Morsell finds sweet spot with NC State before UVA return
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Casey Morsell could not hide the grin on his face when asked about returning to Virginia for the first time on Tuesday night.
"I'm looking forward to it, I haven't been there since I transferred, it's been awhile, but I think it's going to be fun," Morsell said, "I'm expecting this group to be ready and just to come out and win."
Morsell and No. 22 NC State will enter John Paul Jones Arena to face No. 8 Virginia for a top-25 matchup and a homecoming for the former Cavalier guard. A four-star guard in the Class of 2019, Morsell still keeps in touch regularly with his former UVA teammates.
"Reece and Kihei, Kadin Shedrick, Francisco, there's a few guys," Morsell said, "But it'll be good just to see those guys and play against them for sure."
When Morsell entered the transfer portal after his sophomore season at Virginia, it was after two up and down years with the Cavaliers. But now in his second year with NC State, Morsell has finally developed into the consistent ACC guard many saw in his future.
"He's improved, I wish he never transferred, you always hope that as a coach," UVA head coach Tony Bennett said," He's really shooting the ball well and I think they have such an inside presence that they're drawing attention and he's spacing and then they have other very quick athletic guards that can shoot as well.
But Casey, he's always been a good young man and a hard competitor, tough competitor and he's continued to get stronger, playing hard-nosed defense, helps them that way, and then again he's just got more efficient with his game."
On a Wolfpack team which has won eight of their last nine and four-straight entering Tuesday's top-25 ACC tilt, Morsell has been a difference maker on both ends. The senior guard is averaging career-highs in every statistical category, including points (12.6 PPG), rebounds (4.6 RPG), steals (1.2 SPG) and most importantly shooting 43.9 percent from three.
"He's a tremendous young man and I've seen him grow in the last couple years," NC State head coach Kevin Keatts said, "He's gotten very comfortable with our situation. Obviously Tony and his crew did a great job recruiting him to UVA.
Really special kid and he had to adapt to two different systems and he's been really good at that and I think you're starting to see him have more confidence this year than he's ever had in his whole career and really shooting the basketball well for us."
Morsell will face his former school for just the second time since transferring to NC State, helping lead the Wolfpack to a 77-63 rout a year ago with 12 points and seven rebounds. In this day and age of the transfer portal, these matchups are nothing new for Tony Bennett who remains happy for the player he recruited out of Washington D.C.
"Happy for him, but as the saying goes we got to compete and hopefully he's not where he's been playing," Bennett said with a grin, "But they have a nice team and he's an important piece to that team."