Report Card 2013: Jordan Morgan

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 61, Syracuse 56 extra-26
Dustin Johnston

Previously: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary

Jordan Morgan’s career at Michigan has seen plenty of highs, but he’s also faced more than his fair share of adversity. He was overlooked as a high school prospect and suffered multiple injuries before he was able to even get on the floor in college. He battled injuries again as redshirt junior as he suffered a sprained ankle mid-way through the season. He was never able to recover fully from that injury and watched as Mitch McGary replaced him in the starting lineup and carried Michigan to the championship game.

As bittersweet as Michigan’s NCAA tournament run might have been for Morgan, he kept his head down and kept working. After playing just 12 minutes total in the first four tournament games, Morgan was ready to play 21 strong minutes against Syracuse in the Final Four with a critical drawn charge and dunk late.

Morgan’s per-game scoring averages have decreased steadily over the course of his career – from nine points to seven to five – but he has been a steadying force in the center of Michigan’s lineup for three seasons. Morgan has never been spectacular but he’s always been solid – and that’s something that many have probably taken for granted.

The Good

  • Defense: Morgan’s place on the Big Ten All-Defensive team was well deserved and proved that opposing coaches understood Morgan’s defensive importance to the Wolverines. He doesn’t block many shots or grab many steals but he held Michigan’s defense together from the interior and probably led the Wolverines in drawn charges. We documented his impressive defensive statistics several times throughout the season and have no reason to doubt them. Michigan’s defense was best with Morgan on the floor.
  • Rebounding: Morgan posted the best offensive (13.4%) and defensive (18.8%) rebounding rates of his career as a redshirt junior. He’s not the biggest five man or the best athlete, but he’s a very steady rebounder. Morgan knows the Big Ten, he’s been through the grind of a conference slate and is a valuable contributor on both backboards.
  • Finishing: I’m leaving this as a positive although Morgan’s shooting numbers were worse than his first two seasons and he appeared to develop some case of the yips down the stretch. The majority of Morgan’s field goal opportunities are layups around the hoop and his confidence was completely shot by year’s end – still he finished the year at 58% shooting.

Room for Improvement

  • Free throw shooting: Morgan has yet to crack 60% free throw shooting during any season at Michigan. He doesn’t shoot many free throws. It’s tough to imagine him making a notable improvement after four years of relatively stagnant production.
  • Offensive versatility: This is Morgan’s bottleneck entering his final season. His offensive game has been limited throughout his career while Mitch McGary’s repertoire of moves is expansive. There’s just so many more things that Michigan can do with McGary at the five than with Morgan there offensively. A mid-range jumper or a go-to low post move would go a long way but right now Morgan’s offense comes from rolls to the basket, drop off passes, put backs and transition looks.
  • Confidence: Morgan has to find it again. He was so clearly rattled down the stretch of last season that he was hesitating around the basket, pump faking and passing, traveling and making things more difficult than they needed to be. The hope – and John Beilein has already mentioned this – is that Morgan will regain that confidence now that he’s back to 100% health. However, until he gets back on the court and playing as he’s capable it will be something to watch.

Michigan 61, Syracuse 56-35Grade: B-

Morgan still had his moments but his injury riddled season never really got off the ground. He only reached double figures five times all year and saw his playing time significantly reduced.

Bottom Line: Morgan could have packed his bags and played his senior year somewhere else. There’s little doubt that Mitch McGary will be “the guy” in Michigan’s front court and the effect that can have on Morgan’s playing time was obvious in the NCAA tournament. Morgan graduated with an engineering degree in the spring and would have had immediate eligibility anywhere in the country to start on his masters.

But Morgan stayed to battle. He’s fought through just about everything else during his time in Ann Arbor and one more challenge isn’t going to cause him to quit.

Morgan has had bright spots and clearly was never healthy after his January injury. There is a very important role for him to play on this team but the adjustment will be difficult. Michigan needs him for his leadership – he’s an ideal captain candidate – but he might play fewer than 15 minutes per game. For a player that’s started 92 games in his career, that’s a difficult thing to swallow. Morgan’s transition will be difficult but his role is also necessary and front court depth could be a critical strength for the 2013-14 Wolverines.

