The 2018-19 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every player on the 2018-19 IU roster. You can see all of our 2018-19 player profiles in one place here. If you are looking for the 2018-19 IU basketball schedule, you can find that here.
Romeo Langford recently stated that Juwan Morgan was “probably one of the strongest people I ever went against.”
A season of carrying a team on his back will build that kind of strength. That was the 2017-18 season.
As a freshman we learned about Morgan’s toughness, playing through multiple shoulder separations over the course of the season.
This year, leadership and cohesiveness with a more talented team will be just as, if not more important than those proven attributes.
Morgan was able to carry the load last year because of significant year over year improvements across the board.
From the shadows of NBA bound talent like Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby and Troy Williams, Morgan burst onto the scene last season as a bona fide star.
It wasn’t just those of us in IU circles that took notice of his significant improvement. Shon Morris of BTN said this earlier this month at the Big Ten media day —
“Juwan Morgan, probably the most improved player – not just in the conference, but among the most improved players in the country a year ago, from his sophomore to junior seasons. And he was able to show his versatility.”
The recognition followed Morgan’s big junior campaign, as he earned USBWA All-District, NABC Second Team All-District, and Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
Overall on the season Morgan finished 9th in scoring, 8th in rebounds, 6th in field goal percentage, 7th in blocked shots and 4th in offensive rebounds in the Big Ten. In Big Ten play only, he averaged 17.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks.
After a slow start to the season from long range, he shot 37.8% from three-point range in Big Ten action and 41.2% from distance in February.
Morgan’s noteworthy games are too many to describe here. That’s just it — he was a rock all season, bringing it every game. Here are a few of the more memorable games that stood out to us:
- Arkansas State: 28 points, eight rebounds and 10 of 10 from the foul line.
- Notre Dame: 34 points and tied his career-high with 11 rebounds. He had 14 straight points at end of regulation and the start of overtime and of course scored a memorable game-winning dunk with 8.6 seconds left.
- Minnesota: 20 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots.
- Penn State: 21 points and 11 rebounds.
- Maryland: 25 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in a game it wasn’t clear that he would play.
- Illinois: 28 points (12 of 14 field goals), nine rebounds and three assists.
- Purdue: 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
- Michigan State: 23 points and 11 rebounds.
- Minnesota: 19 points, nine rebounds, a career-high five assists and two steals.
- Illinois: 14 points and 10 rebounds, three assists, four steals and career-high five blocked shots.
Morgan came to IU as part of the recruiting class of 2015. He was ranked No. 89 by the 247Sports Composite, and was a finalist for Mr. Basketball in the state of Missouri.
- Height: 6-foot-8
- Weight: 232
- Position: Forward
- Class: Senior
- Hometown: Waynesville, Missouri
- High School: Waynesville
- Minutes per game: 29.4
- Points per game: 16.5
- Rebounds per game: 7.4
- Assists per game: 1.5
- Blocks per game: 1.42
- Steals per game: 1.19
- FG%: 57.9%
- 3FG%: 30.2%
- FT%: 63.1%
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Archie Miller on Morgan at the IU media day —
Well, Juwan is really — he’s a senior now. He went through a career-best year last year on the floor, and I think he gained a ton of confidence. I think he’s carried that confidence into the off-season in his actions and his leadership ability. I think everyone on the team kind of understands where he’s at right now at this stage of his career compared to even 12 months ago.
My expectation for Juwan really, to be honest with you, is to be about the team and be about his senior season, be about his two-year legacy with transition, and find an opportunity, find a way for him to be the driving force behind a team that reaches its maximum potential, has an opportunity to compete for the top of the Big Ten, has an opportunity to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid.
But none of that’s possible unless he does it every single day the right way like he did a year ago where he really didn’t have any concerns about the outside world. If he can do that again as a senior, I think that he’ll show some of the added dimensions that he’s added, without stress, and I also think he’ll be able to carry our team in big games here early in the season because I do think he has a confidence level.
WHAT 2018-19 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
At the top, we mentioned that leadership will be a key when it comes to Morgan’s senior season as a Hoosier. He described his approach to leadership at the IU media day —
“I just challenge them to be the best they can be every day, and whether I have to do that myself and tell them that they have to guard me personally or if I just guard them and I’m in them the whole practice, then I just think that will go from top to bottom. I think it’ll be a domino effect and everybody will just want to bring it each and every day.”
As you know by now, Morgan has his eyes on the NBA. What hasn’t been asked is whether his working towards that goal can be harmonious with the success of the IU team.
The feedback that Morgan received from NBA executives was that he needed to show more of a perimeter game, including ball handling and three-point shooting. Interestingly, he will probably be IU’s starting center, at least at the outset.
The key to making it work for both IU and Morgan might be found in something Archie Miller said just last night on his weekly radio show. The second year Hoosier head coach is emphasizing playing fast and getting to the rim rather than settling for jump shots. We suspect that you aren’t going to see a lot of half court sets where Morgan is working from the post.
The Hoosiers are going to be spread out and running, with Morgan looking to take advantage of quickness advantages over opposing centers in the open court. That should allow him to display an NBA-ready game. If he can knock down the open looks he gets from distance at a better than 40 percent clip this year, and thrive in an up-tempo game, he can still position himself to get drafted.
Having said all that, big leaps in his scoring output isn’t necessary to make the NBA — and it may not happen. With a host of other scoring options including Romeo Langford, Justin Smith, Devonte Green, the burden to create points shouldn’t be as heavy this year.
Instead, success in 2018-19 can be defined in other ways, including increased production in assists, steals, and blocks. If he improves in all of those areas along with the improved perimeter play, that will be the recipe for the team’s success, and Morgan reaching his long term goals.
Previous Player Previews:
- Damezi Anderson
- Jake Forrester
- Jerome Hunter
- Romeo Langford
- Rob Phinisee
- Race Thompson
- Vijay Blackmon
- Al Durham
- Clifton Moore
- Justin Smith
- Johnny Jager
- De’Ron Davis
- Devonte Green
- Quentin Taylor
- Evan Fitzner
- Zach McRoberts
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