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Casey Morsell enters the transfer portal: Breaking down why this isn’t a surprise at all

casey morsell
Casey Morsell attacks the rim in Virginia’s 64-62 win over Georgia Tech. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Casey Morsell, the centerpiece of the 2020 Virginia Basketball recruiting class, has entered the transfer portal and is almost certainly done at UVA.

For whatever reason, things just never worked out on Grounds for Morsell, a 6’4” combo guard who committed to Virginia as a high school junior.

Morsell, from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., where was the D.C. Metro area Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019, had offers from other high-profile programs: Florida, Georgetown, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest.

But the consensus Top 50 recruit was going to be a work-in-progress as a two guard at the college level.

A 17-points-per-game scorer at St. John’s, he was a 36.6 percent shooter from three-point range and 48.8 percent from the field in his 2018-2019 AAU season – the only detailed numbers I can seem to find for Morsell as a prospect.

More adept at scoring off the dribble, he wasn’t an ideal fit for Tony Bennett’s mover-blocker offense, playing largely off the ball, running off screens, spotting up at the three-point line.

He developed a reputation for being an above-average on-ball defender, but the numbers didn’t bear that out.

Sports-reference.com had him regressing big-time from his freshman to sophomore seasons – his defensive rating in 2019-2020 at 91.5, dropping precipitously to 103.3 in 2020-2021.

His numbers in Synergy also showed regression. Synergy rated Morsell “excellent” as a freshman, allowing opponents 0.698 points per possession, ranking third among the rotation guys.

This season: Morsell allowed opponents to score 0.948 points per possession, dead last among the rotation players for Bennett.

He regressed on defense, and only marginally improved on a historically bad freshman season on the offensive end.

Morsell, in 2019-2020, shot 27.7 percent from the field, 38.3 percent on two-point shots and 17.6 percent on threes.

Telling numbers from Hoop-Math.com: Morsell was 27-of-126 (21.4 percent) on two- and three-point jumpers last year, and even on drives in the lane ending with shots at the rim, he was just 19-of-40 (47.5 percent).

The numbers got better in 2020-2021: Morsell shot 39.6 percent from the field, 47.1 percent on two-point shots and 26.3 percent from three.

Hoop-Math had Morsell at 26-of-74 (35.1 percent) on two- and three-point jumpers and 16-of-32 (50.0 percent) on shots at the rim.

Marginally better, basically, on offense.

An order of magnitude diminished on defense.

You have to imagine that Bennett would have advised Morsell in his postseason exit interview that his playing time would be diminished significantly in 2021-2022.

As a UVA alum, I hate that he won’t get a degree from The University. Basketball is fleeting; that UVA degree can change your life.

But from a basketball perspective, a change of scenery, maybe a level down, to a mid-major conference, could help Morsell get a fresh start.

Story by Chris Graham


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