For as long as he could remember, Malik Morgan has had one place in mind for his college basketball career.
Nothing was going to change that a lot, including the news that hit this weekend about Trent Johnson leaving LSU to take the coaching job at TCU.
“I’m still committed to LSU,” Morgan said Saturday. “It’s always been my dream school and where I want to be. It’s the environment that fits me best and that’s never going to change.”
That means despite Johnson’s abrupt departure with the spring national signing period arriving Wednesday, there is still at least one cornerstone to LSU’s 2012 recruiting class.
|Malik Morgan: 'I can’t wait to get there and get started.'|
And keeping Morgan looms large for whoever the next coach might be.
Last month, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound shooting guard helped John Curtis claim the Class 2A state championship with a victory against Riverside Academy.
Shortly after that, Curtis was voted the state’s 2A Player of the Year after he averaged 18.1 points, 6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.7 blocks per game for the 30-3 Patriots.
As a junior in 2010-11, Morgan averaged 28.9 points a game and regularly hung up 40-point performances, even topping 50 on a few occasions. With a more veteran Curtis team, including LSU football signee Dillon Gordon in the front court, Morgan tweaked his game into a point guard/scorer hybrid.
“We needed him to score a lot more last season, but this season he had more players around him and better athletes and he adjusted his role to what we needed him to be,” John Curtis coach Mike Krajcer said.
“He was a more complete player this year. He’s doing that because he wants to be a better player on the next level. You’ll find a 1000 kids like Malik in college basketball, but not many of them can pass the ball as well as they can shoot like he can.”
Which translates well with a coaching change on the way.
Morgan will in all likelihood wind up playing for a coach who didn’t recruit him, but his versatility and potential as a shooter and go-to scorer are the qualities just about any coach will incorporate.
“Whoever comes in, I hope I can show him the same things Coach Johnson saw in me,” Morgan said. “I don’t think it’s going to be much of a problem to adjust to a difference coach, because I’ll still be playing the game of basketball that I’ve worked so hard at so long.”
“I’m looking forward to finding my own role.”
Regardless of what a new coach asks of Morgan, his fundamental role isn’t likely to change much.
|Malik Morgan: 18.1 points, 6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.7 blocks per game as a senior |
Should the current roster return intact, Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer give the Tigers a veteran backcourt, with rising sophomore John Isaac poised to fill a backup role.
If Morgan can handle the adjustment to college basketball well, he could step in and vie for time at the two-guard spot to give LSU a bigger option who, like Isaac, can also help out on the backboards.
“I know they’ve had a little mismatch at times having two smaller guards, so I feel like I can come in and given them a different option,” Morgan said. “Those two guys are great players and I want to learn from them, but I also think I can step in and play right away because I trust in myself and my shot. Wherever I’m at on the floor, I feel like I can take shot and know I can knock it down.”
Krajcer is more direct about where and how quickly his former star could fit in for LSU.
“He could walk in and start right now at LSU,” Krajcer said matter-of-factly. “He’s that good.
“He takes it to the hole strong. He doesn’t settle for the (3-pointer). He’s one of those kids that never found a shot he didn’t like or was afraid to take. He needs to work more on his defense, which he knows and he’ll do this summer. He’s a good defensive player, but for playing at the college level he needs to get better.”
Another element Morgan intends to bring is maturity and leadership.
Krajcer has coached in the New Orleans area for three decades, and he said the two players Morgan reminds him the most are former LSU star Randy Livingston and Chris Duhon, who played at Duke – not because of how many points he can put up or how smooth his game looks, but because of how he can make players around him better.
“I feel like I can bring some leadership and some intensity and just be an all-around player,” Morgan said. “I can’t wait to get there and get started.”
Coleman says LSU is still in the hunt