YSU transfer Morgan waits, but stays sharp

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Youngstown State University point guard Devin Morgan, a transfer from Delaware State, is waiting to showcase his talents next season for the Penguins. Morgan has to sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules and has two more years of eligibility.

YOUNGSTOWN — Devin Morgan sees water breaks during practice as an opportunity. He quickly gets a drink and has a basketball back in his hand, preferably at midcourt.

The transfer from Delaware State University heaves up a shot and likely sees nothing but the net as the basketball swishes through.

The Delaware State coach challenged his team before a tournament game. Could someone make a half-court shot? If so, they’d get milkshake.

Morgan told his coach he’d make four out of five. Instead, he made all five and keep going until about seven or eight.

It’s something Morgan, who cannot play this year due to NCAA transfer rules, has done since he was in high school. Not win milkshakes, but make half-court shots. About 75 thus far.

It’s for a purpose.

“Ultimately, that’ll help me on my game,” said Morgan, who has two years of eligibility remaining starting in the 2018-19 season. “It works on repetition. I’ll step further and further out, seeing how far I can shoot without jumping. That’ll help me get into a rhythm for when I do come down and shoot jump shots.”

YSU assistant coach Jason Slay said Morgan has a great pace to his game and keeps the opposition off-balance.

“Then he rises up and shoots those deep 3s,” Slay said. “I don’t want to say he’s Steph Curry. I don’t want to say he’s Trae Young at Oklahoma. He has that similar-type game. Once again, he can shoot off the bounce.

“He keeps guys off-balance and has a good handle.”

The Chester, Va., native spent two seasons at Delaware State before coming to YSU. He was named MEAC Rookie of the Year and led the Hornets in scoring his two seasons.

He’s able to catch and shoot off the bounce, which is something this year’s Penguins team doesn’t have.

However, YSU wants Morgan to concentrate on his leadership abilities.

“They taught me to play without the ball,” Morgan said. “Away from basketball, I’ve been taught to be a leader. Having a bigger voice and bigger influence.

“I’ve learned ways to communicate with the team both verbally and non-verbally by practicing hard and staying in their ear.”

Slay works with Morgan at 8 a.m., every day, but also keeps perspective for next year’s point guard.

Slay sends him articles and quotes, even texts him at night, asking if he’s helping the current guards with their plays.

“Always tell him to have a voice within the team this year,” Slay said. “It’s going to be more easier to lead because they know you care. They know you’re engaged right now even without playing.”

Morgan is learning the YSU system this season, which makes him ready to go for November 2018, the start of next season.

“This season has gone by fast and my time is approaching,” he said. “I don’t want to sound selfish, but I’m looking forward to big things out of this team. I can’t wait until the first tipoff.

“When the season’s over, that’s when my season starts.”

Slay said Morgan is a smart player and knows the game. The point guard makes suggestions during film sessions and works with the team’s current point guards.

“Even when we’re at our home games, he’ll walk up behind and tell me, ‘Coach, we need to do this. We need to do that,'” Slay said. “I listen to him because I know he knows what he’s talking about.”

Morgan is the leading scorer on the YSU’s scout team, preparing the Penguins for this season.

Now, Slay has gone one-on-one with Morgan, but not for that long.

“I guard him,” Slay said. “Once he gets three shots on me, I say that’s enough. I have not gone fully at him because his pace is so great. I’m a little too old for him now.”