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

JUCO helped Gophers commit Carlos Morris, on and off the court

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers players Updated: October 30, 2013 - 3:52 PM

After Carlos “Squirrel” Morris committed to the University of Minnesota yesterday, I spoke with the 6-4 JUCO guard more about his decision.

“I just knew it was the right fit for me,” Morris said. “After I visited, I just wanted to see and weigh my options. After the UAB visit [which was last weekend], it made it a lot harder, but I still felt like Minnesota was the spot, so I just made my decision. If you love something you should go with it, and I went with my gut.”

Morris said he knew almost right away after leaving Minnesota in September that it was the place for him.

“I just liked everything about it – the coaching staff, the fact that it’s in the Big Ten – one of the best conferences in the country. You’ve got to compete every night.”

Unlike some JUCOs, Morris was widely recruited out of high school, when he was ranked as a three-star athlete by

Some of the schools recruiting him included Sacremento, Seton Hall, Miami, Cincinnati, Arkansas, Georgetown and West Virginia.

But with the Florida native’s grades not where they needed to be, making the immediate jump to a Division I school wasn’t really in the cards.

“I wanted to go prep [school], but my coach here at Chipola [College in Marianna, Florida] told me if you go prep, you’re going to be coming back to JUCO. He kind of drilled that into my head, and I believed him, and he was right. And I made the right decision to come here.”

Morris said during the last year, he feels he’s improved a lot as a player and that he sees the game more completely. His ball handling became tighter; his scoring ability, more diverse. He also packed on about 20 pounds of muscle to a very lanky frame after he began lifting with the team.

“I’m definitely a better player than I was – way better than when I was coming out of high school, I can tell you that,” he said. “I’m smarter, I’m more mature. I can see the game better. JUCO has been great, I can’t lie. As much as I didn’t want to go to JUCO, it’s been great for me.”

Just as importantly, Morris’ GPA now sits around 3.4 or 3.5, he said, a mark he previously had a hard time imagining.

“That’s a lot of improvement,” he said. “I didn’t think I could do it, actually. That was big for me. I definitely surprised myself.”

Fellow Gophers recruit Josh Martin has become something of the team ambassador these days, it seems – the Seattle power forward contacted Morris about two weeks ago, the guard said. Martin has also talked with Nate Mason, the Gophers’ combo guard commit, and had tried to pitch Minnesota to Riley LaChance, who ultimately committed to Vanderbilt.

“He was just telling me I was a great fit and it was like a family there,” Morris said. “And that he wanted me to come play with him basically.”

Now, he will be. Morris is a Gopher, now, though he made it clear he wouldn’t be changing his stripes altogether.

“I’ll always be ‘Squirrel,’ he said.


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 88 4th Qtr 3:55
Cleveland 97
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 2 1st Prd 8:55
Team Foligno 2
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 45 2nd Half 4:55
Illinois State 46
Louisville 62 2nd Half 6:30
Pittsburgh 50
UMBC 22 2nd Half
Albany 35
Niagara 28 1st Half 2:42
Iona 41
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Washington 7:30 PM
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 57 2nd Half 8:25
Washington St 54
Tulane 43 2nd Half 0:40
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 63 2nd Half 8:46
Missouri 56
(9) Oregon State 57 2nd Half 3:59
(13) Arizona State 44
Vermont 37 2nd Half 15:54
UMass Lowell 48
Iowa State 29 2nd Half
(8) Texas 36
Southern Ill 29 2nd Half
Wichita State 43
(15) Duke 21 1st Half 7:13
(12) North Carolina 19
Miami-Florida 29 1st Half 4:35
(4) Louisville 16
(21) Minnesota 5 1st Half 10:53
(25) Rutgers 23
California 6:00 PM
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
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