With Morgan, Olney is a shoe-in for win over Samuel Fels
THE DEVIL is not alone in wearing Prada. So does a basketball player who gives guys trying to guard him a devil of a time.
THE DEVIL is not alone in wearing Prada.
So does a basketball player who gives guys trying to guard him a devil of a time.
Say hello to Jesse Morgan, a 6-4, 175-pound senior at Olney High. And if you caught his act yesterday in a semifinal in the 12-team, three-tiered School District Tournament, which wraps up today at Northeast, consider yourself lucky.
Morgan and his best Christmas gift could have been headed a few states North. You see, many scouting services consider him one of the nation's top unsigned wing guards, and Connecticut wanted him to attend last night's 7 o'clock Big East opener vs. visiting Georgetown.
"That would have been nice," he said. "But I wasn't going to miss this. You always have to put your team's game first. I was hoping maybe to play and still make it up there, but the timing didn't work out."
Olney's game vs. Samuel Fels began a shade after 3 p.m. The Jesse Morgan Show was in full force by 3:05.
As the Trojans triumphed, 81-73, Morgan finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks. Today at 3 p.m., they play William Sayre, a 67-61 winner over Lincoln.
Morgan, known best by family members and friends as "Booge" (rhymes with scrooge), has been known for downtown sniping, and he did not disappoint, shooting 5-for-8 on three-pointers.
Just to show versatility, he also unfurled four dunks and one was a true all-timer - quick drive along the right wing, appeared ready to maybe opt for a bank shot, rose higher and higher, hammered the ball home over an unfortunate defender as Olney's fans exploded out of their seats (and a couple even danced onto the court).
"I like those better than threes," he said, laughing.
For shoes, you're talking Prada.
"I kept telling my mom I wanted a new pair, and I finally broke her down," Morgan said. "I had another pair, and they were only a year old, but, hey, I needed new ones."
As last school year wound down, Morgan decided he needed a new place to learn and play basketball.
Though he'd been prominent at Prep Charter the previous two seasons, Morgan opted to transfer to the neighborhood school not far from his house (near Whitaker and Wyoming).
"It was tough to leave my former school," he said. "They had a great program with good coaches, and the school environment was nice, too. It was well structured. I just wanted to be closer to home. I got tired of going down [to South Philly] every day.
"I was a little worried about how the basketball was going to be here. But then I found out that my old AAU teammate, Kadeem Patterson, was transferring in, and I also knew they had a pretty good [frontcourt] player in Terrance Bennett, a guy I'm buddies with. Things are going well."
Teamwise and individually. The Jump Shooter is now a Darn Good Overall Player.
"To some extent, I'm surprising myself," Morgan said. "At my former school, because of our overall [talent level], I was only asked to do certain things. Now I have to do lots of things and it makes me feel good to know that I can do them.
"I'm able to get rebounds like I'm a forward. And I've been guarding some pretty good players. To add that defensive element, that means a lot. I pass on my stats to some of the college coaches. They're impressed.
"All of this takes work. All summer, I was lifting weights and working out in the gym. I keep the extra work going even now, starting right up after practice."
Morgan last summer made unofficial visits to Temple and Saint Joseph's. Official treks have not yet been made, but plans are in the works. So far, only Nebraska has tendered an offer. Temple and Baylor are also heavily involved, as is UConn.
"I'm excited to see what's going to happen," he said. "I just want to go where my game will be a good fit."
A subplot yesterday featured Morgan's battle against Fels point guard Shannon Givens, a Drexel signee and transfer from Academy of the New Church.
After a slow first half, traceable in part to foul trouble, Givens finished with 24 points and five apiece of assists and steals.
Each did something to momentarily embarrass the other. When top-notch players bang heads, that's supposed to happen.
"That's my man. I was pumped going against him," Morgan said. "We're friends off the court. Beforehand and during, we were talkin' trash."
Bennett (16, all in second half) and Khailief "Kizzy" Coates (11, five assists) also scored in double figures for Olney. Bennett added 11 rebounds. Subs Bernard Neely, Devon Perrin and Greg Davis notched 11 points apiece for Fels.
Davis' performance drew the strongest crowd response. No wonder. The lefty is 5-1 (maybe) and weighs 105 pounds (maybe). Three of his buckets were treys.
At PC, Jesse Morgan sometimes made dents only in the scoring column. Now, he peppers entire stat sheets. No doubt about it: He has made a-Prada progress. *