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Posted on Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Two NBA scouts say Michigan guard Darius Morris would be better served returning to Michigan

By Michael Rothstein


Two NBA scouts who spoke with believe Michigan guard Darius Morris (4) needs to improve his outside shooting before being considered a first-round draft choice. file photo

Darius Morris has 12 days to decide if he will come back to Ann Arbor for his junior year or seek a professional career in the NBA.

As Morris starts preparing for workouts over the next two weeks, training in his native Los Angeles, scouts are beginning to figure out their opinions of the Michigan basketball team's point guard.

Two NBA scouts who spoke with on the condition of anonymity (the league instructs its scouts not to discuss underclassmen) both said Morris improved greatly this past year. He went from a player they weren’t focused on prior to the season to one that had to be scouted during it.

Still, they weren’t expecting to have to evaluate Morris as a candidate for this year’s draft.

“I’m surprised,” NBA Scout No. 1 said. “I thought that he came on, I thought he had a pretty solid year and came on really strong at the end. But I’m really surprised that he decided (to declare for the draft).”

Both scouts agreed that Morris isn't likely to be a first-round pick in the June draft. Scout No. 1 said he envisions Morris fitting somewhere between picks 35-45.

“It’s not a pie-in-the-sky ridiculous thing, but it is also probably not in his best interests to be in the draft right now because I don’t think he’s in the first round,” NBA Scout No. 2 said.

“If somebody is in good academic standing and still needs to improve his game, which I think he is in both of those categories, then it only makes sense to come out if you’re going to be in the first round.

“And I don’t think he would be.”

Both scouts think Morris could be a first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft if he returned to Michigan. They raved about his size and his ability to drive into the lane. As a 6-foot-4 point guard, he has good quickness for his height and his length can cause problems for smaller defenders.

They saw the 20-year-old jump from scoring 4.4 points and 2.6 assists a game as a freshman to 15 points and 6.7 assists as a sophomore, including breaking the all-time single season record for assists at Michigan with 235.

But Morris isn’t a flawless player. There were times he struggled to find open shots and points during the season when his shot seemed to abandon him.

Making an improvement in those areas would make Morris a surefire first round choice, one scout said.

"One, he doesn’t look to shoot enough," NBA Scout No. 1 said. "And, two, he doesn’t shoot it well enough. (And he doesn't create) that shot off the dribble.

“The number one factor to me is the shooting part. He’s a good playmaker and no one can keep him out of the lane, but the shooting is a big-time negative.”

“He had a big jump, but I saw him a few times this year and I didn’t think ‘Boy, he’s wasting his time here, he’s got to go to the NBA,’” Scout No. 2 said. “I thought ‘Here’s a player who has made some definite improvements, he’s playing with a lot more confidence and he’s playing where he has much more impact on the game and those are all good things.’

“But I didn’t think I was looking at an NBA-ready player when I watched him, no.”

He can improve these things, the scouts said, by returning to Michigan for his junior year.

They are high on his versatility — Scout No. 1 said Morris could play either guard slot in the NBA because of his height and length — and his ability to see passing and driving lanes.

“He finds people, finds the open guy and is really unselfish getting in the lane and kicking the ball out and he can create plays, make plays, things you can’t teach,” Scout No. 1 said. “I’m very impressed with his game, like him a lot.”

Both scouts liked the talent around Morris and said playing with talented players could help boost Morris’ standing, along with improved shooting and finishing plays with his left hand.

Michigan's talent level has increased and if Morris returns, the Wolverines will have every player back from last season.

“If you aspire to be a NBA player, it helps to not be the only one on the team that is going to be a NBA player,” Scout No. 2 said. “It helps to be on a team with other guys who might have that kind of ability and they are starting to get that now. That’s a good thing for him because that will enhance his prospects.”

“He’s teetering,” Scout No. 1 said. “He’s right there, but not quite there yet.”

Michael Rothstein covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by email at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

I would like to see him contribute to a National Title and be part of a winning Michigan sports program for 2 more years....not to mention the personal benefits derived from a college education.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

If Morris buys in 100% and is excited about leading Michigan to the sweet sixteen and beyond, then come on back. If he's going to be distracted and disappointed to be back here, and continue to butt heads with Coach B, then maybe it's better he goes. It was not too long ago that Manny thought he should be an NBA player, did not get the pub he thought he deserved, and then proceeded to sleep walk through his last season here. It's better to have guys that want to be a TEAM, than to have guys with a bunch of talent that would rather be somewhere else.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

