Recently in Jesse Morgan Category
UMass beat writers Matt Vautour (Daily Hampshire Gazette) and Harry Plumer (Springfield Republican) were in attendance at basketball practice Tuesday at the Cage and filed a pair of reports on what they saw.
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Cady LaLanne, Jesse Morgan practice Tuesday with UMass men's hoops
1. CHAZ, CHAZ, AND MORE CHAZ
Chaz Williams took the conference by storm in his first season in the Atlantic-10 and only figures to be more of a menace in 2012-13. Potentially the Preseason Conference Player of the Year, Williams should give UMass coach Derek Kellogg one of the league's best back courts with he and talented wing Jesse Morgan, a 6-foot-5 wing who seemed to get better every team he took on the floor. If big man Cady Lalanne can stay healthy and form a potent baseline with Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney, the Minutemen should be in position to compete for a conference title and a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a quite a while.
Morgan and Putney are offering new life to this roller-coaster ride of a University of Massachusetts men's basketball season. What they lack in experience, they are overcoming with their energy level, jarring a team that had seemed to be turning stale.
"They are bringing a freshness with their play and demeanor,'' UMass coach Derek Kellogg said as the Minutemen got ready for Wednesday's home game against Saint Joseph's. "Their eyes are always on me, saying 'Put me in.' I like that.''
Morgan became eligible in late December, when the second semester began. He was preceded by his reputation as one of the best high school players in Philadelpia, a scoring talent good enough to be signed to a letter of intent by Seton Hall, a Big East program.
Morgan is a 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard from Philadelphia, Pa. Lured by the Big East, he initially signed a letter of intent with Seton Hall in nearby South Orange, N.J., in November of 2009, with plans to enter in the fall of 2010.
That is when his mother's reservations about the trouble of the city streets, and his own, kicked in. He never went to Seton Hall, instead spending part of last year at South Kent (a prep school in Connecticut), before enrolling at UMass for the start of the second semester.
Players frequently change their minds after making verbal commitments, but a change of heart after a signed letter of intent is rare. Because of this unorthodox path, Morgan had to sit out all of last year and the first semester of this season, as he squared up eligibility questions and solidified his academics.
Jesse Morgan has been looking forward to next week's game, even before he knew who he'd be playing against.
Like every nonqualifier sitting out his freshman season, the first game has been the goal for what seems like an eternity when they first arrive.
But on Saturday, Morgan will have a locker and a University of Massachusetts men's practice uniform, a new pair of sneakers and teammates for the first time in a year. NCAA rules allow Morgan to begin practice as soon as finals end. If he's earned his 2.0 grade point average and his professors turn his grades in quickly, Morgan could make his Minuteman debut Wednesday against Central Florida at the Mullins Center.
"I'm really excited," Morgan said last week. "I've been waiting for a long time."
The 6-foot-5 Morgan initially signed with Seton Hall. The Big East does not accept non-qualifiers, so when it appeared Morgan might not make the academic cut, he switched plans and enrolled at UMass.
Read the full story from Ron Chimelis in the Springfield Republican.