Marcus Morrison, 6-6 swingman from St. Petersburg Florida, played four years at Middle Tennessee before starting his pro career in Israel and Japan. This summer he signed for Satria Muda Jakarta, the Indonesian national league reigning champions. Satria Muda also plays the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) League. Marcus stepped out with 34 points (5/8 from 2's and 7/10 from behind the 3 point arc) in the season opener in Singapore against the local Slingers. In the second game the all-around former Middle Tennessee graduate scored 20 points in the win on the road at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia against the KL Dragons. Marcus talked to BT columnist Dr FingerRoll about his career thus far.
Marcus, how is life in Jakarta, Indonesia for an American basketball player?
It is a different experience playing in Jakarta. The way the team has it set up is unlike any team I have played with before. They have it so everything that you need is in the same building, like a Basketball Workshop. It is similar to a prep school in the US: we have around the clock access to the gym, weight room, and food. I think this is a great advantage, because it really helps me focus and has helped my basketball considerably. And it has also helped me gain 4 kilos in about a month! So the living is pretty much in the gym, I have not seen the city much but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to hoop!
What were your expectations after college? How did you end playing in Asia? And tell us a bit about your pro career overseas.
My expectations after college were to play overseas, I didn't know what country or what level but I did expect to play. Well, things didn't end so well with me and my coach at Middle Tennessee so, after college, I was on my own as far as finding somewhere to play. I was one of those players in the US just trying to find a way on to somebody/anybody's team. I didn't play my first year out of college, but I was attending local camps and playing in a semi-pro league where I caught the eye of a few small time agents (which I am thankful for because without them I may not be here today). They landed me a job in Israel, and I loved it out there. Then a coach from Japan saw my stats and wanted me to join his B-J League team. From there I kept ALL of my games and created a highlight tape which landed me in Jakarta.
We always hear that the American game is different from the European game. But we seldom hear about Asia. How is it playing ball in Asia? And tell our readers about the fans as well.
I would say the Asia game is different from the US game due to the tempo: it's more of an up and down game; Asia has a lot of great shooters as well, it's an adjustment because here the emphasis is more on defending the three. As for the fans, playing in Asia is very exciting, the fans support is amazing! They are really crazy about basketball here in Jakarta as well as in Japan. I also must say I have been to Singapore and Malaysia and they really have some great fans, they really let you have it as an opposing player!
Satria Muda is the only team in the Indonesian League to have an American player in its roster. You are the star of the League.
Yes, we are the only team in this country with US imports so it's kinda crazy, because when you walk around the city or when you're in the airport the people are not used to seeing such tall individuals. But we don't play against anyone in the country, we have two separate teams, one playing in Indonesia and one playing in the ASEAN League. This helps us because we get scrimmage against a very good team whenever we need to. They are a great team and a great bunch of guys and I will be shocked if they don't repeat as champions this year. As far as being the star of the league, that's not my goal; my goal is to win the championship. I have always been a very energetic type of player who also gives the fans a show.
Satria Muda plays also in the ASEAN League, so you have an overall idea of the quality of basketball throughout South-East Asia. Can you briefly rate the other leagues for our readers?
Well, I have only played two games so far but the competition is tough, you can expect a war every night. As far as comparing it to other leagues, I would say it is similar to B-J League in Japan. In Japan you are allowed 3 US imports on the court and as many as you want on the roster so that made it possible for some pretty tough teams.
At 26 you are still a young player, what's your goal for the future? Where do you see yourself in a couple of years?
Yes, I'm 26, but I feel even younger than that. Hopefully, God willing, I will still be playing ball in the next couple years. I'm just trying to compete at the highest level possible. I've heard good things about the Middle East, Korea and The Philippines and I would love to make my talents to either of those countries. And I have not giving up on my dream of playing in the NBA.
Maybe some of our readers are young players considering balling in Asia: what would you say to them? What's the right mindset to approach this experience?
Basically just be ready to grind. It's different in this part of the world, there will be certain things that you will have to get used to but it's a very exciting place to play ball. The fans really will love you if they see you playing your heart out, and you can inspire a lot of people.
Thank you Marcus! And good luck for the season.
I just want to say thanks for the interview, and before I go I would like to give a shout out to my team Satria Muda, my family and friends back home in St. Petersburg FL and all over the States. And I thank God for putting me in this position.