ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) -Kiana Morton's path to the UCF women's basketball team may have taken longer than she expected, but she was always destined to be a Knight.
As a young teenager about to enter high school, Morton joined the Triangle Lady Knights of Durham, N.C. She stuck with the AAU basketball team for four years only to find herself a Knight once again three years later.
"I never thought about that until just now," Morton said smiling. "I guess it was meant to be."
At her grandfather's urging, Morton picked up her first basketball as a 5-year-old in her hometown of Creedmoor, N.C. He proved to be the biggest influence on Morton's basketball career.
"My granddaddy had me outside shooting all the time. Like ALL the time," Morton said. "If I wasn't doing anything, he'd tell me to go outside and shoot."
Morton is a natural-born athlete, having competed on Webb High School's basketball, volleyball and track teams. She also played softball for a number of years but gave it up just before high school.
As a three-time all-conference selection for Webb's basketball team, she showcased her versatility by playing all five positions periodically throughout three seasons. Upon graduation, she elected to attend Miami Dade College to focus on her studies while honing her craft on the court.
Morton said the decision to move 825 miles from her hometown of 4,000 people was the toughest experience of her life thus far.
"When they told me how far it was and they showed it to me on the map, I said I can't do that. I've never been that far from home," said Morton, who describes herself as family oriented. "I had to go the week after I graduated from high school. I was there for a month and it felt like I was there forever. I would call my mom crying and then she would start crying because I was crying. It was really hard but I got used to it."
Morton didn't miss a beat in Miami. In her first season in 2010-11, she helped the Sharks claim the Southern Conference Tournament Championship. Last year, she was named to the All-Southern Conference Second Team for the second-consecutive season.
Morton joined UCF in the late signing period and is already enrolled in summer school. She is excited about her opportunity with the Knights and hopes to add something to the mix come November.
"When I heard about the basketball program, this is the setting I've always wanted to be at. The players when I came to visit - they are what a team is supposed to be," Morton said. "I can bring a lot of heart. I'm a good shooter. I can drive the ball well. I'm a great listener. I think I can bring a lot to the team, I just need to work hard and get stronger."