By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (June 15, 2015) — Tarleton State added the type of big man coaches have been searching for Monday when men’s basketball associate head coach Chris Reisman announced the signing of Jermaine Morgan, a 6-8 power forward transferring from Division I Bradley.
Morgan, 6-8, 235, becomes the ninth member of the 2015 recruiting class at Tarleton, the second Division I transfer. Combo guard Charles Hill Jr. of Fort Worth is also joining the reigning Lone Star Conference and South Central Region champion Texans.
Morgan, 22, is a journeyman with one year of eligibility remaining, having played at Odessa College and Moberly Area Community College in Missouri before landing at Bradley in Peoria, Illinois.
A three-star recruit after lettering all four years at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, Morgan helped his team to the Class 4 state championship as a freshman and state runner-up as a sophomore. He averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds as a senior in 2011-12.
The big man originally signed with Colorado State out of High School before enrolling at Moberly and ultimately ending up at Odessa for the last half of his freshman campaign. He returned to Moberly and averaged 8.5 points and 8.4 rebounds as a sophomore, shooting 58 percent from the field and 74 percent from the foul stripe.
His JUCO eligibility complete, Morgan signed with Washington State of the Pac 12, but was released from his National Letter of Intent following a coaching change. He ended up at Bradley, where he averaged 2.7 points and 2.5 boards while making 10 starts and playing in 22 games last season. He missed six games with a sprained ankle and scored just seven points in 15 games after returning from the injury, according to his Bradley player profile.
Bradley, a member of the mid-major Missouri Valley Conference, was 9-24 last season.
“I just want to get back to winning. At Bradley we didn’t do too much winning, so I just want to get back to that and help this Tarleton team accomplish their goals,” said Morgan in a phone interview Monday. “After getting to the “Final Four” last year and coming up just short, and with the players coming back and the new guys joining the team, we should have a good chance at winning the D2 title.”
Morgan was junior college teammates with Tarleton forward Malcolm Hamilton, a significant reserve for the Texans last season.
“I played JUCO ball with Malcolm, and he’s another big reason for me coming to Tarleton,” said Morgan. “I can’t wait to be back with him and see if we can’t win a championship together this time.”
A communications major, the Chicago product says earning a degree is his top priority.
“Finishing my degree is very important. The First thing I mentioned to the coaches was that basketball is second to me and graduating on time is the biggest thing,” said Morgan. “I think Tarleton is the perfect fit for me. I came on my visit and was surprised how big it is for a D2. Bradley is a private school and the campus is a lot smaller than Tarleton.”
Morgan is one of four post players signed by the Texans, the only one with college experience. EJ Reed returns to his starting forward spot, and Tarleton has signed 6A prep prospects in Anthony Davis of Lewisville, Josh Hawley of Irving MacArthur and Da’Rhon Mitchell of Cedar Hill.
Also part of the Tarleton recruiting class are junior college guards Louis Baltazar of Burlington County Community College (NJ) and Chantz Chambers of Bossier-Parrish Community College, as well as high school products Kaelon Clayborne, a guard out of Cedar Hill and Lance Ewell a guard/forward from Brock.
The Texans were 31-3 last season, earning a modern-era school-record for wins along the journey to their third NCAA Division II Elite Eight and second “Final Four.” Joining Reed as returning starters are point guard Michael Hardge and small forward Nosa Ebomwonyi. Point guard Deshawn Riddick also returns after seeing significant minutes as a true freshman.