It wasn’t quite home, but Harlan County is about as close as it gets outside Bell County for 2015 Miss Basketball Maci Morris, who was at Harlan County High School on Monday and Tuesday for the Lady Bears Basketball Camp.
Morris, an all-state guard at Bell County High School, recently completed an outstanding freshman season at the University of Kentucky.
“Everybody in Harlan County has always treated me like family, and I have a lot of family here,” Morris said on Tuesday after the second session of the camp.
Morris’ father, Lewis, was a standout basketball and baseball player at Cumberland High School and was selected as the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1985 after leading the Redskins to the state final four in baseball.
Her mother, Patti Myers Morris, was a standout basketball player at Harlan and was a key player on the 1987 Lady Dragons squad that won the school’s first girls regional basketball title.
“It’s good to be back and see familiar faces and get to catch up with friends and family,” Morris said.
Morris was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team by league coaches after averaging 8.5 points while starting all 33 games. She was second on the team with 49 3-pointers, connecting on over 39 percent of her attempts, as she helped lead Kentucky to a 25-8 record.
“I was surprised I played as much as I did, but I worked hard every day and did what the coaches wanted me to do. I think that paid off,” Morris said. “I’m ready to get back this summer and get going again.”
The women’s program at UK has been at the center of controversy since the season ended as several players and three assistant coaches left the program. Morris, however, made it clear she was going nowhere next year, except back to Lexington.
“I love UK and I love coach (Matthew) Mitchell and my teammates,” Morris said. “The ones who want to be there will be there, and we will all work hard this summer and prepare for next season. I feel like we’ll be fine when the games start. We have to back our seniors up, play our butts off, and I think we’ll be OK.”
Recruiting over the next couple of years will be a key in keeping the Kentucky program competitive on a national level, and Morris knows one of her oldest friends just happens to be ranked among the nation’s top high school juniors. Harlan County guard Blair Green is being recruited by Kentucky, as well as numerous other Division I schools. Harlan County coach Debbie Hoskins Green was a teammate of Morris’ mom on the 1987 Harlan team and signed with UK after graduation before finishing her college career at Lincoln Memorial University.
“I don’t want to pressure Blair into doing anything, but she knows we want her at Kentucky,” Morris said. “We’ll do our best to get her there. I’ve been through the process and know how coaches can be, a little pushy, but I won’t be like that. I will support her wherever she goes. Obviously, I’d love for her to come to UK, but I will support her either way.”
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134