Kouassi and Morena, skilled on and off the court
When Willy Kouassi and Bernard Morena officially signed their letters of intent to play for Kennesaw State University (KSU), it was like Christmas in June for many surrounding the announcement. A buzz had been generated about the transformation of head coach Lewis Preston’s squad, a buzz that was long overdue.
Kouassi, 6’10” and Morena, 6’8”, are both transfers from Auburn University who respectively have three and four years of eligibility remaining. Originally from the Ivory Coast in Northwestern Africa, these two talented big men are close friends and whatever college they were going to choose, they would be there together. Luckily for Owls fans, they chose KSU.
Kouassi and Morena had offers to play basketball from schools in many of the top conferences in the country coming out of high school, so we all knew that they could play ball at a high level, but in the brief time that I spoke with them, they appeared to be very humble and driven. When I asked of his thoughts on KSU so far, the soft spoken Kouassi replied, “So far so good, I am surrounded by good people and we are getting to know each other. I like my teammates and coaches, they treat us (Morena) like family and that is really important to me.” Morena echoed Kouassi’s sentiments in that his limited time at KSU has been good to him so far.
I asked Morena why he chose KSU over some more well known schools, and I was expecting an answer involving playing time but to my surprise, the former high school valedictorian told me “It was the best fit for us (Kouassi) and they have one of the top business schools in the (United) States.” Morena, who is a business major is planning to create a company with his father in his native Ivory Coast if he cannot find work in the United States upon graduation. Coincidentally, Kouassi is also pursuing some sort of career in business after his basketball days are over.
On the court, the two are hard workers as well. Kouassi says he is working on his offensive game and sounded supremely confident in his ability to defend, rebound and run the floor. “One thing about me, I always go hard, every time I step on the court. It’s the same with Bernard, he always plays hard.” Morena is working hard on his game as well, “I want to handle the ball better, and become a better swing guard because if I play at the next level that is where I would be. I also want to shoot the ball better because you can never shoot the ball well enough; the greatest shooters shoot the three point ball 40%.”
Kouassi is a long 6’10” center who is capable of controlling the paint on defense. His offensive game may need a little work, although he is more than capable of some rim rattling dunks and finishing down low with a nice touch around the basket. He also uses his length to disrupt shots and his upside is outstanding. Especially in the Atlantic Sun, where Kouassi will be able to dominate the second he steps on the hardwood.
Morena is a lanky 6’8” forward who bears a physical resemblance to Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, at least from a distance. He has the speed and skills to rebound the ball and get it down the court himself while adjusting his body around the basket to finish at the rim. If Morena can improve his three point shot he will become a terror to guard due to his size and skill set and I see him being an impact player in the Atlantic Sun conference as soon as he gets on the court.
Nobody knows for certain what the future holds for Willy Kouassi or Bernard Morena, but whether it’s in a basketball jersey or in a business suit, they will undoubtedly find success beyond KSU.Follow @KSUOwlHowl