For a season that wasn’t up to Indiana University basketball standards, there were a few shining moments that Archie Miller’s first year at IU will be remembered for. One will most certainly be the quit-the-game, to walk-on, to starter progression of Zach McRoberts. Get that guy a scholarship.
Another will be the in-season transformation into a team that learned how to play some defense. The Hoosiers went from complete embarrassment against Indiana State and Fort Wayne, to some really impressive games where they were able to lock teams down. No one embodied that change more than senior Robert Johnson.
But perhaps more than anything else, the season will be memorable for the emergence of Juwan Morgan. Mostly a role player his first two years, there were times during the 2017-18 season when Morgan was unstoppable. He parlayed that improvement into national notoriety and 2nd team All-Big Ten honors. Moreover, his name is at least in the conversation for playing at the next level.
Take a look at Morgan’s statistical jump from year two to year three:
With that kind of progress in his first year playing for Archie Miller, the 6-8 Morgan just might catch the attention of high school forwards that are looking to similarly polish their games. It just so happens that Indiana has their eye on some impressive class of 2019 forwards. Three of them in fact. And it turns out that they have noticed Morgan’s improvement and how a player with his skills is being utilized in Miller’s system.
Top 30 class of 2019 Indiana target Trayce Jackson-Davis had this to say about Morgan in a 247Sports.com story:
“Juwan’s a great player. He’s really evolved just from last year to this year. You can see the development IU and coach Clif (Marshall, the strength and conditioning coach) have with their players. He’s developed a lot. I like how he’s free to play his own game.”
In another 247Sports report, Keion Brooks alluded to video that Archie Miller showed him that illustrated how a player with Brooks size (he is 6-8 like Morgan) can be utilized in many ways such as handling the ball, coming off ball screens, setting screens to get pick and rolls/pops, and also getting out in transition.
Finally, in a zagsblog.com report, Ernest Watford, father of 5-star IU target Trendon Watford and Hoosier legend Christian Watford had this to say about Archie Miller’s explanation of IU’s system for a player with versatility like Trendon:
“More importantly, he explained how his system plays to the strengths of player like Trendon with tons of floor spacing- just flowing and playing with freedom, therefore allowing Trendon to utilize his full array of versatility within the framework of the offense.”
Trendon is also 6-8, and has a well-rounded inside and out game that while already ahead of where Morgan was in high school, is similar in many respects.
Three Top 30 guys, all around the same size as Morgan, and with similar games. And all of them are watching tape of Morgan’s dominant season. Any one of these guys would be a big recruiting win and addition to the program. Two or more of them would be a major coup. And then if they can make the stratospheric improvements that Morgan made? Look out.
A memorable quote from Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey comes to mind when thinking of how dominant Morgan could be at times this past season:
“But God, did he beat us up. He was fabulous.”
This was a guy that averaged 7.7 points per game his sophomore year, and in just a few short months, he dominates a ranked Irish team and their All-American big man Bonzie Colson. Morgan scored 34 in that game. He scored 20 or more points in ten games last year — leaving several opposing coaches feeling helpless along the way.
Little did he know when he was putting in all that work to improve his game — that the benefits just might extend beyond the season, and even past his playing days at IU. And those same coaches that he beat up on the floor just might feel his presence again on the recruiting trail — and then again when those that he inspired to come to IU see the floor for the Hoosiers. And once again he would beat them up. And once again it would be fabulous.
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Main photo – Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports