Los Angeles Preps: Demetrius Calip

Look At Them Now: Darius Morris

January, 20, 2011
Darius MorrisJim O'Connor/US PresswireDarius Morris was a standout at Windward High School before moving to play at Michigan.

Year in an year out, the Southland sends a number of boys’ basketball players to college with scholarship offers in hand.

Most move on and compete at the highest of levels -- Division I. Others continue honing their skill sets at institutions a notch below, whether that be Division II or III, or a smaller NAIA program.

Anyway, we figured it was time to check in and provide an update on some of the individuals who first made a name for themselves in this neck of the woods before ultimately deciding to take their talents elsewhere.

One problem, where to begin?

The options are many, seemingly too many to count.

Let’s go ahead and start with Darius Morris. Just yesterday, it seems, the point guard was running the show at Los Angeles Windward High. It was actually 2009.

Things have certainly changed in a short period of time.

These days, Morris is the floor general for Michigan and it appears as if the Wolverines will go as far as the 6-foot-4 sophomore takes them. He leads the Big-10 Conference in assists per game with 7.28, a total that ranks fourth best in the nation.

“Going from high school to college, there’s an adjustment process, but with each game I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with my role here at Michigan,’’ Morris said. “Expectations are high, I’ve always been that way. You must have a different kind of mindset to do well at this level, and now, I understand the mental aspect of the game, as well as the physical. That’s been big for me.’’

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Taft's C.J. Blackwell glad to be back

December, 14, 2010

WOODLAND HILLS -- Welcome back.

It had been a while since C.J. Blackwell was in the familiar surroundings of the Southland, years and years in fact. He did, after all, spend quite a bit of his youth growing up in Georgia, fine tuning his basketball skills on the other side of the country.

Palm trees and the beach, the Lakers and Staples Center, along with traffic and the crowded freeway systems around these parts were the furthest things on the mind of the Los Angeles native. Blackwell went about his business accordingly, plain and simple.

This past summer, however, when the opportunity to return to his roots finally presented itself, he jumped at the chance. Months later, with a spot secured in the starting lineup at Taft High, it’s as if Blackwell never left the place he used to call home.

“It’s nice to be back, no doubt,’’ said Blackwell, an 18-year old senior who was born in the greater Los Angeles area and moved to the South to be with family before he was 10. “I think I’ve been able to fit in at Taft, all of my teammates are cool. We think we can do some big things this season, that’s our main goal, our only focus.’’

The arrival of Blackwell could not have come at a better time considering the Toreadors lost a pair of key players from last season’s team that advanced to the City Section championship game, where it lost to Los Angeles Westchester, 70-60.

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