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Ex-CHS girls hoops star returns to her alma mater
Former Bulldogs hoops star Vanessa Morris always envisioned returning to her alma mater.

Morris was named Ceres High School's new varsity girls basketball head coach on April 5.

Vanessa replaces Shawna Nunes, who opted to retire following a successful 18-year stint. Nunes led the Bulldogs to a 365-142 overall record, one section championship, six league titles and 20 wins 10 times.

"I'm very happy and excited," said Morris, a 1996 Ceres High grad, who played for Shawna for three seasons. "I feel I'm prepared for this opportunity. I'm going to give back to the school that helped me so much."

Morris was hired after being interviewed by a three-person panel.

Ceres Shock girls travel basketball founder Delvekio Rudd and Modesto Christian junior-varsity boys hoops coach Dennis Seeley Jr. also applied for the position.

"I made sure I prepared," Morris said. "I met with people that were in the same position. You can't just automatically think you have something. I'm ready to get started. I have a lot of work to do."

"We offered the position and it was accepted," Ceres High athletic director Glenn Driskell said. "Based on her experiences as a high school and collegiate player and assistant coach, I think she's learned what it takes to be a coach at the varsity level. She's going to do a very good job for us."

"I'm ready to go into this next phase of my life," Vanessa said. "It will be a learning process along the way."

Morris will meet with Bulldog players within the next couple of weeks.

She'll implement new plays and stress the importance of fundamentals during summer league play.

The regular season will get underway this winter.

"I can't guarantee we'll win championships," Morris said. "I can guarantee we'll work hard and have fun. I'm just anxious to get started."

Morris graduated from Ceres High in 1996. She had a memorable four-year varsity career with the Bulldogs. Vanessa averaged 28.9 points per game while leading Ceres High to a 31-1 overall record, undefeated Central California Conference campaign (16-0) and Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II semifinal playoff appearance as a senior.

Morris earned a basketball scholarship to Oregon State and finished her playing career at Cal State Stanislaus.

Vanessa was an assistant on Nunes' coaching staff for two seasons (2008-10). She's helped run the Bulldogs' summer hoops camp the past 14 years.

"I was a good athlete because I worked hard," Morris said. "I also had good mentors in Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte. Most of the girls that have gone through Shawna's program have professional careers. They're giving back. They're not bums."