Jason Morris ducked into the middle school gym for the first time on Saturday, lacing them up for New York Gauchos in a 98-89 loss to the Playaz Seniors in the semifinals of the IS8 Classic.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound wing (class of 2010) out of Lakeville (Conn.) Hotchkiss School has faced top-shelf competition before. However, you could sense that this experience was a little bit different.
"Great competition," said Morris. "Great energy. You've got to come with heart (at IS8) or you get embarrassed, basically."
Morris scored 14 points for the Gauchos in the loss. After getting into the flow of the game in the second half, Morris helped the 'Chos mount a third-quarter comeback, sinking a tough runner and dropping down a three-pointer.
Morris, a native of Augusta, Ga., flashed the types of skills that have drawn a host of major conference programs to his school in northwest Connecticut. It's still early in his thought process, but the interest is mounting.
"Stanford, Villanova, Virginia, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Syracuse, Texas, Wake Forest, Duke, Clemson (are interested)," said Morris. "Basically all the schools minus Stanford and Duke (have offered)."
Fall workouts at Hotchkiss drew Jim Boeheim, Paul Hewitt, Dennis Felton, Johnny Dawkins, and Oliver Purnell among head coaches.
The coaches are churning through at a frantic clip, but for Morris, who just began his junior year, recruiting will wait.
"(Recruiting) Isn't something I've put a lot of thought into yet," said Morris.
The engaging junior lists explosion and finishing among his biggest strengths, and says that his consistency shooting the ball, his defense, and ballhandling are areas he is looking to improve on.
And as for those colleges, they're hard charging already, but Morris appears grounded despite the attention.
"Mainly I just ask (college coaches) for constructive criticism," said Morris.