Coach Duck Richards
Coach: He's A Beast!
July 8, 2010By Alan Richards of Griffin Grasshoppers
Griffin Grasshoppers founder and head coach Alan "Duck" Richards was nearly beside himself talking on the phone one day last week: "He's a BEAST, man."
Richards has seen a lot in the last 15 years as head of the local AAU basketball program, so he does not get this excited often.
It is easy to see why he was excited: Aamir Morris, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound power forward, had flown in from his home country of Barbados a few days earlier.
"We picked him up at the airport on Friday at 1 a.m.," said Richards, whose 17-and-under team was playing in an AAU warm-up tournament in Atlanta that weekend. "He was able to come home, get rest and the same night he dressed out.
"We threw him to the fire - he didn't know anything about the US and we didn't know anything about him," said Richards.
It did not take Morris, who played on the runner-up under-21 National Team in Barbados, long to get acclimated once he hit the court. In his first game as a Grasshopper, Morris totaled 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"To our surprise we found out he was pretty good," said Richards. "He can put the ball in the hole."
Back in Barbados, Morris averaged 38 points per game and won tournament MVP honors this past season.
Nonetheless, his venture to Atlanta two weeks ago was the first time Morris, 17, played ball outside of his home country.
"It was only his second time ever out of Barbados and his first time ever in Georgia," said Richards. "The first time here, he went to Miami."
That trip was a vacation. Morris and his parents - his mom a private primary school teacher and dad a retired school attendance officer - are using this trip to get him exposure for college basketball.
"Hopefully, I will go in for pre-med and to play four years of college basketball," said Morris.
Richards could not be happier. The Grasshoppers went on to win the tournament. This weekend they head to another tournament in Myrtle Beach before going to the Peach State in Augusta July 12-15 and finally ending their season at the AAU Nationals in Orlando July 25-Aug. 2.
"After the first game, he admitted he was a little nervous - we want him to stay nervous," joked Richards.
Morris said the biggest difference between basketball in his home country and here is the speed of the game.
"Eventually after I got comfortable I was amazed at the speed of the game," he said. "It's a lot faster than Barbados."
Nonetheless, in Atlanta, Morris was a real crowd pleaser.
First, however, he had to win over his seasoned teammates. He did both quickly with relative ease.
"He pretty much amazed the crowd," said Richards. "One of our guys took a jump shot that came up short. He picked it off in mid air and dunked it -- the crowd went crazy."
"After that, the guys said, 'Give him the ball,'" added Richards.
Morris found Richards through a coach who did a clinic in Barbados and knew of Richards work with the Grasshoppers.
For now coach Richards could not be any happier - regardless of how long Morris remains a Grasshopper.
"We're just trying to help this young man in life," said Richards, who has seen no fewer than 38 of his players in the last two years alone sign college scholarships for one sport or another (many through the help of Richards).
Schematically, Morris is a dream.
"He has been a missing piece to the puzzle we‘ve needed," said Richards. "We're talking about a post player with agility, inside moves and a mid-range jumper who can rebound and has good dribbling skills."
As good as Morris is on the court, he may be even better in the classroom.
Morris earned 10 grade 1's, the equivalent AP Honors credits in the United States.
"He was selected to attend the Global Youth Leaders Conference in New York City and Washington D.C. this summer where he is receiving a full scholarship for his academics," said Richards, a former Marine scout sniper who was a Presidential bodyguard during the Ronald Reagan administration.
Richards is amazed Morris has been playing basketball for only four years.
"In my country the national sport is cricket," explained Morris, who served as his team captain in that sport. "I also played football (soccer) a little for a year or two."
For now, however, Richards has Morris working out every morning and staying sharp on the court to make the best impression he can when he plays.
Griffin Grasshoppers Players that received scholarships from Class of 2010 or transfered:
Cameron Solomon, High Point University
Neiron Ball, University of Florida
Chris Head, Marshall University
Tank Sessions, Florida State University
Markeith Ambles, University of Southern California
Morris Mitchell, South Georgia Tech
John Harris, Marshall Town CC
Quint McKibbens, Alabama State University,
Pierre Tyson, St John's River CC
Durante Jones, Merriville College
Zavier Preston, Reinhardt College
Ira Hughley III, Reinhardt College
Darrin Hancock Jr, Garden City CC
Dontre Morris, Dodge City CC
Charles West, Coastal Carolina University
Willie Hamm, Clark Atlanta University
Terrell Love, Snead State CC
Adrain Butler, Central Georgia Tech
Brandon Gaughran, Snead State CC transfered from Ohio Dominican University
Oscar Moore III, Central Georgia Tech transfered from Dillard University
Pete Driver, Life University transfered from Gordon College
Sidney Harris, Tennessee State University transfered from Chattahoochie Valley CC
Isaiah Massey, Ole Miss University transfered from TAGG Prep Academy
Read more: Griffin Daily News - Coach ‘He's a beast'