Morris walking in her dad's footprints
HUNTINGTON -- Spring Valley High School basketball standout Madison Morris had been to Marshall University's Cam Henderson Center many times in her life.
She's been there for camps and clinics and to watch games, whether it was Marshall men's and women's teams playing or her father officiating.
Yet when she walked into arena last week to take part in the Marshall women's basketball team camp it was a bit different.
It was the first time she realized that she would literally be walking in her father's footsteps.
Morris joined three other AAU West Virginia Thunder teammates as early commitments in the Class of 2015 for Marshall women's basketball and in doing so she followed in the steps of her father, Bruce Morris, a former Marshall player whose "Shot Herd Round the World" is the longest in NCAA history at 89 feet, 10 inches.
His footprints are painted on the Henderson Center court.
"It's amazing actually," Morris said. "I've always thought about that growing up like 'What if I went there like dad did?' Now I am, so it's really cool. I didn't see it (Marshall offer) coming at all, but it's everything I ever wanted. It's perfect and it's close to home. There was no doubt I'd say yes."
In addition to the excitement of following her dad's footsteps, Morris will play at Marshall with several teammates from West Virginia Thunder.
Boyd County's Logan Fraley and Hope Lester from Westside (W.Va.) High School committed to Marshall the same weekend as Morris while Thunder teammate Shayna Gore from Logan, W.Va., committed two weeks prior.
It continues Marshall coach Matt Daniel's promise upon his hiring of keeping local talent at home.
The future Marshall players at the camp -- high school juniors in the fall -- talked about when they will be donning Herd jerseys instead of going against each other.
"This camp gets me motivated for the future," Fraley said. "It's going to be fun. It's close to home where my family can come watch us play."
Morris said knowing her friends will be there factored heavily into her decision to commit.
"That factored a lot because I can go in and relax because I know people and we'll be able to play freely and know where everyone will be on the court," Morris said.
All of the players said they didn't think the opportunity would come about for them to play together at the next level after having played together in AAU, but they seized the opportunity.
"It feels great that I'm going to Marshall with my best friends," Gore said. "We want to keep the Thunder rolling the next few years."
Morris and Gore were Class AAA all-state first team selections last season when they led their teams to the state tournament. Morris averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves while Gore netted 18.7 points, 9.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Wildcats, who played in the Class AAA championship game.
Lester, who led Westside to a runner-up finish in Class AA, averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds at center for the Renegades en route to all-state first team honors.
Fraley is a 5-foot-11 shooting guard who averaged 13.1 points per game and hit 81 3-pointers in 2012 for Boyd County. The Lions' 1,000-point scorer also swiped a team-high 76 steals while leading the team to its third straight 16th Region championship game appearance.
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