CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In their second entry into The Basketball Tournament, the WVU alumni team Best Virginia has only invited one player who wasn’t a Mountaineer onto their roster.
The addition of Fairmont State graduate Jamel Morris has given Best Virginia a big boost off the bench in their two tournament victories. Morris has scored 20 points in 38 minutes. He was officially added to the roster just a few days before the West Virginia Regional began.
“When I got the call to play, I was surprised. I wasn’t going to because I had just finished a long season,” Morris said. “I got back on June 23rd so I was going to rest my body and relax with my family. But at the end of the day, this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. To play for West Virginia is really something special.”
“Jamel is a great character guy,” said Best Virginia forward Kevin Jones. “He is pretty much a West Virginia guy going to Fairmont State. He was well-coached, Joe Mazzulla was his coach. I wasn’t really hard bringing him in here. He had the great mindset. He didn’t really care how much he played. He just wanted to come in and help us win. Having a guy like that on your team, especially the way he can shoot the ball, is a big asset.”
“With that addition, we did that to try and win a million dollars,” said Best Virginia head coach James Long. “He is the type of guy, the more we go on in this tournament, the more he is going to get comfortable and the more people are going to see his value. He does so many different things. He can play off of whoever. If you go big or small, whatever you do, he is going to find a way to play off of.”
Morris is an Ohio native who began his collegiate career at Glenville State. A former Mountaineer center gave Morris the opportunity to play for the Pioneers.
“The guy that brought me in and gave me a chance was Rob Summers. He went to Gahanna Lincoln High School where I went. He was a guy I used to rebound for when I was thirteen. When he became a coach, he just followed me throughout high school. A lot of teams didn’t give me a chance. I had the skill set but really didn’t have the size. Rob saw something in me.”
Morris finished his collegiate career at Fairmont State in 2016 and has played professionally for six seasons in the NBA G-League, Italy, Croatia, Poland, France and Germany.
“I find myself just flowing the best way I can and doing whatever they need me to do. Whether they need me to play with the ball or play off the ball. I can adapt to it. That is kind of the specialty to my game.”
Hedgesville’s Q.J. Peterson returns to the Charleston Civic Center
The teams that played in the 2012 Class AAA boys basketball state championship game combined to score just 65 points. Hedgesville found a way to score one more point than George Washington, winning 33-32. Q.J. Peterson was the leading scorer on that team, playing for head coach Kelly Church. Their deliberate style of play allowed the Eagles to erase a sizable early deficit.
“We were down 7-0. That was state championship jitters. (Church) said, ‘We are missing shots and getting good looks, and we are only down seven. We’ll make shots in the next quarter’. In terms of one of the smartest coaches I have met, he is up there,” Peterson said.
Peterson competed for Armored Athlete in the TBT. Armored Athlete defeated Team HBCU 88-52 in Sunday’s opening-round before falling to Bucketneers 79-60 on Monday. Peterson scored 15 points in the tournament.
“They found a great group of guys who are great men off the court. We have four or five NBA players on our team that have been in the league or are in the league. Picking everybody’s brain and being around like-minded people with the same goal, everybody is a pro on our team.”
Despite owning a decorated high school hoop resume with individual and team success, Peterson did not receive a single offer at any college level. Those fortunes turned shortly after the six-foot guard began playing at Massanutten Academy in Woodstock, Virginia.
“As a 17-year-old kid who has college hoop dreams, you’ll be disappointed. You feel like you put in the work and you feel like you should have been rewarded. You soon find out that is not how it goes.
“From Massanutten, that is when I got the offer from VMI. I got it early on. They came to a practice and I did really, really well at the practice. They liked what they saw and they were the first ones to offer me.”
Peterson averaged 19.6 points per game in his senior season at VMI and he has played professionally since 2017 in the Czech Republic, Korea, Cyprus, Ukraine and Denmark. He will remain in Europe for the upcoming season.
“I signed a deal to play in the top league in Turkey. Turkey in the EuroLeague is one of the top leagues. The NBA pulls guys from that Turkish league.
“I know I am capable of playing in the NBA. But I still have to work hard. I still have to prove to them that I am ready for the NBA.”