One week removed from announcing his verbal commitment to the University of Virginia, the thrill of making his college choice remains for St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) guard Casey Morsell.
“It’s definitely an exciting feeling,” said Morsell, a 6’2”, 175-pound junior who is rated among the top 100 players in his class by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.
AAU season gets underway later this month, and Morsell will once again play for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit. At the time of his April 4th commitment to Virginia, the talented shooting guard boasted scholarship offers from Florida, Georgetown, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Penn State and Virginia Tech, among others. A successful final AAU season could’ve resulted in more interest in the 2018 All-WCAC First Team selection. However, Morsell had already found what he wanted in Charlottesville.
“I just see myself playing at UVA,” he said. “It’s a great education, high-level basketball, and Virginia has who I think is the best coach in the country.”
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett offered Morsell a scholarship on September 9, 2017. The D.C. native was in Charlottesville at the time on an unofficial visit, during which he began to learn about the culture of the Virginia men’s basketball program.
UVA’s recent success under Coach Bennett factored some into Morsell’s commitment. The culture cultivated under Bennett played a much larger role, however.
“They’ve always been successful, but I got to see behind the scenes of what they do to be who they are. I saw the amount of work that goes in,” Morsell said. “They fully deserve their success. It’s definitely a winning program. They compete hard in practice. Everybody cares about the team. They have an unselfish culture, something I want to be a part of.”
Morsell would see more of the same when he returned to UVA to see the Hoos defeat NC State in John Paul Jones Arena this past season.
“The culture is something special,” Morsell reiterated. “On my first visit, I got to see how close the players are just by going to a football game. They always go as a team. That caught my parents’ eyes, seeing how close the team is. You can also see just by watching them play.”
“Outside of hoops and a great education, just the culture of the fans with how locked in they are and how much they enjoy UVA basketball is something special,” Morsell said, further discussing the reasons behind his commitment. “Also, I got to talk to a few of the players and they were cool to me. I have pretty good relationships with some of them. They have been welcoming to me.”
How Bennett recruited Morsell was another plus. Following the scholarship offer, the Cavalier head coach headed to St. John’s to watch a fall workout. Morsell knew Bennett was coming. What he didn’t know was that Bennett would be joined by the rest of the Virginia coaching staff.
“It was definitely surprising,” Morsell recalled.
“It means a lot,” Morsell said. “It was just a workout and he brought the whole coaching staff. Nobody else did that. He did stuff he really did a lot didn’t have to do, such as coming down for workouts and stuff like that.”
Bennett maintained his hot pursuit, making it crystal clear that Morsell was one of his top targets in the class of 2019. As you might imagine, Virginia’s coach was pleased when the St. John’s star made his pledge.
“One of the first things he said is, ‘This makes up for the UMBC loss,’” Morsell said with a laugh.
“The loss really didn’t mean too much to me,” Morsell continued. “It didn’t matter if they won or lost. Like I said, I’ve seen how much work goes into each game. I know the coaching staff and players work hard to make UVA basketball the program it is.”
Has Coach Bennett expressed what he likes the most about Morsell, who averaged 14 points and five boards per game this past season?
“He said he liked my versatility, my ability to play on or off the ball, and my ability to make shots,” said Morsell, who has been described...
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