Michel Morandais is calling it an unofficial retirement.
And, though that phrase might be an inherent contradiction, at this point Morandais probably wants equal emphasis on each word.
As recent Team Colorado workouts showed, Morandais still has an ample supply of the scoring touch that lit up the Coors Events Center more than a decade ago. On the other hand, Morandais also had his 8-year-old son along for the ride last week in Boulder, and with his own health-conscious frozen yogurt business doing well in Florida, on some days it’s difficult for Morandais to ignore the reality he is one of the oldest players on Team Colorado’s roster.
“You don’t turn down good job offers, and at some point you always want to be out there,” Morandais said. “If I feel like I can contribute to a team, I’ll be out there. If I feel like it’s time to pass the torch, then that’s OK.”
For a player who arrived at CU with an international pedigree (he is a native of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies) Morandais has added only a few varied stamps to his passport since his pro career began in 2004-05, spending the past 13 seasons in Italy, Spain, or France. While this is the third incarnation of Team Colorado for the $2 million winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament, this summer marks Morandais’ first turn with the squad of Colorado Buffaloes basketball alums.
If Morandais opts to not sign a contract for a 14th professional season, getting one last run alongside former CU teammates Chris Copeland, Marcus Hall, and James Wright probably will be a meaningful way to call it a career.
“I was watching them last summer and I saw Marcus was playing, and even though I played just one year of college with Marcus we kept in touch and stayed good friends,” Morandais said. “I was thinking this would be a great way for us to play together. So I got in touch with Chris. I got in touch with James. And now we’re here.”
Until coach Tad Boyle led the Buffs to four NCAA Tournaments in five seasons between 2012 and 2016, Morandais held the mantle as the top scorer on the best CU team in a 15-year span, averaging a team-leading 16.9 points for the 2002-03 squad that reached the NCAA Tournament. Morandais was one of the few bright spots in the Buffs’ first-round loss against Michigan State, compiling team-best totals of 15 points, eight rebounds, and three assists while going 7-for-14 from the floor.
Morandais’ career scoring total of 1,428 points remained 11th on CU’s all-time scoring list until this past season, when he was nudged down to 12th by Xavier Johnson (1,463 points).
“To me, this is not just about (the money),” Morandais said. “It’s about representing my alma mater and being there with the guys. That’s why I’m here and why I’m going through all this now.”