Mount Saint Joseph All-Metro guard Morsell chooses Terps
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.”
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.