Scott High wasn’t the best team on the floor Friday night at Highlander Gymnasium.
Clinton proved why it sits atop the District 4-3A standings, and why it is ranked No. 2 in the state by AP voters. Every time Scott High made a move, the Dragons had an answer, and they have bonafide scorers at every position.
But Trey Morrow was the best player on the floor in the final district game of the regular season, and it really wasn’t that close.
Against one of the best teams in all of Class 3A basketball — the Dragons may very well win a state championship when all is said and done — Morrow scored 37 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
It’s safe to assume that Clinton — which gives up an average of less than 56 points per game on the season and plays withering defense — hasn’t given up that many points to a player in a single game all season.
But for Morrow, it was old hat. It marked the 14th time in 25 games this season — including the fifth time in the last six games — that Morrow has scored 30 or more points. It marked the 16th time in 25 games that he’s also hit double-digits in rebounds.
For the season, Morrow now averages 31 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots per game, while shooting 55% from the field and nearly 40% from 3-point range. He’s also an 84% free throw shooter.
With no disrespect intended towards any other player, that might be the best stat line in all of Tennessee Class 3A basketball.
There have been some speculate that Morrow might not be one of the three Mr. Basketball finalists for this season.
After all, Clinton’s Jackson Garner is very good in his own right, and his Dragons are ranked No. 2 in the state. If Greeneville’s Jakobi Gillespie — who, like Morrow, was a Mr. Basketball finalist last year — is a finalist again this year, that could potentially only leave one spot. TSSAA stresses the statewide nature of the award, meaning it’s unlikely that all three finalists would come from East Tennessee, and there are still very good players in East Tennessee who haven’t been mentioned.
But if Mr. Basketball is truly an individual award, it’s hard to imagine that any of them are any more deserving than Trey Morrow, simply because it’s hard to imagine that any of them can take over a game the way Morrow can. And in his final opportunity to make his case for Mr. Basketball in a district game on Friday, Morrow put yet another stamp on his resume by having one of the best games of his career against one of the best teams he’s faced in his career.
Basketball itself is a team game, of course. Teams win and teams lose; seldom does one player do either of those things alone. Clinton is certainly a better team than Scott High — though the Highlanders would love another chance to prove otherwise in the District 4-3A championship game. And Greeneville may be, too, though the Highlanders would obviously love an opportunity to find out, since that matchup would only happen if both teams advance to the Class 3A substate.
But team records and rankings shouldn’t mean a whole lot when it comes to individual awards — much like the Heisman Trophy shouldn’t automatically go to a playoff team in college football.
Ultimately, there are a lot more important things in basketball than individual awards. Morrow would probably be glad to trade any mention of Mr. Basketball for a district championship trophy and a trip to Murfreesboro for the state tournament.
At the end of the day, there are a few teams that intend to have something to say about Scott High’s state tournament chances — teams like Clinton, and Greeneville, and Grainger.
But, as we rediscovered against Clinton on Friday, Trey Morrow is the best player on the floor even when the Highlanders aren’t. Against a Clinton team that is good enough to make a deep run at the Murphy Center in March, Morrow was able to find ways to score over and over again. In fact, he out-scored Clinton all by himself in the fourth quarter, 16-15.
Clinton was able to best Scott High. But Clinton couldn’t do much to stop Morrow.
That’s the way it’s been for much of Morrow’s career. He’s closing in on 3,000 career points; now just 219 shy, there’s a real chance he gets there. (Scott has at least nine games remaining, between the regular season and postseason. If Morrow scores 24 points per game in those, which is well below his season average, he’ll get to 3,000 for his career.) If he does, he’ll be just the 23rd player in the history of Tennessee high school basketball to accomplish that. He’s also closing in on 1,300 career rebounds.
Morrow has played 117 games, and he’s literally averaged a double-double in every single one of them. He’s the only Mr. Basketball candidate in Class 3A this season that can say that. Beyond the statistics, he has carried himself with class and character throughout his career. He’s never had a single technical foul, never had a single warning from an official. He simply shows up, and shows out. And he does it as well as anyone. There’s not much more he can add to his Mr. Basketball resume at this point. But, at this point, it’s a resume that speaks for itself.