You might not know his name, nor his school, but you need to. Now. He’s drawing comparisons to NBA All Star Russel Westbrook, and is currently projected as the second pick in June’s NBA Draft. He is Ja Morant, the point guard for the Murray State Racers. And he is a superstar in the making.
It’s not every year that a mid-major produces a top three pick in the draft. The last was Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison. He was taken as the third overall pick in the 2006 draft by the then Charlotte Bobcats. Now, the under-the-radar Racers PG is looking to become the next.
So how good is Ja? Where did he come from? And how did he end up at Murray State? Morant was an unknown prospect on the national stage coming out of South Carolina. He was unranked on every major recruiting site. Ja was regarded as the number five prospect on PrepHoops South Carolina’s 2017 player rankings. Although he did receive some interest from home state school South Carolina, along with about a dozen other schools (the majority of them low and mid-major programs), all of them were to afraid to pull the trigger on Morant. Except for one school. Murray State head coach Matt McMahon and his staff took a chance on the 6’3″ guard. And they found a hidden gem.
He can do it all
As just a 19-year-old sophomore, who won’t even turn 20 until August of this year, he is incredibly young and incredibly talented. This season, Morant has taken the college basketball world by storm with his 23.5 points, 10.5 assists, and 6.5 rebounds a game. This is all while leading Murray State to a 12-2 record, heading into Ohio Valley Conference play, arguably the easiest part of their schedule. I’m not sure what the most impressive thing about Morant is. His 38 point outburst against Alabama? His school record 18 assists against UT-Martin? Grabbing 13 boards against Missouri State? Or his high flying ability to literally jump over defenders to flush one home above the rim? Ja Morant is a star:
Ja Morant with absolutely NO regard for human life
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 11, 2019
A future NBA All-Star?
You’ve heard of the stories of NBA who were under evaluated out of high school, went to mid major schools and then became NBA stars. Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum to name a few, and Ja Morant is next on that list. Mark it. His ability as a true playmaker that can get to the rim, and the athleticism to finish above taller defenders makes him very attractive to NBA scouts. Mix that in with his height at 6’3 and long arms that make him comparable to the size of most NBA point guards, and that makes Ja a potential top five pick in this year’s draft. The only thing lacking in Morant’s game is consistency from deep. Many scouts have expressed concerns over his three-point shot ability, but state his shot has potential. An NBADraft.net scout put it this way:
“… Shot shows nice potential, even from behind the arch, but he needs to put in hours of work shooting both mid range and 3 point shots in order to develop the muscle memory and ability to hit shots in rhythm with consistency…”
You can catch Morant and Murray State on ESPN+ for the rest of the season. Or you will likely see some of his dunks on SportsCenter’s Top Ten plays of the night. Many are calling Ja Morant college basketball’s most exciting player not named Zion. And now you know why.