Morgan met leadership goal for IU this season

NEW YORK — When the question was posed last summer, Juwan Morgan eagerly answered.

Asked last July to describe the biggest difference between Indiana’s 2016-17 team and the one that was preparing to take the court in four short months, Morgan set the tone for the season to come.

“I feel like there won’t be any questions of leadership at all,” Morgan said at the time. “Personally, I think I will most likely do that.”

It’s clear now, with IU’s season all but officially over, that Morgan was equipped to follow through on that assertion. From the earliest moments of Indiana’s campaign, the junior forward wanted to hold himself accountable.

He did that, establishing himself as one of the Big Ten’s most improved players and the one his teammates turned to in so many times of need.

“I think I met (that leadership goal) to what it meant last summer when I was asked that question,” Morgan said. “As the season progressed, there was more to it that I needed to do that I did not complete. But I think when I set it last year, I definitely met that goal.”

In doing so, Morgan earned All-Big Ten second-team honors — though he had a strong case for first-team recognition.

With his 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, Morgan averaged 8.8 more points and 1.8 more rebounds than he posted per game as a sophomore.

Often, Morgan’s most meaningful impact was found through the presence and calm he afforded those around him. Morgan, Indiana’s best player, was also IU’s most willing leader.

And for a team that needed the bulk of the season to gain command of first-year coach Archie Miller’s system and approach, Morgan positioned himself to lead the way forward.

“This team really relies on being able to play through him,” Miller said.
Sixth-seeded IU tried to do so once again in Thursday’s 76-69 loss to No. 14 Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament, even as the Scarlet Knights doubled him and took away his catches.

Morgan still managed 15 points and nine rebounds, while finishing with four assists, two blocks and a team-high plus-four in plus/minus.

But in the moments after the defeat was finalized, the loss was all Morgan could think about.

“I’ll probably be thinking about this all the way until summer workouts start,” Morgan said. “It just sucks.”

The coming months should be equally interesting and important for Morgan, who could benefit by declaring for the NBA Draft in order to participate in professional workouts and gain important feedback from league power brokers.

New rules implemented in 2016 allow college players to declare for early entry while retaining their eligibility, so long as they don’t hire agents. It’s a useful process for players, and one that can be especially beneficial for guys like Morgan, who can take that NBA feedback and apply it over a full college season.

Although his game grew in so many areas this past season, it’s not clear that he’s NBA ready. With regards to positions, he’s a bit of a tweener who still needs to demonstrate better, more consistent shooting ability.

For his part, Morgan isn’t sure what his next move will be.

“I really haven’t given it any thought at all, honestly,” Morgan said. “In the coming weeks, I will.”

On Thursday night, as he sat in the New York Knicks’ locker room, which doubled as IU’s temporary quarters deep inside the bowels of Madison Square Garden, Morgan’s mind was fixed on only one thing — how to ensure the development he displayed this season continues on an upward trajectory.

“I think it’s always going to be a constant improvement with me,” Morgan said. “I think that’s just the mindset I have. There’s never any time to regress. I just have to keep getting better. That’s the mindset I have.”


  1. I sure hope Juwan comes back next year and Romeo commits soon to IU. With the incoming class we should be fine by the time Big Ten season rolls around.

  2. I think he’s coming back…based on nothing but a feeling. He does not strike me as a guy who jumps into things without being as prepared as possible.

    I believe his work ethic will drive him to be as good a college player as hebcan make himself into. That would be pretty good.

  3. If given the opportunity to get paid to play basketball, there is no doubt he leaves. Not sure weather that opportunity will present itself for Morgan or not. What’s interesting about Morgan is he can handle the ball well for his size. Most guys his size dominate college game but don’t succeed in the NBA because a 6’7″ – 6’l0″ guy is expected to be able to handle. (Ex: JuJuan Johnson)

    I personally think he will return for his senior year, and if he can develop a consistent jump shot he might be drafted.

  4. I don’t think he is a first round draft pick after this season. He might be a second round pick, but those guys struggle to make the roster. He could get paid playing overseas, but why not spend another year refining his skills and finishing his degree? My guess is that he’ll be back for his Senior Season.

  5. Po-
    Definitely not a 1st or 2nd round pick this year. He could play his way into the league like Williams, Yogi, and Blackmon are doing or did. The one thing I did like about Tom Crean was that he had most of these kids graduating by their Junior year. It was a great way for a kid to leave early yet still have a degree. It could be that Morgan will have his degree before his Senior season.

    1. Morgan is the heart of this team. We haven’t had a player with that kind of intensity since VO. He stepped up his game and anything IU did accomplish this year was purely his doing. He was on his own most games yet he still came through more often than not.

      This team has a ton of flaws but Juwan is not one of them.

  6. I must have had 10 friends in Seymour last night to watch Romeo playing against Floyd Central and most of them went to Jeffersonville. They tell me he is a remarkably likeable young man.

  7. I see the all-star went 11/47 from the 3-pt. line for the month of February (.234)…Ouch. Slipping even more since January’s numbers of .308 Ouch.
    It has begun. Two months is not an anomaly.
    Much like our current squad, Crean simply never recruited consistent quality shooters.

    Where have the shooters been? It’s Indiana…It’s Indiana.
    Very big night last night for two NBA guards from the state of Indiana….
    Hamilton Southeastern’s(Fishers, IN) very own Gary Harris had a huge game against the Cavs…32 points (6/10 on 3-pointers)
    Indianapolis North Central’s Eric Gordon (a.k.a. Splash Gordon) had 29 points (7/11 on 3-pointers) to help propel Houston past the Celtics.

    Harris and EJ…went a combined 13/21 from beyond the arc in prime time on NBA Saturday night. 62%!! Hoosiers representin’!

    1. Sorta cool when two rather unheralded Indiana kids help take down Camp LeBron…and Camp Kyrie.

      Though we shouldn’t ignore…the other Indiana “klds” part of the rosters…Brownsburg’s very own Gordon Hayward(still out due to injury), Broad Ripple’s very own George Hill (now with the Cavs)…and that kid Fred Glass never recruited named Brad Stevens (Indianapolis native..former Zionsville H.S. standout, former Butler head coach, Back-to-back Final Four participant..and now Celtics head coach for those not fans of the NBA). Indiana truly representin’!!

  8. Ive never heard anything but good things about Romeo Langford. It would be a truly great thing to have him join next years squad. Davis, Morgan, Smith, Langford, Phinisee is an extremely solid line up especially with the potential depth we could have. Junior, Senior, Sophomore, freshman, freshmen not a bad mix of experience for this day and age.

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