In the months leading up to the 2017-’18 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Juwan Morgan of the Indiana Hoosiers, who came in tied at No. 24 in the rankings. The Hoosiers are hoping that Morgan can lead the Hoosiers back to national relevance in Archie Miller’s first season.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - #24 Juwan Morgan:
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 62 games, 995 minutes, 247 points, 242 rebounds, 39 assists
- 2016-’17 Averages: 22.6 min, 7.7 pts, 5.6 rebs, 1.1 asts, 0.9 blks, 0.6 stls
- Positional Role: Power Forward
Indiana wasn’t a terrible team last season, but the Hoosiers finished with an underwhelming 18-16 record and missed the NCAA Tournament. And there’s little debating that an inconsistent frontcourt played a significant role in that disappointing finish. Fans are now hoping that Morgan can take a substantial step forward this season and lead a resurgence in Bloomington.
Morgan’s biggest strength last season was likely his play on the boards. He averaged 5.6 rebounds per game over the season and ranked among the top 25 players in the league in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate during conference play. Notably, Morgan had six or more rebounds in six of the final eight games of the season.
Additionally, Morgan is also an impressive rim protector. While he’s only 6-foot-7, he has impressive length and his length shows up well on the stat sheet. He ranked 20th in the Big Ten in block rate during last season and recorded at least one block in the final five games of the season.
It’s also worth mentioning that Morgan was a very efficient offensive player last season. He wasn’t used that often on offense, but his 122.2 offensive rating (top 100 nationally) and 110.6 in conference play (top 20) are quality numbers.
Areas for Improvement
Let’s start with the obvious. Morgan is a gifted athlete, but he’s still left a lot to be desired offensively. As mentioned, he was efficient, but that had more to do with his usage numbers than his actual play. He only took 15.1 percent of shots while on the floor, which lagged massively behind others on the roster. And with so many key players departing, he will need to expand his role.
Morgan has also struggled as a shooter. While it’s unfair to expect him to play like Steph Curry, he only hit 25 percent of his three-point attempts and 73.9 percent of his free throw attempts last season. If Morgan wants to be utilized as a stretch four, he needs to be able to stretch defenses. He doesn’t need to hit 40 percent from deep, but he does need to be a threat.
Perhaps the biggest area of potential improvement for Morgan will come from the sideline. Morgan had a lot of trouble with fouling last year and desperately needs to take a step forward this season. He had three or more fouls in 10 of the team’s final 12 games, including three games where he fouled out. Morgan has to be better than that to be a star for the Hoosiers.
Given the hopes for Miller’s tenure in Bloomington, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Morgan. With few proven pieces returning, Indiana will need players like Morgan to make a splash if the Hoosiers are going to be relevant this season. The good news is that Morgan has the talent to live up to (most of) those expectations.
However, unless Morgan drastically changes his game overnight, expect him to be a major plus on the defensive side of the floor, but a mixed player offensively. While players have improved their shot before, it’s hard to see Morgan dominating offensively next season, given his contributions last season. He will most likely land somewhere around All-Big Ten Honorable Mention status by season’s end.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Juwan Morgan (Indiana Hoosiers)
- #24 - to be continued ...