He’s finally made it to the big show.
After a long and winding road at both IU and along his path to the NBA, former Hoosier Juwan Morgan has achieved his dream.
It all started for him in Waynesville, Missouri, where as an undersized forward who was ranked no. 117 by 247sports.com out of high school. With his final five schools being Harvard, Creighton, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt, along with the Hoosiers, he chose to don the Cream and Crimson.
Morgan said he picked the Hoosiers for a couple reasons and he always knew he was better than the recruiting services thought.
“They had the best of both worlds in academics and athletically just being ready to get on the court,” Morgan said. “I don’t believe in rankings. I believe every hooper is equal. If they think they are going to beat me or be better than me just because they saw three stars or 117, they are in for a rude awakening.”
IU’s best season was Morgan’s freshman year when the Hoosiers won a Big Ten Title and advanced to the Sweet 16. However, Morgan had a limited role as a bench player averaging just 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds a game and ended up with a shoulder injury that had to be popped back into place several times.
While he upped his scoring his sophomore year, his breakout came as a junior when he emerged as the team’s principal star following the coaching change from Tom Crean to Archie Miller. Morgan averaged 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Morgan said maturity helped improve his game despite the change, and he has equal respect for both coaches — but the switch was not the reason he blossomed.
“(My role) changed a lot and it just came with getting older. It’s one of those things you have to grow into,” he said. “Both coaches were different. I picked up a lot from both of them and it helped me become who I am today.”
After declaring for the draft following his breakout junior season, Morgan ultimately returned to school playing alongside freshman phenom Romeo Langford. He averaged 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds his senior year.
With his college career over, Morgan had to prove himself all over again as an undersized big man.
And just like at IU, he was doubted and not selected in the 2019 NBA draft.
He eventually landed a spot on the Utah Jazz’s summer league team, which afterwards signed him to an exhibit 10 contract with the Jazz G-League team. After a strong performance with the Salt Lake City Stars to begin the season, he landed an NBA contract with the Jazz on November 21.
He made his first appearance on November 27 against the Indiana Pacers in a blowout loss playing three minutes and grabbing a rebound.
Morgan said his path to the NBA very much paralleled his IU career being doubted but proving everyone wrong.
“It was the same road I took even from freshman year to senior year in college,” he said. “Doing all the dirty work, getting on the offensive glass, doing whatever coach asks of me.”
Morgan said he is happy to follow the path of former IU teammates like OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant. He also said that everyone from IU can succeed even, if they are not a superstar like current Pacer and former Hoosier star Victor Oladipo, who Morgan talked to before his NBA debut.
“It speaks to the level of development that’s happening at IU and the amount of talent that comes out each and every year,” he said. “Even when they are not front liners like Victor Oladipo they still are guys that get the work done. I saw (Victor) and chatted him up with him a little bit.”
Here is the video of my interview with Juwan Morgan: