COMING HOME: LSU champion Alexis Morris puts on skills camp at Natchez High

Published 8:21 pm Saturday, July 1, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Alexis Morris has packed a lot of life in her 24 years. Lots of ups and downs, battles and triumphs.

One thing is certain: She knows how to finish big.

Morris, whose roots run deep in Natchez, ended her college career of five years at four different universities on top of the world. She was key in helping LSU win its first-ever women’s basketball national title earlier this year.

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More than 100 young people from all over Mississippi and beyond who hoped to soak up what the former LSU star point guard has to share about basketball made their way to the Natchez High School Mary Jean Irving gymnasium on Saturday. There, Morris held the third of her Camp with the Champ skills training sessions. The first two — in San Antonio, Texas, and Central LaFourche High School in Raceland, Texas, were more than she could have hoped for, she said.

“My first two camps were amazing. We had great outcomes. The energy and the atmosphere were outlandish,” Morris said during a break in her skills camp in Natchez on Saturday. “I can’t even explain it. I’ve been really surprised with my turnouts. I don’t like to get too hype about certain things. I like to stay level, but I’m really, really proud of my turnouts. My team and my agents and my family here supporting me, it’s been amazing. Just amazing.”

Full circle

Kim Mulkey, who coached first at Louisiana Tech before moving to Baylor and winning three national championships, began recruiting Morris of Beaumont’s Legacy Christian Academy when she was 12 years old.

“You know what’s crazy? I love Notre Dame. It was my dream school. They did not recruit me hard when I was in high school, but I wanted to go to Notre Dame so badly,” Morris said.

Mulkey, on the other hand, believed in Morris and recruited her constantly until she committed to Baylor. Morris had a scholarship offer to Baylor before she ever stepped foot in high school.

However, Mulkey and Morris parted ways after some trouble during her first semester — the same kind of trouble many college freshman get into, but you don’t hear about because they aren’t college athletes.

From Baylor, Morris made her way to Rutgers, where she was red-shirted her first year and played her second. She entered the transfer portal and moved to Texas A&M. It was during her time at A&M that she reached out to Mulkey, a Louisiana native, who had come full circle herself, accepting the head coaching position for women’s basketball at LSU.

“Coach Mulkey has been a great coach and a great person in my life. I learned a lot of life lessons from Coach Mulkey,” Morris said. “Our dynamic? It’s a regular, typical coach and player dynamic. She started recruiting me when I was 12 years old, so obviously I have a little more loyalty to Coach Mulkey because she believed in me first. I will always give Coach Mulkey her credit and her props for the impact she made on me as a person, as a young lady and a young basketball player.

“I will always give her that credit and that acknowledgement. She taught me so much about how to respond in uncomfortable situations and how to handle adversity when I’m uncomfortable; how to be a good teammate; and how to be a vocal point guard. I was quiet. I’m one of those people who expect other people to just get it and Coach Mulkey … helped me become a better point guard by being vocal and communicating. Learning how to say the right things with the right tone and delivery. She helped me become a better all around player and person.”

While many celebrate Morris for her basketball skills, not many know the real Alexis “Lex Luthor” Morris, she said.

“I don’t think people know my true personality. I don’t really show too much of my personality on the court, like when I am scoring and having a good game, I don’t really celebrate. Sometimes I do. You might catch me in that moment, but I’m a fun person. I’m down to earth. I’m really loving and I care. I really do care. I like to dance. I like to make music. I like to draw and design. There’s a lot more to my life than basketball.”

Family and home

For Morris, Natchez is her second home.

“Not just Natchez, but Mississippi in general,” she said. “I am deeply rooted in Kingston and LaGrange and Brookhaven, even. I’m a Mississippi native who was Texas bred.”

A number of aunts, uncles and cousins turned out to the camp Saturday to help, either on the basketball court, serving refreshments or selling t-shirts and jerseys.

Morris said she is proud of all of her Natchez family. She mentioned her great-aunt, Caroline “Cal” Green, Natchez’s chief of police.

“Shout out to my Auntee Cal, the chief of police out here in Natchez. She’s doing big things in this city,” Morris said.

Green’s nephew, Raymond Morris, is Alexis’s father.

Morris has basketball in her blood. Her father was a standout point guard at South Natchez, which became known as Natchez High School before he graduated. He married Toya Wilson, who was a standout herself for North Natchez, then Natchez High when North and South Natchez combined.

Wilson is the daughter of Jeanette Wilson, who was a legendary basketball coach at North Natchez.

Life for Morris has been a whirlwind since winning the national championship with LSU on April 2.

She was picked 22nd overall in the WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun, but was waived during training camp.

What comes next? She’s going to take her time to find that out. She has more camps planned for July in her hometown of Beaumont, Texas, and in Houston, Dallas and Baton Rouge, but plans to spend some time with her family in Natchez, getting back to her roots and the people who ground her.

“I’m going to stay a little extra here and visit with my family. It’s been a minute. I’ve been in college for so long and on the road for so long. I need to reunite with them. It’s a time for me to just mingle,” Morris said.

She hasn’t ruled out anything for her future, but she is enjoying working with young players at her skills camp and is thinking about coaching more now than ever before.

“I have considered coaching. It comes so naturally to me. Just like playing basketball comes naturally. When I’m with other coaches and I can give my input … I’m going to be honest with you. It may be my calling.”