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Posted on Wed, May 4, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Darius Morris officially leaves Michigan basketball for shot in the NBA

By Michael Rothstein


Darius Morris is passing up his final two years at Michigan and entering the NBA Draft. file photo

The Michigan basketball team needs to find a new starting point guard.

Sophomore Darius Morris officially announced Wednesday he will forgo his final two years of eligibility with Michigan to pursue the NBA.

"This was a difficult decision; however, in the end I decided to go with my heart,” Morris said in a statement. “Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan; however, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction.”

Morris finishes his career tied with Lester Abram for 19th all-time in minutes per game (29) and 12th in career assists (319). In his two-year career, Morris averaged 4.8 assists. Last season, he set a single-season record with 235 assists, breaking Gary Grant’s mark by one.

The 6-foot-4 point guard’s 6.7 assists per game last year was second all-time in a single year, behind Grant.

“He’s got good size, got a good body, good lateral quickness and speed to go along with it and he can break down the defense,” an NBA scout told last month on the condition of anonymity. “That size can be used at the 1 and the 2 position at both ends of the floor. In our league now, if you just touch a guy, just breathe on a guy real hard, they’ll call a foul.

“You’ve seen that, where a guy his size, 6-4, that length really bothers people and we really like length as far as defense now because you can stay off a guy and length really causes a problem. He’s got that.”

The main concerns of scouts is Morris’ shooting and ball-handling skills with his left hand. He is a career 46.9-percent shooter and makes 22.3 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Both scouts that spoke with felt it would be beneficial for Morris to return to school for one more year and that he could play his way into the draft lottery with another good season at Michigan.

Morris is 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.

Morris’ departure also leaves a hole in the Michigan lineup. The Wolverines return every player besides Morris from last year’s team and add top 100 recruits Carlton Brundidge and point guard Trey Burke, who was named this year’s Mr. Basketball in Ohio.

"We, as a staff, have watched Darius grow as a person and as a player these past two years," Michigan coach John Beilein said in a statement. "His improvement on the court has been the result of his God-given talent and his intense desire to become the best player he can be. His work habits, especially in our individual skill development time, have been outstanding, and we all witnessed the results of his efforts this season.”

The NBA Draft is June 23 in New York. Most mock drafts have Morris slated as a late first or early second-round selection.

However, the NBA is looking at similar labor strife to the NFL. The New York Daily News reported last month the league has decided to cancel its Las Vegas summer league, typically a place for second-round draft picks to show off their skills and attempt to solidify roster spots.

The NBA denied the report.

If the NBA does have a lockout on July 1, all offseason activities, including the summer leagues, would be canceled.

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



Thu, May 5, 2011 : 4:53 a.m.

If he wants to try and is confident in himself than good luck.Europe pays good money too.If there is a lockout next year he can play there.Dont be a hater because you want him to stay at michigan


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

Thanks Beilien for encouraging Darius to look at the NBA. We are truly cursed when it comes to BB. Hopefully Brandon will begin searching for a BB coach who can recruit and trys to keep his players here for all four years. Matta was able to give Sullnger enough money to keep him at OSU. We will be a bubble team again next year and possibly a NIT team. Should be progressing to final four if we actually recruited and kept the talent here. Funny no one seems to understand the value of a Michigan degree.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 11:11 p.m.

I know that these players see the riches of the NBA and want it, but in my opinion, so many of them chase fools gold. Morris was exciting to watch, was developing into a premier big ten guard, but he has a lot of growing up to do before he is ready for the NBA. I loved him on Michigan, and hope he does well, but didn't he get suspended in the middle of the year? He had a ton of assists, but he did not take over games often enough to think that he is NBA ready. Good luck, Darius. Please, follow through at Michigan and get your degree. That ultimately is way more valuable than a few NBA seasons.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

i wonder if he's thought about what he will do if he doesn't make it?d-league doesn't sound good.Europe if he's good enough.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

Ouch. It's obvious that he got family pressure to do this. I wish someone could spank his parents. 2 years X $300K =$600k. 1 year X 0 + 1 year X $2 million = $2 million. I'm guessing he will be losing at least $1.4 million from this move. It certainly looks like Darius and his family decided to believe the one service that ranked him as a first round bubble pick instead of the majority that ranked him in the middle of the second round. Good luck, Darius, but this is a bonehead move.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

This really great news for Beilein. Ole Johnny now can use the if only Morris had stayed we would have won more games card. With Morris now gone Beilein's Big Ten record of 30-42 is not going to get any better.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

"This was a difficult decision; however, in the end I decided to go with my heart," Morris said This type of decision should be made by using your head.

