by Beth Moller
Through senior Porter Morrell’s four years of high school basketball and four years of college basketball, a certain group of fans has faithfully been sitting in the stands. Those fans are some of Morrell’s family members: his parents, three brothers and grandparents. “My family tries to come to every basketball game they can,” said Porter Morrell. “Sometimes my brothers have other events going on, but my family comes to every event they can make. They even traveled to Wheaton, Illinois, my freshman year even though I was injured and unable to play in the game.”
Family has been a major part of Porter Morrell’s journey in basketball. Throughout high school he played with his older brother by his side. Tucker Morrell, a 2016 UNW graduate, was a two-sport athlete in high school, playing baseball and basketball. He chose to play baseball at UNW and pitched the team to their first win against St. Scholastica since 1998 in his final regular-season game pitched as an Eagle. The bond between these two brothers runs deep. “I would say my biggest fan is my brother Tucker. He has been ever since we played our last game together in high school,” explained Porter Morrell. “The support he shows coming to every game and telling me what I need to do better every game is one of the biggest blessings he has given me.”
Tucker Morrell said, “One of my favorite things to do since I graduated high school has been watching Porter play. Watching his senior year and four years of college has been amazing. He became so good his senior year in high school, and it’s truly been a blessing to have him close by, playing college ball where I can watch all his games. I have only missed a total of four or five of his college games.” The brothers were homeschooled and played sports for Elk River High School.
Porter Morrell, a sports management major, chose Northwestern over several other schools, although UNW was not always his first choice. He said, “I definitely believe the Lord brought me to UNW. I was not planning on coming, but the more I looked into Northwestern, the more I wanted to be a part of this campus and basketball program.” He has rewarded Northwestern with his decision to play basketball as an Eagle: in 53 games played, he has scored 395 points, posting an impressive 81 percent at the free throw line. He has also been a leader to teammates and is one of the team captains this season. After graduation, he plans to use his sports management major to work in athletic admissions or pursue a career in logistics trucking.
Porter Morrell’s decision to attend UNW ultimately brought his brother, Tucker Morrell, to UNW as well. Tucker Morrell said, “Porter definitely influenced my decision to come to UNW. I spent two years at Anoka Ramsey Community College, and when I was getting close to being done with my second year he was telling me about how great UNW was: how it was a great campus, had great professors, great coaches and all the great friends and friendships he had made.” In 2015, the brothers played on the Eagles baseball team together. “[Porter] told me that he would play baseball for one more year if I came, and told me about this 18-plus-year drought UNW had had against St. Scholastica and that we could beat them if we played. He 100 percent convinced me, and I went for it.”
But perhaps the moment of Porter Morrell’s years at Northwestern that UNW fans best remember is what he considers his favorite UNW basketball memory. “The best memory I have had was the game-winning [three-point-shot] in the NCAA tournament versus St. Thomas my sophomore year,” explained Porter Morrell. The buzzer-beating shot caused an unexpected upset of St. Thomas and gave Northwestern their first NCAA tournament game win in school history. Porter Morrell added, “I was able to share it with my two younger brothers and my parents in the gym. However, my favorite part of it was the video on Snapchat I have from my older brother Tucker when I hit the shot. The look on his face in that video says it all for me.”
The moment is memorable for Tucker Morrell as well. On a spring training trip to Florida with the UNW baseball team at the time, he remembers it as one of the best memories of his life. “My favorite [UNW sports] memory is watching UNW versus St. Thomas in the NCAA tourney. Our whole baseball team was watching in a little conference room and when he hit the game-winning three we all went wild,” he explained. “There were hugs, high fives, screaming, yelling. For five minutes we were jumping up and down. After he hit it I just wanted to talk to him, and what was probably 30 minutes seemed like 2 hours. It is probably the best memory in my lifetime so far.”
Although he is a senior, things that Porter Morrell has learned through UNW basketball will go with him as he finishes college. He said, “There are a lot of things that basketball teaches student athletes, including discipline, hard work and teamwork. However the best lesson I have learned is that you can give your best and still lose. If you play your best and still lose, you have to find a way to make your best better. It is the same with life, you have to find ways to make sure you do your job better than anyone else, that’s the only job security you have.”
Morrell should feel good looking at the stat sheet dropping 36 in the Eagles’ first conference game against the University of Wisconsin-Superior.