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  • Maci Morris focusing on the season

    By: LARRY VAUGHT


    Photo: Clay Jackson

    HARRODSBURG Kentucky signee Maci Morris has been a starter at Bell County for five years and is considered a top 50 prospect nationally. The 6-0 guard is playing in the Titan Holiday Classic at Mercer County this week.
    She is considered one of the top candidates for Miss Basketball Honors and is averaging 25.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season after averaging 22 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a junior.

    Morris said some people "acknowledge me more" because she signed with Kentucky in November, but she tries not to draw attention to herself.

    "I just try to ignore everything and focus on this season," said Morris, who verbally committed to UK before her junior season.
    Here's more of what she had to say about her career, UK, Miss Basketball and more.

    Question: Do people play harder against you because you are a Kentucky signee?
    Morris: "Not really. People have always played harder against me because they know I have been recruited by Division I schools since I was a freshman."

    Question: What advice would you have for freshmen like those at Mercer County who are receiving Division I attention already?
    Morris: "Just enjoy it. Don't take it for granted and don't let it get to your head. Keep working. Once you get an offer, you can always lose it, so make sure you are still working harder than everyone else. It can get to your head, but I was real humble. I am not real outspoken. But if you let the wrong intentions get to you, it can be bad for you."

    Question: How have you changed as a player over the last two years?
    Morris: "I am playing smarter. I know when to take over a game sooner so we can win rather than waiting too late. I became too aggressive. I know people like to force me to the left because that is my weaker hand, so I have worked more on that. Just trying to be better all-around player and I am better with my left hand a lot now. I can usually score pretty easy if I go left now."

    Question: How did committing and signing early help you?
    Morris: "It took a lot of pressure off me so I could enjoy my junior and senior seasons and no pressure to have to perform my best every night. I still try to, but I didn't have to worry about to impress coaches."

    Question: Does that make holiday tournaments like this more fun for you then?
    Morris: "I just worry about winning. I don't worry about just me. I worry about the team. It is more relaxing. Tournaments are fun. I love my teammates and we have a great time. We hate losing, but we have a great time."

    Question: Do you have time to watch the UK women play?
    Morris: "I try to watch them as much as I can when they are playing. I will watch or pull up on the iPad."

    Question: Did you watch the loss at Duke?
    Morris: "I did watch the first half because I had a game. Duke just came out and was hitting shots. UK was not hitting and difficult to stay in the game, but they played hard."

    Question: What will you do best on the college level?
    Morris: "I feel like scoring and shooting the ball. I can pass pretty well. I see the floor pretty good. My IQ is good. I think pretty fast when it comes to making plays. If I have to make a move pretty quick, I can do that. Or if I need to get it up the floor as fast as possible, I can do that. I like the trapping defense."

    Question: How much do you think about being Miss Basketball?
    Morris: "I think about it when people ask me about it. I would love for me to be Miss Basketball, but that is not my main focus. That is on my teammates and winning district and region and getting to the state tournament. I have really thought about being Miss Basketball. It would be great."

    Question: How big would that be in Bell County if you were named Miss Basketball?
    Morris: "It would be but in Bell County it is more of a football school. They don't give basketball as much credit as we would like. I know a lot of people would be proud and maybe it would change people's views on the sport. My teammates bring it up sometimes. They say they don't know much about it but my head coach has talked to me about it and told me if I want to win Miss Basketball I have to go out and impress people and play my best every game."

    Question: Do you ever think about national all-star games?
    Morris: "I have talked to a couple of people about them and how they were. (Kentucky's) Makayla Epps was McDonald's All-American and (Louisville's) Sara Hammond. I have seen pictures when they were there. It would be really neat if I was a McDonald's All-American."

    Question: Do you know Hammond, a former star at Rockcastle County, and Epps, a former Marion County standout?
    Morris: "I played against Sara when I was in the eighth grade and she was a senior. When I was getting recruited by Louisville, she was always around. We both played on the same AAU team. We kind of like got to know each other through that. She would always talk to me. When I was out in Colorado for the USA Trials, she was out there with the women's team. We talked a little bit there.
    "Makayla is great personality and great basketball player. I talk to her when I visit UK and she is great."

    Question: Is there ever a time you can relax away from basketball?
    Morris: "Usually if I am at home, I am watching basketball. Most people I am talking to, I am usually talking basketball. If I am just relaxing, I like watching Netflix or something like that."

    Question: Do you watch the UK men play basketball?
    Morris: "I love watching the men play. Their talent level is so above everyone else and is fun to watch. Their chemistry is great. Coach Cal (John Calipari) has done an amazing job getting the recruits in and coaching them. Tyler Ulis brings so much energy. I love watching him and it is exciting to see all the freshmen come in every year."

    Question: What do you like best about UK women's coach Matthew Mitchell?
    Morris: "His energy is great. He is a great guy. His personality stood out to me and you can tell he cares about his players and will do anything for them. He came and watched all my summer games. When he gets a chance, he comes and watches me play now."

    Question: Are you looking forward to or dreading all the media attention after you get to UK?
    Morris: "I am looking forward to it. I think it will be exciting to see how it all works. It will be interesting. When I was a sophomore and freshman, I was real shy because I really never got interviewed. Throughout the years of playing I have got more and more interviews and have got used to it. I enjoy talking to people, so it is not as nerve wracking as it was when I was a sophomore."

    Question: What will be your major at Kentucky?
    Morris: "I am not for sure, but I want to go into something medical."

    Question: Will that be hard to do and also play basketball?
    Morris: "It will probably be hard but we take summer classes and I already have some of my credits done from high school. They will help me manage my time and the tutors help with homework and things. It will work out fine I am sure."
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jimcats's Avatar
      Jimcats -
      Can't beat her positive attitude and outlook.