When Matthew Mors was in middle school, his summer basketball team would hit the road for tournaments in places like Ames, Iowa, or Omaha, Nebraska.
“And I thought that was big time,” Mors said this week.
“I didn’t think it’d get much better than that.”
All he had to do was wait.
Mors, who will be a junior this fall at Yankton High School, will within a span of two weeks play in a classic in Las Vegas — this Thursday through Sunday — and then play in an elite camp in Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s all part of another hectic summer for the 6-foot-7 Mors, who has continued to impress in front of college coaches from across the country as a top-40 player in the class of 2021.
Through it all, though, Mors — the career scoring leader at YHS — has handled it in stride.
“It’s a lot, but it’s all about the hard work I’m putting in, especially in the summer,” he said.
“I focus on my skills, and then once I get out there in front of coaches, I want to show what I have and play at the highest level.”
And from all accounts, that’s what Mors has done.
He and his Yankton teammates have played at team camps at Creighton and Wisconsin, and Mors was invited to play in a Minnesota showcase last month. His summer team, South Dakota Attack, will play in the Las Vegas classic this week, and Mors will later this month compete in a camp in Arizona.
All that means to Mors, however, is he has more opportunities to show what he can against high-level competition.
“I just want to show the nation what I’ve got,” he said.
While most basketball followers in South Dakota are well aware of what Mors can do on a court, a classic like the one in Las Vegas, in particular, provides an introduction to a wider audience.
“I just want to represent myself well and help my team win,” he said. “Whatever it takes, I want us to win. If I need to score, I can do that, or if I need to pass it or bring it up against a press, I’ll do that.”
That first statement is one that rings true to those who spend time around Mors, according to Lee Taylor, the head coach of Mors’ 17-U South Dakota Attack team.
“He’s always been the most talented kid, but he’s got such a great basketball savvy to him,” Taylor said during a recent interview. “He does a better of job of picking and choosing when he has to do certain things.”
Mors is surrounded by plenty of college-bound talent on his summer team, including Sam Harms (Hartington-Newcastle, Nebraska), Kobe Busch (Huron), Jack Cartwright (Sioux Falls O’Gorman), Akoi Akoi (Sioux Falls O’Gorman) and Josh Arlt (Lennox).
With that kind of talent around him, Mors doesn’t feel obligated to do it all, according to Taylor.
“He’s told me before that he’s enjoyed this year the most because he doesn’t have to do everything,” Taylor said. “That’s where I’ve seen the biggest transition with him, the understanding that, ‘I can just let these guys do their own thing.’”
What matters, Mors said, is that his team wins.
“Ultimately, that’s one of the most important things, showing the coaches you’re willing to work hard to win,” Mors said.
Of course, the idea that a player is going to have dozens and dozens of coaches watching every move they make can be daunting for that player, Mors said.
The tendency would be to look over to the coaches during warmups or during breaks in games, but Mors said he tries to stay focused on the action.
“You don’t want to stare at them, but you see them out of the corner of your eye,” he said. “You know they’re there, but you can’t think about them being there.”
With each classic or game, the recruitment of Mors has picked up steam, and his recruiting process has added a new wrinkle, he said.
“Coaches can now start calling me, so that’s actually taken a little bit of pressure off of me,” Mors said.
Before, coaches couldn’t contact Mors, so he would end up having to make a handful of calls himself each day, he said. Mors does exchange text messages with coaches throughout the day, but said he enjoys the opportunity to get to know them.
It’s those bonds combined with in-person evaluations on the court that eventually lead to college coaches extending scholarship offers.
To date, Mors has nine offers from Division I programs: Creighton, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Nebraska, TCU, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa State.
Right now, though, Mors said he’s not worried about the number of offers but is instead just enjoying the experience.
“I’ve seen some schools and been on some campuses and met some coaches, so it’s been awesome,” Mors said.
There was a time, and not that long ago, when baseball was Mors’ favorite sport.
As he got older and started spending more and more time in a gym, basketball took over.
“Now it’s almost everything I do,” Mors said.
While basketball — specifically during the summer — has afforded Mors the opportunity to travel across the country and experience things he likely otherwise wouldn’t have, baseball remains something he enjoys.
It’s why Mors — who plays for the Yankton Post 12 American Legion baseball team — said he doesn’t mind juggling both sports during the summer months.
“It’s a lot, but it’s what I’ve always wanted,” he said. “It’s really fun when you’re with a good group of guys like we have here.”
This summer, Mors is batting .315 with one home run, two triples and five doubles, along with 17 runs scored and 22 RBI.
Yankton’s legion squad will play in the Gopher Classic this weekend. Mors, of course, won’t make the trip because of his travels to Las Vegas.
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