Trevor Freeman
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January 26 - The Best Player in the Land

"I can't even explain him.  He's scary."
-Armando Surratt, point guard, University of San Francisco

I remember the first time I heard his name.  Dick Vitale was hyping him up to be
the next Larry Bird.  This was before he was about to take the court at Madison
Square Garden for the first game of his collegiate career.  Imagine the
pressure he must have felt.  Imagine knowing that from now on, the only
person you would ever be compared with is “The Hick from French Lick.”  The
fact that this eighteen-year-old kid didn’t seem fazed by it was the first sign of
his future greatness.

Maybe we should have known Adam Morrison would be special before he ever
set foot on that court against a St. Joseph's team led by Jameer Nelson and
Delonte West.  After all, Morrison did graduate from Mead High School with
1,904 points, which made him the Greater Spokane League career scoring leader.

"He's the best offensive basketball player since Carmelo Anthony.  Not only that, Adam Morrison is a
winner. He's relentless out there on the court."
-Lorenzo Romar, Head Coach, University of Washington

A lot of guys would have wilted under the microscope, which is big-time college basketball.  Adam
Morrison hasn’t and he is in the midst of one of the finest years put up by a college hoops player in
recent memory.  Three times over 40 points.  However, it wasn’t just the fact that Morrison put 40
points on the board in these games.  It was the caliber of opposition and the way he did it.  Shannon
Brown, Maurice Ager, and Brandon Roy all got their turns……and all of them were left in his wake.  
Eight times over 30 points.  An average of 28.3 per night…………why that’s only 0.3 per night less
than Larry Joe… 1979

It’s not just the points though.  It is the way this Gonzaga team rallies around him and the confidence
they bring to the court because he’s on it.  When Gonzaga took the floor against UConn and Michigan
State in Maui, they looked like they belong because they thought they belonged.  It’s because of Adam
Morrison.  The players, students, coaches, and fans of Gonzaga all bring a certain confidence to the
table because they know they have the best player on the court in any gym they show up at.  

"Every time he shot it, it seemed like it went in. You can't do anything about it."
-Ryan Sommer, guard, Portland State

Adam Morrison has a complete game.  He has range on his jump shot that extends well past the
NBA stripe.  When Morrison puts the ball on the floor, he is deceptively quick and seems to always be
able to get to whatever spot he wants.  The way he shoots the ball is so effortless and pure, which is
why he seems to score at ease even with a hand in face.  Plus, Morrison moves without the ball in
such an intelligent fashion that he constantly seems to free himself even when you know he is the
focal point of the other team’s defensive game plans.

Morrison also seems to want to take big shots.  There’s something to be said for a player who wants
to be the Man.  

1.  Adam Morrison 6-8 220 SF Gonzaga Jr.

There it is.  On the preeminent mock draft site on the Internet, Adam Morrison sits alone as the first
pick in the draft.  If Adam Morrison chooses to leave Gonzaga this year and enter the NBA Draft, he
immediately becomes the most important player to enter the NBA in recent history.

What is my basis for that last statement?

Adam Morrison is an American born, household name with the college basketball fans of America.  
Before early entries…….before Magic, Larry, and Michael decided to hang it up….the fans of the game
of basketball use to watch the game at all levels.  Over time though a chasm was formed amongst
basketball fans.  Now the game of basketball has three groups of followers.  They are as follows:

1.  College fans that have utter disdain for the NBA.  
2.  Pro fans who couldn’t give two craps about college hoops until March rolls around.
3.  A shrinking group of people like me who religiously watch both college hoops and the NBA.

In no other sport is there a split like this.  Outside of Bill Simmons, most pro
football fans also watch college football.  And vice versa.  While they may prefer
one style to the other, there are no snide comments about how the other game
is played.  In baseball, the college game never got enough traction to warrant
people paying attention.  Perhaps, it’s the aluminum bats…..I don’t know, but it
never took hold.  

Basketball is the only sport where you have this divide.  The last time it was
really bridged was when Magic and Larry duked it out.  There are a lot of people
who attribute this split to the way the NBA Draft has played out over the years.  
When you had guys named Darko and Nikoloz getting drafted ahead of
established college stars like Dwyane Wade and Tayshaun Prince it upset the average college
hoops fan.  However, the drafting of high schoolers named Ndudi and DeSagana over Josh Howard
and Richard Jefferson sealed the deal.  You can only give the fans of a game the middle finger for so
long before they revolt.

"Any discussion of player of the year, should begin and end with Adam Morrison."
-Phil Martelli, Head Coach, St. Joseph's

The NBA has slipped.  When Michael Jordan left the game the first time, it was still arguably the most
followed professional sports league in America.  Now it is in a dogfight with MLB for second place
behind the NFL.  It is because fans of the game of basketball became entrenched in the separate
camps above.

To get these fans back, the NBA needs a new charismatic star to emerge from the collegiate level.  
While Dwyane Wade is nasty, his personality is too subdued to be this guy.  Carmelo Anthony has
scuffled too much since he entered the league.  Emeka Okafor doesn’t have the game that makes the
jaws drop.  That’s why Adam Morrison’s success is important.

Before Adam Morrison hits the NBA, he has a couple more stops.  The WCC Championship and then
the NCAA Tournament.  If you like the game of basketball, but really only care about the NBA, I have
but one request.  On February 7th, flip on ESPN2 and watch when St. Mary’s travels to the “New
Kennel” to face Morrison and the Zags.  Take a look at the best player college basketball has offered
in years.