See the bottom of this story for links to previously penned profiles on No. 1 Anthony Hickey, No. 2 Johnny O'Bryant, No. 5 Shavon Coleman, No. 10 Andre Stringer, No. 11 Shane Hammink, No. 12 Jarell Martin and No. 22 Darcy Malone.
Malik Morgan's performance and stat line Wednesday night in LSU's 80-45 exhibition win over Xavier (N.O.) pretty accurately reflect what he's capable of providing the 2013-14 Tigers. The sophomore lefty scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, 2-of-4 from deep, and tacked on five rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes on the floor.
SG Malik Morgan
Projected as one of the team's first players off the bench, Morgan is LSU's top outside shooter after starting shooting guard Andre Stringer. He helps provide spacing offensively and is an active defender, best in full-court pressure and trapping situations. In case of injury or matchup predicaments, Morgan can also be relied upon in the starting lineup.
The John Curtis product did after all play in every one of the team's 31 games a year ago, starting 14 times as a freshman. Morgan scored in double figures only three times, however, while averaging 18.4 minutes per game. He shot 40.9% from the floor and 33.8% from three-point range.
Johnny Jones feels Morgan, who did have an interesting offseason that included a flirtation with leaving LSU, can continue to grow as a player. LSU's coach is most excited about Morgan tacking weight onto his 6-foot-4 frame and the outside touch he's honing.
"Malik has done a tremendous job off the floor. He had a great offseason and added an additional 15 pounds," said Jones at LSU Media Day. "He really continued to work on his outside shot, which we thought was really good last season, but he's really improved that this season. He's got to continue to work, just like our other players, with these new rules in play not allowing much hand-checking. It's something he has to continue to get better at.
"Malik has quick feet. He's a gamer, he's a great rebounder and he's great at getting to the ball to give us a second chance opportunity in rebounding. I think his improvement is really going to help us."
Though he averaged only 2.9 boards a game in 2012-13, Morgan has shown glimpses of being one of the Tigers' top rebounding guards. He'll have to harness that ability to steal playing time away from senior Shavon Coleman, who is moving back to the wing to join players like Morgan, Jarell Martin and Shane Hammink this season.
The other area where Morgan must improve to stay on the floor this season, amid better bench talent, is in halfcourt defense. Morgan was one of the purple and gold's most notorious reachers last year, and, given the new rules, he'll have to use his feet to stay in front of players on the perimeter. This looms as one of the things that could separate Coleman from Morgan down the stretch of competitive ballgames.
It's his shooting, though, that makes Morgan a player Jones won't be able to ignore. He may not average the same minutes he did a season ago with the wing players LSU added, but Morgan will be a go-to option for Jones when the Tigers need an offensive boost.
And, when you consider the type of assists and rebounds he generated in the exhibition game, Morgan is showing he's capable of giving a little bit of everything.
What are you expecting from Morgan this season?
PG Anthony Hickey
F Johnny O'Bryant
F Shavon Coleman
G Andre Stringer
F Shane Hammink
F Jarell Martin
F/C Darcy Malone