This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Gophers basketball summer series: Carlos Morris

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: July 7, 2014 - 11:05 AM

At least six times a day, Minnesota basketball strength and conditioning coach Shaun Brown will hear his cell phone buzz and see, on the screen, a plate of food next to Carlos Morris' smiling face.

Since Morris, the Gophers' junior college addition to the 2014-15 class, arrived on campus in late May, the team has operated with two major goals in mind for the guard:

Find structure. And bulk up.

The 6-4 Florida native has as good a chance as anyone to seize the vacancy in the starting lineup after Austin Hollins expired his eligibility in the spring. But the Gophers know it will take a summer of dedicated routine and building mass for Morris to compete in the competitive and hearty-bodied Big Ten.

That's why six times a day -- the number of meals Morris is consuming, plus protein shakes -- the new guard will send along picture proof to his trainer, of sandwiches, of Papa Johns pizza at 9 p.m.

"We don't reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination but our biggest thing is we just give guys routine and  structure and if they're willing to abide by it, the system works," Gophers assistant Dan McHale said. "He's been a very, very pleasant surprise. You recruit kids, you get to know them, but you don't really know how they're going to be on a day-to-day basis, and he's been great."

According to McHale, Morris -- called 'Squirrel' or sometimes 'Los' by his coaches and teammates -- has thrived in the new environment. The kid who had gone the JUCO route at Chipola College (Fla.) in order to mature and pick up his grades received an 'A' in the first class he took in the May term, McHale said. Along the way, he added 16 pounds to his lanky frame. Each day, he sees his academic tutor for a session, then hits the weight room before getting on the floor to shoot.

"He walks around here, he's got structure -- he's really fitting into a real college environment really well," McHale said. "He's the type of kid that just didn't value waking up every day, eating a full breakfast, having a balance to him. And I think that's the biggest [change for him]."

The assistant coach said backcourt duo Andre Hollins -- Morris' roommate -- and DeAndre Mathieu have quickly bonded with the fellow Southerner, and the three work out together often.

The Gophers were attracted to Morris because of his strong ball-handling skills, unselfish play and ability to attack the rim, especially in transition. One of Morris' biggest goals for the summer is to stretch his mid-range game to include a consistent three-point shot.

"He's a playmaker, he looks to find guys," McHale said. "So it's like having another point forward out there ... He's a motor guy. He's got big shoes to fill with Austin and he's a very different player than Austin but he compliments the way we play."

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