By Bobby Flash Melton
Camden Central High School senior Bailey Morris has signed a letter of intent (LOI) to play basketball beginning in the fall of 2023 with Freed-Hardeman University (FHU) in Henderson. Morris, 17, is the daughter of Shane and Heather Morris of Camden.
Morris signed the LOI during a ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the CHS gym. More than 50 supporters were present for the signing ceremony, including family members, school administrators, coaches, teammates, and friends.
When Morris attended on of the team’s practices during an on-campus visit to FHU several months ago, she decided to make a commitment to sign with the FHU Women’s Basketball Team.
“I had a great visit and observed a good environment where all the girls were amazing. They made me feel welcome as did Head Coach Joshua Epperson and Assistant Coach Abby Stutts,” Morris said. “That visit convinced me that I want to be a part of the FHU basketball family, and I think I made the right decision.”
Morris noted that the relatively short distance from Camden to Henderson also played a role in her choice of FHU. “It’s not that far and I want my parents and family to see me play in college as much as possible because of all the support they’ve given me. Now they’ll be able to do so,” Morris said. “Since the sixth grade, they’ve helped me so much as I was playing basketball and growing up and I’m thankful for all of them. I’ll look forward to seeing them on our game nights at FHU.”
She went to say that signing now to play basketball at FHU is a relief because she can concentrate fully on her final high school basketball season at CHS which begins in November. “I feel like we have the potential for a good year. We hope to win the District Championship and advance as far as we can in post season play,” Morris said.
Coming off her 2021-22 junior year where she was named to All-Tournament, All-District, and All West Tennessee Squads, Morris said she’s hopeful in the upcoming season to become the District’s Most Valuble Player. “That’s a personal goal I’ve set for myself and I plan to work hard both on and off the court to try and attain it,” she stressed.
Playing the position of guard for the CHS Lady Lions Basketball, Morris’s scoring average is 19 points per game. She shoots over 50 percent from 2-point range, 42 percent from 3-point range, and 77 percent at the free throw line.
Before Morris signed her LOI, CHS Girls Basketball Coach Chris Carney offered a few comments. “Bailey is a player who is super-dedicated to working on her skills in the gym to improve her game. I can’t brag enough on the time she puts in, and that helped our program last year when we were able to advance to the Regional Tournament,” Carney said. “I’m excited to continue to watch her grow as player this year as a senior and then see her succeed the next few years at Freed-Hardeman.”
FHU Assistant Coach Abby Stutts attended last week’s signing and said Morris will bring multiple talents to FHU’s women’s basketball program. Stutts said the program is very excited about the many strengths that Morris shows as a player.
“Bailey is a very versatile player who’s able to drive and shoot the ball from anywhere. She spends countless hours on her skills and we love that type of player who wants to grow their game,” Stutts said. “We’re really excited to have Bailey for who she is off the court and for the high character she has. With the support I’ve seen today from her family and friends I know she’s going to be a great fit for FHU.”
CHS Principal Shawn McDowell told Stutts that FHU is getting a “feisty young lady” in Morris, who will do a lot of great things for the program. He thanked Morris for the leadership she’s shown on her CHS team and said he knows she’ll also be a leader at FHU, noting, “We’re proud of what you have done here, and we’re proud you’re going there.”
Morris gave credit to both Carney and former CHS Girls Basketball Coach Renee Sutton for their guidance as she developed her talents and basketball skills at CHS. “They’ve taught me so much and have helped me come so far in high school. It’s been great to have them both as influences,” Morris said.
In addition to basketball, Morris is also a member of the Camden Girls Tennis Team, the Distributive Education Program at The FPL Career and Technical Center, and a past member of the CHS Cross Country team. She also participates in youth activities at Camden First United Methodist Church.
Freed-Hardeman is a member of the Mid-South Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). FHU women’s basketball teams have a long tradition of competing for conference and NAIA titles. In 2018, the school won the NAIA Division I National Women’s Basketball Championship.
Morris has not made a final decision on what her major will be at FHU but said she is considering a major in psychology. She will receive her high school diploma from CHS in May of 2023.