HOOPS: Clutch Camas guard walking on at WSU

CHRIS MORGAN, A clutch 5-foot-11 point guard at Union High in Camas who was named Class 3A first team all-state, is passing on some scholarship offers in order to walk on at Washington State, says his prep coach. At Union, Morgan did some of his best work, and elevated his game, when everything was on the line.

Chris Morgan had offers from a variety of smaller schools, such as University of Puget Sound, Concordia, University of Dallas and Point Loma Nazarene, plus others from junior colleges in Washington and California. But he's walking on to play Pac-10 ball at Wazzu. Ken Bone had some interaction with Morgan when Bone was at Portland State but things picked up steam only recently.

"It happened pretty late in the recruiting game, actually," said Maco Hamilton, the head basketball coach at Union High. "They saw him a little bit in the state tournament, saw some film and the Chris went up there (in late April) unofficially. It all happened pretty fast."

The recruiting connection for Washington State was Jared Barrett, WSU's Director of Basketball Operations, who was an assistant coach for Eastern Oregon when Hamilton played there.

MORGAN HELPED UNRANKED UNION beat three of the top-five ranked teams in the state tournament on the way to the title.

"When they (WSU) saw him play in person and saw some film on him, I think they liked his ability to make shots, that was one thing that stood out. And then the fact that he was the leader of a team that had a very good year -- they saw the leadership qualities of a guy who really guided a team that accomplished what we did," said Hamilton.

DURING THE regular season, Morgan averaged 16.5 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He shot 41 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point land and 78 percent from the free throw line. Morgan was named was named The Columbian's All-Region boys basketball player of the year, first team all-state Class 3A and all-state tournament team.

"His numbers went up in the playoffs...that was one of the good things about him, he really stepped up his game in the playoffs," said Hamilton. "Probably more than any other kid I've ever coached, he gets the most out of his abilities."

And when he had a off night from the field, he still came up big when it counted most. He shot 2-of-14 in the state final against No. 1 Enumclaw but found himself on the line with two free throws, 8.4 seconds left, and with Union down a point. He drilled them both to provide the winning margin and deliver Union the state's class 3A title.

MORGAN WILL HAVE an adjustment period, emphasized Hamilton, in going from high school to Pac-10 athleticism and competition.

"It will really come down to him putting in the extra time to improve on areas he needs to in order to be successful at that level. I think he can do it, though, for sure. He's going to have to get better defensively...And he'll have to get better at being a 'pure' playmaker, and not necessarily a scorer which he was for us. Those will be the two biggest areas," said Hamilton.

BECOMING THAT PURE playmaker is likely to be especially key to his success at WSU, said Hamilton.

"I think (height) played a role (in recruiting), definitely. But I don't think the height was the main thing," said Hamilton. "He plays like a 6-3, 6-4 guy, with his ability to score and drive the lane. So I think there might have been some concern about how that translates to the next level...his style of play isn't that of a typical 5-10, 5-11 kid.

"I think he'll also be a great ambassador for Wazzu just with future recruiting and what-not. He's just a well-rounded kid...the ability to connect with a lot of people... I think they're getting a good little player and a great human being."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Morgan joins Seattle Metro League Player of the Year Will Dilorio, a multi-dimensional shooting guard-small forward type from Bainbridge Island, in walking on at WSU. See that story here.

  • Morgan led Union, the 3-year-old Camas school, to the first Vancouver-area state boys hoops title since 1995.

  • Morgan was a first-team all-league pick in golf as a junior and made the cut at the state tournament.

  • Keep an eye out for two juniors-to-be at Union -- Jordan Chatman and Tanner Nelson. Chatman, who is transferring from Skyview to Union, has already been named to some national 150 lists for the 2012 class.


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