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Ben Bokun | NCAA.com | June 20, 2019

Ja Morant: NBA draft projection, college highlights, statistics

NBA Draft: Ja Morant's top NCAA tournament highlights

From an under-the-radar high school recruit to a top-3 NBA Draft prospect, Murray State’s Ja Morant is living a Cinderella story. 

The versatile point guard rewrote history books last season after averaging at least 20 points and 10 assists per game — Morant is the first player ever to complete such a feat in college basketball since the NCAA began tracking those records in the 1983-84 season.

MORE: These are 7 of the best college basketball players we've seen this season

Let’s take a look at the path Morant took to become the decorated athlete he is today. 

Get to know Ja Morant: 2019 statistics and biography

College Murray State
Height 6-foot-3
Weight 174 pounds
Hometown Dalzell, S.C.
Date of birth Aug. 10, 1999 (19 years old)
Point per game 24.5
Rebounds per game 5.7
Assists per game 10.0
Blocks per game 0.8
Steals per game 1.8
FG% 49.9
FT% 81.3

 

Ja Morant NBA Draft projection

Becoming the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and 2018-19 NCAA assists leader is special. But earning a majority projection as the second overall pick in the NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies is something else. 

We looked at a handful of mock drafts created by expert analysts from NBA.com, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. All agree that Morant is a near-lock be selected second by the Memphis Grizzlies. He's also predicted to go second In this mock draft from NCAA's Andy Katz.

Ja Morant Biography

Temetrius Jamel “Ja” Morant was born and raised in South Carolina, the home state of the potential first overall pick Zion Williamson.

Morant's father, Tee, played professional basketball overseas.  Ja, when he was 19, played with Williamson on an AAU team called the South Carolina Hornets, according to CBS Sports. 

FILM STUDY: Duke's R.J. Barrett vs. Murray State's Ja Morant

As the all-time leading scorer at Crestwood High School in Sumter, S.C., Morant was recruited by Wofford, Duquesne, Maryland Eastern Shore, South Carolina State and South Carolina before picking Murray State. According to NBA.com, Racers assistant coach James Kane attended a camp with the goal of observing another player when he saw Morant playing a game of three-on-three. The rest is history. 

Ja Morant's Murray State Racers Career

Though it may have been tough to predict the absolute explosion of a season the robust shooter and passer had his sophomore year, Morant came out swinging in his debut collegiate campaign. 

Averaging 12.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.5 rebounds a game as a freshman, he obtained first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and added Murray State’s second triple-double in school history. He would add on to that statistic in the future. 

Then came the breakout this past season, when Morant won OVC Player of the Year with 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10 assists per game. He was the conference's leading scorer throughout 2018-19.

MARCH MADNESS: The NCAA tournament explained

His most notable moment in 2019 came in the NCAA tournament when he notched a triple-double in a first-round win over Marquette. The consensus first-team All-American scored 28 points in a second-round loss to the Florida State Seminoles.  

Other big-time performances were Morant’s 36 points in the OVC tournament championship game to clinch the Racers’ spot in March Madness and his 40-point performance against SIU-Edwardsville when he went 21-for-21 from the free throw line. 

Ja Morant Highlights

WARNING: Morant’s highlight reel may contain a ridiculous number of posterizations and intoxicating dunks. 

Speaking of that OVC tournament title game against Belmont, one of Morant’s most viral slams came at an important time for Murray State. In a close game with less than 10 minutes to play in the second half, he took the ball off the inbound pass and darted coast-to-coast to complete a rim-rattling poster dunk. 

Morant showed his court awareness with this backdoor cut and vicious posterization in the first round of the NCAA tournament:

Morant seems to have been born with the clutch gene, converting a game-winning, three-point play off a clever spin move around a defender in the OVC tournament semifinal: 

And last but not least, Morant can throw down a jam. 

When and where to watch the 2019 NBA Draft

See where Morant and the rest of the draft class fit Thursday night, starting at 7:30 ET and streaming on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. The New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks have the first three picks.

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