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Crestwood's Edwards knew Morant was special, just not how special

By J. SCOTT SEWELL

jscott@theitem.com

Posted 6/19/19

Memphis or Manhattan.That's the only question left for Ja Morant as he waits to see which city he'll call home after Thursday's NBA draft.

If the mock drafts are to be believed, then Morant likely won't have to wait very long to hear his name …

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Crestwood's Edwards knew Morant was special, just not how special

Former Crestwood High School and Murray State point guard (12) is projected to be the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in Thursday's NBA draft.
Former Crestwood High School and Murray State point guard (12) is projected to be the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in Thursday's NBA draft.
Greg Eans / The Messenger- Inquirer via AP
Posted

Memphis or Manhattan.

That's the only question left for Ja Morant as he waits to see which city he'll call home after Thursday's NBA draft.

If the mock drafts are to be believed, then Morant likely won't have to wait very long to hear his name called. The former Crestwood High School Knights basketball star is projected to be picked with either the second or third overall selection by nearly every reputable draft pundit, including ESPN's Givony, and The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks.

The Memphis Grizzlies currently hold the second overall pick while the New York Knicks are slated to pick third.

Morant blossomed into a superstar at Murray State over the past two seasons, leading the Ohio Valley Conference in points per game (24.5), and assists (10.0) while finishing third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9). His rise to national prominence was punctuated by his triple-double performance in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Morant posted 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 16 assists as his 12th-seeded team upset the No. 5 seed Marquette in the first round.

Dwayne Edwards, Morant's former high school coach, noticed something special the first time he saw the skinny freshman.

"He was not a tall kid, kind of slim, but he always had the skillset to be a pretty good offensive player," Edwards said. "There were some things that he was able to do that you would go like 'Wow.' Being as small as he was, he could score the basketball."

Edwards considered moving Morant up to the varsity team as a freshman, but ultimately decided to allow him to develop more on Crestwood's successful junior varsity team."It really worked well for him," said Edwards."He developed a lot more on the JV level, and in his 10th-grade year he became a starter on the varsity team."

Morant's rise to stardom isn't shocking to Edwards, but the speed at which he's developed his game has been a little surprising.

"Well, I knew he had a lot of talent, but being able to get to this point so fast is kind of surprising," Edwards said. "Each year, his ability to make everyone else around him so much better, his ability to see the whole floor, study the game...that just got better."

Edwards witnessed firsthand what Morant can accomplish when he sets a goal.

"When he has a goal, he's going to take those steps to be as good as he can...and, at the end of the day people are going to say he's one of the best players in the NBA," Edwards said. "That's just how Ja seems to operate."

While Morant is most likely to wind up in Memphis or New York, Edwards himself doesn't have a preference for where his former point guard plays.

"Wherever he can go, he can be inserted into the lineup as soon as possible," Edwards said. That's my dream for him, to just go, and play as soon as possible, whichever team. I'm just proud of him. The Crestwood family is so proud of him,and we just know Ja is going to continue to represent us real well wherever he plays."