Wesley: ‘He’s dealt with a lot of hard work and pain’

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
KLen Morris

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter K’Len Morris

Brady Fredericksen

From Grand Blanc to Ann Arbor and finally Allendale, Grand Valley State University senior basketball player K’Len Morris’ career has taken him all over the state of Michigan.

The 6-foot-5-inch guard graduated from Grand Blanc High School in 2006 and signed a letter of intent to play basketball for then-coach Tommy Amaker at the University of Michigan. After a shoulder injury ended his freshman season with the Wolverines in 2006-07, Morris applied for transfer 11 games into the 2007-08 season.

“After coach Amaker got fired, the situation at Michigan wasn’t a good one for me,” Morris said. “Coach (Ric) Wesley and my teammates were the biggest factor when I transferred to GVSU. I just got along with everyone.”

Morris’ addition to the GVSU basketball team only added to the existing depth. Wesley and the Lakers were coming off a record-breaking season in which the team reached the Elite Eight for the second straight season.

His impact that season was small during his first season, again missing the majority due to a knee injury. The proverbial injury bug seems to have followed Morris to almost every stop in his basketball career.

“K’Len has had more setbacks than a normal athlete, you have to admire him for continuing to come back and rehab,” said Wesley, who is heading into his sixth season as GVSU’s head coach. “He’s dealt with a lot of hard work and pain, but he is in a better place now than ever in his time here, so we’re keeping out fingers crossed he stays healthy this season.”

While the injuries have come in bunches – the shoulder injury at Michigan and two knee injuries in two years at GVSU – they have not slowed Morris’ play on the court. His raw stats may not stand out, but in only 22 games last season he finished second on the team in 3-pointers made with 18 and averaged a steal per game.

“You can’t just sit there and dwell on injuries, that’s what takes you out of the game,” Morris said. “My teammates helped push me to return, and that support system is what has gotten me back to where I am now.”

The resiliency Morris has shown is something coach Wesley hopes can be used to the senior’s advantage this season. The Lakers are looking to improve upon last season’s effort, which yielded a 22-9 record and the team’s fifth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

“He hasn’t ever really played a healthy season in his college career,” Wesley said. “His hard work to get healthy says a lot about his resiliency. He has dealt with some pretty major injuries, it shows to his desire and commitment and we’re hoping it pays off big this year.”

Despite only playing in 34 games the last two seasons, Morris has found himself as comfortable with Wesley’s system as ever. The coach expects Morris to bring the shooting touch that he showed at Michigan to GVSU for a full season and, with his body in good health, hopefully help the team contend for a GLIAC title.

“This is the best that I’ve felt since being here, and I want to push myself and my teammates so we can be as successful as possible,” Morris said. “We’re so deep, and that will help us succeed as a team, but individually my goal is to come in a play my game every day and push my teammates.”

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