Scouting Moses Morgan (12-22-2008)

Dylan Burkhardt
Moses Morgan

Another guest scouting report, this time Ken in Vegas made it out to see 2009 wing target Moses Morgan play a couple games. Here is his full report on Moses:


Moses MorganOver the last week I have had the pleasure of attending two Palo Verde high school basketball games with the intention of scouting their star player and new 2010 Michigan recruit, Moses Morgan. I took this assignment very seriously. Hell, I straight-up got nerdy with it. Basically, I convinced myself that I actually was a scout and decided to play the part. As I am an internal auditor by day, I already had a clipboard handy, and was dressed in my sports coat and slacks. As I walked into the gymnasium, you could tell people were wondering who I was. “Is he from Arizona or Georgetown?” the people murmured as I busily scribbled notes onto my clipboard. “I wonder if he’s here to see Moses?……Maybe he’s here to see my son….. Does he know he can’t bring those nachos into the gym?”

Ok, nobody cared who I was or even noticed I was there, but this was a fantasy that I wasn’t going to let slip by without indulging. The first thing I was quickly reminded of was-this is high school basketball, Ken. The pubescent kids, the gymnasium bleachers, the corny Marky Mark cheerleading routines-they were all a nostalgic shock to the system.

Moses Morgan plays for a talented 4-1 team in an untalented region. The competition in Las Vegas is not great, so keep that in mind. That being said, Moses dropped 32 pts in the first game and around 20 in the second game I attended. Surprisingly, he isn’t the best shooter on the team. He isn’t the best ball-handler on the team. He isn’t even the most athletic on the team. But he’s probably the best all-around player, and certainly the most highly recruited.

Moses is an interesting specimen for several reasons. The boy was the tallest kid on the floor both nights I was in the stands, yet he doesn’t play center. On ESPN’s scouting report, he is listed as a 6 foot 5 shooting guard. Well, he definitely isn’t filling the role of a shooting guard on this team, and he seemed more like 6’6 or taller when I stood next to him. He is the most equipped to play in the post, but you don’t see him there often. In fact, they don’t even put their biggest guy on him. It’s just not needed. That’s not where he’s roaming. I can see why, because in the few instances that he found himself suddenly guarding their center, he got pushed around. He just doesn’t have the frame yet, and will need to hit the weight room hard in his senior year. I also don’t think he likes banging down low.

“Well,” you say, “he must be a streaker then or an off-the dribble scorer?” No, he isn’t that either. This isn’t a Manny Harris type. If I had to classify Morgan’s game, I would call him an opportunist over a creationist. A creationist being Manny-someone who can create his own offense. You give him the ball at the top of the key, a little space, and he’s going to take it to the rack for an “and 1”. Moses Morgan is an opportunist because he lets the scoring come to him. He only really scored in 3 ways: he sat outside the arc and got open 3 pointers (hit about half of them), he finished on fast breaks, and he grabbed a lot of rebounds for easy put backs or was hacked and sent to the line. The rebounds and fast break conversions really just resulted naturally from him being the most physically gifted against weak competition. The 3 pointers resulted from him actually having really good touch as a shooter. I saw him go 16-16 from the stripe in the first game. His stroke was pretty and he could hit a jumper from anywhere on the floor. Although, he never really had a hand in his face. I don’t think the other team really understood why he wasn’t dominating down low and just lost track of him around the perimeter. Moses also showed some nice touch with floaters in the paint or when trailing on the fast breaks. I never saw him dunk. Just not the highflying type.

This leads me to the central point of my little amateur report here. He seems like a great prospect from afar and is rated in the top 60 in the nation, because quite frankly, he puts up the stats. I can even see why Beilein likes him, because the kid is a good shooter for his height. If you ask me, however, (and nobody is) I don’t see how he meets expectations in the conversion to college basketball. He’s not a guard, because he doesn’t have great ball handling skills and doesn’t try to run the offense. He’s not a 4 or 5, because he doesn’t have the meat or power game. Is he a 3 then? Well, he reminded me of Anthony Wright more than anybody else, so take that for what it’s worth. I think he would end up being a similar player to Ant with a higher field goal percentage. The awkward “tweener” problem would remain. The defensive intensity seemed adequate, and he would probably be good for the 1-3-1 with the ultra-wide wingspan, but not a standout defender by any means.

