The Quakers have had a rough six months: after completing their third straight losing season, they fired Coach Jerome Allen and replaced him with Steve Donahue. However, the future looks a bit brighter due to an incoming freshman class that they hope will restore the proud tradition of Penn basketball. CHD’s Jon Teitel recently got to chat with Penn recruit Morris Esformes about why he chose the Quakers and what he knows about his new coach.
Your primary trainer is Demetrius McDaniels, whose brother happens to be Dwyane Wade: how important is training compared to coaching, and has Dwyane given you any good advice? Demetrius was initially my coach back in seventh grade but has become a great trainer and friend. I also have a new trainer named Brandon Payne who has helped me with my agility and shooting. D-Wade is closer to my dad and is usually on the road with the Heat, but when he is home he just tells me to keep working hard.
What other schools were on your short list, and what made you choose Penn? I got a lot of looks from Cornell and Columbia but I chose Penn rather early for a couple of reasons. I want to go into business and the Wharton Business School is great. I also had a great relationship with Coach Jerome Allen: I saw how much he loved the school and just fell in love with it over a couple of visits.
Did the firing of Jerome Allen give you any second thoughts? No: at the end of the day I chose the school because I love everything about the university and the city. It took me awhile to understand all the changes that were taking place, but I am still looking forward to going there. I would have loved to play for Coach Allen.
What do you know about new coach Steve Donahue? I know he coached at BC and Cornell. I look forward to playing for him because he likes his team to run and shoot threes, which I also like to do.
You played guard in high school: what position will you feel most comfortable at in college? Due to my height I am most comfortable playing point guard, but I had to play a lot of shooting guard in high school because it gave me a better chance to score.
Which of your fellow incoming Penn recruits are you closest to? Tyler Hamilton: we are going to be roommates in the fall. He is also geographically closer to me, as all the other guys are farther away in the Northeast. I have also worked out with current Quaker Tony Hicks a bunch of times: he is like a mentor to me.
Four of Penn’s top-8 scorers last year were freshmen: does that encourage you that players can come in and get minutes right away, or does it discourage you because there are four guys who are going to be competing with you for minutes during the next three years? I am really looking forward to it: the better they are the better they will make me, and the ultimate goal is for our team to win. They are cool kids and obviously very good, but hopefully my own freshman class can help us makes strides.
The Quakers were in the bottom-10 in the nation in field goals attempted, rebounds, and points: which of these areas do you think you can help fix the most? I think I am a pretty good shooter so hopefully I can help improve our FG% and FT%. I also like to pass the ball so hopefully I can get us some more assists as well.
Harvard has made the NCAA tourney in each of the past four years: what will it take to knock off the champs? We just have to get better as a team, get accustomed to playing for a new coach, and building chemistry.
Some so-called experts have said that your younger brother/teammate Jack is one of the top shooters in the country: is he going to follow you to Penn someday? I hope so. I have been talking to him about it but he was sick and injured this year so he is just focused on getting back on the court. He is a great player and an unbelievable shooter, as well as my best friend, so I would love to be teammates with him again. I do not see it happening because he wants to head out to the West Coast but we shall see. He is only 15 years old so he has plenty of time to get some scholarship offers: he is 6’4” and still growing!