UPPERGLADE, W.Va. — Though numerous Division II college coaches told Brett Morris he could play for them as a freshman, the Webster County all-state guard had a different dream in mind.
One that didn’t require a scholarship.
Morris announced he will attend West Virginia as a preferred walk-on, turning down a litany of small-college offers in order to play for the Mountaineers program he grew up idolizing.
“I’ve always wanted to play there, ever since I was a little kid, and I wanted to be a part of something in Morgantown,” he said.
The 6-foot-4 Morris averaged 25.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a high school senior for Class AA Webster County, which finished the season 18-4. He received offers from Fairmont State, Shepherd, Davis and Elkins, Glenville State and West Virginia Wesleyan, but all of them were trumped by a walk-on invite from WVU coach Bob Huggins.
“All the D-II schools said I’d definitely have a chance to get playing time next year,” Morris said. “But I grew up a huge West Virginia fan and the chance to play for Coach Huggins is something I’ve dreamed about.”
Webster County High School coach Jerry Dean utilized Morris’ versatility last season, playing him at all five positions. Against pressure, Morris brought the ball upcourt. Against smaller defenders, he posted up on the block. When Morris was guarded by bigger players, Webster County ran five-out sets allowing him to penetrate.
“He has quite a bit of skill,” Dean said. “I think his best attribute is the way he passes the ball and sees the court. He’s more of a slasher, but he can shoot it from the outside too. Playing on our level, he didn’t have any trouble getting that shot off.”
The major-college level will provide a greater challenge for Morris, who didn’t hold any D-I scholarship offers. But for the kid who cheered on the Mountaineers from the stands in Indianapolis during the 2010 Final Four, an opportunity to make the WVU roster was too compelling.
“Coach Huggins just told me do my work in the weight room, be the first one in the gym and the last one out, and you’ll get your chance to play,” said Morris, who plans to arrive on campus June 8.
“In our community, I know there will be a lot of eyes on me, watching to see if I work hard. I’ve heard it can inspire a lot of kids, because if you can come from Webster County to play at a place like WVU, you can do it from anywhere.”
Morris has been friends with another WVU invited walk-on, Shady Spring’s Chase Connor, since eighth grade.
Connor announced last month he would be joining the Mountaineers in lieu of a scholarship offer from Radford. The 6-1 guard led Class AAA in scoring at 27 points per game last season, despite missing more the first month of the season with a broken leg.
On Friday, Connor said his conditioning is good as he prepares to arrive in Morgantown in June.
“I’ve been training a lot, so I wouldn’t be in terrible shape when I get up there,” he said.
Before breaking his leg last August, Conner held D-I offers from New Hampshire, Stony Brook, Radford and several other Big South Conference schools. After the injury, Radford’s offer held firm, but Connor eventually heard from WVU assistant Ron Everhart about the availability of a walk-on spot.
“As you probably saw last year, (WVU) had trouble shooting the ball,” Connor said. “I think I’ll come in handy in times like that.”