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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Hoops Recruiting Report
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

By Thad Mumau

Defense-minded Morales looks to add skills

By Thad Mumau
All Rights Reserved.

Darius Morales does not bring a gaudy high school scoring average to Greenville. And he is not known as a relentless rebounder. What he does better than anything else is block shots.

Morales averaged 4.3 of them for Orlando (FL) Timber Creek this past season, along with 11.4 points and 9.8 rebounds as his team finished 18-11. He shot 48 percent from the floor and 45 percent from the free throw line.

“Darius is an outstanding shot blocker,” Timber Creek coach Ron Schadegg said. “He has a long body and a big wing span, so he plays taller than he is. He alters a lot of shots in addition to the ones he blocks.”

Morales is part of ECU’s four-man hoops recruiting class. He signed a letter of intent this spring as did 6-4 Corvonn Gaines. Wakefield Ellison, who is 6-5, and 6-6 Erin Straughn signed in the fall.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Morales has some offensive shortcomings, but his size and defensive skills figure to earn some freshman minutes.

“I think he can go in and get some productive minutes right away,” Schadegg said. “East Carolina can use his shot blocking. As his offense improves, he will play more.”

Morales had four triple-doubles as a senior: 18 points, 13 boards, 10 blocks vs. Sebastian River; 17 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks vs. Edgewater; 21 points, 13 boards, 11 blocks vs. Lake Mary; 13 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks vs. Titusville.

The performance against Sebastian River came in the Treasure Coast Classic championship game, earning him the tournament MVP honor. He was the Timber Creek team MVP as a junior and senior.

“Darius was relied upon heavily for his senior leadership,” Schadegg said, “and the team aspect was very important to him. He always kept everyone involved, and he encouraged and supported all of his teammates, no matter if it was the last guy on the bench.

“He is very unselfish. He isn’t concerned with how many points he gets, only in helping the team win.

“He has progressed each year of his high school career. He did that by putting in the time it takes to get better. Darius is determined and committed to consistently improving his ability so he can make an impact in all areas at the next level. He has a great work ethic.

“Right now, he has no go-to post moves,” Schadegg said. “He needs to develop one quickly. His best moves are a jump hook and an up-and-under. Those are the two we have concentrated on the most, but both need a whole lot of work. He doesn’t have much confidence in either one.

“He can be passive at times; he has to play a little meaner. His passing skills are poor.

“Darius has a lot going for him, though. He is athletic for his size and he runs the floor well. He will beat most big men down the court. He has decent hands and catches the ball well.

“His best basketball is ahead of him,” Schadegg said. “He needs to hit the weight room, get stronger and put on 20 or 30 pounds.

“He is very receptive to criticism; he’s coachable. He has some passion for the game, and he is going to do what it takes to get better.”

Morales was offered scholarships by Temple, College of Charleston, North Florida, Wofford, Colgate, Marist and East Carolina. Penn State recruited him hard as well. He visited Charleston, Marist, Colgate and ECU.

“I had planned a trip to Temple,” Morales said, “but I canceled it after visiting East Carolina. When I went there, I knew it was the place for me. I liked the campus size and the facilities. I really liked the coaches and the way they worked the team out.

“They told me I could get playing time as a freshman. I know I need to gain some weight, get stronger and be able to step out and hit some jump shots. The jump hook is the post move I like the best, and I have to improve that.

“My defense is definitely ahead of my offense,” Morales said. “Shot blocking is my strong point. I have always had a knack for that. I’m a quick jumper – I get up and down quick – and I have good timing. The timing is the main thing with blocking shots. Plus, I have a 7-2 wing span, and that doesn’t hurt either.

“The coaches like that and they like the way I run the floor.”

Both of Morales’ parents are teachers, and they have always emphasized education. He is a member of the National Honor Roll.

He has been invited to tryouts for the Puerto Rico National team in late May.

Dig into Thad Mumau's archives.

05/13/2009 02:05:58 AM


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