Jared Morrison, Tribune boys volleyball player of the year: There's fitness, and then there are Jared Morrison workouts: Four days per week for two hours on his own accord, not including team practices. Weights, treadmill intervals on steep inclines and plyometrics have the 5-foot-10 senior's vertical leap up to 36 inches.
There's fitness, and then there are Jared Morrison workouts: Four days per week for two hours on his own accord, not including team practices. Weights, treadmill intervals on steep inclines and plyometrics have the 5-foot-10 senior's vertical leap up to 36 inches.
There are students of the game, and then there are Morrison's lunch breaks: Making Phoenix Mountain Pointe coach Fred Mann pull out the Pride's six previous boys volleyball state championships and watching every player and point for strategy and technique.
"There's something about him where he wants to force his way into our program's history," Mann said. "There have been kids who've asked about the past, but he's the first to watch every single tape."
He finished fourth at the school's Mr. Pride contest, an interschool talent show where teachers nominated 20 male seniors to help raise money for the Children's Crisis Center. There was a talent show to go with swimsuit, dance and formal-wear competitions.
"I was No. 1, no doubt about it," he joked.
He also won consecutive 4A/5A Division I state championships, was practically unanimously voted the best player in the Valley and will play with several East Valley peers on the U.S. Junior National team in Atlanta late next month (coached by Gilbert Highland's Vee Hiapo).
Morrison began hitting balls and playing at church in seventh grade while his older brother played for Phoenix Desert Vista, but a stress fracture in his back forced him to take a step backward when he began high school.
He caught up. Morrison was the best player on the floor during last year's state championship match against Anthem Boulder Creek, the MVP of the Brophy Invitational and at his best this year against Gilbert with 17 kills.
It added up to a senior season of 271 kills for a 56 percent average, 380 assists and 90 digs.
"Last year at practice one day I realized I wanted to swing as hard as possible, but I didn't want to screw the team over (making errors)," he said. "This is when it counts, and I started swinging as hard as I could. It worked pretty well.
"I was always worried about making a mistake last year and I'd look at the bench after every point and it took some of the fun away. Once you get it out of your head you can relax."
The guy who's nicknamed "abs" figures this is only the beginning. A basketball player as well, Morrison is trying to trump his lack of height (5-foot-10) with a vertical jump in hopes of playing in college. For now the plan is to take classes at a local community college, keep killing himself with workouts, and play at a San Diego-area school in 2009-10.
"I don't know what it is about him, a kind of a quirk in his competitiveness," Mann said. "I think eventually in five years he wants to be one where a future kid asks about him. I think he wanted to forge his place in history, and he has."