Mentally, the kid is a quiet leader on the floor. He keeps to himself mostly, and from talking to one of the parents of another player, is a really good kid. I bought that, but almost had to think twice when Moses was called for a technical foul towards the end of game 2. Basically, he put a “get that crap outta here” block on the opposing 5’10” point guard, sending the kid to the floor. He then proceeded to saunter over him like football players do after a big hit. Was he trying to help him up? The referee didn’t think so.

Let’s be honest. The kid is only a junior and there’s no doubt that I am probably being too hard on him, but I’m just calling it like I see it. Moses Morgan is a highly productive stat machine in a weak state and has probably been a little overrated. Maybe this is just what juniors in high school look like. If he is to get me excited, he needs to build some muscle and figure out how to create offense when your team needs a bucket and everybody is keying on you. The flat-footed, Stretch Armstrong rebounds, easy put-backs, and wide-open 3s aren’t going to be there at the next level, son. Luckily you have plenty of time to show you belong in the upper echelon of recruits and worthy of a scholarship on what will be a deep 2010 Michigan team.

I’ll continue to monitor Morgan’s play (especially next year) as long as Michigan seems serious about his recruitment. I should also have some film footage available in a few months, courtesy of one of the Palo Verde mothers. Thank you for listening and GO BLUE!!!

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  • Giddings

    Thanks Ken! Love the honesty and the dash of humor.

  • WTHEF?

    Great report, Ken. You captured the experience with impressive writing ability and great humor – especially for an auditor. Your evaluation was interesting because I was expecting him to be some kind of high scoring slasher in the Manny Harris mold.

    I remember Kevin Gaines was from Vegas – any idea if he is from the same or a comparable league?

  • Yup, good stuff. It’s also worth mentioning that big time prospects often end up in odd positions in high school compared to AAU. Take Manny for example, he was the biggest guy on his team and often had to guard opposing big men.

    Using Manny as the same example, in high school he was not a shooter at all. His jump shot was disgusting compared to what it looks like now. He could score with the best of them and put up 50+ several times but he would get 20+ free throws in most of those games.

    While Morgan may not be the best ball handling, shooting, or whatever else he really seems to have a versatile game that could work nicely on the wing in this system. Hitting three pointers at a decent clip mixed with a great mid range game is a nice combination IMO.

  • Brick

    Moses plays in the same “league” that Gaines did. Gaines played against a few of the schools that Moses will. The divisions are a little different because there are so many new schools since Gaines played. That is one of the reasons the talent level is not that great, it is a bit diluted and some of the schools are so new they barely field a real team.

    Also, I haven’t heard of any local big men at all so he will probably be one of the tallest kids most nights.

  • Ken in Las Vegas

    Brick, you’re right on . You must live in the area. Teams seem very short and extremely diverse. I’m not used to seeing latinos and asians playing basketball, not to fuel any stereotypes. Many of them were quite good and it was great to see.

    Dylan, you make some good points, and help to offset what probably seems like a fairly negative report. Don’t get me wrong, I think he still has the potential and time to become a great player. Heck, he already is, but it was just difficult to judge him against weak competition and I had trouble envisioning his role at the next level. I guess I am just hoping he would be more than just a shooter.

    WTHEF, thanks man. What, the auditors you know don’t have personality? Lol. Yeah, same here.

  • Jay

    Great report Ken, loved the humor. I wonder if Morgan is still growing…he might end up being a skilled 6’8″ kid, perfect for JB’s system. Just a thought.

  • Brad

    His name is not Moses “Malone”…..easy mistake….

    Nice article.

  • Thanks for pointing that out Brad.

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