From an under-the-radar high school recruit to a top-3 NBA Draft prospect, Murray State’s Ja Morant is living a Cinderella story.
The versatile point guard rewrote history books last season after averaging at least 20 points and 10 assists per game — Morant is the first player ever to complete such a feat in college basketball since the NCAA began tracking those records in the 1983-84 season.
Let’s take a look at the path Morant took to become the decorated athlete he is today.
Get to know Ja Morant: 2019 statistics and biography
|Date of birth||Aug. 10, 1999 (19 years old)|
|Point per game||24.5|
|Rebounds per game||5.7|
|Assists per game||10.0|
|Blocks per game||0.8|
|Steals per game||1.8|
Ja Morant NBA Draft projection
Becoming the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and 2018-19 NCAA assists leader is special. But earning a majority projection as the second overall pick in the NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies is something else.
We looked at a handful of mock drafts created by expert analysts from NBA.com, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. All agree that Morant is a near-lock be selected second by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Ja Morant Biography
Temetrius Jamel “Ja” Morant was born and raised in South Carolina, the home state of the potential first overall pick Zion Williamson.
FILM STUDY: Duke’s R.J. Barrett vs. Murray State’s Ja Morant
As the all-time leading scorer at Crestwood High School in Sumter, S.C., Morant was recruited by Wofford, Duquesne, Maryland Eastern Shore, South Carolina State and South Carolina before picking Murray State. According to NBA.com, Racers assistant coach James Kane attended a camp with the goal of observing another player when he saw Morant playing a game of three-on-three. The rest is history.
Ja Morant’s Murray State Racers Career
Though it may have been tough to predict the absolute explosion of a season the robust shooter and passer had his sophomore year, Morant came out swinging in his debut collegiate campaign.
Averaging 12.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.5 rebounds a game as a freshman, he obtained first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and added Murray State’s second triple-double in school history. He would add on to that statistic in the future.
Then came the breakout this past season, when Morant won OVC Player of the Year with 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10 assists per game. He was the conference’s leading scorer throughout 2018-19.
MARCH MADNESS: The NCAA tournament explained
His most notable moment in 2019 came in the NCAA tournament when he notched a triple-double in a first-round win over Marquette. The consensus first-team All-American scored 28 points in a second-round loss to the Florida State Seminoles.
Other big-time performances were Morant’s 36 points in the OVC tournament championship game to clinch the Racers’ spot in March Madness and his 40-point performance against SIU-Edwardsville when he went 21-for-21 from the free throw line.
Ja Morant Highlights
WARNING: Morant’s highlight reel may contain a ridiculous number of posterizations and intoxicating dunks.
Speaking of that OVC tournament title game against Belmont, one of Morant’s most viral slams came at an important time for Murray State. In a close game with less than 10 minutes to play in the second half, he took the ball off the inbound pass and darted coast-to-coast to complete a rim-rattling poster dunk.
This Ja Morant dunk sounded like a cannon went off 😤
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 10, 2019
Morant showed his court awareness with this backdoor cut and vicious posterization in the first round of the NCAA tournament:
Ja Morant’s POSTER is even better with the @RacersHoops radio call! 💪
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 22, 2019
Morant seems to have been born with the clutch gene, converting a game-winning, three-point play off a clever spin move around a defender in the OVC tournament semifinal:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 9, 2019
And last but not least, Morant can throw down a jam.
When and where to watch the 2019 NBA Draft
See where Morant and the rest of the draft class fit Thursday night, starting at 7:30 ET and streaming on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. The New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks have the first three picks.
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