By Ashley Dunkak
ANN ARBOR (CBS DETROIT) – With an undergraduate degree from Michigan but one more year of basketball eligibility, fifth-year-senior-to-be Jordan Morgan had some options.
Particularly with then-freshman Mitch McGary emerging as a dominant force, it appeared Morgan’s time on the court could be limited in his last season, just as it was in 2012-2013, and Morgan could have transferred to a school with a different graduate program and an opportunity for more minutes.
After all, Morgan had already been to the pinnacle of college basketball – the national championship game. The Wolverines just missed out on that ultimate achievement, and it seemed unlikely that they would return to that peak after with stars Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III all considering leaving for the NBA.
Morgan, voted by coaches to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team last year, said the aspect of which of his teammates would be returning did not factor into his choice. He explained Wednesday what considerations did help him decide.
“It was independent of talking to coaches and what would happen with Mitch and Glenn,” Morgan said. “I wanted it to be a choice that I made on my own, so for me it was just, there was a few factors that went in. First off, the love for this, for Michigan. It would have really been hard for me to just turn my back on this place and kind of move on.
“Secondly, it was just my confidence in myself and knowing how hard I would work to be better and how hard I would work to be a big part of any success we would have going forward,” Morgan continued. “Lastly, it was just my faith in God and just believing that, being faithful to Him, everything will work out for the best.”
Staying at Michigan, however, was hardly an easy call. There were other options.
“It was a thought,” Morgan said. “I’m not going to say I was out the door or anything like that, but it was a thought, but at the end of the day, I just took some time to myself when the season ended and just kind of put a lot of thought to it.”
As the only senior on the team, Morgan has been a steadying force and a valuable presence in the paint for the Wolverines. Due in part to the absence of McGary, who has been sidelined for nearly the entire season because of back problems, Morgan plays an integral role on a team that can wrap up the school’s first outright conference championship since 1986.
A team captain, Morgan is averaging 5.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game. The Detroit native is shooting 68.2 percent from the floor, the best clip of his career.
“It just goes to show what faith does for you,” Morgan said. “To be honest, God moves mountains. For me to be here in this position, through everything I’ve been through, even this year, the start of this year, Mitch coming back and all that stuff, who would have thought I’d be right here? Playing so confidently, having so much fun with this team, having so much success after all we’ve been through. It’s unexplainable. It just goes to show you what faith can do for you.”
Certainly, staying at Michigan constituted some risk for Morgan. Had McGary stayed healthy, Morgan might have spent most of the season on the bench, like he did in 2013, when his playing time fell from around 24 minutes per game to fewer than 16 minutes per game and his scoring declined accordingly.
Junior forward Jon Horford, who has teamed up with Morgan in the paint throughout the season, appreciates that Morgan stayed the course by remaining at Michigan.
“It means a lot, a guy like Jordan,” Horford said. “He could have gone a lot of places, but he decided to come back because he felt that that was what would be best for him. I feel like, based off the way things have gone, he made the right choice, and it’s a tough choice to make, the uncertainty of the situation that you’re going to be in.
“Obviously factors occurred that allowed him to be more successful than he would have been, potentially, if Mitch was still healthy, but things always work out the way they’re supposed to work out,” Horford added, “so I’m glad he came back.”