Ja Morant has had quite an incredible NBA path. Many don't realize how overlooked and underrated this player was, which seems ridiculous considering how impactful he has been for the Memphis Grizzlies. In many ways, Morant seems to be the next star point guard in the future.
Morant is having a sensational rookie season, averaging 17.6 PPG and 6.9 APG while showcasing a range of exceptional dribbling moves and passing ability. But his path hasn't been easy, and he has had to overcome a lot. Here is the incredible journey of Ja Morant.
Morant's Father Could Be Pro Overseas, But Stayed Home To Raise Ja
Ja Morant clearly has strong genetics, since his mother was a point guard in high school and his father played semi-professionally. In fact, Ja's father was Ray Allen's teammate in high school and decided that playing overseas would be best for his professional career as a player.
When the mother said that she was pregnant with Ja, the father decided to not go overseas and instead stay home to raise his child. He then completely shifted careers and became a barber instead. As Ja grew, his father began giving him practice drills at home including buying tractor tires to help him jump and land softly.
Couldn't Dunk Until Senior Year In High School
Ja Morant is very athletic and he has performed some spectacular plays in his rookie season this year. But he wasn't a natural-born athlete, at least until later. He developed quite late in terms of being athletically ready for the pros. Morant could not dunk until he was a senior in high school, something that is very rare for a guard who is 6'3".
The fact that Morant can fly high and throw it down on defenders makes it seem that he was a gifted high flyer. But he couldn't dunk until his senior year, forcing him to develop his guard skills and passing range early.
Unranked By Scouts, Completely Overlooked
College recruiters were not even considering Morant, because he seemed like an ordinary player with some athletic ability and decent potential. But nobody saw his insane passing ability and ability to jump.
It wasn't until a college recruiter accidentally recognized his talent, where he started gaining some traction as a talent. Murray State assistant coach accidentally stumbled into Morant's 3-on-3 pickup game and decided that what he saw could immediately help the team.
It is highly unusual for scouts to completely overlook the player who went number 2 in the draft, but this is just another example of Morant's incredible journey.
Projected To Go 25th In NBA Draft
Even when he was ready to go to the NBA, he was projected to go 25th in the NBA Draft. That is clearly somebody who is not regarded highly, and he was projected to have negligible impact whichever team he went to. Clearly, he rose all the way up to number 2, but his original projection was extremely low.
The fact that he is now the front runner for the Rookie of the Year Award is an amazing achievement. His path to being a star in the NBA may have had its rough patches in the beginning, but Ja Morant is primed and ready to be the next great point guard in the West.