Murray State’s Ja Morant is having a heck of a season this year.
Averaging 24.6 points, 10 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game, the sophomore is leading the 12th seeded Murray State; currently sitting at 27-4 to their second-consecutive NCAA Tournament.
While Morant is putting up impressive numbers this season, equally impressive is his 50.3% field goal percentage, while also shooting 33.6% from downtown.
“Love him,” CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg told me.
“I haven’t watched him in person, but the greatest gift he has outside of his athleticism is his passing ability. He’s prone to turnovers but he has amazing gifts. He makes passes only special players can make and that’s an amazing gift.”
Standing 6-foot-3, 175-pounds, Morant has been compared to other athletes.
“Think John Wall. Think De’Aaron Fox. Think Russell Westbrook. Think the sort of hyper-athletic point guard — the type who could win the NBA dunk contest — who pairs that with an excellent feel for the game.”
Million Dollar Question: Who does Murray State’s Ja Morant play like?
“I try to not compare players because then people say you’re calling that player the next other player,” Clark Kellogg tells me.
“His athleticism is comparable to a lot of guys. A bigger Iverson, Westbrook, in terms of speed and athleticism in the open court.”
That’s pretty high praise from Clark Kellogg, especially since Morant grew up idolizing both Los Angeles Lakers point guard, Rajon Rondo, as well as Westbrook.
As for Allen Iverson, well, he’s a former NBA regular season MVP, like Westrbook and The Answer is a Naismith Hall of Famer.
As for Morant: taking a cursory look at mock drafts for the 2019 NBA Draft, Morant has been listed as a top three pick in this year’s draft with the Phoenix Suns potentially nabbing him at three.
His journey to this point is equally impressive.
Per USA Today: Morant started out as a two-star recruit and wasn’t even ranked by ESPN, Rivals or 247 Sports and had just a handful of scholarship offers from mid-majors. Now, he’s an All-American.
“His job as a freshman was to distribute the ball and set up two high-scoring seniors (Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller Jr.) on a team that went 26-6 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament,” wrote The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks.
“His job as a freshman was to distribute the ball and set up two high-scoring seniors (Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller Jr.) on a team that went 26-6 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“Their departure has forced Morant to channel his inner Russell Westbrook this season. He is having a historically great campaign in a ball-dominant role.”
The proof is in the pudding. Morant was the first Division I player to average more than 20 points and 10 assists in a season since the assist statistic became official in 1983 according to CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave.
Murray State will take on fifth seeded Marquette (25-9) in the first round of the West Region onThursday in Hartford, Connecticut.
That’ll be exciting because of the point guard matchup between Morant and Marquette’s Markus Howard.
At 5-11 Howard, is averaging 25 ponts, four rebounds and four assist while shooting 42.4% from the field and 40.8% from downtown.
For those keeping score at home: Howard has scored 37 points or more four times this season and tallied 53 points once, in an overtime win vs. Creighton on Jan. 9.