Aneesah Morrow is the largest individual within the room with out taking on an excessive amount of house.
The 6-foot-1 ahead performs with focus and depth on the court docket, however off it she’s quiet, reserved but totally conscious of the affect she’s having not simply at DePaul, but additionally on girls’s basketball.
“Aneesah talks about objectives,” coach Doug Bruno stated final month after Morrow surpassed 1,000 profession factors in a 78-69 win in opposition to Windfall. “She’s obtained particular person objectives for each recreation and particular person objectives for the season. She’s obtained particular person objectives for when she graduates from DePaul. However to achieve these objectives, she has to maintain getting higher.”
Midway by her sophomore season, Morrow has racked up every kind of accolades and recognition.
As the nationwide freshman of the 12 months final season, she led the nation in rebounding (13.8 per recreation) and offensive rebounding (5.8) and completed within the prime 11 in double-doubles (27, second), steals (89, ninth) and scoring (21.9 factors per recreation, eleventh).
She turned solely the fourth participant to file 30 factors and 10 rebounds in opposition to Connecticut. The opposite three — Candace Parker, Angel McCoughtry and Jackie Younger — have been all No. 1 picks within the WNBA draft.
Her standout freshman season put Morrow on opponents’ radars, and now she is swarmed by double- and triple-teams.
“That’s respect,” Morrow advised the Tribune. “You need to respect the respect that you simply’re given. They triple-team me in apply as effectively. I really feel like our practices at DePaul are more durable than our video games.”
After going 22-7 and 14-6 within the Huge East final season and shedding to Dayton in an NCAA Match First 4 recreation as a No. 11 seed, the Blue Demons are 11-8 and 4-4 in Huge East play in Morrow’s second season. Getting into Saturday’s recreation in opposition to St. John’s at Wintrust Enviornment, she was averaging 25.2 factors (fourth within the nation) and 11.9 rebounds (fifth).
Morrow reached 1,000 profession factors in 43 video games — solely 12 girls in NCAA Division I historical past have executed it quicker — and he or she broke the single-game faculty scoring file with 45 factors final month in an 81-63 victory over Northwestern.
“I’ve all the time been assured about sport general as a result of I really feel like I can’t be denied if I proceed to work,” she stated. “That’s one thing which you can’t take away from me, my work ethic. You may’t train that.”
Within the midst of basketball stardom, Morrow additionally balances household, lecturers and usually rising and maturing because the world round her watches.
A hometown child from Simeon, Morrow selected to remain in Chicago two years in the past and play for DePaul whilst larger-profile faculties got here calling. An enormous cause? She needed her household close by.
Morrow’s father, Edward, performed linebacker at Nebraska, and her mom, Nafeesah, was an all-conference ahead for the Cornhuskers basketball workforce. Her brother Ed performed basketball at Simeon and went on to play at Nebraska and Marquette. Older sister and former Simeon teammate Nazlah performed for Miami Dade junior school earlier than becoming a member of Aneesah in Lincoln Park.
“My household is tremendous shut,” Morrow stated. “That’s how I used to be launched to basketball — being round my mom and my father. My mom was a highschool coach and he or she coached virtually all of us. That’s one cause why I selected to remain right here within the metropolis was to have the ability to permit them to take pleasure in my profession with me.”
The Morrows, in line with Aneesah and Nafeesah, are a aggressive however enjoyable household. Nafeesah believes the spirit of competitors throughout the household is a part of what pushes Aneesah to carry out on the highest degree.
Along with her personal expertise as a high-level student-athlete, Nafeesah is the individual Aneesah turns to for not solely basketball steering but additionally life steering. Aneesah talks to her mother each day.
“We speak about lots of stuff,” Nafeesah stated. “I attempt to hold it off sports activities on a regular basis simply since you’ve obtained to assume exterior the field. Generally this recreation is extra psychological than it’s bodily. And so I used to speak rather a lot in regards to the psychological facet of simply being an incredible individual extra than simply being an incredible basketball participant.
“She’s very strong-minded. If she places her thoughts to one thing, she’s going to do it and he or she’s going to go above and past what she places her personal expectations to be. So it’s type of such as you by no means actually know what you’re going to get out of her, however you’re going to be pleased with the output.”
