Renett Morgan’s mom told her, “Don’t be scared,” when she started playing against boys her age (11 to 13) in the Tucson Summer Pro League for Kids last month.
Her mom has nothing to be concerned about.
“I’m not going to be scared,” Renett said matter-of-factly Sunday after dominating the paint with 11 rebounds and eight points in a win for Tucson Appliance and Furniture over Bruce Baca Real Estate.
“I don’t mean to hurt you or nothing, but I’ll block you.”
Morgan was easily the most imposing player on the court Sunday, playing physically but under control beyond her basketball development.
She will put some fear into those matching up against her in high school starting next year when she attends Tucson High School. She may not have a club team background, but her future is as bright as any young player in Tucson.
“She can come out of Tucson, go to a good college, get a good education playing ball. She’s that good,” said Tucson Summer Pro League director of player personnel Carl Graham, who coached Renett’s team Sunday.
No argument here.
Renett, in the eighth grade at Utterback Middle School this year, is playing organized basketball outside the regular season for the first time in her life this summer. She does not have a personal trainer or coach. She has not traveled outside of Tucson to play.
“I only started playing here (in the TSPL) because a friend suggested it to me, and I wanted to take advantage of it,” Renett says.
Corey Williams’ TSPL charges players only $25 to participate because team sponsors take care of most of the cost. Williams, a former Arizona player and current ESPN broadcaster, has mentioned the TSPL is for the aspiring young player whose family can’t afford the traveling-team costs, allowing Tucson’s youth an outlet during the summer to play basketball.
Renett is a prime example of Williams’ work at its best.
“It’s been a dream of mine since the third grade to play in something like this,” Renett said.
Despite her inexperience, Renett showed a keen sense of fundamentals around the basket Sunday. She has strong hands yet has a soft shooting touch. Her footwork and balance is impressive. She shoots with accuracy. She does not get in foul trouble because she gains position and plays vertically around the basket.
Unbelievable to discover nobody has worked individually on her fundamentals. “It’s my given talent,” she says.
“I just tell her, ‘Stay up under there and use your size,’ and she does,” Graham said. “It’s good to see her grow like this.”
Renett obviously is thankful for the opportunity provided by Williams, Graham and the TSPL.
“I’ve grown a lot,” she said. “I’m really thankful for this basketball because it has pushed me more not to be scared and to be better for my team.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.