Ja Morant was not a one-hit wonder with the Murray State Racers. The second-year sophomore guard declared for the 2019 NBA draft after two stellar seasons in the Ohio Valley Conference. Depending on the outcome of the NBA draft lottery, Morant may become the No. 1 selection in June. He already earned a spot as a First team All-American.
Morant flourished with the Racers, leading them to a (28-5) record in 2019. Despite the gaudy record, the Racers earned a 12-seed in the West Region with an automatic bid. They won their opening round game against the Marquette Golden Eagles. However, they were annihilated by the Florida State Seminoles in the second round. As a result, the last time we saw Morant on the college stage, he was taking a 28-point loss on national television. None of that will matter when the draft rolls around.
Morant averaged 24.5 points and 10 assists during his sophomore year. He also grabbed 5.7 rebounds this season, giving off the vibe that a triple double could happen at any moment. Morant shot 49 percent from the field. Although he plays a stellar all around game, he came to national fame due to a plethora of highlight dunks. The best part of Morant’s game is that he got better with more opportunities.
During his freshman season, Morant displayed flashes of greatness as the auxiliary starting point guard. He started all 32 games in 2017-18. Morant also produced 12.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.5 rebounds. Those sound like lottery pick numbers for certain individuals around the country. Yet, Morant flied under the radar because seniors Jonathan Stark and Terrell Miller Jr. were dominant scorers on the collegiate level.
They combined to average over 36 points per game with an array of inside-out precision. As a result, Morant played his role to fit in perfectly. He knows how to play off the ball. He knows how to dominate with the ball in his hands. Whether Morant was playing shooting guard or point guard, he always found open teammates. Moreover, he creates openings for teammates. That’s why he is assured of becoming a lottery pick this summer.
Furthermore, Morant’s baseline numbers weren’t the only thing to improve. With the exception of rebounding, Morant increased everything across the board. For example, he shot 45.9 percent from the field in 2018. Well, he shot 49.9 percent from the field this season. Morant also increased his 3-point shooting from 30.7 percent to 36.3 percent. He also upped his 3-point attempts from 2.8 to 4.8 per game. Everybody is not built to shoot more while increasing their percentage. As it turns out, Morant is a rare breed. He also doubled his free throw attempts from 4 to 8 per game. Morant shot 81 percent from the line.
Defensively, Morant also doubled his steals to 1.8 per game this season. He has to learn to focus more when he heads to the NBA, however, Morant has the tools to be a great defender on the next level.
The one downside to Morant’s court vision are turnovers. He averaged 5.2 turnovers per game this season. It was still a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio but Morant can make more of impact without some of the high stakes plays that go awry.