Temetrius Morant is a rising sophomore guard for Murray State University, but you probably know him as “Ja.” Ja has been an underdog his whole life and has always seemed to strive in that role. He was a star for his team at Crestwood High School located in Sumter, South Carolina, where he earned All-Region MVP. Even with this, Ja wasn’t highly recruited. He only picked offers from a few Division 1 programs, including Duquesne, Wofford, South Carolina State, Maryland Eastern Shore, and Murray State. Eventually, Ja decided to take his talents to Murray State.
During his freshman season at Murray State, Ja played an estimated 34 minutes per game averaging 12.7 points, 6.3 assists, and 6.5 rebounds per game. He also shot 45.9% from the field, 30.7% from three, and 80.6% from the foul line. Following his freshman season, Ja finally started to see a tremendous increase in his overall game that has given him prodigious hype for a future in the NBA.
This year in his sophomore season, Ja is playing an estimated 35.4 minutes per game averaging 22 points, 9.9 assists, and 7 rebounds per game. For a guard standing at 6’3 weighing 175 pounds, 7 rebounds per game is impressive. This overall improvement to Ja’s game has helped him to become Murray State’s go-to player and he hasn’t let them down.
Standing at 6’3, Ja uses his speed to throw defenders off with his hesitation moves and his ability to change direction. His height at the guard position allows him the ability to finish above the rim. Ja has excellent handles and is a great passer which helps his teammates be able to create shots. He is also able to effectively attack the rim and finish strong as he is able to fly by his defenders with his speed. On defense, Ja uses his speed to jump into the passing lanes to steal or deflect the pass. One of his strongest assets is his intensity that he brings to the court each game. He is an extremely hard worker who shows every bit of it during his estimated 35.4 minutes per game. With this alone, Ja will be able to quickly adapt to the stamina needed from the jump from college to the NBA. Ja continues to use the underdog mindset to work hard and improve his game as he gets ready for the next level.
One of Ja’s biggest concerns is his size. Although he stands at 6’3, he only weighs 175 pounds. This will be a concern as he prepares for the NBA draft as he may need to add some weight and muscle. Another asset of his game that Ja will need to adapt is defensive play. His aggressiveness on defense needs to be improved. On picks, he often runs under screens which gives the ball handlers and shooters extra space to create shots. His assist to turnover ratio also needs to be improved for his jump to the league. In his freshman season at Murray State, Ja averaged 7 assists to 3 turnovers per game. This season, he is averaging 4.8 turnovers per game which has jumped from his 2.5 turnovers per game last season.
With all of this being said, Ja Morant is still a young player who can continue to grow into a better, stronger player in the future. He has loads of potential and is one of the best guards in this year’s draft class. ESPN’s Jay Bilas has compared Ja to the likes of Russel Westbrook and I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t know Ja, get used to hearing his name. Don’t be surprised if he leads his Murray State squad dancing into March Madness where they can shock the world.
Written By: Tommy Costello