McDonough Coach Dave Rooney couldn't have been certain what he would get when he persuaded one of his physical education students, Trey Morrissette, to try out for the varsity basketball team a year ago. After all, Morrissette, then a junior, was a transfer from La Plata who never had played a full season of organized basketball.
But after seeing Morrissette's athleticism on display in his class, Rooney had an inkling.
"He seemed cool in class and he told me he could use me, so I just decided to go out for the team," Morrissette said of Rooney. "I've always been a street ballplayer, but that was it. I really didn't have the motivation for anything else. I guess I didn't see myself fitting in with a team."
What Rooney saw -- and what Morrissette quickly learned -- is that he was capable of far more than just fitting in. Despite Morrissette's relative inexperience, he is regarded as one of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference's most dangerous guards.
His shooting touch is unquestioned; his quickness unmatched.
After averaging just 8.4 points per game in his debut season a year ago, Morrissette ranks third in the league, behind Thomas Stone senior Daniel Bell and Chopticon senior T.J. Carter, at 20 points per game. He also has drained a league-high 26 three-pointers.
"To think this kid had never played organized basketball before . . . it's stunning," Rooney said. "And the thing about him is, he's getting better and better all the time."
The catalyst for Morrissette's improvement simply has been playing time. After his first high school season, he teamed up with some of the area's best players -- including Carter, Chopticon seniors Jonathan Pease and Terrell Reeves and former Patuxent standout Larry Rice -- on an Amateur Athletic Union travel team.
Morrissette wasn't needed to be a scorer with that group, despite growing confidence in his outside shot. Instead, his role was to feed his teammates with crisp passes, often through heavy traffic in the lane.
Morrissette's passing has been helpful to the Rams this season. After he scored 24, 30 and 32 points in his first three outings, opponents started to double-team Morrissette. But while his scoring has tailed off -- he has scored less than 20 in each of the past four games -- Morrissette has upped his assists to eight per game.
"Teams are really coming after Trey now," said Rooney, who has three other players who average double figures. "But he's learning that he can do a lot more than just be a scorer."
But for all his progress, Morrissette said he knows there is plenty more to learn.
"It feels like I'm playing catch-up out there sometimes," he said. "Like how to handle runs in a game. Or when to pull the ball back out. I'm still learning the feel for the game and for different situations in the game. I don't have the experience that some players have."
He's still good enough to fool most everyone. After last week's 75-58 McDonough win over Leonardtown, Raiders Coach Glenn Larnerd praised Morrissette's quickness and his court awareness.
"He's very quick, very quick first step," Larnerd said. "And I think he recognizes what's happening on the floor. He has a great court sense."
When told that Morrissette had been playing organized basketball for just two years, Larnerd shook his head and added: "Well, then I guess he's using a lot of natural talent, too. The kid is good."
Morrissette's only drawback may be his size. Though he stands 5 feet 10 inches tall, he weighs only about 155 pounds. That can be a problem when he's battling for a rebound or a loose ball.
"He needs to hit the weight room because he's being thrown to the ground a lot, but that's something he can improve on his own," Rooney said.
Morrissette already has begun working with weights, combining those workouts with his most comfortable pastime -- playing street basketball.
"I'm always going to be a street player," Morrissette said. "I love to play basketball outside. I've been doing that since I was little, and playing a pickup game with anybody. That's where it all started for me."