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Monte Morris: The Summer of "Dis"

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chances are, you're probably having a better summer than Monte Morris. I mean, there's likely no conceivable way that's actually true, considering Morris is a college kid, going to school for free as a big-time college athlete and oh by the way, he gets to go to Spain here soon, but let's put all of that aside and just follow me here.

Morris is one of the top point guards in all of college basketball. Don't believe me; just ask any Iowa State fan, they'll tell you. Jesting aside, Morris, who was entrusted with guiding the offensive juggernaut that Fred Hoiberg created, has proved through two years that he has no equal when it comes to not only distributing the rock, but taking care of it as well. With a 4.78:1 assist-to-turnover ratio as a freshman (an NCAA record by the way) and a 4.63:1 assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore, Morris stands alone in the collegiate ranks as the ultimate offensive caretaker.

Morris has been so good in fact, that some have even speculated about him possibly throwing his name into the NBA draft after this upcoming season.

The Flint, Michigan native is truly on the precipice of becoming a household name entering his junior season, but to say that this summer has been good to him, would be an outright lie.

First, Morris was cut from the roster of the U.S.A.'s Pan-American team after the first day of tryouts, while contemporaries like Fred Van Vleet (Wichita State), Melo Trimble (Maryland) and surprisingly, Isaiah Cousins (Oklahoma) advanced on.

Morris took the cut in stride, but then in the last week, more shade was thrown his way as Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, hot on his annual summer glory tour, left Morris off his pre-season Big 12 first team:

Phil Forte? Wut?

Sharing in the shaming was Rothstein's CBS Sports sidekick, Matt Norlander, who also left Morris off his preseason Big 12 first team in his summer profile of the Big 12 conference. Norlander opted to pick Isaiah Taylor from Texas on his first team (and also picked Iowa State to finish third behind Kansas and Oklahoma).

*Going back to May, Rob Dauster of also left Morris off his preseason first team.

Then later last week, Jason McIntyre of came out with a list of his top 50 players in college basketball and once again, Morris was omitted (though he is listed in the "Just Missed" category). McIntyre opted to include point guards like Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Gary Payton Jr. (Oregon State), Tyler Ulis (Kentucky), Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Van Vleet, Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame), Marcus Paige (North Carolina), Trimble, Kris Dunn (Providence) and incoming freshman, Jalen Brunson (Villanova). That's 11 point guards that McIntyre ranked ahead of Morris for those keeping score.

And if all that wasn't enough, Morris wasn't even rewarded with being named the MVP of the YMCA Capitol City League, which was egregious considering he so blatantly dominated the exhibition play.

The hits just kept coming all summer for the talented point guard, but by all accounts, he's gone the cliche route of using each of these slights as proverbial fire for the upcoming season, even proclaiming that he'll have the last laugh when he's playing in the Final Four next April.

Whether this is a case of Morris not getting the respect he's earned or simply being overlooked, I'm here to remind everyone just how good Morris has been through two years:

  • Did you know that he had the best offensive rating of all players in the Big 12 last year (and 21st nationally) according to
  • Continuing with the advanced stats, Morris also had the conference's 6th-best effective field goal percentage (57.3%), 3rd highest assist rate (28.8%), 4th best turnover rate (12.3%), 9th best steal percentage (2.9%) and produced the highest offensive win shares (3.7) of any Big 12 performer last season.
  • For the more traditional stats crowd, Morris led the league in assists (5.18, Juwan Staten was the next closest at 4.63) and his 4.63:1 assist-to-turnover ratio was vastly superior to his nearest competitor (Staten was 2nd in the league at 2.28:1 for players that averaged 3 assists or more per game). Morris also shot 39.5% from outside, which is supposedly the "weak" area of his game and shot an astounding 54.7% overall, which is a remarkable number for a point guard. He also averaged the third most steals per game in the Big 12 and finished with nearly half a steal more per game than guys like Frank Mason and Taylor. Morris did all this while averaging the most minutes in the conference (33.91), in part because he really didn't have a back-up behind him to allow him to take a breather every now and then.
  • While guiding Iowa State to a second-straight Big 12 Tournament championship, Morris was exceptional, averaging 15.3 points per game, shooting 55.5% from outside and knocking down 9-10 free throws. Even more impressive was the fact that over that 3-game span in Kansas City, Morris didn't turn the ball over once (Morris also didn't record a turnover in the regular season finale against TCU, marking a 4-game turnover-free stretch).
  • We all know how well Morris takes care of the ball, but did you know that in 70 career games, he's only coughed it up 66 times? With 310 assists in two seasons, he's also within range of catching Jeff Hornacek (665 career assists) for the all-time mark in Cyclone history.

Oh, and if all that isn't enough, there was this:

The fact of the matter is, this dude can play. This past year, Georges Niang and Fred Hoiberg were the faces of the program, and rightfully so, but to those that paid attention, you could have easily made the case that it was Morris that truly ran the show.

With Steve Prohm now in charge, who just so happens to have an excellent pedigree when it comes to fostering point guard talent, I'd suspect that the best of Monte Morris has yet to be seen.

But by all means, keep writing Morris off. Keep saying he's just short of being elite. Morris will continue to grind and continue to set out to become the best point guard in college basketball.

Problem is, what if he already is?