(College of Southern Idaho )
The beginning of Kareem Storey’s college basketball career was spent at a high-major program in the midst of a rebuilding project. With that experience in mind, the former Towson Catholic point guard focused on one factor in particular when he got a second chance at the recruiting process.
“Historically, Morehead [State] is known for making the [NCAA] tournament,” said Storey, who signed with the Eagles last week. “There’s nothing like tournament play. That basically was what I based my decision off of – being successful, winning games and going for the best opportunity I had to accomplish those goals.”
In Storey, Morehead State landed one of the most coveted junior college point guards in the country. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound West Baltimore native averaged 8.0 points, 3.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds as a sophomore for the College of Southern Idaho, a traditional JUCO power.
Storey certainly didn’t expect to be back on the market this fall. After finishing a post-grad year at Princeton Day Academy in 2011, Storey was one of Utah’s first recruits under coach Larry Krystkowiak. He had a solid season for the Utes as a freshman, averaging 4.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds. But Utah struggled through a 6-25 campaign, and Storey and the coaches had a “mutual parting of ways.”
“They were actually thinking about me staying there, but they were recruiting other guards,” he said. “The system is primarily like a halfcourt-based offense. I don’t feel like that works to my strengths. My strengths are penetrating, attacking, getting shots early in transition. I feel like a different fit would have been better.
“It was tough to leave it behind, especially the fans in Utah. They were awesome. They supported us even though we were having a rough season. But it was just something I had to do to make a progression. I think it worked well for me and Utah, so all in all I think it was the best thing to do. It was kind of hard to do, but at the end of the day it was something I had to do.”
Storey considered transferring to another Division I program, but decided against sitting out a year and landed at Southern Idaho instead. Storey called his time in Twin Falls “a great experience.”
“I learned a lot more about being a leader because at Utah, I was a freshman. The team was young with no experience,” Storey said. “I felt like taking a step down helped me improve my leadership. I’ve already been at a high level. My leadership skills got a lot better. As far as a basketball player, I feel like I made a lot better decisions.”
Morehead State had expressed interest in Storey after he left Utah, and the Eagles continued recruiting the point guard during his sophomore season. But they had plenty of company, most notably Seton Hall and Fordham. Storey took visits to all three of his finalists before deciding to spend the next two years in rural Morehead, Ky.
“It’s a small city,” Storey said. “It’s not really heavily populated, but it’s somewhere I can go, like Southern Idaho, I can focus in more and work on my game without distractions. Seton Hall is a great university and Fordham is a great university. They’re in the heart of [New Jersey and] New York City. Somewhere like Morehead will give me an opportunity to work on my craft, perfect my craft and be the best player I can be.”
Storey will join a Morehead roster this summer that features two other Baltimore-area natives in sophomore shooting guards Brent Arrington (Lansdowne) and Jourdan Stickler (Annapolis). Storey was familiar with Arrington dating back to their AAU days.
“Brent played for Cecil Kirk; I played for Mount Royal,” Storey said. “We used to play each other a lot. I’m family with Brent. He’s gotten a lot better. He’s a workaholic. He works so hard. I just feel like being around somebody like that is automatically going to make me better.”
The Eagles could conceivably have an All-Baltimore backcourt next season with Storey and Arrington, who sat out last season after transferring from Mississippi Valley State.
“They expect me to play a lot of minutes, a heavy load of minutes,” Storey said. “I’m up for that challenge already.”