Not that he was ever a threat to leave, but keeping Juwan Morgan in the fold for next season was pretty important for new coach Archie Miller. No other Hoosier is quite as versatile and does all the little things like Morgan does for Indiana.
Better yet he's on a solid improvement track with two more years of eligibility in Bloomington.
Morgan has the skills and athleticism to play the three spot but when you combine his length with improving strength and that athleticism, he can also play very effectively at the four. Especially if he's paired with a bigger five man like a De'Ron Davis or Thomas Bryant.
Despite a mid-season ankle injury, Morgan missed just two games this past year and started in 20 contests.
Here's a look at Morgan's full season stats for this year and his freshman season:
When looking at the per game numbers, keep in mind his minutes more than doubled versus his rookie season.
The only clear negative to jump out at you is his 3-point shooting rate took a dive. That's due in part to a small sample size. As a freshman he took just 11 from the distance, making five. This past year he got more aggressive, taking 40 threes, but only knocked down 10 of those attempts.
Best game(s): in December, Morgan went on a tear, breaking the school record with 14 consecutive field goals over three games. That included a career high 18 point with 10 rebound game against SIU Edwardsville where he was 8-for-8 from the floor. Morgan was also arguably Indiana's best player in the Big Ten tourney loss to Wisconsin. That day he had 14 points and seven boards, missing just two of eight shots from the field.
Best attributes:We mentioned his versatility. One way that shows itself is he's a good enough ball handler to play some back-up point. Maybe not well enough for that ever be a long term answer but he's always an option to consider against teams that press or trap because he can bring it up against that kind of defense and relieve the pressure on the guards.
Two other strengths stand out even more. Of the players that were available all season, Morgan was arguably the team's best defensive player. Whether against a big guard or a four man, he can play solid defense. Related to that he was one of the higher basketball IQ guys on a team that didn't show a lot of court smarts at times. He's been well coached since his younger days and always been a very efficient player, shooting it well above 50 percent, whether we're talking Big Ten or as a skinny 16-year old in Nike EYBL.
Biggest areas of needed improvement: Juwan's jumper has potential but it's never been a strength and 25.0 percent shooting from 3-point distance is counter-productive, especially when you consider he converts 65.0 percent of his shots inside the arc. For a player who can dribble it well, Morgan hasn't racked up many assists. Just five his first season and 34 this year.
Numbers worth knowing: Morgan was second on the team this season with 29 blocked shots. Of those 34 assists just mentioned, only seven came in the final 13 games of the season.
Notable quote: On why the season went the wrong direction after fast start: "We weren't connecting. Weren't putting stops together. Weren't sticking as one on the defensive end and that's what got us those wins against Kansas and North Carolina. We were locked down on the defensive end and that led to good offense."
Comments: Because his last offseason was spent rehabilitating after shoulder surgery, this offseason presents a real opportunity for Morgan. First, improve the jumper. It's not a bad looking shot and offseason repetition and a bit better shot selection should push up his 3FG rate significantly. Another 10 pounds of muscle would be ideal as well. It's likely Morgan gets most of his minutes as a hybrid four and may have to play some five if Bryant leaves for the NBA, especially considering the foul issues De'Ron Davis often had last season.
Morgan's importance to the team goes beyond his versatility. He's a no nonsense, look you straight in the eye person. Chalk that up to his family's military history. It's the kind of thing that could make him an excellent leader for this team. He's seen both the good and bad times now and as a junior should be more comfortable speaking up when the situation demands it.
As one of Indiana's few proven defenders in a new era under a coach known for his defense, Morgan should be a guy that Archie Miller can really lean on in his first season.
After Big Ten tourney ending loss to Wisconsin:
After Big Ten tourney win over Iowa: