“It’s a blessing”: Maryland men’s basketball Darryl Morsell joins rarified territory reaching 1,000 career points

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Galin Smith lofted a pass up court to a streaking Darryl Morsell, who took two dribbles, gathered and laid the shot in off the window. As the ball trickled through the net, Morsell was officially cemented into elite company, as just the 56th player in program history to register 1,000 career points. 

He joins the likes of former teammate Anthony Cowan Jr. and other Terrapin legends such as Len Bias and Juan Dixon. That historic milestone also came in his 100th career start— just the 19th player in program history to do so.

Fittingly, Morsell’s transition lay-in came off a steal he forced, after he fought over a screen from Eduardo Andre and picked the pocket of Nebraska guard Teddy Allen from behind.

“It’s definitely an honor, growing up in Baltimore being right down the street,” Morsell said. “Being able to score 1,000 points for my hometown state school, it’s a blessing.”

As usual on the defensive end of the floor, Morsell battled Allen, the Cornhuskers leading scorer, with unrelenting defensive effort and unmatched competitiveness. Those two qualities have come to define the senior’s four years in College Park, never backing down from a challenge.

Developing a reputation as an elite defender, Morsell consistently displayed a willingness to match up against some of the nation’s best offensive players. Tasked with slowing those prolific guards down, he often delivered.

“When I signed him I didn’t think he’d be a 1,000-point scorer,” head coach Mark Turgeon said of Morsell. “I thought he was going to be a great defender, a tough guy. I don’t know Maryland history like some other guys know it, but he’s gonna be in the top 10 or 15 or 20 all-time I think defender also.”

While the Baltimore native’s defense justifiably gets much of the notoriety, Morsell has developed into an underrated offensive player. He’s also honed his leadership skills, becoming the unquestioned leader of a group that lost several notable players from last year, like Cowan and Jalen Smith.

Morsell’s leadership has shined through time and time again, but Tuesday night displayed several examples of the senior’s selflessness and team-oriented personality. Recognizing that his teammates Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins were playing terrific basketball against the Cornhuskers, Morsell made it a point of emphasis to keep their confidence high.

“That’s one of my jobs as a leader is to keep them confident and keep them going,” Morsell said after Tuesday’s victory over Nebraska. “Throughout the game I try to find them, in particular spots. I’m always talking to them, telling them, ‘I’m driving looking for y’all, make sure you’re ready to shoot.’”

As the team displayed a graphic on the jumbotron congratulating Morsell for his storied milestone and 100th career start, the senior remained focused on one thing. Instead of choosing to bask in his own glory in that moment, Morsell stayed locked in to the task at hand — defeating the Cornhuskers in a must-win game for the Terps.

“The first thing I said to him was ‘Congrats’,” Wiggins said. “I was really happy for him. And all he was thinking about was, Can we get this win? I told him I was like ‘we’re going to get the win, but congratulations because that’s a huge milestone.’”

That commitment to team success over individual accolades comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Morsell. Locking someone down on the defensive end of the floor isn’t the most glamarous way to gain recognition, but that doesn’t matter to Morsell. He remains steadfast in his commitment to providing anything he can to help the team win on any given night.

“I just want them to remember me as somebody who always gave 100% and did everything to win,” Morsell said. “Whether it was taking over games scoring if I had to, taking over games defensively if I had to, rebounding.”

Morsell’s membership to the exclusive 1,000-point club, also speaks to his continued development during his time in College Park. Offensively, from his freshman year to now Morsell has improved tremendously at both his mid-range and three-point shooting.

His freshman season, Morsell shot just 12% from behind the arc, but this season he’s shooting 24.4% from three and an efficient 44.5% from the field.

“I thought [500] or 600 points, but for him to get to 1000 is amazing [and] shows you how hard he’s worked on his three-point shot, his mid-range [shot],” Turgeon said.

That improvement has been evident in clutch moments including last season’s game-winning buzzer-beating three over Minnesota. Improving in those areas has allowed him to become a more consistent offensive threat, from different areas on the floor. 

The most notable statistic which speaks to that notion is the Terps 21-2 record over the last two years in games which Morsell scores in double-digits.

With just four regular-season games remaining and the Terps’ aspirations to play in the NCAA Tournament, Morsell will look to continue providing meaningful contributions in all facets of the game.

“It’s pretty amazing what he’s accomplished in his career and the success that we’ve had as a team while he’s here has been pretty amazing too,” Turgeon said.

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