The Michigan athletic department has put out a press release confirming Tuesday's report that point guard Darius Morris is going to keep his name in the 2011 NBA Draft. Morris decided to go pro rather than return to the Michigan basketball program for his junior season, and he commented on the decision in the press release.
"There have been long discussions with my family, friends and my Michigan coaches," said Morris. "After gathering all the information possible, I have decided to stay in the NBA Draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball.
"This was a difficult decision; however, in the end I decided to go with my heart. Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan; however, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction."
Despite most scouts/analysts saying he should return, Morris is going pro. Like he said, this was a decision made with his heart, and I personally think it's a mistake. Obviously I'm biased as a Michigan basketball fan who was expecting the entire team to return and potentially have their best season since the days of the Fab Five, but third-party sources also said he would be best served to come back for another season.
Right now Morris is projected to be a late first-round pick at the earliest and more than likely will be a second-round selection. Had he come back for another season, he could have elevated his game to the level of a lottery pick. Instead he will do the same thing as Manny Harris and go pro a year earlier than everyone thought. Morris likely won't go undrafted like Harris, but going undrafted is actually better than being a second-round pick in some people's eyes since players can choose the best situation. Harris did that by signing with Cleveland and got a lot more playing time than anyone expected.
In the end, Morris deserves to be able to make his own decision, but this will definitely set back the progress Michigan's basketball program was making. After putting together an amazing finish to last season, the expectation going into the 2011-12 season was for Michigan to compete for a Big Ten title and be a top-15 team. That was based on the expectation that the entire team would return, though. Now expectations will have to be lowered with Morris departing for the NBA.