Morris Udeze is a graduate student and a forward for the University of New Mexico men's basketball team. Udeze, who currently sits at third on the team in scoring, is graduating in the spring and is currently finishing his last semester playing with UNM; he previously earned his undergraduate degree at Wichita State University and is currently taking classes to continue playing basketball.
Udeze transferred to UNM from Wichita State in May 2022 for his last year of eligibility for college basketball. He has been incredibly valuable to the Lobos, where he is currently third on the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game, grabbing 8.3 rebounds and guarding the opponent's forwards and centers of defense.
At WSU, Udeze was part of the Atlantic Coast Conference all-academic team three times and was on WSU honor roll all four years he was there. Udeze got his degree at WSU and continued on as a graduate student to keep playing basketball. He said education has been a big part of his life and his family was proud of his degree.
"I'm in that area where I just got done with college, but I still got to take classes to be involved. But school has always been a big part of my life. To get my degree was big for my family, and I'm glad I got it ... From the jump, (my family) were like, ‘You go to school, get your degree and come out with something’," Udeze said.
The Lobos have an overall record of 16-2 and went undefeated in nonconference play. Their undefeated run started to garner them national attention: they were ranked as high as 21 in the Associated Press' Top 25 rankings before eventually falling out of the Top 25. When asked if he anticipated the team's hot start, Udeze talked about how the team had a strong core and that he knew that he and another incoming transfer forward Josiah Allick would complete the roster and help win games.
"Coming here, I knew we had a good core coming back, and they just needed to get some bigs. So me and Josiah came, and we just try to fill that role: anything coach needs to win … I just try to do whatever I need for my team to win at the end of day. If it's scoring, rebounding, assists, taking charges, getting blocks — anything to win," Udeze said.
Udeze was named MVP of the Lobo Classic tournament and was also the Mountain West Conference's Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 28, 2022. The accolades provided Udeze with some newfound confidence.
"It was big for me. I can't lie, it was a big confidence booster. Every basketball player needs a confidence booster at one point in time. I just wanted to do anything to win that championship," Udeze said.
Basketball has taken Udeze all around the country. Besides playing at WSU and UNM, he played in the Amateur Athletic Union for his hometown Houston Defenders in high school. He also played for Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida. However, Udeze said his relationship with basketball is about basketball, not just the opportunities it can give. He loves the sport and it is his true passion.
"Basketball has just been my life, it's really just been my plan A. I've always had it in mind. I kind of started late in terms of playing basketball, but it's the only thing I have passion for and they say when you have a passion, just go stick to it. And it's really been my whole life, a circle ball has taken over my life and it's been a blessing," Udeze said.
With that said, Udeze has been adjusting to life in New Mexico and appreciates the scenery. Even chile is starting to grow on him.
"Albuquerque is smooth. I like the weather … I like the mountains and stuff like that because I'm from Houston; we don't (have) mountains … The food is smooth. I ain't really into chile like that, but it's growing onto me," Udeze said.
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Outside of basketball, a quick look at Udeze’s Instagram and you can see he has an eye for fashion. For Udeze, it's not about if something is expensive — it's about wearing stuff he likes.
"I love to dress. In terms of after basketball, I love just going out, having fun with my friends and stuff like that … I love to shop. I find the right stuff — it don't have to be the most expensive stuff, but just stuff that I like, that can fit me, nice shoes and all that. I love fashion, I do," Udeze said.
Although Udeze is focused on this season, his ultimate goal after graduation is to make it to the NBA. Even though he will be content wherever he ends up, he will try to keep playing basketball as long as he can.
"After college — to be honest, wherever God leads me. I just want to keep on playing as hard as possible. Of course, the NBA is the biggest goal, biggest goal possible, but at the end of the day I just want to play as hard as I can, get as many wins as I can. Whatever falls in God's lap, whatever challenge he gives me or whatever obstacle he gives me, I just want to be ready for it when I'm done," Udeze said.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thomasbulger10