CSKA Moscow revamped its frontcourt ahead of the upcoming season with the signing of All-Euroleague big man Terence Morris and promising rookie center Alexander "Sasha" Kaun. Less than 24 hours after the club's center of the last four seasons, David Andersen, left, the defending champs announced three-year deals with both players. Morris (207, 29) arrives from Maccabi Tel Aviv, with whom he reached the Euroleague title game last season only to lose to CSKA. Meanwhile Kaun (211, 23) comes from the University of Kansas, where he won the NCAA basketball championship with the Jayhawks in April.
Morris had a stellar debut season in the Euroleague with Maccabi, quickly going from a role player to dominant force on the team. He averaged 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 25 Euroleague games, leading the competition in blocks and finishing second in rebounding. He was a truly efficient player, making 60.8% of his two-point shots and 49.2% from downtown. Morris dominated during a 10-game span at the end of the regular season and into the Top 16, when he recorded 14.2 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He was named Euroleague Basketball MVP for the moth of January for his efforts and in addition to being an All-Euroleague First Team selection, finished as runner-up in the voting for the Best Defender Trophy. Before arriving at Maccabi, Morris played in Israel for Hapoel Jerusalem, in Greece for Apollon Patras and in the NBA for Houston and Orlando.
Kaun, a native of Russia, traveled to the United States at age 16 to study at the Florida Air Academy. Only there did he shoot up in height and take on basketball, eventually earning a scholarship to Kansas. With the Jayhawks, Kaun was best known for his defensive presence. In his senior season last year, Kaun averaged 7.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots over 18 minutes in 40 games – six of which he was in the starting lineup.
"A player of Morris's caliber, just could not avoid the area of CSKA interest," CSKA CEO Andrei Vatutin said of the signings. "Last season demonstrated how valuable he is as a player, and we could see it during Final Four in Madrid… It is not so easy to earn All-Euroleague Team selection. I am very happy that CSKA managed to win the battle for this player against the biggest European clubs. It is very important that Terence gladly responded to CSKA’s proposal and is ready to meet our requirements… CSKA always keeps in its field of interest all the best Russian basketball players, especially young ones. After the win in the NCAA finals Kaun became one of the most popular players here, but I'd like to mention that we began watching him a few years ago. Good big players have always been a rarity, and Sasha with his excellent work ethic, can potentially grow into a great player. I think that our contract with a promising player who can become the starting center for the Russian national team is a very profitable investment. I am extremely happy that Russian fans will have a chance to see Sasha and the player himself chose to play for our team."