MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies wasted no time Thursday replacing veteran point guard Mike Conley by selecting Murray State sophomore Ja Morant with the second overall pick in the NBA draft.
Morant appeared to be the Grizzlies target almost as soon as the franchise got the second pick in the lottery. The predictions became more certain Wednesday when Memphis traded Conley to the Utah Jazz for a trio of players, clearing a spot for Morant with the Grizzlies firmly in rebuilding mode.
The 6-foot-3 Morant was the sparkplug for Murray State as the Racers won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March. The point guard drew little attention out of high school in South Carolina. But his draft stock skyrocketed as Morant averaged 24.5 points last season — seventh in Division I — while also handing out 10 assists and grabbing 5.7 rebounds. He became the first person to average 20 points and 10 assists since the NCAA began tracking assists in 1983-84.
Morant, 19, had three triple-doubles last season, including one against Marquette in the Racers’ opening victory of the NCAA Tournament.