  • michaeltheoriginal

    I really thought that this grade would be incomplete since we really did
    not get to see what a healthy Jordan Morgan could do. I’ve been
    watching this guy for three years now and I have to say he’s my favorite
    player, hands down. He’s just smart. Gritty, hustles, and knows where
    to be on the floor. Does all the little things and directs traffic for
    everybody on defense. Don’t underestimate this guy. I expect to see
    big things from his senior year.

    • Northern Blue

      He really does do a good job of communicating defensively and not only doing his job but telling others where to be and shows and recovers very quickly. I think he is a very important piece, and wouldnt mind him and Mitch starting together if only for a few minutes. He could bring a lot of energy to the defence early on in hopes that it sets the tone defensively for the rest of the game. Love how he hasnt once complained about his role and I hope he’s helping Mitch, Jon and Marky Mark on where to be defensively. He has had a really cool career at Michigan – when he committed the team was terrible, and then his redshirt year they were terrible, and he was a big part of that turnaround with DMO, Timmy, and Zack and Stu, that ultimately got the program to turn the corner. He, along with Mitch should make the best tandem at the 5 position in the country this year!

    • Lynette Gascoigne

      I love watching him out there, telling his teammates what to do, so refreshing to see a player KNOW where everyone needs to be and not at all afraid to get the guys in the correct position. Hopefully he won’t have to act so much as a floor general this year since everyone has another year under their belts. GO JORDAN!

  • jblair52

    Fair assessment – I agree.

    I do think he played well with DMo at the point 3 years ago. He was our 3rd leading scorer – though mostly because we didn’t have many weapons. His scoring per minute dropped both of the last two seasons. Will be interesting to see how he plays with Walton.

    When you contribute best on defense/rebounding it’s easy for people to miss your importance to the team.

    Morgan struggled at times but he’s important for depth in the frontcourt, moves his feet well, and I feel he puts himself in good position on the floor both offensively (for dump offs) and defensively (for helpside).

    • Fab 5 Legends

      completely agree…jordan morgan will still be a viable contributor to our stacked frontcourt….

      McGary, Morgan, Horford – experience and more developed…will be a good rotation..

      Donnal & Beifeldt – wildcards that may suprise and contribute if injuries/foul trouble…

  • toblav

    I assume his injury played a part in the B- grade. A guy who has played important roles on the recent teams turning around the status of the basketball program should have a better grade unless the injury hampered period is what is graded, without deference to the injury.

  • Chazer

    Great assessment of JMO …..another 3 star player that has improved tremendously since his arrival. I’d say the character of this young man and his effort again raise the bar for Michigan recruits!

    How many three stars end up on the all big ten defensive team? His leadership this year will leave a lasting mark on this team, just as the seniors before him have! The culture is well established and the winning ways will continue…..but never forget the work this young man put in! The torch is in his hands this year regardless of the minutes and I don’t see the light burning out.

    Definition of a student athlete with honors and distinction…..see Jordan Morgan!!!!

    Well done!

  • Mattski

    I’ve come on here so many times to express my admiration for Jordan Morgan. . . excellent profile and summary–maybe his value as floor general on D is a little overlooked here. I’d like to see him get back to firing up the troops like he did his freshman and sophomore years.

  • section13row15

    The chemistry with Burke just wasn’t there for some reason. I think Burke’s height and Morgan’s height had something to do with it. I saw Morgan in great position many times on the pick and roll and the pass never came. DMo spotted Morgan almost every time. One of my favorite Morgan memories was watching him celebrate the Duke win when Zach and Stu were freshmen. Morgan was a high school senior already committed. He’s done so much for this team, he’s such a work horse and has never complained. I love Jordan Morgan.

    • Lynette Gascoigne

      EXACTLY. Burke never found the big fella under the basket the way Morris did :(

  • Lynette Gascoigne

    I don’t know why the perception of him being lightly recruited or “overlooked” as a HS prospect has been perpetuated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gonzaga was the first to show interest, and started recruiting him in EIGHTH grade. Izzo, et al, was second with their interest. Stanford flew to Detroit multiple times to have him do private workouts for them with his HS coach. He had a stack of recruiting letters a mile high. He went on several unofficials, Notre Dame, Xavier (who contacted him the moment it was allowable under NCAA rules, at midnight), Purdue, most of the Big10. A kid who can ball but also has no problem with academics is a novelty. Even though the pundits on the ranking boards didn’t give him much press, he was very much known in the recruiting circles. Heck, he was one of 100 kids invited to the NBA Top100 camp. Not bad for someone ‘overlooked’, huh?