But with the 41st pick in the 2011 Draft, the sophomore out of Michigan heard his name called by NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, officially making him property of the Lakers.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d get drafted by the Lakers.” he said. “It was always my goal to play in the NBA, but I never thought I’d be playing for the Lakers in my home town. It’s really great, a dream come true.”
Morris, a 6-5 guard, was an All-Big 10 3rd Team selection as a sophomore after a season averaging 15.0 points, 6.7 assists & 4.0 rebounds. Morris led the Big 10 and ranked fifth in the entire country in assists, setting a school record for dimes in a season (235).
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he was surprised Morris was still there at 41, as he’d been rumored as a possible late first round pick, and jumped at the opportunity to select him. Kupchak and his staff went into the draft looking to select back court players particularly since the team isn’t certain if Shannon Brown will pick up his option for 2011-12, and liked what both No. 46 pick Andrew Goudelock and Morris could bring to the table.
“Darius is very (talented) with the ball in his hands,” said Kupchak. “He’s a younger player, so perhaps there’s more development to come.”
Morris described himself as a playmaker who can read what the defense gives him, make the players around him better and use his size to exploit mismatches in multiple ways.
“I put out a different look being able to play like a small guard but have the size of a big guard,” he said. “On defense I can guard the one or the two, depending on the matchups, and also on the offensive end being able to take advantage of smaller guards and being quicker than bigger guards whether it be scoring or passing.”
Morris said he’d most like to improve his three-point shooting heading into training camp, as he shot only 22.3 percent in his two years at Michigan from long range.
“It’s something I’m really going to attack hard in my workouts in the offseason so that I’m covering all facets of the game,” he explained.
Kupchak said that while it’s generally difficult for second round picks, both Morris and Goudelock can make the team out of training camp, saying that both possess the talent to do so. In the meantime, Morris is feeling pretty good.
“I’m very excited,” Morris said. “It’s truly a blessing for them to pick me.”