Morris Finds A Home With The Huskies
Jan. 30, 2008
By Christian Caple
Tim Morris probably didn't see himself here five years ago, but this is his home now.
After a three-year stint at Stanford, Morris is making his mark at the UW.
The senior guard has been one of the Huskies' more consistent performers in his only season on the hardwood, averaging 8.8 points per game and providing a veteran leadership that has earned him not only the respect of his coaches and teammates, but the label of team captain as well -- despite spending just two years in the program.
'I'm a little excited. I know a lot of the guys, so it's going to be fun.'
Tim Morris on facing his former team this week.
'He was a really good leader, to the point where this is only his second year playing for us and [the team] voted him Team Captain,' coach Lorenzo Romar said. 'So it's a pretty significant impression that he left on our guys.'
Even though six players on the UW's roster have been here longer than Morris, his relationship with Romar began well before anyone else wearing purple and gold.
Romar and Morris are second cousins (Morris' dad is the brother of Romar's mother, for those of you scoring at home). The two met when Tim was 2 years old.
As Romar described with a laugh, back then balance wasn't quite Morris' strong suit yet.
'There's a picture at my house of Morris and my oldest daughter when he was 2,' Romar said. 'They were hugging for the picture, and they both fell.'
Before too long, it was Morris' jumpers that began falling. He caught Romar's attention the first time he saw him play, when Morris was an eighth grader visiting Romar's basketball camp at Pepperdine, where he was coaching at the time.
'That's when I knew. I told his dad, `He's going to be really good,'' Romar said. 'We've stayed in touch ever since.'
Morris said he would call Romar on a regular basis to give him updates on his high school games, and attended basketball camp at Saint Louis University when Romar was the coach there.
'It was more like an uncle relationship,' Morris said.
When it came time for Morris to make a college decision, Romar (coaching at St. Louis during the period in which Morris was being recruited) knew he didn't really have much of a shot at Morris coming out of high school.
The 6-foot-4-inch guard had put together quite the career at Whitefield High School in Atlanta, Ga. As a senior, he averaged 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game while leading Whitefield to the Georgia state title.
'I didn't think he'd come, and I didn't want our relationship to impose,' Romar said. 'He was going to go to a Stanford, or a Duke, or a Notre Dame -- one that had the highest academic and athletic combination.'
Perhaps most impressive about the soft-spoken guard from Atlanta is the value that he places on his studies. In 2001, Morris became the first sophomore/junior in his high school's history to be named student body president. He was also on the dean's list and in the National Honor Society.
An English major, Morris is on track to earn his degree by the end of this year.
Needless to say, Stanford seemed to make a whole lot of sense.
'My family and I thought it was the best choice at the time,' Morris said.
And even though Morris began to emerge as one of the Cardinal's better players, he didn't feel as if Stanford's style of play fit his game well. Morris transferred to Washington following the 2005-06 season, eager to establish himself in the UW's more high-octane, up-tempo offensive style.
Though Morris said Stanford coach Trent Johnson was disappointed he was leaving, there are no hard feelings between the two.
'Last year, when they came and played here, he asked if I was happy,' Morris said. 'I said I was, and he said `That's all that matters.''
He originally wanted to return home and play for either Georgia or Georgia Tech, but scholarships at those schools were unavailable. Rather than walk on, he opted to head toward Seattle and play for Romar.
'When I decided to transfer, I wanted to go somewhere where I had a good relationship [with] the coach,' Morris said. 'I trusted him. He knew what I could do. He had faith in me. So this was one of the ideal places.'
Since moving into the starting lineup Dec. 8 against Pittsburgh, Morris has recorded double-digit point totals in nine of 13 games.
He'll get a chance to improve that total tomorrow against his former team, as No. 14 Stanford comes to town for a game that has major implications for the Huskies, and especially for Morris. It will be the first time he's faced his old squad since transferring -- though the attitude is not one of vengeance.
'I'm a little excited,' Morris said. 'I know a lot of the guys, so it's going to be fun.'