Morris, Mustangs with 17U title at Fort Wayne by default

FORT WAYNE — Monte Morris and the Michigan Mustangs came to the Run N’ Slam All-Star Classic desperately wanting a first-place trophy.

At a tournament in Las Vegas two weeks ago, they reached the semifinals before exiting. Last week, they got to the finals of the Adidas Spring Classic before losing to Wisconsin Swing and settling for runner-up status.

So when they reached the 17-and-under championship at Spiece Fieldhouse on Sunday, they were more than a little motivated to finish this tournament off with a title.

But they got to the finals and didn’t find an opponent. The Family — a Detroit-based squad that includes James Young, the No. 9 player in the Class of 2013 according to Rivals.com and E.C. Matthews, the No. 99 player with Indiana interest — opted to forfeit the final because several players were cramping up after a six-game weekend.

That gave the Mustangs a win by default, but Morris, an Indiana recruit and the No. 82 player in the class, said it didn’t feel any less satisfying.

“It feels real good to get one,” Morris, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound point guard said. “Coach Damon (Allison) preached to us all weekend that he hadn’t ever won a Spiece Fieldhouse championship, so for him to get it, and he can celebrate. He’s happy because he saw how hard we worked this weekend.”

Morris had to work especially hard, because fellow point guard and Michigan commitment Derrick Walton went down with an injury Sunday and had to miss the Mustangs’ last two games. Walton missed last weekend’s games as well, so Morris was prepared for life without him and it showed. He scored 26 points in a rematch win over Wisconsin Swing in the semifinals to reach the championship game that never happened.

“I guess things happen for a reason,” Morris said. “I was the only point guard down there in Indianapolis. Not knowing that Derrick was going to go down, I had to keep my composure and play well being the only point guard. … I feel that I picked it up some games and tried to lead my team to victory.”

And while The Family was apparently too exhausted to play in the final, Morris clearly had a lot left in his tank. A big part of the reason Swing couldn’t stop him was his conditioning level. The Swing — playing without Indiana commitment Luke Fischer, who attended his prom — seemed winded after five games and Morris simply beat them down the floor in transition.

“I get a lot of run in with the track team during the week,” Morris said. “And I lift a lot, so my wind is kind of good and I don’t really cramp up like that. But I was probably running like that because they beat us in Indy and I wasn’t losing to them again.”

Before the tournament, Morris made an unofficial visit to Indiana on Friday. He doesn’t have a scholarship offer yet, but he said he was impressed with IU coach Tom Crean and the atmosphere surrounding the campus on graduation weekend.

“I love the coaching staff and I like the campus,” Morris said. “Tom Crean’s a well-known guy. Everybody that saw him stopped him and asked him for pictures and things. … It just shows what type of guy he is. Most coaches that have been as successful like that probably aren’t open to everybody. People he didn’t know were walking up to him asking for pictures. He was stopping to visit with them and taking pictures. He’s a real good coach and he says the players get the same treatment. They love basketball down there.

Matthews drawing more IU interest
The Hoosiers don’t appear to be in need of a wing guard for the 2013 class with a glut of them already in the program, but they are apparently keeping tabs on at least a few as contingency plans. E.C. Matthews, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound wing from Romulus, Mich., and a member of The Family said he’s receiving a significant amount of interest from the Hoosiers even if they haven’t offered a scholarship yet.

“The level of interest is high,” Matthews said. “They said they really like me. They said keep playing my game an they’ll be there.”

Matthews said he has scholarship offers from Arizona, Iowa, Creighton, Dayton and Southern California. He said he also has interest from Michigan, North Carolina State, Oregon, UNLV and Xavier.

Hoosiers still in contact with Kentucky recruits
Indiana brought six Class of 2014 players from the state of Kentucky to Bloomington for Hoosier Hystera in October. They haven’t offered scholarships to any of them yet, but two of them confirmed this weekend that the Hoosiers are at least still in contact with them.

Trey Grundy, a 6-foot-7 forward from Henry Clay and Jordan Green, his 6-4 shooting guard teammate, both said the Hoosiers are still involved.

“I talked to them on the phone at school,” Green said. “We’re just kind of building a relationship.”

Grundy said he hasn’t been in as much direct contact, but that the Hoosiers have contacted his high school and AAU coach. He’s also hearing from Louisville, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Purdue and others.

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