Darryl Morsell's strong summer piques Notre Dame interest

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Basketball life as Darryl Morsell had long known it effectively ended over one summer weekend at an AAU tournament in Philadelphia.

That’s when the kid from Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore went from being just a good guard with solid college prospects to a really good guard that the big-time schools coveted.

“I’ve always believed in myself growing up, that I could play with the best and at the highest level,” said the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Morsell, who averaged 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists to earn first team All-Metro and All-Baltimore Catholic League honors as a junior. “But it didn’t really hit me until probably the first week of July.”

Morsell really didn’t change anything about his game to stand out during that AAU stop. He moved the ball. He made the right play at the right time. He took good shots. He made shots. He defended. His guy. His teammates’ guys. He played with a toughness not often seen on the circuit. He didn’t try to dominate the games, as is often the case in AAU. He just worked.

“I was really balling and playing well, putting up good numbers,” he said.

That’s when Morsell went from someone with scholarship offers from Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic schools to one being chased hard by coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten and the Big 12. By the time the Morsell and his Team Melo teammates moved down Interstate 95 the following weekend to Washington for another AAU event, Morsell had coaches from Kansas State and Maryland, Villanova and Virginia Tech in the stands scouting his every move.

Included in that new group was Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who offered Morsell a scholarship that weekend in D.C. On Thursday, the four-star prospect Morsell was scheduled to board a plane and on his way out to South Bend for an official visit.

It will be Morsell’s first tour of campus.

“It’s a shock that they would want you in their program,” Morsell said. “You watch the NCAA Tournament the last two years, and there’s Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. It’s just, like, crazy.”

Crazy would be a good word to describe the last week for Morsell. College coaches were permitted to start visiting prospects at their respective high schools and in their homes last Saturday. Coaches from Louisville, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech were in the Mount St. Joseph gym that first day. Notre Dame was represented by associate head coach Rod Balanis. Two days later, Irish assistant coach Ryan Ayers joined Balanis and Brey for an in-home visit with Morsell.

The last week of in-homes includes Maryland’s Mark Turgeon arriving on the Terrapins’ custom charter bus. Morsell has been touted as the gotta-get in-state guy for the Terrapins.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Morsell said. “But it’s been like a blessing.”

Morsell attends the same high school as former Irish guard and current video coordinator Eric Atkins, who was inducted this summer into the Mount St. Joseph athletic Hall of Fame. Ranked a four-star prospect by all three major recruiting services, Morsell is the No. 60 prospect according to Scout.com. He’s No. 93 on Rivals and unranked by ESPN.

In talks with Morsell, Brey has likened his game to that of former Irish guards Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson. Morsell’s also been compared to having a little of former Irish forward Pat Connaughton’s all-out hustle game in him.

Morsell is listed as a guard, but better fits into the category of basketball player. Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey, who also tutored Atkins, likes to use the words of one of assistants to describe Morsell - he can make a point guard play one time down the floor, then make a power forward play the next time down. He’s that versatile.

“It’s been a gradual process with him,” Clatchey said. “He’s just gotten better and better. He’s always been pretty athletic, but for some reason, this summer, his athleticism just went to another level.”

Morsell will be the second high school senior to make his official visit to Notre Dame. Four-star wing prospect D.J. Harvey from DeMatha (Md.) Catholic visits last weekend.

Brey still has all three scholarships to offer prep seniors heading toward the November early-signing period.

Morsell is scheduled to see Villanova next weekend. He plans to visit Maryland the first weekend of October and Dayton on Oct. 22. He still needs to find a date for Virginia Tech.

He may have a decision right after that, long after that or maybe even before his final four visits.

“I want to try and take all my visits, but when the time is right, I’ll decide, whether it’s for the second signing period (in the spring) or after this weekend,” he said. “When the time is right, I’ll sit down with my parents and make sure it’s all good.”

Carmody back to campus

Notre Dame gets another unofficial visit this weekend from junior shooting guard Robby Carmody of Mars, Pa.

The 6-4, 203-pound Carmody averaged 19.5 points with 32 dunks to earn first team Class AAA as a sophomore last season. He plays for his father, Rob, with the Fightin’ Planets.

Carmody also visited Notre Dame during the summer. He has scholarship offers from the likes of Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Xavier. Considered a consensus four-star prospect, Carmody is ranked No. 60 by Scout, No. 90 by Rivals and is outside ESPN’s Top 60 for the class of 2018.

Jackson a Spartan

Five-star power forward and Top 25 prospect Jaren Jackson turned 17 on Thursday. He celebrated by offering a verbal commitment in the morning to Michigan State.

Jackson previously played at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis. He will play this season at LaLumiere in nearby LaPorte. Jackson recently made an unofficial visit late last month to Notre Dame. The Irish were among his final five schools.

Notre Dame had recruited Jackson since his freshman year.

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

@tnoieNDI