Ja Morant is prepared for the negative energy since 'my dad was my first hater'

The “buts” constantly follow Ja Morant, the Murray State sensation who is expected to go second in the NBA draft Thursday.

But he played at a mid-major.

But he didn’t face the likes of Duke and fellow top pick Zion Williamson.

But he’s 19 years old and untested.

None of that matters to Morant, who entered the draft after his sophomore year of college and was asked during media day about dealing with that negativity.

“I really like the negative energy. The ‘he hasn’t played against nobody. He’s too small. He can’t shoot.’ I love, like, negative energy motivates me. It really doesn’t bother me because my dad was my first hater. So if I can take it from him, I can take it from anybody.”

Morant’s rise is well-documented and while his father, Tee Morant, may be his “first hater,” he’s also one of his biggest supporters. Tee Morant is a former college player himself who recorded his son’s games on a GoPro in the hopes someone would notice the talent. He and Ja’s mother, Jamie Morant, got in on the fun when the family pranked Murray State coaches in Ja making a commitment to the school.

The teenager’s stock rose as he took the Racers to the second round of the NCAA tournament this year. He played in all but three of the team’s 200 postseason minutes and in March averaged 27.4 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists.

Over the entire season he averaged 24.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Grizzlies, who dealt veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr in a trade with the Utah Jazz earlier Wednesday, are expected to draft Morant with the No. 2 overall pick. Morant underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee this month and is expected to fully recover within four weeks. He told reporters Wednesday it “doesn’t hurt at all” and he expects to play in summer league.

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Murray State's Ja Morant during 2019 March Madness
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Murray State's Ja Morant during 2019 March Madness
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers celebrates his three point basket against the Florida State Seminoles in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 21: Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant (12) drives past Marquette Golden Eagles forward Brendan Bailey (1) during the basketball game between Murray State Racers and Marquette Golden Eagles on March 21, 2019, at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 21: Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant (12) reacts during the second half of the NCAA Division I Men's Championship first round college basketball game between the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Murray State Racers on March 21, 2019 at XL Center in Hartford, CT. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 21: Ja Morant #12 and Darnell Cowart #32 of the Murray State Racers celebrate at the end of the first half during their first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Marquette Golden Eagles at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 21: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers celebrates scoring at the end of the first half during the first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Marquette Golden Eagles at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 21: Ja Morant #12 greets fans post-game after defeating the Marquette Golden Eagles in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Murray State guard Ja Morant answers questions after a first-round NCAA Tournament victory at XL Center in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Morant had a triple-double with 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in the Racers' 83-64 victory against Marquette. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/TNS via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 21: Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant (12) is interviewed at the conclusion of the during the basketball game between Murray State Racers and Marquette Golden Eagles on March 21, 2019, at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers celebrates his three point basket against the Florida State Seminoles in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers attempts a shot against Christ Koumadje #21 of the Florida State Seminoles in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers is defended by M.J. Walker #23 of the Florida State Seminoles in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers shoots during a game against the Florida State Seminoles in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers stands for the national anthem before a game against the Florida State Seminoles in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 23: Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant (12) during a timeout during the basketball game between Murray State Racers and Florida State Seminoles on March 23, 2019, at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers attempts a free throw against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23: Head coach Matt McMahon consoles Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, CT - MARCH 23: Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant (12) during the NCAA Division I Men's Championship second round college basketball game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Murray State Racers on March 23, 2019 at XL Center in Hartford, CT. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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