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College Basketball: South’s Morrison signs with DCCC

Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
LEXINGTON ó The so-called experts out there say short guys can’t play Division I basketball.
Standing 5-foot-8, Hunter Morrison has heard those words countless times and he wants to prove them that he indeed can.
That’s why the high-scoring whirling dervish from South Rowan passed up scholarship offers from Division II schools and signed with Davidson County Community College.
Morrison becomes the third player from John Davis’ program at South to ink with the school, following in the footsteps of W.J. Parks and Wes Honeycutt.
Hopefully, he says, after two good years at the junior college level, a Division I coach will give him a shot.
“He’s hungry to get better,” DCCC coach Matt Ridge said. “He wants to earn a Division I scholarship. That’s his motivation for coming here.”
Playing for the Storm will be a good stepping stone for Morrison. After a 30-year hiatus, Ridge restarted the program two years ago and has already put it on the map:
– DCCC has a two-year record of 47-14 and has been ranked nationally both years, climbing as high as fourth.
– DCCC has been co-champs in the Tar Heel Conference both years.
– In 2008, the Storm led the nation in scoring with a whopping 108 points per game. Last year, it dropped to a still-impressive 90 per game, while giving up just 76.
– DCCC ranked second nationally last season in 3-point accuracy at 42.1 percent.
Morrison noticed.
“I came to a game and I liked it,” he said of Ridge’s fast-paced style. “It’s similar to what we played at South. The point guard pushes the ball and is always pass-first. But if my teammates have trouble scoring, I will shoot it.”
Ridge likes that mentality.
“Point guard is a point of emphasis with us,” Ridge said. “And Hunter is a true point guard.”
Ridge, who says turnover in junior college is not unusual, lost six players, including two-year starting point guard Landon Bowers. Morrison became the sixth recruit and Ridge says he has five more offers on the table.
Ridge acknowledged he likes to play a lot of players, “because we like to get it and go. We want to make people play at a pace they’re uncomfortable with. Hunter fits that pace. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to coach him. He’s a big-time get for us.”
Morrison was one of the more exciting players in basketball-rich Rowan County last season. He led the county in scoring at 19.2 and scored 519 points. His passing drew as many raves as his offense.
When Ridge watched Morrison dazzle the crowds during the Moir Christmas Classic at Catawba, he knew the Raider would be perfect for his system.
“He’s not one-dimensional,” said Ridge, a former star himself at Ledford. “He’s very court-saavy.
“Offensively, he can shoot it and finish around the rim. He wills it in. Defensively, he’s very, very, very competitive on the ball. He doesn’t let people drive by.”
Morrison said Livingstone offered, and Pfeiffer came up with a package.
“But I really want to play Division I ball,” he said. “DCCC offers me a chance.”
He has already meshed with his future teammates, playing pick-up.
“Everybody could play,” he announced.
“And I love this gym,” he said, referring to Brinkley Gymnasium, where DCCC is 27-1 under Ridge.
Asked about Ridge, Morrison said, “He seems like a great person who knows what he’s talking about.”
Ridge likes to talk about scoring 100 points.
“I think most players like the way that sounds,” Ridge said with a smile. “Once we start conditioning, I don’t know know how much they love it in September and October. But when the games roll around in November, they seem to enjoy it.”
Morrison is hoping team success will attract some interested Division I spectators to Brinkley Gym. He played on the same AAU team with West Rowan’s K.J. Sherrill, who signed with Charlotte, so he has been seen.
Morrison is realistic ó and optimistic.
“I’m not very tall and I can’t jump that high,” he said. “But hopefully, I can improve my game so that can be overlooked.”
Ridge said the worst-case scenario is that Division II schools will still be wanting him in two seasons.
The best-case scenario is that Morrison plays well enough to get a D-I offer.
“Hopefully,” Ridge said, “we can help Hunter reach his goal while we have a lot of fun winning games.”

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