It's really a no-brainer that Morris needs one more year of college. I think the only people who can't see this are his family, who want him to make some money and help them out right now. He was right to put his name it, so he can find out from scouts exactly what he needs to work on, but I just hope his family doesn't talk him into doing anything stupid. I know it's a pretty lean year in the draft, but Morris could end up being a UFA with no option of returning to school. He could be giving up a guaranteed multi-million dollar contract next year if he leaves this year. If you read between the lines, it's obvious that his family needs money and is pressuring him to stay in the draft. I just hope he is able to see what his (and their) true best interests are.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

I think the commissioner should find out who these two scouts are since they are not suppose to be talking to anyone about any player at this time. I'm wondering if they are truly for real or whether this is someone who is a supporter of M and they are just trying to create doubt in the mind of Darius. Who is to say that those skills he need to develop can't be made in the NBA. The fact that he made superior improvement from his freshman to sophomore years tells me he has the ability to make rapid improvements. What if returns to M next year and get hurt? Would you be supportive of him then? Go Darius!


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

What if he goes undrafted? I'm not an expert but I've watched a lot of college and pro ball in my day...I don't see Darrius getting drafted in the first two rounds. If this happens the big dollars are all but gone unless he wants to move overseas.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

Who is to say? NBA scouts, that's who. If he returns and gets a degree, he'll be fine no matter what. That's keeping it real.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

As a true Michigan Fan,I would support him,if he was injured or goes to the Assc... kind of a dumb question...


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Darius is a good player, he is not great yet. He has the potential to get there with more coaching. The question is, will an NBA team draft a guy that is going to give them 6 points and 4 assists a game and a guy that is an ambiturner (Zoolander quote, he cant turn or go left). He is much better served to stay until at the least this year and probably his senior year. I actually think Hardaway Jr. is better suited right now for the NBA than Morris.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

I think Beilein is doing the right thing. He did the same thing with Harris and Sims their soph and junior years respectively. Both tested the waters and both came back. We all know that Harris wasn't a good fit for the Beilein system and the NBA was a better option for him. Morris will make the right decision. His family and coaches will help get him to where he needs to be. Hopefully all of this will fuel his fire for next year and help take Michigan back to an elite program in the B1G 10! If he comes back he would be playing with another pro prospect in Timmy Jr, so that will only benefit them both. If he does go, I wish him the best and we all know that he helped get Michigan back to the NCAA tourney, where they will be at for a long time now!


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

With the pending CBA in the NBA,and possibilities of a 2nd run pick,there is a chance D.Morris could get lost in the shuffle of all the fore mentioned situations, I wish someone would advise him to stay at Michigan, and improve his skill set, gain his degree,add some valuable experience ,and be a first rounder in 2012,and make 2 fold the monies he would in the 2011 draft. Of course I'm bias ,I would like to see him come back,and work with the team,and the new talent coming in,and win the B10,and beyond. Either way it unfolds I wish D.Morris the best ! GO BLUE..


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

Nothing against Darius, but he is not ready for the NBA yet. Being picked between "35 - 45" is not even realistic. One area he needs to work a lot on is 3 point shooting. 25% from 3 point line is not nearly good enough for a guard in the NBA. And his 71.5% FT shooting also isn't that good for a guard. Plus, he needs to play a little more in control and not force as many shots. All of these things he can improve by playing next year. Hopefully, he will choose wisely and come back next season.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

He should remember Marcius Taylor from MSU was told not to go for another year and did not listen. He ruined his college career and was cut before the season.Hopefully Darius will and return to Michigan for his own good.(I do admit I would hate to see him go) The scounts are right and so was his coach.(Coach B had to know he was not ready when he advised him to have the NBA look him over before he declared)


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Darius and Michigan would both be better served should he return for at least one more year. He could use the opportunity to fine tune his skills and show scouts that he can maintain a high level of play for an entire season. This would result in a higher pick and better preparedness to play on the professional level. The benefits to Michigan are obvious.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

I can't Darius getting drafted until the second round and even then it is likely in the middle where it s tough to get a spot on the roster. I can certainly understand his desire to play in the NBA, after all most of us go to school to get a good job and the NBA is one of the best jobs out there and a dream of his. Unfortunately agents and hangers on (families too) often have their own best interests in mind when they woo these young men. I hope he makes a good decision for what is going to be best for him long term and I wish him well and much success whatever he decides. I suspect he will be back in Ann Arbor next season as he was smart enough not to hire an agent


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

Who's not talking to this kid? He is not NBA material by a long shot. Why would he think he is? His family should really sit down with him to discuss his future. Giving up the chance to finish with a college degree from Michigan instead of looking at potential dollar signs the NBA might bring, I'd take my chance on the sure thing. Stay at Michigan. This is a no brainer. It's just a shame some around him don't see it this way.