ju­niors Jared Nick­ens, Jaylen Brant­ley and, most sig­nif­i­cantly, star point guard Melo Trim­ble, who could leave af­ter this sea­son for an­other try at the NBA draft.

“They re­ally haven’t guar­an­teed me any­thing; they said step­ping in the door I’ve got to prove my­self,” Morsell said. “I’ve got to work for ev­ery­thing I get. [Tur­geon] viewed me as a play­maker. I guess he’s go­ing to al­low me to make plays. Also, he likes my ver­sa­til­ity — just my tough­ness as a whole, and I think I can con­tribute to the team right away.”

Clatchey, who has sent six play­ers to high Divi­sion I pro­grams since 2003, most re­cently Phil Booth Jr. to Vil­lanova and Kam Wil­liams to Ohio State, be­lieves that Morsell is up to the chal­lenge.

He is “a guy that can de­fend mul­ti­ple po­si­tions, a guy who can re­bound the ball on both back­boards, a guy who can score; he can make plays with his ath­leti­cism, his pass­ing abil­ity. He’s an un­selfish player,” Clatchey said. “Some peo­ple think his shoot­ing is not a strength. I’ve seen a marked im­prove­ment in his shoot­ing.”

Clatchey be­lieves that the rise in Morsell’s rating — he is 79th in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the av­er­age of sev­eral re­cruit­ing lists com­piled by 247Sports — doesn’t re­flect how good a player he has be­come.

Morsell said he knows Cowan from the Wash­ing­ton Am­a­teur Ath­letic Union cir­cuit and con­nected with an­other player who re­cently com­mit­ted to the Terps: BrunoFer­nando, a 6-10, 225-pound­for­ward from An­gola now at the IMG Academy in Braden­ton, Fla.

Morsell is also close to Gaels team­mate Jalen Smith, a five-star for­ward and a top-25 player in the Class of 2018 who plans to play at Mary­land. Though Smith, a ju­nior, has yet to com­mit, he said Wed­nes­day that noth­ing has changed.

Asked whether he is go­ing to start to help re­cruit Smith, Morsell said with a smile: “Sticks [Smith’s nick­name] al­ready knows. He’s next.”

Duane Morsell got a big laugh when he was asked what he thought of his son’s de­ci­sion.

“For me, I’m just glad it’s all over with,” the el­der Morsell said. “It didn’t mat­ter whether he stayed home or went some­where else, I’m just glad it’s over with. You talk to coaches ev­ery day, some­times all day. I don’t know how many of­fers he had, like 20-some­thing schools. It gets to be a lit­tle much af­ter a while.”

KARL MER­TON FER­RON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Dwayne, left, and Carolyn Morsell flank their son, Mount Saint Joseph star guard Dar­ryl Morsell, as he an­nounces his com­mit­ment Wed­nes­day to play for Mary­land.

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