Future Illini Center Continuing To Improve

It's too bad all recruitments can't flow this easily. Ohio center Maverick Morgan was blown away by the Fighting Illini basketball program and committed immediately after his visit. The Illini needed a post player, and Morgan is a good fit. He now has another year of high school ball to refine his game and prepare for the rigors of Big 10 play.

When interviewed after a July AAU game with Martin's Wolverines, Maverick Morgan reiterated his reason for committing to Illinois in June.

"Yeah, it was the best visit I had. I committed as soon as I saw everything that Illinois has."

Illini coaches, in particular John Groce and assistant Dustin Ford, had established a relationship with the Ohio native prior to moving to Champaign, so they already had a solid start to his recruitment.

"I'd say the coaching staff was a big factor. I knew them when they were at OU. They were the second school to ever offer me when I was a sophomore in high school. I thought that was pretty cool. Coach Ford and Coach Groce, I love all those guys."

The 6'-10", 250 pounder has already been given drills to help him improve his game.

"I'm gonna do whatever they want me to do. They gave me some workouts to do, and I'll keep doing that. I'm gonna be playing hard in July so I can be ready for collegiate play."

Morgan has a sturdy frame that can handle pounding in the post. He's not fast, but he runs the floor reasonably well for a big fella. He's not a leaper, but he can use his size and strength to fight for rebounds and defend. He has an improving stroke from 15 feet on in and is developing both a righty and lefty hook shot.

Of course, there are aspects of his game he wants to improve.

"I want to work on my face-up game more. Pick-and-roll is a huge part of the game right now. And knocking down shots."

Martin's Wolverines made a run toward a championship at the recent Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

"Yeah, it's going well. We made the semifinals of the Gold Division."

Morgan's team is much better now than in the spring.

"We struggled a little bit at the beginning of the spring. But now it's July; it's time to play. There are no excuses in July. Anything that was wrong, you've got to fix it."

Despite his size, Morgan's teammates don't look for him much when he posts up.

"We have a lot of talent on our team, so that's expected. Being the top player for your high school team means nothing."

Morgan plays for Springboro High School during the winter. Playing in the top Ohio division, they asserted themselves well last year.

"We lost in the Sweet 16 last year. We lost in the district finals to Withrow, so that was a tough loss."

This winter shows even more promise.

"Next year should be better. This is the most points not graduated that we have back in a long time. We have three starters from last year including me, three guys in my grade that were really good scorers last year. So we should be really good.

"Hopefully we can make it up to Columbus and have a run in the state tournament. Hopefully we can get at least to the Final Four."

InsideIllini will be following his progress.

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