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Archive for Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Morningstar accepts ‘dream’ offer

September 27, 2005

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Brady Morningstar, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs just under 170 pounds, does not believe he's too slight of frame to play Big 12 Conference basketball.

He has been told - by former Kansas University assistant Neil Dougherty - the epic story of another skinny combo guard who arrived at KU with an underwhelming build.

That scrawny kid now starts for the Chicago Bulls.

"Kirk Hinrich is my idol. When he came to KU he was 6-foot-2, 165. I will try to accomplish what he did, even though I know it won't be easy," said Morningstar, a former Free State High standout who orally committed to KU on Saturday over Dougherty's Texas Christian Horned Frogs, plus West Virginia, Tennessee and Northern Illinois.

Morningstar, who turns 20 in January, is spending this season at New Hampton School in New Hampton, N.H., where he will work on his body and his game during the school's 35-game season.

"I've got to get bigger, quicker," said Morningstar, who said he had accepted a full scholarship offer.

The son of former KU player Roger Morningstar and brother of former KU volleyball player Jamie, Brady Morningstar said receiving a KU tender classified as a "dream come true."

"It's been my dream since I was 7 when we moved to Lawrence (from Massachusetts) and I knew I lived in the same town as the Jayhawks," Morningstar said. "The players, coaches, the school, the tradition : I'm so excited, it hasn't even hit me yet."

KU coach Bill Self visited Morningstar at New Hampton School last weekend.

"It's been kind of in the making. I knew it could happen if I proved I could play," said Morningstar, who averaged 19 points and five rebounds his senior year at FSHS.

He had a great summer on the AAU circuit and also improved playing pick-up games with the current Jayhawks three times a week.

"Each time I went there (to KU), I got a little more confidence," said Morningstar, known as a good outside shooter with athleticism.

KU's coaches have been monitoring the local player's progress closely the past few years.

"They talked to Brady in the fall (before his senior season) and said, 'I don't know if you are ready now. Do you think you are ready to play in the Big 12?' He said, 'No,''' said Morningstar's dad, who played on KU's 1974 Final Four team. "They said, 'If you get a little bigger and better : just know we are watching you.'''

After Morningstar's senior season, the KU coaches' tone changed.

"They talked to him and said, 'We might have underestimated you a bit. We seriously have you on our radar,''' Roger Morningstar said. "They thought prep school was a great idea. We went into the summer club season, and interest was picking up, and they (KU coaches) said, 'We want you to come here. Maybe it'll work out this year.'

"Brady already had given his word to New Hampton and needed to live by it. Then the whole Brandon Rush thing came up. Brady said, 'These guys (KU coaches) will come see me in September, and I'll wait until then and play it by ear.'''

Morningstar never considered attending KU this season.

"I would not have gotten any time and would probably be red-shirting. Here I can play against great competition, lift weights and also work on some things," he said.

Can Morningstar develop like his dad and become a contributing member of a powerhouse KU program.

"Well, who knows? It's up to him," Roger said. "He's played so much with those kids at KU during the summer. He feels he'll have a great opportunity at some point.

"I don't know if he'll get a whole lot taller, but he can gain 15, 20 pounds. He has the ability to play three positions, even throw in some minutes at the 3 (small forward) because he has a little athleticism, can jump. As far as understanding team play, smart shots, team defenses : he's grown up with it and understands the game."

¢ Scholarship situation: Self, who has two scholarships remaining for next year - more if any players turn pro or transfer - is after seniors Darrell Arthur (6-9, Dallas), Obi Muonelo (6-4, Edmond, Okla.) and Sherron Collins (5-10, Chicago), who will attend Late Night in the Phog on Oct. 14. Others to attend include juniors Cole Aldrich, 6-10, Bloomington, Minn.; Jeremy Price, 6-9, Decatur, Ga.; Lance Storrs, 6-5, Decatur, Ga.; Alex Legion, 6-3, Detroit; plus sophomore Travis Releford, 6-3, Kansas City. Junior Tyrel Reed, 6-2, Burlington, and others also may attend.

¢ Boot Camp update: All of KU's players showed on time for the 6 a.m. opening session of KU's two-week Boot Camp on Monday.

Only Sasha Kaun was unable to participate in workouts. He has been hobbled by a sprained ankle, which he sustained last week.

"He was riding the stationary bike and running straight lines. Later in the week he should be ready to go," Self said.

"They had a long day today," he added of the Jayhawks. "It was successful in that everybody made it through. There will be harder days coming than today. It wasn't great, but the attitudes seemed pretty good."

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