By LARRY VAUGHT
Having the opportunity to play professional basketball in Italy was an experience that former Kentucky basketball star Maci Morris knew would be unlike anything she had done before.
It started out that way, too. She was leading her team in scoring, getting to see and do new things, and basically just having fun. Then the corornavirus started spreading throughout Italy.
“I was having a good time. It was nice to go around, explore, see different cities, engage in a different culture. It was just fun playing basketball and having fun again with it,” said Morris. “I loved the city of Florence. It was close to my city and me and my roommate had planned to go to some other places before this stuff all hit.”
Morris played for USE Scotti Empoli — about an hour from Florence — since early October and was leading the team in scoring (15.5 points) and minutes )31.6) per game when league play was suspended because of the coronavirus. She also had made a team-high 44 3-pointers and was hitting almost 41 percent from the field. Morris was also adding 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
She’s now back home in Bell County and happy to be back.
“Where I was at you could at least walk around but not in a group of people. The grocery stores were open, and some businesses. But everything shut down at 6 (at night),” Morris said. “All sporting events were cancelled. I was not even allowed in the gym. They locked us out. I could not lift or anything. This is probably the longest break I’ve had from basketball forever.”
Morris said playing in a small town made it easier for fans to interact with her. She would get asked if she played basketball on trips to the grocery store and fans would talk to her about basketball.
“But it was nothing like Kentucky fans,” Morris said.
Morris isn’t sure about her future basketball career. She was an undrafted WNBA free agent who went through training camp with the Washington Mystics last year before getting cut and signing to play in Italy.
“I was playing really well when our season ended,” Morris said. “My body felt really good. I was happy with what I was doing.”
Would she return to Italy again to play?
“Possibly. I don’t know,” Morris said. “It depends on a lot of things. Do I get offered another contract or get a contract offer somewhere else? Do I want to keep playing basketball or not? I am just praying and seeing where God leads me when it is time for me to make a decision about my future.”