From the moment he first suited up for MoKan Elite in 2014, Juwan Morgan struck an impression. The solidly built power forward showcased his talents in front of multitudes of college coaches at the first EYBL event in Sacramento, and he reinforced a high-major reputation for the remainder of the spring and summer.
Morgan always played better in a team setting than at camps such as Pangos in June — because he's a team-oriented guy — but even there it was easy to understand why he warranted consideration for a national ranking.
He told me there that Creighton, Missouri State, Harvard, Princeton, Vanderbilt, Penn, Xavier, Northwestern and California were among those to offer, and he noted that Indiana "… just started recruiting me and my coach thinks they will offer."
And so set the stage for his closing act in July as well as his recruitment. He actually played better for MoKan at the Peach Jam than he had during the round robins, an encouraging sign going forward.
He ultimately committed to the Hoosiers over co-finalist Vanderbilt, taking official visits to both campuses prior to reaching a verdict.
Morgan is a productive player who has the self-discipline to remain within the confines of what he does well.
There's no single defining aspect of his game, other than perhaps his consistent yeoman's effort. Morgan is a scrapper who seems to relish opportunities to clean up his teammates' mistakes or blend into the background when others have asserted themselves as alpha scorers.
|Morgan plays taller than his actual height|
He barely scored at all playing with the 17s in 2013, averaging just six points per game. But he raised his average to 11 points per contest this year and upticked to 12 per outing at the Peach Jam.
And he operates with maximum efficiency. Morgan shot 69 percent from the floor during the EYBL regular season. That's really outstanding, right? Well, at the Peach Jam he shot 86 percent (!), 24-28 from the floor. Now, that's a player who knows his game inside and out.
Morgan, despite standing just 6-7, also is a hustler on the backboards. He pulled down seven boards per game and is a tough finisher in the paint due to good straight-up leaping ability and a solid build.
Meanwhile, he chipped in with over a block and a steal per game. Again, he's the kind of player who defies simple categorization due to his versatility. He'll handle a wide variety of tasks for Tom Crean and do so happily, something that isn't always the case with players headed to elite programs given their frequently lofty (and immediate) professional ambitions.
Morgan is a touch small for power forward, although in truth that poses more of an issue for him in the longer term. If the fact that he's 6-7 (or perhaps a short 6-8) keeps him in Bloomington for four years, that's A-OK for the Hoosiers.
He also lacks consistent halfcourt offense, as his numbers suggest. He does post up and hit some turnaround jumpers, but he's better as a clean-up artist. Lanky shotblockers can bother him, and he doesn't yet possess a reliable face-up game. Becoming more of a weapon as a scorer will be key.
No one should confuse Morgan for an immediate impact freshman like Noah Vonleh, but IU didn't recruit him to be. He projects as a tough, hard working and coachable four-year player who has the athleticism to give the Hoosiers a boost inside in the Big Ten.
Morgan will need to raise his scoring output if he's to develop into a leading offensive option, but he doesn't necessarily have to do that in order to be highly effective overall. The fact that he's so efficient is something the coaching staff will appreciate, even if his raw scoring numbers prove to be modest.
And down the road, he should become a strong locker room presence who can lead the next generation of Hoosiers to big victories.