Indiana Hoosiers’ best player is also demonstrating that he is their hardest worker

Indiana forward Juwan Morgan (13) drives around Illinois forward Greg Eboigbodin (11) during the second half of a game last season at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller walks to the bench area as his team plays Minnesota during the first half of a game last season at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana guard Aljami Durham (1) shoots in front of Minnesota forward Michael Hurt (42) during the second half of a game last season at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)

Indiana University senior forward Juwan Morgan exhibited a tremendous work ethic, coupled with great leadership, on 31 different occasions last season for the public to witness in a game environment.

The Hoosier Nation will be ecstatic to learn that the All-Big Ten athlete is doing the same even when there are no television cameras focused on him or thousands of fans watching him perform.

Morgan and teammate Al Durham recently earned the program’s “Off-season Champions” Award for their diligence in the Hoosiers’ conditioning program this summer.

The fact that Morgan is showing this type of effort is no surprise to second-year Indiana coach Archie Miller, who spoke on the topic of leadership this spring at a university function.

“Having five freshmen come into the fold,” Miller said of this upcoming season, “and having to depend on some of these guys early, that is going to be unique. That is why you need your older guys to be rock solid in what you are doing every day.”

Both Morgan and Durham have been “rock solid,” and Morgan’s effort has been prevalent since the day he came to Bloomington.

After averaging a meager 2.4 points per game as a freshman and not even playing 10 minutes per game, the 6-foot-8 forward increased that production to 7.7 points in nearly 23 minutes per game as a sophomore.

His rebounding totals in that time also grew from 2.1 per game to 5.6. However, he took his production to another level this past season.

Morgan averaged nearly 30 minutes per game while playing three different positions throughout the course of the season. He averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, which made him the Big Ten’s most improved player.

“I think he’s continued to grow,” Indiana senior guard Robert Johnson said of Morgan this past season. “Every year he’s gotten better and I think this year he really found what he was good at and stuck to it and just tried to add things to that.

“But he always plays within himself and he’s a great player with a lot of different weapons and things that he can do. So when you do that and stay within yourself, you’re going to get good results.”

Morgan signed with Indiana as a 205-pound high school senior, but through the Hoosier strength program he has added 25 pounds of muscle prior to last season and was listed at 230 pounds.

He should be even more physically adept this coming season following his work this summer. That strength was vital last seasons, as he was often asked to play at the “five” due to a season-ending injury suffered by sophomore center De’Ron Davis in early January.

“When the injury happened to De’Ron,” Miller said late this past season, “it shuffled our team a little bit and we had to figure out how to play through (Morgan) in different ways with different players around him. He’s continued to do a really great job.

“He’s given everything he has and he’s probably running on fumes right now here at the end, the amount of minutes he’s played, what we’ve asked him to do defensively and offensively. He’s had a great year. If there’s a guy that’s more valuable to their team than he is to ours, that’s going to be debatable there.”

Morgan explored the possibility of declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft this spring, but once he returned to Indiana, he told Miller that he was all in for the program this coming season, which was demonstrated – along with Durham – through his work in the weight room this summer.

“Our returners have really set themselves up to be, really, a group that people can look at and say ‘This is how we do it,'” Miller said. “I was talking to Juwan and he was motivated to get the freshmen in here and get rolling. That is something that is exciting for our staff because last year at this time it was all new. It’s not as new now, which is a good thing.”

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