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January 28, 2014

Fearless Morris delivering as expected

It was no secret that Iowa State was getting a very good basketball player in Monte Morris. Mr. Basketball honorees in the talent-rich state of Michigan are rarely anything but.

Even so, Morris' play in his first 18 games as a Cyclone has been very good at the very least and maybe better than that. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound natural point guard from Flint Beecher High School is averaging over six points per game and has a sparkling assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 5-to-1 with 53 assists and only 11 turnovers.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said Morris' quality of play and value to the team is even more apparent when looking at detailed analytics from games.

"I look at our numbers, our OER - Offensive Efficiency Report - and DER (Defensive Efficiency Report and he was the best in both categories against Kansas State…that's pretty impressive," Hoiberg said.

"He's just a guy that's so important to have on the floor late in games because I know he's going to be in the right spot defensively, he's not going to turn the ball over, and when you have a freshman that can do that it's a great luxury to have," Hoiberg added. "You got a guy like that in your system for four years it's going to continue to get better."

According to the ISU head coach, Morris has been virtually unflappable as a high major rookie and that is not unexpected.

"He obviously plays beyond his years and I just feel like I have to have him on the floor," Hoiberg explained. "He's not afraid, that's the thing I love about Monte and I could see that in high school when he was winning state championships. There's no fear with that kid."

Even though Hoiberg said he feels he needs Morris on the floor as much as possible, that doesn't mean a change is afoot in the Cyclones' starting lineup.

"I think we'll probably go the same way," Hoiberg said about his starting five going into Wednesday night's daunting task at Kansas. "I like [Morris] coming off the bench. Usually when he comes in he plays the rest of the half, at least on a lot of occasions he does."

Morris was ranked no. 96 on the final Rivals150 for the high school recruiting class of 2013. He led Beecher to two Michigan Class C state championships with a combined 55-1 record in his junior and senior seasons. Morris started as a 9th-grader at Beecher and remained a starter throughout his high school career.

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