By LARRY VAUGHT
When it comes to playing basketball, Maci Morris has to have it in her blood.
The Kentucky sophomore guard’s mother, Patti, was a standout at Harlan High School and played at Transylvania. Her father, Lewis, was a standout athlete at Cumberland High School and went on to play at East Tennessee State and Cumberland College.
“I was a baseball player first,” Lewis Morris said. “I could have gone to Kentucky on a baseball scholarship, but back then you could go to East Tennessee State and play both. Coming out of high school, I thought I could do that with no problem. My dad was the first baseball All-American ever at Cumberland College. His junior year he hit over. 500 and his senior year he hit about .480.”
Former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard was Morris’ teammate at Cumberland. He estimates that when you count Maci Morris’ parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins, the family would have scored over 20,000 points. Lewis Morris laughed at that number, but also admitted it would be a lot of points.
“My wife has a basketball that has1,000 point scorer. They did not do that for us,” he said. “They kept a scorebook for us but no one ever told us exactly how much we scored.”
He said well known Kentucky prep coach Billy Hicks once told him only two players in the state had ever scored 40 or more points in a game against him. One was Richie Farmer. The other one was Rick Morris, Lewis’ brother.
“Coach Hicks said Rick would have had 60 if there had been a 3-point line then,” Lewis Morris, now the head boys basketball coach at Bell County High School, said. “He was my older bother and was a lot better than me. He was the best shooter of any of us. He probably scored 1,000 points just his junior and senior seasons.”
Lewis Morris was no slouch. He estimated he averaged about 9 points per game as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore, 22 as a junior and 27 his final season.
“My sister scored a lot, too,” Lewis Morris said.
So did Maci Morris. She finished her Bell County career with 3,368 points — sixth best in state history — and averaged 25.6 points per game her senior year when Bell went 29-3 and reached the state tourney.
During her freshman season at Kentucky, she scored 281 points and is the team’s third leading returning scorer.
While things went well on the court — she started all 33 games and averaged 25 minutes per game — for Morris, the offseason produced a lot of turbulence with coaches and players leaving. Kentucky will go into next season with only eight players.
“Myself, I am really happy with the way things are going,” Lewis Morris said. “Not everybody is leaving. She has been happy up there. She has not said a word about nobody or anything to me. She’s looking forward to next season and so am I.”
One thing did change this year for Maci — she finally beat her father in a game of H-O-R-S-E.
“I guess I am just getting old,” Lewis Morris said. “She finally got me. But she did it by getting me off the court and making me shoot from the grass where my legs didn’t have as much bounce.”
He used to take his daughter fishing — sometimes for the entire night — and still has fond memories of those times. Now he jokes she seldom comes home from UK.
Maci Morris also has a sense of humor that we might not always see. One time she put a fake snake in the boots her father left outside.
“When we went to put his shoes on, he found it and it scared him,” Maci Morris said. “He ended up trying to chop it up with a shovel because he thought it was real.”
Lewis Morris remembers a slightly different version.
“It did scare me at first and I might have picked it up and thrown it. But I did not chop it up. She is exaggerating that part,” Lewis Morris said.