Larry Eiler

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Foolish youthful decision and he is not pro quality at this time


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 8 p.m.

He should have consulted with Eric Turner..and stayed one more year.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

mistake, likely a Europe or D league player, won't be a first round pick. Hopefully he will keep working and end up making a team. Doubt it will equate to the first round money he would get by staying one more year.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

Like the scouts said "it would be beneficial for Morris to return to school for one more year..." In the end Darius had to make up his own mind and weight the advantages against the disadvantages. I thank him for his time here and wish him well in the NBA. I hope he returns to Michigan during the off season to get a degree. I also hope that he has a good financial advisor because any career, especially in sports, can end abruptly.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

Jaime. I would like to know who these scouts are. It seems to me these so called scouts are M fans. Darius will be the biggest point guard in the draft this year. His ball handling skills plus his size are assets. He can shoot the outside shot but did not need to because of the other players on the team. His job was to get them the ball in position to score. and he did very good at fulfilling that role. He will have plenty of time to work on his deficiencies and to impress the scouts. Hasn't it occurred to you folks by now that he is receiving professional advice as to where he may go in the draft. That's what he is basing his decision on.

Jason Walker

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

He'll be fine. I heard that the new rules will prevent anyone from using their off hand. His left might as well be tied to his side.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

He should give his scholarship money back as should all athletes that don't graduate.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

Most athletic departments don't make money. Paying athletes is a bit problematic.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

How about these universities pay the athletes for bringing in all that revenue. Its no secret that football and basketball, both sports dominated, by Black athletes are the major revenue generating sports that fund all the other sports that are dominated other athletes. Yet, these colleges and universities are absolutely remissed in seeing to it that these athletes get an education. Many of them are funneled non-academic classes and they when they don't graduate, they become virtually useless to anyone including their own community.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

I think Darius Morris probably spent too much time talking to Manny Harris.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Good your signing money and live frugally. Statistically speaking your career will be short.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 6:14 p.m.

Poor kid is going to have a tough time making it in the NBA now. Too bad he is getting poor guildance from someone . . . He should talk to Donnoven Warren . . .


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

Or Eric Turner. I believe he left early and never made the NBA


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Good luck in the D-League or Europe


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

Stupid for who? That other player will be leaving next year too?

Susie Q

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

If Darius came back for a junior year ONLY to improve his game, it would not be best for the TEAM. The players have to have the best interest of the team at heart rather than their future NBA careers. While I believe Darius might benefit from another year in college, it is best that he leave if his main interest is his own future in the pros. We will miss his skills, but will have to move on without him.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

I don't think all players want to go pro. I think many of them realize they won't make it, or it is best to develop to their fullest before giving it a go.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

You don't think that every player on that team wants to go pro? Improving his game and helping the team aren't mutually exclusive things.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

Morris received some bad advice regarding this decision. His game is not NBA-ready and he will likely be a second round pick that will have to fight to make the team versus waiting another year and improving his overall game and draft position. He won't be able to perform at the pro level until he develops a good jumper. It's highly disappointing. Good luck DM.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

Stupid move....


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I disagree with the article's first sentence. We have our new point guard coming in named Trey Burke. Ultimately, he'll be better than Darius. But, this will hurt the team especially in the first half of the season while Burke is learning the Beilein system. They'll have to get help from Stu Douglass and freshman Carlton Brundidge too. But, attrition to the NBA is normal for most of the top programs in college basketball. As Michigan gets better and better players, we're going to see this happening more. That being said, in most cases, it's not in a player's best interests to leave for the NBA until he's gotten at least 3 college seasons under his belt. And Morris clearly wasn't ready for the NBA yet. Hopefully in the long run, this will work out for him.