Ja Morant is living his best life in the NBA Bubble.
This season’s Rookie of the Year hopeful is leading his Memphis Grizzlies into play-in tournament Saturday afternoon after notching his second triple double of the season Thursday afternoon against the Milwaukee Bucks.
In the 119-106 win against the Bucks, Morant posted 12 points, 10 assists, 13 rebounds.
Morant has the support of many including his father, Tee Morant who believes that his son should be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
“The dude makes EVERYBODY better,” he told me.
“He really doesn’t need anybody to make him better. He got a switch and I don’t know how he got it or where he got from. He didn’t get it from me [laughs]. He got a switch to know when to take over and when he flips that switch, he takes over. Go back and look at the film. Film don’t lie…the boy go!”
While on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, I learned that Tee Morant played basketball at Claflin University in South Carolina and narrowly missed making an NBA roster. Morant participated in free agency camps and played internationally but ended his career when he found out his wife was pregnant with Ja.
Worth noting: In high school, Tee Morant hooped with NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen at Hillcrest High School in Dalzell, South Carolina.
We discussed that and more via Scoop B Radio. Notes below:
Tee Morant on how his experience of playing on different levels applied to his son:
“I guess my story was a little different. I was doin’ a little hoopin’ back in my days. Now don’t get it twisted, but at the same time me and the great Ray Allen; we won state championships in Sumter – Dalzell, Hillcrest you know, the greatest school ever…and my joint was pretty much sacrificing what I had and putting it into my son and making sure that he took it further than I did.”
Tee Morant on who else was on that team with Ray Allen in Sumter:
“Our center was Derrick White. We call him Jack. We had a point guard Drew Gattishaw; I mean, we’re all brothers…so my brother Girard Keys, my brother LaRon Anderson, my brother Dennis Mickens you know, to name a few. But it was just like, we had a bunch of athletic guys and we just got at it.
Tee Morant on what position he played:
“Actually I was the power forward, small forward and center…wherever they needed me. I was the utility guy.”
Tee Morant on who he could compare his game to back then:
“I was my idol, Dominique Wilkins. I didn’t have a – and no disrespect to Dominique, but I didn’t have a fluid jump shot. I played D, I had crazy bounce, I knew how to score the ball, but that was me.”
Tee Morant on what Ray Allen’s game was like in high school:
“Aww man. Ray was Ray. He could shoot the ball, score the ball…hey man, Ray was actually Ray. That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame.”
Tee Morant on knowing in high school that Ray was going to the NBA:
No. Because I guess – Ray had a different bring up, so Ray was pretty much more of a military brat type of kid, so he had exposure to stuff. I was brought up in the woods as we call it in South Carolina; it was like a long dirt road where a whole lot of our families stayed there, right? So it’s rare that we got out and saw things. So we really didn’t know what it took to get there, but Ray being a military guy saw a whole lot more than we saw, and that’s not a knock. That was great for him. That’s why I was like when he made it, I wasn’t surprised because of the work that we put in. We played basketball like, almost from the time we woke up until it was time to go to sleep.
Tee Morant on Big Papi, David Ortiz connection:
“Actually, Ray was unveiling a computer lab. So he invited us and we went down there and he introduced Ja to the kids in the computer lab and we had a good time you know, and then we went to Ray’s restaurant and ate and then after that, Ray took us to Big Papi house because Ray and Big Papi were cool. So Big Papi invited us with open arms talking with us and then Ray and Big Papi had a triangle session with Ray where they was telling him different stuff that he needs to look for, different things as far as being a leader, being a professional and all, and that joint did me all the good.”