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Posted on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 : 11:11 p.m.

Los Angeles native Darius Morris chosen by hometown Lakers in second round of NBA Draft

By Staff

This story was updated at 12:43 a.m.

Darius Morris is going home.

After crossing the continent to attend college at Michigan, the Los Angeles native was selected by his hometown Lakers with the 41st selection of Thursday night's NBA Draft.

More than 3 1/2 hours into the draft, Morris strolled across the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with a gold Lakers cap accentuating a grey suit, and posed for photos with NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver.

Morris left the Michigan basketball program after his breakout sophomore season to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.


Former Michigan point guard Darius Morris was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 41st pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft. file photo

Morris did not immediately return phone calls from seeking comment on his draft day, but he took a moment to update his Twitter account with this message: "God is Great #Blessed."

That message was a continuation from a photo published by the NBA, which shows Morris in a Lakers cap with one hand holding a Lakers ball and the other a sign with the word "Blessed" written on it.

Many draft experts expected Morris would be grinning alongside NBA commissioner David Stern, like the rest of the first round picks, instead of Silver.

But it became clear late in the first round that selections were working against the former Wolverine. The highest Morris was anticipated to be drafted was No. 17 by the New York Knicks. The Knicks opted for another big point guard, 6-foot-6 Iman Shumpert from Georgia Tech.

The Houston Rockets, selecting at No. 23, were also reportedly high on Morris. But the Rockets got their point guard through a trade.

Houton swapped its 23rd pick, Nikola Mirotic, a future first-round pick and Brad Miller to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Donatas Motiejunas, their 20th pick, and two-year NBA point guard Jonny Flynn.

Shumpert wasn’t the only projected point guard chosen before Morris that was expected to go later. Duke’s Nolan Smith (21st), Cleveland State’s Norris Cole (28th), Texas’ Cory Joseph (29th) and Butler’s Shelvin Mack (34th) all left the board first.

Morris, who attended Windward High School in West Los Angeles before setting the Michigan school record with 235 assists last season, was the first 2011 draft choice of the Lakers, who didn't have a first-round selection.

With their next pick, the 46th overall, the Lakers selected some potential competition for Morris: point guard Andrew Goudelock from the College of Charleston.

That was the Lakers' plan, assistant general manager Ronnie Lester told members of the media In a pre-draft conversation.

"We look at our team and think we need at least one and maybe two backcourt players," Lester said. "I think that’s going to be our focus with those first two picks."

Bernard Robinson Jr. was the last Michigan player to be selected in the NBA Draft. He was chosen with the the 16th pick of the second round (45th overall) of the 2004 draft by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Morris was the second player in as many seasons to leave Michigan early for the NBA. Manny Harris left before his senior season. Harris went undrafted, but made the Cleveland Cavaliers as a rookie free agent.



Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

At first I thought it was a bad decision to declare for the draft, because he could have been a lottery pick next year if he had stayed. I made a few posts describing the money he had probably lost by declaring this year. Then, I bought into a lot of the prevailing memes that he had done very well in workouts and was now projected in the first round. Now, I don't know what to think. First and foremost, Morris lost money by leaving this year. The difference between a first round contract next year and a second round contract this year means that he would have made more money next year than he will this year and next year combined. Also, the politics are not in his favor. First round picks, because of their guaranteed contracts, are given more opportunities and coaching because the teams don't want to lose their investments. The good side is that he is home, and that playing with Kobe can open up a lot of doors for a subservient point guard. Simply getting Kobe the ball crates a lot of assists and looks good on the stat sheet, and taking advantage of the extra defenders who double-team or "sag" on Kobe can create a lot of space for a PG. My advice to Darius Morris: you must now worship at the altar of Kobe. As you have learned so far, nothing is certain in the NBA. Having a Kobe on your side can make or break your NBA career. Kobe is now your teammate, your coach, and all of the profs you would have learned from this year rolled into one capricious package. Good luck.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Personally, I think Darius made a good decision. Let say that he signs a one year contract and have a good year. Guarantee you he will be able to negotiate in the millions. If he doesn't he need to get a new agent. Darius game will probably improve significantly by being in the pros. I am also glad that he left Michigan because Michigan does not appreciate its black athletes.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

DM will still make a lot more than I do with the league minimum.... so he did not do too bad. Beside if he shines his salary will go up... BIG. Looking at all of his options... stay or not, would he have been drafted, next year's draft field might be a lot more crowded...etc. I believe he may have made a smart decision.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

Problem for this rationale is that: There is no real protection for players who are not first round picks. Unless you are a superstar, the teams always consider you expendable and easy to cut. They look bad if they cut first round picks but not second rounders, even if the first rounder is a bust. It makes a lot of sense for these players to actually take advantage of the educational and growth opportunities presented for life after the NBA. And to enhance their earning potential.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Wish him well. I personally understand why players with talent want to chase the riches of pro sports, but I still wish they would see things through and allow themselves time to grow up in college, taking benefit of the educational possibilities, developing sports skills (in this case bball), and maturing. I think the same thing of many of the other draftees, but obviously I am idealistic and naive. I am also not looking at the millions that these guys do, but still. Good luck to DM, but have to agree with the above commenters.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

If you look at the reason why Darius left it is because he had a chance to make decent money by being drafted around in the early 2nd round. That failed as most predicted because he was not a low 2nd round player yet! Who ever told him he should have made the jump should never be allowed to talk to another college basketball player again. If Darius stayed at school and got stronger with his left hand and with his shooting he would have been a first round lock and possibly a top ten pick in next years draft. So moral of the story financially this was devistating because he lost out on a multiple millions and he will be in the D league before you know it. In terms of Darius being drafted, that is always special and congrats to him and his family!


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Dmo, congrats son! Glad you get to go home and play in front of your family. He will make the team and get a decent salary. I don't see a player on that roster right now that he cant beat out for the PG position. Darius is tough and smart. So that will help him in the long run.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 10:27 a.m.

Congrats Darius. I am so glad that you got drafted and I hope you noting but the best.


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 5:18 a.m.

I still don't think Darius made the right decision, but I am happy he got drafted. Lakers didn't expect too much from Shannon Brown when they signed him, but all of a sudden he was getting great playing time and got two Championship rings. Don't know if DM will have the same luck Brown had, but I do wish him the best. -Go Blue!


Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 4:10 a.m.

I don't disagree with you Macabre... Darius should've stayed 1 more year at Michigan. However, he was drafted by his favorite team and he gets to go home and play the game he loves in front of his family and friends. That's a pretty sweet gig. I wish him the best and I'm thankful for all of the hard work he put in while at Michigan. Good Luck Darius & Go blue!

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Jun 24, 2011 : 4:01 a.m.

Ouch. Expensive lesson for Darius. Wonder how he feels about his decision now that he'll be playing for the league minimum - if he even makes the Laker squad. The 17th pick in the first round will earn more than five times as much. That's easily what Morris would have been looking at had he remained here. Last years #41 pick is now toiling in Italy's second division. Shoulda listened to the experts.