On a team that featured Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson, Demetris Morant was able to stand out as a star last season. Whether it be his emphatic dunks or his menacing blocks, "Meech," as his teammates call him, was a force in the paint during his first year at Florida Gulf Coast. Due to his crazy athleticism, he's literally the prototypical big man for Dunk City, and he's enjoyed every single moment with the program.
"It's a great school and it's a great program. I like all my teammates and all my coaches, and it's been a fun experience so far," Morant said.
Sadly for the Eagles, Morant will be out until at least mid-December with a stress fracture in his right shin. This July during his summer practices he noticed some pain in his right leg. After sitting out for weeks on end with no sign of the pain going away, it was decided that he would have surgery in early October to hopefully get him back in time for Atlantic Sun conference play.
On October 2nd, Morant had successful surgery, and is starting to get deep into his rehab. Now that the surgery has been completed, he can turn his thoughts to playing without any pain. However, sitting out is presenting a new source of pain for him.
"It hurts a lot. I wish I could be there for my teammates," he said. "I mean the first couple games are our biggest games, and I'm missing them. That sucks."
Fortunately for the Eagles, he's scheduled to be ready to play for the second half of the season, which will give them a huge boost heading into conference play. While some of their most challenging games will be at the beginning of the season, their most meaningful games come against A-Sun opponents, which will determine conference tournament seedings.
Morant's popularity in Dunk City stems from his lob-catching ability, a skill that Comer and company utilized many times last season. Although he only averaged 4.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, his 6-foot-9 presence under the basket was immeasurable at moments last season. His most notable game last year came against Ave Maria when he threw down a grand total of seven dunks. When he returns, he will have a new set of point guards to catch lobs from, but he already expects to be on the same page with them.
"Just watching them, I feel like I can fit in with them. I feel like they know when to pass the ball, when not to, and I know they can throw lobs," Morant said.
Although he doesn't like the fact that he has to sit out, he feels that he's learned a lot, and can still learn more, from watching his teammates from the bench. He talked about how playing revolves around fast reactions and instinct. By watching his teammates, he will be able to process their tendencies and be ready to play to their styles when he gets back on the court. On a more coachable note, he also wants to be able to notice some of the missteps so he can help his teammates in correcting them.
"Watching, you can actually see everyone's mistakes and notice how the mistakes can be easily fixed," he said.
He, along with Nate Hicks, was a defensive juggernaut that caused multiple mismatches. Morant led the Atlantic Sun in blocked shots with 42, and caused countless amounts of disruptions in the low post. Coming back from injury, defending the A-Sun block title hasn't even crossed his mind. He's just trying to go out and play his game to the best of his abilities, and then the blocks will come.
"To be honest, I haven't even thought about that. I just go out there, and I know I'm going to get my blocks, but I'm not worried about anyone surpassing me or whatever," Morant said. "I know when I get back I'll still be the same player, and do the same things on defense."
While he definitely won't be able to accumulate another 42 blocks due to playing in half as many games as last year, his presence on the court is going to provide a huge boost for the Eagles come late December. With their biggest problem currently being lack of size, the return of Morant could be the boost FGCU needs to elevate them to the top of the conference.