Ja Morant announced himself on the national stage, and continued to prove his NBA-caliber future, today when his No. 12 seed Murray State team took control of the game coming towards the half against the No. 5 Marquette Golden Eagles.
In the NCAA Tournament’s first triple-double since Draymond Green (you may have heard of him) did it for Michigan State in his time with the Spartans, Ja Morant and Murray State gave a brutal beating to Marquette Thursday in their dominant 83-64 win.
If there was any shadow of a doubt for anyone in the world of basketball before, Morant erased any semblance of it with his star performance in what was his first real main-stage game in his career with the Racers.
Morant had been known by many in the basketball world to be a future star long prior to Thursday’s game, but much of the world had yet to see just how talented of a player the sophomore from Dalzell, S.C., is, and how much of a future he has in basketball after he almost certainly departs from Murray after his second year.
He changed that quickly in one of his first opportunities on the big stage of the NCAA Tournament, taking immediate control of the game through his leadership in Murray State’s fast-paced run and gun offense which could serve a tough matchup for almost any team in this year’s March Madness.
Morant multiple times, including a slick cross-over three as the first half ticked down, proved his dominance over this year’s Marquette squad.
Morant wasn’t the only one that announced his arrival in Thursday’s game, however, as his dynamic teammates also had a huge hand in taking down the Golden Eagles.
Morant’s stat line of 11 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists was complemented by performances by Tevin Brown, Shaq Buchanan and KJ Williams who contributed 19, 14 and 16 points, respectively in a complete game where there was no looking back for the Racers once they had established a lead.
The blooming star Ja Morant has already been the headline of many news reports this year, throwing down malicious and dominating dunks that several times caused havoc amongst the Racers bench, and amongst national social media.
Morant came into today’s game averaging 24.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game on the season, with Murray State winning a No. 12 seed in this year’s big dance.
Much of that can be credited to Morant, who finds himself almost certainly last year as a star with the Racers, after blooming into exactly the athlete many expected the 6-foot-3 South Carolina native to be.
Morant is projected as high as the No. 2 prospect in most of this year’s Big Boards and Mock Drafts for the NBA Draft, projected only to finish behind Zion Williamson, who is basically a walking-social media phenomena at this point in his freshman year with the Blue Devils.
Behind Williamson, and maybe for some in front of him, Morant is without a doubt one of the most highly-sought after prospects in this year’s NBA Draft, and his overall athleticism and basketball IQ have proven to be dominating traits that will carry Morant as he heads into the NBA.
He didn’t’ make any headlines nationally when he committed to the Racers with the class of 2017, but so far as his career has developed at Murray State, and after this year, the 19-year-old from South Carolina will likely make the full transition from small school nobody, passing through NCAA excellence, and finalizing himself as an NBA Draft star.
Averaging a field goal percentage of just over 50 percent, Morant has taken the basketball world by storm so far this year and no one should be surprised if we see the same in his (likely) debut year in the NBA next year.
Morant sent a big message to the world of college basketball in today’s dominant win in which they made a talented Marquette team look foolish: I’m here, now watch me ball.
Ja Morant and the Murray State Racers will take on another tough team in the Florida State Seminoles when they return to action in Round 2 of March Madness.
Though the official time and date have yet to be announced, you don’t miss another chance to watch future NBA Draft pick on the national stage, in about three days.