Juwan Morgan owes Archie Miller an apology. Sort of.
“As much as I hated that they always made me play the five,” Morgan said with a big grin during his senior day speech in March about Miller and his coaching staff having Morgan play center over the last two years of his Indiana career.
Without a true post presence on the roster that was healthy and high major ready during Morgan’s junior and senior seasons at IU, Miller had little choice when it came to where to play his All-Big Ten performer.
Of course Morgan was being playful when he made those senior day comments, but as it has turned out, playing the five has worked out quite well for the Waynesville, Missouri product.
As the best player on a Salt Lake City Stars team that has won 13 games in a row, Morgan is also one of the best players in the NBA’s G League.
The former IU star is averaging 17 points a game while shooting 70% from the field and 55% from 3-point range with the Stars. Morgan has added 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per contest in 27.2 minutes per game.
And of course Morgan is doing all of this…..while playing center.
Despite being just 6-foot-7, it turns out that his versatile inside/out game that developed during his time in Bloomington is paying off in the professional ranks.
The payoff has come in the form of more than just numbers on a stat sheet. Morgan signed a standard NBA contract with the Utah Jazz last month and has been splitting his time between both franchises since.
We have signed Juwan Morgan 📝
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 22, 2019
So far Morgan has appeared in three games at the NBA level, playing nine minutes and grabbing a couple rebounds along the way.
But irrespective of which league he is playing in, Morgan is finding early success at the next level with intangible skills that he learned while becoming something of a mismatch center for IU.
“He’s a smart player,” Stars head coach Martin Schiller told the Salt Lake Tribune. “He’s got a good feel for passing, for spacing, for being at the right point at the right time.”
Morgan and others have likened his game to Golden State’s Draymond Green, who at about the same height and weight has carved out a solid NBA career while playing center.
Playing the five in the NBA today means something completely different than it did even just a decade ago, as the days of Shaquille O’Neal and others like him have given way to five on the perimeter. That creates an opening for stronger players like Green and perhaps someday Morgan to play center despite only being 6-foot-7.
While he has a long way to go to become a fixture in the NBA like Green, Morgan’s career certainly appears to be trending on the same upward trajectory that it followed throughout his time in Bloomington.
Morgan played in 128 games over four years for the Hoosiers. In a breakout junior season, he averaged 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds and shot 57.9% from the field.
As a senior, Morgan averaged 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds, while shooting 55.8%.
Morgan made the All-Big Ten 3rd Team as a senior after finishing ninth in the league in scoring, fifth in rebounds, seventh in field goal percentage and seventh in blocked shots.
After a strong four year career, Morgan is well represented in the IU record books.
- Points: 1,374 (24th all-time)
- Field Goal Percentage: 56.2% (5th all-time)
- Rebounds: 757 (10th all-time)
- Blocks: 138 (8th all-time)
Morgan is one of just four IU players to be ranked in the top 25 in points, top 10 in rebounds and top 10 in blocks, joining Alan Henderson, Ray Tolbert, and Eric Anderson.
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