Darryl Morsell was a Division I prospect after his junior season, but he had yet to receive serious interest from major programs. The 6’4 guard had offers from Towson and George Mason, along with a few other schools.
Bigger schools started to take notice after an AAU tournament in Philadelphia this summer, according to Notre Dame Insider. During the first live recruiting period, he got offers from Dayton, Temple, and USC. Then came offers from Maryland, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Villanova, among another schools. By the end of the summer, the four-star recruit had 15 offers, according to 247Sports.
For Pat Clatchey, Morsell’s high school coach at Mount Saint Joseph in Baltimore, the recognition was a long time coming.
“I think Darryl’s always been a really good player,” Clatchey said. “In this area there was maybe some guys getting a little more publicity and hype. I’ve always thought Darryl was this caliber of a player. He had a really good junior year and the team did well. I think with the summer stuff the timing was perfect. He played really well in front of the right people, and he did it consistently.”
Following his breakout summer, Morsell started to narrow his list, naming Villanova, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Notre Dame, and Dayton as his top 5 in August. After official visits to Notre Dame, Villanova, and Maryland, he narrowed down the list to Notre Dame, Maryland, and Dayton.
He didn’t officially narrow his list down to two, but Morsell said he went back and forth on Maryland and Notre Dame, and really liked both after taking official visits. After sitting down with his parents, he said he felt that College Park was the best fit. Morsell verbally committed to Maryland on Nov. 2, and made it official by signing his National Letter Intent a week later.
“I just had a great relationship with the coaching staff,” Morsell said of Maryland. “Coach Turgeon made me a priority. I’ve known Coach Ranson for a long time. I got to know Coach Cliff, Coach Dustin, they were just all good dudes. On my official there I just felt at home.”
It also helped that Morsell has known Maryland freshman guard Anthony Cowan since they were kids. They were teammates on DC Assault, a local AAU team.
“He was recruiting me hard,” Morsell said.
He also said he was recruited hard by fellow Class of 2017 commit Bruno Fernando, whom he met on his official visit to Maryland in September. Now that the two are future teammates, Morsell said they talk every day.
Unlike Fernando, who could see minutes right away due to the departures of Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill, projecting Morsell’s playing time is not easy.
Morsell is as comfortable playing point guard as he is playing off the ball. He has good court vision and can find the open man, so he doesn’t need to score in order to make an impact on the game. He gets his points by slashing into the lane, much like some of Maryland’s current guards.
After playing both point and shooting guard in high school, Morsell said he played exclusively point guard this summer, and that coaches liked his playmaking ability and size at the position. At the next level, he’ll face a different set of challenges.
Mark Turgeon will have Cowan and Jaylen Brantley back at point guard next year, and both have experience as combo guards. If Melo Trimble decides to come back for his senior season, which is a possibility, Morsell would have to compete with him as well.
While Maryland has needed major contributions from its freshman this year, that’s not the case next year and could be a good thing for Morsell. Instead of having to rush his way onto the court, he can learn and get better in practice. That way, he can fine tune aspects of his game that need work and translate them to a game when he’s ready to shoulder a bigger load.
“College is much different than high school,” Morsell said. “Right now I’m stronger than most of my competition, but I just want to continue to develop my body, work on my ball-handling, my whole game.”
Morsell wants to work on everything, but Clatchey said that he needs to continue to work on his shooting, as it’s one of the few things he doesn’t yet bring to the table. He said Morsell’s passing ability makes him the type of high-IQ player Turgeon wants, but improving his shooting could really make a difference.
Maryland needs all the shooting help it can get. Justin Jackson has been Maryland’s only consistent three-point shooter this season, but Kevin Huerter’s 26-point game against Nebraska suggests help could be on the way. Brantley and Cowan have struggled to hit threes this season, and Trimble and Nickens have been inconsistent since their freshman seasons.
Whether or not he develops a consistent shooting stroke during his first two seasons at Maryland, Morsell could be thrust into a major role once Trimble, Brantley and Nickens aren’t around.
“I just want to go in there and help the team anywhere I can,” he said. “The coaches have a plan for me and I’m just going to follow it.”