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AMES — As the Senior Night hype slowly quieted, Monté Morris held court 30 feet from the locker room.
Over the past several months, Iowa State’s star point guard has consistently said many factors — mainly, the level of his performance and feedback from well-placed authorities — would determine whether his junior season would be his last as a Cyclone.
Morris reiterated that message after Monday’s 58-50 win over Oklahoma State — a game in which he doled out six assists, grabbed six rebounds and scored four points.
"It’s all about how we finish and how I play," said Morris, who ranks fifth nationally this season in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.27 to 1. "If we’re winning, there will be your answer. If we’re losing, there’s your answer. it is what it is.”
But is it? Morris is ultimately a pragmatist. If there’s no assurance that he’ll be a first-round NBA Draft choice, a return to ISU would seem highly likely. Either way, a new NCAA rule will allow him to test the waters more thoroughly if he chooses to do so.
Morris and others in his situation will be allowed to participate on a limited basis in the May 11-15 NBA Combine. Players will then have 10 days to mull over whether they want to declare for the draft, or return to their respective schools.
That provides wiggle room — and it’s a big plus to student-athletes in terms of informed choice. So Monday, Morris reveled in the Senior Night atmosphere, as well, just in case.
"You’ve always got to do that," he said. "It was more emotional for me because this definitely could be my last game here."
And, again, it very well might not be. You could say Morris is somewhat torn when it comes to that near or far-future decision. He’ll gather the facts and make the proper choice for him when the time is right.
"How I play down the stretch, just performing on the biggest stage — Big 12 and NCAA Tournament," Morris said. "(I’ll) get feedback from whoever I’ve got to get feedback from and make my decision. I’d love to come back. It would be special to try to be number one in assists here (he has 525, record-holder Jeff Hornacek totaled 665). That’s a special thing."
Then Morris smiled.
"I think we’ll have a helluva team next year, too,” he said.