Morrow, who turns 20 subsequent month, is “actually only a child,” her mother says. She’s the youngest of the ladies within the household and nonetheless climbs into her mom’s lap. She retains household and her religion shut whereas making an attempt to stay humble and do the work.
“Aneesah is certainly one of my kids who prays rather a lot,” Nafeesah stated. “She’s all the time been that approach, most likely since I observed that (when she was in) sixth grade. (It) doesn’t shock me in any respect that she would get off to herself and ask God to let her do effectively there and wish to be productive and affluent and be an incredible individual, all of the belongings you’d go over at house.”
Along with her ultracompetitive household behind her, Morrow bounced again from three knee surgical procedures earlier than school and has landed within the dialog for nationwide participant of the 12 months. After experiencing knee discomfort final summer season, Morrow says she will be able to really feel herself getting stronger and stronger week after week, and it’s exhibiting in her efficiency.
“I’d say I’m tremendous resilient,” she stated. “I’m going by rather a lot on a day-to-day foundation. I really feel like we all the time take note of what’s happening on the court docket, nevertheless it’s much more to that.
“I suppose I carry it effectively. I simply wish to be an incredible individual and I attempt to be optimistic round all people. Even when I’m having a nasty day or I’m combating my lecturers or one thing, I’ll simply all the time discover a solution to push by.”
A technique she does that’s by specializing in how she is usually a nice teammate and uplift these round her.
“I simply wish to see my teammates turn out to be one of the best gamers that they probably can too,” Morrow stated. “A factor that coaches inform me is nice gamers make their teammates higher.”
For Morrow, desirous to be nice means not solely on the lookout for methods she may also help her workforce but additionally striving to enhance — continuously. Regardless of the awards and information, she is unwilling to simply accept anyone night time’s efficiency. She units objectives from recreation to recreation based mostly on her efficiency.
“I’d argue with anyone that Michael (Jordan) is one of the best basketball participant I’ve ever seen on this planet,” Bruno stated. “And we will have the controversy until we’re blue within the face about who’s higher than him or not. However on the identical time the person was working very, very exhausting on the finish of his profession to get higher. He by no means stopped working to get higher.
“I simply assume that’s an necessary character trait of nice and particular athletes. They’re by no means happy. They clearly are happy with accomplishments and achievements, however they’ll by no means be happy.”
Morrow isn’t happy. Along with learning for courses, she research movie and watches DePaul males’s basketball and WNBA video games to work on her expertise. She has borrowed a few of her methods from WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson of the league champion Las Vegas Aces.
“I’m self-motivated,” she stated. “I really feel prefer it’s one thing which you can’t train. You may’t train effort, grit, resilience … and it’s one thing that I are available in with each day.
“I’ve set objectives on a day-to-day foundation. And naturally typically we fall brief. However should you set your expectations excessive, if you fall brief they’re nonetheless above others. So I do know that I’ve to come back in and set objectives each day. And I all the time set a purpose to be higher than the day earlier than. And if I fall brief, typically it’s nonetheless rather a lot higher than my efficiency the day earlier than.”
One in all her objectives from recreation to recreation, exterior of issues discovered on the stat sheet, is to stay calm. The skin noise is usually a distraction, and Morrow desires to place herself in one of the best mindset to play with intention and depth. She prays and listens to artists akin to Rod Wave, SZA and Summer time Walker to settle herself pregame.
“I do know if you’re coming to the sport, you play with lots of anxiousness about successful or about carrying out one thing. And I really feel like I’ve a few of my finest video games once I are available in calm. It actually will depend on my temper. Some days I might be tremendous hyper and different days I might be mellow and calm so it’s simply looking for that steadiness.”
As her profession has progressed, Morrow says she performs with a chip on her shoulder due to her upbringing on the South Aspect. She noticed issues she shouldn’t have and has been by rather a lot, and he or she desires to set an instance that one can keep in Chicago and nonetheless make good on their desires.
Whereas the accolades hold rolling in, Morrow nonetheless feels excluded from bigger girls’s basketball conversations.
“General I really feel like I’m within the prime tier proper now,” she stated. ”And I’m speaking about it with my coach: I do really feel like I’m type of ignored. I really feel like numbers don’t lie. And on the finish of the day, my numbers usually are not mendacity.”