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The Journal Gazette

  • Juwan Morgan, a two-time All-Big Ten player at Indiana, goes through a predraft workout with the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis on Wednesday. (Dylan Sinn)

Thursday, June 06, 2019 1:00 am

Morgan feeling good after Pacers workout

Ex-Hoosiers star counting on defense to make NBA roster

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Juwan Morgan played basketball in Indiana for four years. On Wednesday, he tried to convince the Pacers to let him stick around in the state a while longer.

Morgan was one of a handful of college prospects that worked out at the Pacers' practice facility, St. Vincent Center, as part of the pre-draft process. The NBA draft is just two weeks away and Indiana owns the 18th and 50th picks.

Morgan, the former Hoosiers forward who won a conference title in 2015-16 and was a two-time All-Big Ten performer, is working out for a wide swath of the league as he tries to persuade teams that he is worthy of being one of the 60 players taken in the draft. The Pacers were the sixth team for which he's worked out and he'll visit six more before the draft.

Wednesday's workout, however, was special.

“I feel like I put my best foot forward,” Morgan said. “I think it was a little bit more exciting for me than the other guys just because I've been in Indiana for the last four years. I appreciate (the Pacers) bringing me in for an opportunity.”

Among those who joined Morgan in Indianapolis was 7-foot-7 NCAA Tournament sensation Tacko Fall out of Central Florida. Fall participated in only about “80%” of the workouts before bowing out because of a sore ankle, but he still towered over everyone else on the floor in the huddle. 

“I know a lot about the Pacers, especially when Roy Hibbert was here,” said Fall, a native of Senegal. “Like when they played Miami against LeBron James and (the Pacers) had Paul George.”

Morgan does not appear in most mock drafts, but he emphasized that it only takes one team to see something in a prospect. He averaged 15.5 points his senior year at Indiana, but the 6-8, 230-pound Missouri native knows that scoring probably won't be his niche in the NBA, at least early in his career.

He plans to make his mark on defense, while bringing a good enough jump shot to keep defenders from sagging too far off of him.

“I feel like defense is the best way to get on the floor when you know you're not going to come in and be a dominant scorer,” said Morgan, who led the Hoosiers with 1.5 blocks per game in his senior season. “I also think just being able to space the floor (is important) because the game is all about spacing.

“Just being able to hit the corner 3, open up drives for different people.”

Morgan's outside shooting is a topic that has come up again and again in his pre-draft workouts. He isn't big enough to play the 5 in the NBA and every other position has to have some shooting ability in the modern iteration of the league.

Morgan shot just 29.5% from 3-point range as a senior, but he has worked hard since the end of the season to improve and get ready for the longer NBA 3.

He showcased his long-distance jumper at the workout and it seemed to have more arc on it than it did at Indiana, with some nice rotation and a smooth finish.

Although the Pacers are just one of the dozen teams for whom Morgan will show off his skills before the draft, he said he would be excited to continue playing in the state where he became a college star.

“It'd be amazing,” Morgan said. “They're the best fans in the world. I don't think any other fan base really competes with the fans at Indiana.”

dsinn@jg.net