CEDAR RAPIDS - There was a noticeable face missing from the Cedar Rapids Rampage bench Saturday night.
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CHICAGO — As former Iowa State guard Monte Morris dribbled up the floor during the first exhibition game of the NBA Draft Combine, he had another former Cyclone guard watching him courtside.
That guy also happened to be his former head coach and the guy who recruited him to Ames.
Regardless of the team needs of the Chicago Bulls and what skills and attributes the record-setting point guard brings, Morris always was going to be linked to Fred Hoiberg at the Combine — held just a few miles from where Hoiberg goes to work every day.
Hoiberg was the first question Morris got after his day was done Thursday. It won’t be the last before he — almost certainly — is drafted on June 22.
“It just hit me, that reality, that playing in the NBA and my dreams are here (and) seeing him courtside meant a lot to me to show he’s been following my career,” Morris said. “I know he wants the best for me, whether it’s with the Bulls or not.”
The other reality is that Morris isn’t a likely fit for the Bulls, so all those nice storylines make for just that for now.
Of course, Morris said, he would love to play for Hoiberg. He laughed when he acknowledged as much, conceding any college player whose former coach moved to the NBA “would love to play for him.”
Morris said he hasn’t had conversations with the Bulls formally, rather just a greeting from Hoiberg at the Quest Multisport Complex when the Iowa State Hall of Famer walked in to scout the group of nearly 70 players on display.
Morris has more than just Hoiberg and the Bulls to impress, of course.
His most recent college coach, Steve Prohm, also was in attendance and said before Morris and the other players took the court that for a guy like Morris, impressing teams in the interview process was far more important. Morris agreed, and laughed about the process — which included one team having him read a sentence and picking out how many times the letter “f” was used.
“My interviews went great,” Morris said. “I had five Wednesday and two Thursday. All of them went very well. I looked everybody in the eye and gave them honest answers. I saw some tricks they tried to throw at me, so that’s always the fun part.
“They said I was the only one who got (the “f” question) right.”
Morris finished the exhibition with two points on 0 of 4 shooting, 2 of 2 free throws, four assists, one rebound and two turnovers.
While the interview process was most important, Morris still — obviously — wanted to show on the court the same things he did over the course of a storied college career.
If he’s going to ever be linked with another NBA team or coach than Hoiberg and the Bulls, who he is has to show, he said.
“I know what (Hoiberg) instilled in me when he was at Iowa State, and I just kept that with me,” Morris said. “I got here because of my passing ability and making plays and getting guys open. Going out here, it’s not in my power to go out and hoist up 3s and shoot a lot of shots.
“I’m just getting my guys open and making plays when I have to. That’s the biggest thing for me.”
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