What has been anticipated for the past few months came to fruition for Ja Morant on Thursday. Morant, the former Crestwood High School and Murray State All-American point guard, was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies as the No. 2 overall pick in the National Basketball Association Draft on Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Morant was selected after his former AAU teammate and Duke All-American Zion Williamson was chosen No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans.
The choices of Williamson and Morant mean the first two picks have major Sumter connections. While Morant has lived in Dalzell all of his life, Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, is from Mayesville. Williamson learned the game playing in local camps during his youth.
While Williamson has been a media sensation since his high school days, Morant burst onto the scene at the start of a monumental sophomore season at Murray State. The 6-foot-3-inch point consensus All-American averaged 24.6 points and 10.0 assists per game for the Racers, who went 28-5 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He became the first player in college basketball history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists since assists became an official statistic in the 1983-84 season.
Morant won several individual awards, including the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard.
His tremendous season led to Morant declaring for the draft just after the conclusion of his sophomore season. When the draft lottery was held in May and New Orleans came up as the No. 1 pick and the Grizzlies No. 2, it was almost immediately projected that Williamson and Morant would be the top two picks.