The first time we heard of Ja Morant was when Jay Bilas mentioned him on an ESPN broadcast and said “this guy is legit.”
It didn’t take too long to see what he was excited about. Morant, who hails from Dalzell, South Carolina but grew up in Sumter, which is a good bit larger at around 40,000 (Dalzell is about 2,200, give or take).
He was a good high school player but got minimal attention with South Carolina the only major program to offer him. Murray State signed him but they only saw him by accident when an assistant went to look at some 3-on-3 play during a summer camp. He had gone to find a snack and instead found a diamond in the rough.
Murray, who couldn’t dunk until he was a high school senior, developed amazingly fast and left college after his sophomore year. The Memphis Grizzlies selected him #2 between Duke’s Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. He was selected Rookie of the Year because he’s a damn good basketball player but he’s also wildly gifted.
So if you haven’t seen this block from the other night, you really should. And if you have seen it, enjoy it again. On this play, if you didn’t know better, you'd think he was a forward or maybe a center. He looked like David Thompson, or Michael Jordan or his old AAU teammate Zion Williamson flying in for the stunning block.
The difference though is that Morant is just 6-3.
Notice also that Morant doesn’t just throw the ball into the stands. He controlled it and started a fast break. That’s an incredibly intimidating play.