Katy Morton Ranch senior point guard L.J. Cryer brings more to the floor than just high-volume scoring and deft passing. The 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound floor general also possesses a very high basketball IQ, according to Mavericks head coach Khris Turner.
“[L.J.’s] got to be, basketball wise, the smartest kid I’ve ever coached,” Turner told Texas Scorecard.
A four-year letter-winner under Turner, the Baylor commit has the ability to read and expose defenses when he controls the ball. Like a quarterback who easily connects with an open wide receiver, Cryer knows how to create shots for his teammates and himself.
“A lot of times we’ll leave the offense in his hands,” Turner said.
Impressed with a fresh out of middle school Cryer, one of the things that Turner did after assuming the helm of the Morton Ranch program a few years ago was elevate the then-ninth grader to the varsity level.
“I initially thought that he would start on JV because I knew how good he was,” the coach said. “But once we rolled out the ball, it was apparent he and [two other underclassmen] were the best three [players] in the gym.”
Turner’s decision to promote Cryer eventually paid off since the point guard emerged as Morton Ranch’s leading and all-time scorer, as well as the owner of many of the school’s scoring records. The Mavericks failed to make the playoffs in what was both Turner and Cryer’s debut seasons in 2017, but have become regulars on the road to state since.
“He’s one of the main reasons we were able to turn the program around,” the coach said. “Before I took over, we struggled a little bit. But when he got here, it was a new day. It’s hard to replace that. When he’s not in, we feel it.”
Cryer is fresh from a junior season in which he generated 27.5 points per game with 5.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals to lead the Mavericks to an inaugural regional quarterfinal berth. Over the summer, he competed with the Houston Hoops AAU team in the 2019 edition of Peach Jam and verbally committed to play college ball in Waco.
“[Baylor] could use a guard like L.J.,” Turner said, calling the commitment a “win-win situation. He’s going to get a chance to play closer to home. His family is a tight-knit unit. It’s easier for them to get to his home games. Baylor’s going to be a good fit for him.”
According to the coach, Cryer enters his final season “more hungry” following a playoff loss last year to Fort Bend Elkins.
“He’s going to leave it on the floor for us,” the coach said. “He wants to go out on top. When he sets his mind on something, it’s kind of hard to stop him.”
Cryer is part of a senior-laden group, which includes his childhood friend and teammate Westley Sellers, that makes Morton Ranch one of the most experienced programs in the area. Turner said that it is going to be “bittersweet” when his protégé, who “is one of the most humble kids in the hallway,” moves on to the next chapter of his life.
“We started together so it’s going to be bittersweet when he leaves,” the coach said. “He’s a great kid. You want him to leave to go play at the next level because you’re excited for him, but you know what his absence is going to mean for the program. It’s hard to replace an L.J. Cryer.”
Morton Ranch’s season opener against Houston Jack Yates is on Nov. 16 at the M.O. Campbell Center in Houston.