AMES — Monté Morris knows how good he is. Great, even.
But Iowa State’s uncommon — and record-setting — combination of poise, speed and efficiency at point guard isn’t prone to flights of fancy. The 6-2 sophomore playmaker for the No. 9 Cyclones keeps his goals, while appropriately lofty, firmly rooted in reality.
Case in point: recent murmurs about potentially leaving early for the NBA. The subject was briefly broached in a wide-ranging and insightful Sports Illustrated article that ran earlier this week.
Morris reiterated what his mother, Latonia, said in that story. He’s not going to try taking that big step anytime soon.
“I need another year, me knowing myself,” said Morris, who is on pace to shatter his single-season NCAA record for assist-to-turnover ratio set last season.
That’s at least another year, Cyclone fans.
Morris — whose current 5.5 to 1 assist-to-turnover rate would best last season’s eye-popping 4.77 to 1 achievement — freely admitted he’s simply not ready to guard guys like Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose.
“I feel like when I come back after my junior year and become a man, maybe then we can get started talking,” he said.
Morris added that he’ll know when he’s fully ready to pursue a professional career. He’s focused on Big 12 championships and NCAA Tournament Final Four hopes now — and could remain locked in on those aspirations even into his senior year.
“Even if I was to stay all four years here I’m going to be young entering the draft at 21,” said Morris, who has raised his scoring average from 6.8 points as a freshman to 10.2 points as a sophomore. “So it wouldn’t hurt me to stay all four with me going in knowing I’m physically ready to play at that level. It was just me being real with myself, doing what’s better for me. There ain’t no need to rush in there and then you’re out in the D-League and things like that. So I’ll just try to go when I feel like I can to make an impact on somebody’s roster.”
He’ll need to continue to work on his jump shot and already-solid finishing skills. He’s still, as he previously noted, got work to do on the defensive end, even though he’s shined at times in that area, too.
“There’s still some things, he’ll have some slippage on the defensive end where he’s supposed to be in a spot which he has always been, but he’s slipped a little bit in that area,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team (14-3, 4-1) faces Big 12 basement-dweller Texas Tech Saturday at Lubbock. “Now it’s about getting him to make sure he’s doing it because if he does it, then the rest of the tam follows suit because he’s the guy out there pressuring the ball. Just got to make sure he gets to those plug spots, which he’s missed a few of them, which is rare for him. So that’s just getting him back doing those things every time. But he’s, obviously, look, he’s increased his assist-to-turnover ratio, which is amazing after that freshman year.”