Kissimmee, Fla., November. 17, 2016 – Jeremy Morgan is a guard in name only. Sure, the Northern Iowa senior can drain the outside shot and hand out assists, like any good backcourt player. But despite being only 6-foot-5 and a slight 195 pounds, Morgan also is capable of leading his team in rebounds and even blocked shots, as he did last season.
Morgan’s versatility was on full display Thursday in UNI’s 82-63 victory over Arizona State in the opening round of the Tire Pros Invitational. Morgan came out and made his first four 3-point attempts, including three in the first opening seven minutes. Then he spent much of the second half playing the power forward position, as UNI coach Ben Jacobson went small to combat the Sun Devils’ four-guard lineup.
The result? Morgan pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, tying his career high, and the Panthers coasted to an easy victory.
“When Coach goes small like that, it really enters my mind that we have to have guys finding rebounds and making plays in that area of the game, too,” said Morgan, who also had a game-high 20 points and four assists. “I’m just trying to make plays. If I can get rebounds and take pressure off (forwards) Bennett (Koch) and Klint (Carlson) to get those rebounds, I’m going to do everything I can to help us win the game.
“My shot was feeling good there in the first half. But at the same time, sometimes when you get hot like that you draw more attention to yourself. So after I knocked down some of those shots, I really tried to key in to finding those open players. I try to find easy plays to make instead of taking the tough ones.”
Morgan’s style of play is not unappreciated by the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference. He was named the MVC preseason player of the year for this season, after averaging 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season. Individually, none of those stats is overwhelming, but Morgan is capable of putting up big numbers in any single category from game to game.
“The best part of his game is his versatility,” Jacobson said. “Sometimes when that word is used, people think he must not be great at any one thing. Well, he’s pretty good at a lot of things. The reason it works – and we saw it tonight – is he’s unselfish. He could demand more touches, as a senior and a guy who’s been productive for us. But he’s been willing to buy in. And he’s been this way his entire career.
“As a senior and a guy who is the preseason player of the year, he could want to go a little bit more his own way offensively. But he doesn’t want that. He knows he has more responsibility, but he’s willing to share it with his teammates and involve them more. So when I say versatility, I use that as very high praise for his game. Because he touches all areas. Everything that happens in a game, he touches it.”