Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
This is Part 10 of our sixteen-part series, “This Is New York,” on as we chronicled T.J. Morris, a rising junior at Nazareth High School in Flatbush, Brooklyn who is one of the city’s most athletic players and a big-time Division I prospect in the making.
The Class of 2021 in the New York metropolitan area has done nothing but be spectacular. Throughout the area, there are plenty of special talents that have brought plenty of attention to the Big Apple. Even though people from outside of the area believe that the talent is down, due to many going off to prep schools in other states, that is certainly well. The rising junior class lets the naysayers know that the city game is alive and well.
Tyreck “T.J.” Morris, Jr. is living proof of that. The 6-foot-5 swingman is a special talent that commands attention with his effortless play and is always a crowd favorite with his slam dunks. But then again, he is a player with plenty of promise. Although he is soft-spoken off-the-court, he is loud when he steps on the court and a driven competitor with a scowl to match. The grittiness that he displayed on the court has continued to help him and will help him moving forward.
A native of Queens, Morris is one of the city’s great gems that have been outstanding since his middle school days on the AAU circuit, most notably on the MADE Hoops circuit, when he helped the New York Rens win the 8thGrade Finale in Augusta, Georgia during the summer before his freshman year of high school.
When asked about being from Queens, Morris replied, “We got a lot of basketball players, that you don’t even know what comes with them, like they got a lot of tricks that you don’t even know.”
Asked if he models his game after any specific players, he replied, “I can say, Cam Reddish, and after that, probably, Paul George.”
On the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “I think my strength, is probably passing the ball. My weakness is probably defense.”
As a freshman, he attended the legendary powerhouse Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, Brooklyn, but never suited up. But last season as a sophomore was a revelation of his talent at Nazareth High School in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he averaged 15 points per game in his first high school season and was one of the most prominent players in the CHSAA “A” division.
When asked about his sophomore season at Nazareth, he replied, “I felt like I was doing good during the middle of the season, then towards the end, I didn’t really get to play that much.”
This spring and summer, Morris flourished on the Nike E16 circuit with the Rens, and because of that earned an invite to the prestigious Nike Elite 100 camp in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was matched up against some of the best rising sophomores and juniors from around the nation.
When asked about the camp, he replied, “It was fun, that was a nice experience, cause you get to meet new players that you didn’t even know was in your class, and even to see how they play basketball and to see how they play basketball, you just see new stuff every day.”
When Morris wasn’t on the AAU scene, he was wowing the crowds at tournaments like the Lincoln Park Classic in South Ozone Park and also for their team in the NY vs. NY Tournament, a seven-week event put together by Nike.
Morris also gets to learn from the greatest of coaching. minds in Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, who is entering his second season at Nazareth, but is most famously known for leading Lincoln to nine PSAL championships and four New York State Federation championships at Lincoln and who also coached players such as Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, Lance Stephenson and Isaiah Whitehead, all of whom would eventually go on to play in the NBA.
When asked about playing for a coaching legend in Morton, he replied, “It’s fun playing for him, because he’ll teach you something new every day about the game of basketball, and that’s good, that’s why I like being coached by him.”
So far, he has been offered by St. John’s, Seton Hall, Rutgers and LSU. If he continues to do everything he’s doing presently, more and more schools will be paying attention to him. But there is one school that Morris would definitely be interested in playing for if they were to offer him.
“I like North Carolina,” he said, “I like their style of play, they push the basketball, they shoot open shots, they play good defense, I like how they coach, their style of coaching is nice.”
Now that he is a junior, he is an elder statesmen and plans to emerge as a leader alongside his fellow classmates such as forward Ikenna Ude-Smith and guards Jaqai Murray, Ziare Wells, Dontae Prescott and sophomore guard Ty-laur Johnson.
When asked about how he felt this year’s Kingsmen squad will do, he replied, “I mean, it depends, because if we’re in the ‘A’ division, it’s going to be too easy for us. If we’re in the ‘AA’, it’ll push us to want to play more and play harder.”
The stage is set for T.J. Morris as he continues to get better and better as time goes by. Who knows, maybe one day, he’ll land the offer from the school of his dreams. But for now, his motivation is to keep striving for excellence on the court and also keep providing the crowds with spectacular dunks. For him, the best is yet to come.
Check out Part 11 on Wednesday, August 28th, as we will chronicle Anthony “Rome” Marshall, who is currently a senior at Brooklyn Democracy Academy in Brooklyn, and is one of the most prominent players in the city and is wreaking havoc in the asphalt tournaments and in the PSAL Multiple Pathways League.