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Posted on Thu, May 24, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

Ex-Michigan basketball star Darius Morris loves L.A., but wants to play more

By Nick Baumgardner


Former Michigan guard Darius Morris talks about his first season as a Los Angeles Laker at the team's headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., on Wednesday.

Associated Press

Former Michigan basketball star point guard Darius Morris says he became a stronger player during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers, despite spending most of it on the bench.

Moving forward, though, Morris said that might not be the case.

"I love it here in L.A.," Morris said Wednesday during a season-ending interview with the Los Angeles media. "But being a young player, it's really important to be somewhere you feel you have an opportunity to play and get to grow on the court, most importantly.

"We'll see what happens."

After breaking Michigan's single-season assist record as a sophomore in 2010-11, Morris surprised some by entering his name into the 2011 NBA draft, foregoing his final two years of college eligibility.

The 6-foot-4 Morris was taken in the second round by the Lakers (41st overall), a spot he admitted was much lower than he originally thought.

That, coupled with the lengthy NBA lockout, made Morris' rookie season an interesting one.

"It was wild, I didn't get drafted as high as I thought I'd be, in the second round," Morris said. "From there, the lockout -- with how long the lockout lasted and it seemed like it wasn't going to end.

"Then you get news of (a possible) Chris Paul trade as an incoming point guard. Then you hear he's not getting traded here, you only get two preseason games. I go from being inactive, Steve Blake goes down, I played quality minutes and then not. It was an up and down year."

Morris appeared in just 19 games for the Lakers, averaging 2.4 points and 1.1 assists in 8.9 minutes per contest.

The ex-Wolverine told the Los Angeles media that he didn't have the type of season he envisioned for himself, but was able to grow mentally as a player from his bouts with the adversity of not seeing much time.

He should get the benefit of playing in an NBA Summer League in the coming months, something he missed out on as a rookie during the lockout.

He said he's been informed by Lakers coach Mike Brown that's it's "not impossible" for him to see minutes next season with the Lakers current roster.

However, Morris signed a one-year contract with Los Angeles prior to last season, meaning he'll become a restricted free agent this summer and may have options.

"It's up to me to come in ready and work on certain things that I need to work on to step on that floor," Morris said. "It's not impossible for me to get minutes next year.

"As long as I do what I've got to do and come in ready, I think it'll help."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Sat, May 26, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

He wasn't ready. The lack of a left hand and a suspect outside shot are major liabilities. OTEH, he may have never developed those at the U but he could have gotten a degree, become more of a leader, and gained some maturity. And he would have played a lot of meaningful minutes whereas he got next to none as a pro.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

The frustration Morris is expressing is the same frustration that all great athletes experience. He wants to play. His development would not have been greater had he stayed at the U. UM is not known for developing athletes to compete at the next level especially in basketball. Name five former basketball players from the U that stood out at the professional level.

Jason Walker

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Glen Rice, Loy Vaught, Jamal Crawford, Roy Tarpley (before drugs). Not saying that they produce lots, but there are 5+ all stars.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

What Morris is going through is exactly what young players experience. I think he made the absolute best decision for himself and the decision he made is a good one. Guarantee. If Trey Burke experience a career ending injury next season, not one of you commenters will remember his name two years from now. I say for these athletes, take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself because the U is taking advantage of you and could care less if you finish with a degree or not or your success later in life.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

You make it sound like a one way street. The university provides these athletes a free education with all sorts of benefits in exchange for the opportunity to compete at the highest levels with the best health care and full media exposure. Playing sports at any level is a risky endeavor as the medical literature reports almost weekly, be it from little leaguer elbow to torn acls or concussions. Morris made a tactical error in leaving too early, and now expressing frustration over lack of playing time. He was not ready, plain and simple. We non experts knew that, and said so on this site. What did he know that we didn't? And if his career is over in the next two years, likely given second round status, will he have what the university offered (a degree)? Nope. It is a real shame for him.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

"Taking advantage" of willing participants? Sounds like a win-win. I know it's more complicated than that (by far), but I don't exactly agree with your assessment of the U taking advantage of these adults. UofM (and all major programs) also provide them with the opportunity to gain this high level of exposure.

Karl Ziomek

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

That's your trade-off, Darius. Take an incomplete game to the NBA and you're lucky if they pay you to sit on the bench -- especially in LA, where they run guys 10 times better than you out of town. Should have remained in college, developed a left hand and a better outside game. Then you could argue playing time.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

I don't have much sympathy for Mr. Morris. He left Michigan too early before he was ready for the NBA. And I don't why he's so surprised about not being drafted higher than he was. I think he was lucky to be picked that high. Maybe too many people were telling him what he wanted to hear rather than what reality was. Hopefully, he'll use this (sitting on the bench) as an opportunity to observe and learn.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

Could not agree more! What was he thinking?! He appears to still be delusional. He was a quality point guard that could have developed in AA for at least another year or two, then been a quality NBA player. Instead, he is bench riden, and going nowhere fast.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Hopefully Trey Burke reads this article and realizes that he made the absolute right decision by coming back!!

David Vande Bunte

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Well, gee Darius...Maybe if you hadn't bolted to the NBA at least a year too soon, you would have developed more as a player.