MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Best Virginia has been comprised almost exclusively of WVU alumni in the two seasons they have competed in The Basketball Tournament. Last summer, a late addition to the squad proved to be a significant acquisition the roster. Fairmont State graduate Jamel Morris was one of the last players added to the team prior to the Charleston regional. Morris spent portions of his offseason back in West Virginia training alongside many former Mountaineers.
“When I would come back in the summers and I would work out at Fairmont and I would work out at Morgantown with Joe [Mazzulla] before he left for Boston. It would be me, Alex [Ruoff], John [Flowers] K.J. [Kevin Jones] and some of the guys,” Morris said. “I actually played against John last year in France twice. We kind of connected after the game and talked. When one person dropped out last year and couldn’t make it, I guess I was the first person John reached out to.”
Morris quickly became one of Best Virginia’s top perimeter shooters. Even though he didn’t expect to receive major minutes, he averaged ten points a game and was on the floor in late-game situations.
“I am not going to lie. I didn’t. I was just there to have a good time. I was just happy to be there.
“The role they gave me, it kind of just came from them respecting me and respecting the way I play. Once I kind of got going, they just let me be me.”
Morris is the fourth player to commit to the Best Virginia squad this summer. He joins Kevin Jones, John Flowers and Jaysean Paige on the team that will once again compete in the Charleston regional from July 24-27. With many professional seasons wrapping up around the world, Best Virginia players are making their way back to the United States and they will assemble for pre-tournament practices later this summer.
“You have to have a good mix of guys being able to make plays and camaraderie. You can’t just throw a bunch of guys together and hope for the best. You really have to have some type of chemistry and camaraderie and guys that know how to play basketball.”
Morris has played professional basketball in five different European countries since graduating from Fairmont State. This past season, Morris played for Mitteldeutscher BC of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany.
“Individually, I did really well. I finished the league top five in scoring. But as a team, we didn’t do as well as a team. It started off pretty slow. We picked it up a bit in the second half of the year and brought in some guys to where we had a roster that could, if we had those guys in the beginning of the season, maybe we could have competed for a playoff spot.
“I have been all over the place with being in Italy, being in Poland, being in France, being in Croatia and Germany. I love it. I love seeing different cultures and seeing what that is like, seeing how people live and the different types of basketball. It is actually an amazing experience.”