HOOPS: WSU and Michigan to battle again?

ANOTHER HOOPS RECRUITING BATTLE could be heating up between Washington State and Michigan. Last year in crunch time, Klay Thompson chose the Cougars over the Wolverines. For the class of 2009, the No. 10 ranked point guard in the nation holds offers from both schools and said he has made a particularly strong connection with Tony Bennett and and his counterpart in Ann Arbor.

Darius Morris, a 4-star point guard prospect, has shown an affinity for Michigan this recruiting season but another school looks to be climbing up his ladder. Morris says Wazzu's Bennett and UM's John Beilein have most struck a chord with him.

"I'll have to go with coach Beilein and coach Tony Bennett from Washington State," said Morris. "Coach Tony Bennett was the first coach to offer me a scholarship and the first head coach to come after me. But coach Beilein has been really consistent and has just been recruiting me really hard. So I've developed a relationship with both of those guys."

Morris is a point guard but scoring is a big part of his game and a team's style of play will be a primary consideration, he said.

"Michigan, I watched their offense and even though they didn't have the pieces that they wanted there, the basis for their offense is they allow their guards to make decisions and give them freedom, allow them to attack the basket, as well as creating instead of (just) for other players -- as well as for Washington State...they're in the Pac-10 and they shoot a lot of jumpers, pick and rolls, where they put the point guard in position to make plays," said Morris.

While Morris says he's adept at passing the ball, getting to the hole and controlling the game, it's the intangibles college coaches have mentioned most to him.

"They've all said I have that one thing that they can't teach...they just said it's that something that special players have. And they said I'm able to make players around me better as well as get in my own shots," said Morris.

ALONG WITH Washington State and Michigan, said Morris, other schools in the picture include Texas, USC, Kentucky, Tennessee and Washington were among those he named as showing recent interest.

"Marquette, Washington State, Michigan and Washington were all at my game at the Las Vegas (Spring) Classic. I had 30 points and five assists in our loss," said Morris.

Morris doesn't have any set unofficial plans but may still take a trip or two this month.

"As of right now I don't have any set dates. I'm trying to squeeze in between tournaments and school a couple of visits...really looking forward to getting out if not in May, definitely August and then when official visits come around being able to make those dates," said Morris.

MORRIS SAID distance will not be a factor in his decision.

"I'm willing to travel as long as the opportunity is right," said Morris. "...and I have the chance to improve my game and myself as a person.

"I'm just looking for a school that presents the opportunity where I can score on the basketball team as well as the classroom, a place where I can make an early impact on the team and a place where the head coach is really fond of me and is really eager to get me on his team."

AS FOR A TIMETABLE on a verbal commitment, Morris said that's likely well down the road.

"I don't have any plans on making an early decision. I'm not holding out for any other schools or anything, I just want to get past this year. I'm more focused on getting better in my game and I have SATs coming up. This is a big summer and I just want to focus on my game right now. (A decision) will be definitely be after the summer is over," said Morris.

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