K'len Morris may have committed to Michigan over a year and a half ago, but that didn't diminish the excitement he felt yesterday as he and three classmates (including future Michigan golfer Ashley Bauer) signed their national letters of intent. With his parents Lorrie and Brad at his side, Morris was all smiles as he finally made his pledge official. "It's exciting," he said. "It has been one of my dreams since I was a little kid. When I was really little I was always jumping to the best teams, but when I actually knew what was going on, it was Michigan."
Some around Morris wondered if his commitment would be tested by the disappointing season the Maize and Blue endured last year, but the 6-5 200-lb. wing indicated that his future as a Wolverine was never in doubt. "Injuries can hurt a team a lot," he said. "When you lose Lester and Daniel…those are two of the best players. Chris Hunter…you're missing key pieces of your team. I became even more sure of my decision when they were going through that."
K'len signs his letter with mom and dad by his side
Looking back on adversity the team weathered through, Morris was particularly impressed by the way his future head coach handled all of the bad luck. Tommy Amaker's approach to dealing with his players was one of the most significant factors in Morris' decision to take his talents to Ann Arbor. "I like Coach Amaker because he's laid back," Morris explained. "He's not going to hold grudges against you. If you make a mistake, he'll tell you what's on his mind, but that will be the end of it. You don't have to worry about, 'is he going to sit me and not play me for the rest of the game?' or 'Is he going to hold this against me?' That was a huge thing with me because I don't want to have to worry about making a mistake and not being able to play the rest of my four years. (laughing)."
As a player that has a great deal of experience playing a number of positions at the high school level, Morris will offer Amaker a lot of versatility. Accordingly, he has been told he will be utilized at more than one spot. "Coach Amaker told me I'll play one, two, and a little bit of three," Morris said. "I'll be playing a little bit of all three. I like point best of all. That's my favorite, but I'm willing to play whatever. I'll do whatever I've got to do to win. As long as I'm winning, that's all I care about. I expect to win. I want the Big Ten. I want the NCAA. My expectations are always very high."
With his letter signing now behind him, Morris' attention is now focused solely upon meeting his expectations in his final high school season. The Bobcats lost big man Zach Gibson (Rutgers) and shooting guard Desmond Young (Eastern Michigan) to graduation, but they have a few talented youngsters that are ready to step in to help pick up the slack. However, the key to Grand Blanc's season will undoubtedly be Morris. Coach Matt Shanafelt is asking his star player to be more selfish this year, which is something Morris just isn't accustomed to doing. "I realize I'm going to have to take more shots this year, and I'm going to," said Morris. "But I've always been a pass first shoot second person. I don't why. That's just the mentality I've always had. But I know for us to be successful this year I'm going to have to shoot up to 20 shots per game. If that's what I have to do to win, I'll shoot 20 times. I'm a marked man, so I'm going to be everyone's target. People are going to say stuff, which is fine with me, because I'll say something back. I like the trash talking."
K'len Morris & Ashley Bauer
Dad's constructive (and many times humorous) critiques were even present yesterday. During the course of conversation the elder Morris mentioned his son had been shooting free-throws like crap and that he had to get into the gym with one of the new coaches to clean that up. Son didn't disagree, and even went on to shed light on a few other things that he'll be working on. "Definitely my three-pointer," Morris said regarding what areas of his game needed to improve. "It's still not as consistent as I'd like it to be. One day it's money and the next day I can't hit anything. I'm still not as quick as I want to be. I think working with my speed trainer has made me better. When I was younger I wasn't one of the fastest people. I really couldn't jump that high, but now since I've worked with him for the last four or five years, he has definitely made me more explosive. I get a lot of support from my coaches, family, and teammates. When I was down, somebody was there to pick me up. There are a lot of things that made me the player I am today. I think I've gotten smarter, better defensively, and my jumper is starting to come around. And I've become a better leader. "
Shortly after wrapping up our interview Morris went home to change so he could come back to school and get in the gym.
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Morris throughout the season.
Below is the bio for Women's Golf signee Ashley Bauer
- 3.93 GPA
- National Honor Society (2 years)
- Academic Excellence Award (3 years)
- Planned Major - Pharmacology
- Big 9 Athletic Conference All-Academic (2004, 2005 Tennis / 2005 Golf)
- 2005 Division 1 Individual State Champion (Golf)
- 2005 Individual Big 9 Champion
- 2005 MVP Golf
- 2005 Varsity Captain - Tennis & Golf
- Winner of six individual high school tournaments (Golf)
- 2005 Golf Association of Michigan Player of the Year
- 2004 Most Improved (Golf)
- 2004 All State (Tennis)
- 2004 MVP Tennis
- 2004 & 2005 2nd Team All Big 9 Conference (Tennis)
- Member of three Big 9 Championship Teams (2003, 2004, 2005 - Golf)
- Member of two state championship teams (2004, 2005 - Golf)
Ashley signs her letter with parents Glen and Jackie by her side