If it seems that top Virginia basketball recruit Casey Morsell has not had a scintillating debut, head coach Tony Bennett hasn't expressed grave concerns.
Morsell, a 6-foot-4 guard from St. John's College High in Washington, D.C., has played in all 13 games for the Cavaliers (11-2) and made 10 starts.
Morsell is averaging 5.4 points while playing 28.5 minutes per game. That ranks him fourth on the team in minutes played.
Going forward, Morsell could stand to improve his shooting, particularly from 3-point range, where he is 9-for-58. He also has a negative assist-turnover ratio (14-18).
Given the continued reliability of sophomore point guard Kihei Clark, playmaking is not a major issue. Clark has a 77-41 assist-turnover, which could be better but isn't bad for this stage of his career.
"[Morsell] had a wonderful opportunity, as a first-year, to play as much as he has," UVa coach Tony Bennett said on the ACC's first coaches' teleconference of the season.
"He comes in as a hard-playing two-guard who understands effort defensively. He's in a spot where he's getting a lot of opportunities and getting to do a lot of things."
The Cavalier roster lists seven players — six scholarship players and walk-on Chase Coleman — as guards. That includes 6-8, 230-pound senior Braxton Key, who leads the Cavaliers in rebounding and is their second-leading scorer.
It seems that Diakite, Key and Clark are locked in as starters. The other two spots have been shuffled between Kody Stattmann, Tomas Woldetensae and Morsell, who could be the best defender of the threesome, which is always a major consideration.
He had 90 3-pointers in high school but wasn't a scoring machine at St. John's, where he averaged 17.0 points as the 2019 D.C. Player of the Year, as picked by USA Today.
"Offensively, he's not shooting the ball at a high clip," Bennett said. "He's made a couple here or there. He's just growing or learning."
Morsell was instrumental in a Nov. 17 win over Arizona State, where his 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining broke a 45-45 tie in a game the Cavaliers would win 48-45. He scored 19 points and Mamadi Diakite had 15 on an afternoon when UVa had little else going for it.
"He's not afraid," Bennett said of Morsell this week. "He's just continuing to hopefully get a little more comfortable. I'm seeing a little more — whether it's a drive or taking a shot or moving the ball.
"It just seems like, with experience, he's getting better. Of course, it you look at his numbers, he's not shooting the ball well. Just playing through that and not letting that distract you in other areas — that's what I like.
"Of course, you'd like a little more efficiency with the shot but no one tries to miss shots. It's more about taking a shot and not being cautious, taking the right shot and impacting the game in as many areas as you can as a first-year in this setting."