The Morant Legacy


Ja Morant: A Name You Need to Know

Tee Morant was a high school teammate of Ray Allen in the early 90s; a Hall of Famer, a household name and the NBA’s all-time 3-point leader. You know Ray Allen. You’ve never heard of Tee Morant.

Allen went to UConn and was the fifth pick in the NBA Draft in 1996. Morant went to Claflin University – heard of it? – and was never drafted. He participated in free agent camps and bounced around overseas for years, but gave up on basketball when he and his wife had their first child, a boy named Temetrius “Ja” Morant.

Ja carries the weight of two underdog stories in one, yet he skies for vicious dunks like he’s weightless altogether. He’s a walking triple-double, a sophomore sensation and the angel of highlight heaven for college hoops fans. Yet, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen him play…

That’s because Ja Morant, just like his father before him, was overshadowed. In the heart of South Carolina, this 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard didn’t get an offer from a power-five school, and there were a lot nearby…

Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Tennessee. That’s 10 programs within a five-hour drive of Ja Morant’s high school. Zero offers.

Ja wasn’t ranked or even mentioned on the state’s top recruiting lists. Nearby high school players like P.J. Dozier (South Carolina), Jake Felton (North Carolina), Sharone Wright (Wake Forest) and, of course, Zion Williamson (Duke) grabbed all the attention in the last two years.

Underappreciated and a bit angry, Ja fell into a role his father knew all too well – the underdog. He committed to Murray State immediately after his visit. He loved the school and they loved him. The Racers were known for being a dangerous first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament, at least one game a year that could grant Ja some national attention.

After embracing the underdog path at a mid-major, Ja’s game exploded late in his senior year and he grabbed attention – and a scholarship offer – from South Carolina. But embracing the chip on his shoulder, the story of his father, and the underdog path, his heart was set on Murray State.

Now, Ja Morant is destined to be a top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. He’s averaging 24 points, 11 assists and six rebounds per game – all better than Duke’s Zion Williamson – and he provides a new top-ten highlight almost every other night.

You won’t often see Murray State basketball on TV, but you’re about to see Ja Morant all too often in the NBA, living out his father’s dream and leaving a legacy for not one, but two underdogs.

Justin Tangjanuary2019