Sports were a focal point in the family of freshman forward Aneesah Morrow. At the University of Nebraska, Aneesah’s father, Edward, played linebacker while her mother, Nafessah, was an All-Conference forward. Her brother, Ed, stared at Simeon before playing at the University of Nebraska and Marquette University.
For Aneesah, growing up surrounded by basketball allowed her to fall in love with the game at a young age.
“Basketball is something that all of my family does,” she said. “I was always surrounded by it, so I wanted to see how it was. I remember I was in second grade — and I wouldn’t say it was my first time shooting the ball — but it took plenty of tries to make my first basket. I fell in love with the game ever since that day.”
That love for the game inspired her to have a strong first year at DePaul, becoming a seven-time recipient of the Big East Freshman Player of the Week award and a recent selection of the Top 25 player watch for the Wooden Award just halfway through the season. Regarding being the Big East Freshman Player of the Week, it is not only an award that just highlights her consistency on the court, but off the court as well.
Morrow has been dominant all season long. Averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds a game while shooting 52 percent from the field, Morrow has made her presence known on the court. However, it is the consistency she brings on and off the court that demonstrates her individual success.
“Being Big East Freshman of the Week means a lot, but it also shows that I’m being consistent, which is one of the most important things that I want to do in the classroom, not just on the court,” Morrow said. “Working every week to be a better player, better student, better person, better daughter. It is all about being consistent.”
To develop that consistency, Morrow goes through a daily routine that embodies her desire to constantly improve. She is a very detail-oriented person, and although she jokes about head coach Doug Bruno calling her a perfectionist, the will to strive for perfection is one of the main reasons that made Morrow the rebounding machine she has become.
“When I go into practice, it is about how I can be better than the day before and have that attitude and demeanor,” Morrow said. “That is one of my biggest things when it comes to rebounding. Having the will to do something has to have effort. It is not easy and it doesn’t just fall in your hands, so it is something that you have to work for every day.”
Bruno spoke highly of Morrow, stating that her competitive drive is what makes her such a force to be reckoned with.
“We are always excited when any player achieves an individual award,” Bruno said. “Basketball is such a team sport that you can’t win without her. We are thrilled she won.”
“[Morrow] is an extensive rebounder and has a great desire to rebound the ball,” Bruno said. “When you can come in and rebound like she does, that allows her to be on the floor and play the rest of the game. She gets to experience the rest of the game because of what she does on the floor.”
Graduate guard Dee Bekelja acknowledges that when the team first played with Morrow during the summer, they knew the talent level was there and that she would make a huge difference for the team.
“When she first came here during the summer, I think we all knew she was going to be something special and a huge asset to our team,” Bekelja said. “She has a really good work ethic and is coachable. Even now that she has gotten so many accolades and recognition, you would never be able to tell that when you talk to her or by the way she carries herself. She is very humble, still works very hard and never talks back or complains.”
Bruno always believed that Morrow was going to be a good college basketball player. He now challenges Morrow to continue her high level of play throughout the rest of the season.
“I had strong suspicions that she would impact our game,” Bruno said. “I knew she would have an immediate impact in the program. She is a freshman and she needs to have the stamina to go through every long season. She has kept up with the speed of the game. Only time will tell if she keeps up with the stamina and endurance to get into a long season.”
As the team prepares for conference play, Bruno believes that the team will be fine as long as Morrow continues to be consistent in her play — especially on the glass.
“I think Aneesah has to stay focused on what she is doing right now,” Bruno said. Just keep on focusing on rebounding, running, getting better defensively and everything will take care of itself. She’ll get better with experience.”
Morrow agrees with Bruno, stating that since her arrival Bruno has emphasized the importance of her defense. She is still learning the game, but is aware that she wants to improve in this area.
“One of the main things [Bruno] told me was defense,” Morrow said. “Sitting down and guarding some of the best players in the Big East is tough. They are quicker, faster and more experienced than me so coming in as a freshman I have to be able to sit down and defend my player. The girls are a lot stronger inside than I am so that was tough too but he is very stern on defense.”