By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky senior Maci Morris is off to a terrific start this year averaging 16.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 41.8 percent from 3-point range and 86.7 percent at the foul line. She also has 14 steals, 13 assists and four blocked shots to help offset 19 turnovers going into Saturday afternoon’s game with Middle Tennessee.
More importantly, Kentucky is 9-1 and showing it can be relevant in Southeastern Conference play again after failing to make the NCAA Tournament last season. The Cats are ranked 18th this week and made a dramatic rally Sunday at No. 4 Louisville before losing 80-75.
However, as much as Morris enjoys playing basketball, I also wondered what she might enjoy most about being a UK student away from basketball.
“I love going and supporting other teams. My goal this year is to make sure I go to at least one game or event or match of every sport on campus,” Morris said. “That’s my goal to get that done this year. I just love going to volleyball, football, softball. I love the interaction with the athletes.”
Morris has also become a familiar face on campus that students and others recognize.
“It’s cool just walking around campus. I know everywhere like the back of my hand now after four years and people also know me now,” Morris said.
Soon, though, her days on campus will be over.
“It has not really hit me that this will end soon and then people are talking about my last this and that. So it is kind of shocking at times,” Morris said.
It might even be more shocking when she has to enter the work force just like it was for most of us.
“Starting a new chapter in life will be interesting. At some point I do want to start a family. I’m going to put that off as long as I can,” she said. “I am 22 years old now. I have time.”
What will she do when basketball does end?
“I want to be a physician’s assistant. I got to shadow some doctors at UK (last summer) and really enjoyed that. I don’t know where I will go. Stay in Kentucky, move somewhere. Wherever God leads is where I will go,” she said.
Morris predicted going into the season that UK would be better because the returning players had all matured and “grown a lot from what we went through last season.” She also felt freshmen Rhyne Howard and Blair Green would be valuable additions immediately — and both have been.
But what did Morris learn from last year’s non-NCAA season that has meant the most to her personally?
“No matter what you do, you are going to get through it,” she said. “Just surround yourself with the the right people and always stay true to what you are.”
No one has done that better than Morris.