Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kansas prospects stand out at Classic

July 15, 2007


— Standing at 6-foot-11, Urban DFW Elite's J'Mison Morgan has a point-guard's mentality despite his big man's frame.

"I've been getting a lot of triple and double teams all summer, so I'm mainly just passing," said Morgan, a Kansas University recruiting target who is participating this weekend in the Honda Classic at Okun Fieldhouse.

Morgan, who will be a senior at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas - the same school KU's Darrell Arthur attended - still was able to produce nine points, thanks to a 5-for-6 performance from the free-throw line, to go with six rebounds in a 73-52 victory over the Champion Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon.

"Every time we play, he draws the whole team on him, so you've got to get him to understand to look for somebody that's open," Morgan's AAU coach Jazzy Hartwell said. "He just has soft hands, and it makes a big difference."

Hartwell said Morgan was willing to listen.

However, Morgan also likes to talk, earning him the nickname "Coach" by his teammates.

"He tries to take my spot at times," Hartwell said. "In practice, we'll be in a debate and I'll be like, 'OK, Coach, I'm the coach.' But he really understands the game a lot. For a guy to be 6-foot-11 and have a 3.80 GPA, he really understands a lot about the game. He knows not to force it and is the best passing big guy that I've ever had. He's unselfish and all of that."

To Morgan's mother, Bianca Morgan, "Coach" really is "Bobo."

"His hair was kind of like Bozo, but his older brother couldn't say Bozo. He said Bobo," Bianca said. "So we carried it over from when he was little to now: Bobo. That's what everybody calls him."

Morgan's mom already has high hopes for her son. But her expectations start in the classroom before she concerns herself with Morgan's basketball career.

"We're pushing toward the salutatorian," Bianca said. "He's No. 4 now in the class, and hopefully he'll do that. It'll really be great for him if he does that. In basketball, we're looking for that fourth championship."

Bianca said her son would pursue a degree in kinesiology.

As for which college's No. 39-ranked player in the class of 2008 will attend, Morgan said several schools still were in the mix until he cuts the list to five teams at the end of July.

KU has to be a front-runner, with Arthur, a former AAU and high school teammate, on the squad.

"It would be great although we're different," Morgan said. "He plays different, and I play different now. I've become better and can do a lot more things down low. He's playing a different position."

There's no denying the pair are still close.

"They're best friends. Darrell came here yesterday, and he (Morgan) wanted to go back to Kansas with him, and I told him he's in a tournament," Hartwell said. "It will play a key point (in recruiting), but you still have to put him in the best situation. Kansas was the best situation for Darrell. I love him to death, and if that's where he wants to go, that would be all right with Coach Jazz."

Verdell Jones, another KU target from the class of 2008, turned out a 22-point game in a 100-76 loss to the Missouri Titans. Jones is the 111th-ranked player by and the No. 20 point guard.

¢ Familiar faces on hand: Among all the college coaches watching the games at Okun Fieldhouse, a couple of current and former Big 12 Conference regulars were around.

Also, Larry Eustachy, former Iowa State coach from 1998 to 2003, took in a few games. Eustachy is in his fourth year as the coach at Southern Miss.

Eustachy wasn't the only head coach making an appearance among assistant coaches from colleges such as Baylor, Iowa State, Alabama, Iowa and UCLA.

Tim Jankovich, a former Kansas University assistant coach and the new head coach at Illinois State, also spent the afternoon watching the Honda Classic.

"People would probably be surprised to know that if you ask most college coaches I think most would say July is the hardest month of the year," Jankovich said. "If it's not February or March, it's July. As a staff you've got to try to put the best strategy together as far as which ones to go to, when to go to them and when to leave. There's a lot of long staff meetings that go into figuring all of those things out."

Jankovich said he missed KU.

"Things are going great so far. I haven't had any major issues to speak of," Jankovich said. "I really like it there, the people have been great, but I also miss KU and the great people associated with Kansas. The friendships you get when you work with a staff that you love and for somebody like coach (Bill) Self, that probably never goes away."

¢ Free State reps: A pair Free State High basketball players played in the Honda Classic.

Kris Wilson, who plays for the K.C. Pumas in the 17U Silver Division, and Weston Wiebe, who is on the team Game Time in the 17U Gold Division, had the support of their coach at FSHS, Chuck Law, on Saturday.

Wilson was making his first appearance of the summer with the Pumas and scored five points in a 59-42 loss to K.C. Nuggets. Wilson rolled his ankle late in the first half, keeping him out most of the second half.

"I was kind of mad when I did it," Wilson said. "You've got (college) coaches watching you, and it's my first time playing with these players. I was just a little disappointed. I tried to play on it, but it didn't work at all."

Wiebe's team suffered a 90-61 loss to Chicago Express.


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