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October 17, 2011

Morgan makes most of USA stage

MORE USA: Saturday standouts | Chicago hope

COLORADO SPRINGS - Even around his hometown of Baltimore, sophomore Dwayne Morgan was a total unknown as recently as three weeks ago. That's all changing quickly as his invitation to USA Basketball's 17-and-under team mini-camp in Colorado Springs over the weekend showed.

The 6-foot-6 wing from Baltimore (Md.) City College is still not quite sure what to make of things but he's using his appearance at USA Basketball as a launching pad for taking his basketball career and perhaps his family to new places somewhere down the road.

"It's kind of overwhelming," Morgan told Rivals.com. "For me not to be known in my own state or my own city and for me to come out and have a good weekend, it shows that really if you work hard things will happen."

As a freshman, Morgan played on the junior varsity team at City College and he says he did well. Since then there's been no magical growth spurt or any specific turning point, he just feels as if he's been putting in the work.

"I do things that people don't want to do," Morgan said. "I make the hustle plays, I play defense and I'm fine playing with guys that people don't want to play with. Offensively, I just go."

Saying that he "just goes" on the offensive end may be a bit of an understatement. The 180-pounder is a sleek athlete with length, shooting range to the three-point line and the ability to create by putting the ball on the floor.

"I think I can handle the ball for my size," Morgan said. "For me to be 6-foot-6, (6-)foot-7 and only 15 years old, I can handle the ball pretty well and I can shoot pretty good."

While there were flashes of supreme ability, the four-star wing also struggled at times. Nearly every other player at the USA Basketball mini-camp had multiple appearances in Colorado Springs and their familiarity with the drills and the way things worked gave them an advantage at times.

"I'm not as strong as at home," he said. "It's a big difference out here from Baltimore. In Baltimore I'm kind of strong; here I'm not as strong."

Still, Morgan loved the experience and can't wait to share what he's learned with his teammates back home.

"It's definitely going to make me a better player," said Morgan of USA Basketball. "It shows that I've got a lot to work on. I'm going to go back and take everything I've learned here, the drills and all of that. I'm going to take them to my team so that we can make the whole team better."

While he didn't have college coaches running through the gym all fall, once Morgan's name got out a few weeks ago he did see some late attention as schools such as Texas, Syracuse, Clemson, Maryland, West Virginia, DePaul, USF, Oregon and more called to express interest in recruiting him.

No schools have offered yet and even if they do, Morgan doesn't want to know.

"I told my coach that if I get offered a scholarship, don't tell me," Morgan said. "I don't want to know. If I get that scholarship I don't want to feel as though I've made it. I just want to keep playing like nobody wants me to play for their school so I keep getting better."

As he heads back home, Morgan is thankful for the opportunity he was given at USA Basketball. But, he says that he's going to work even harder than before because his eyes have been opened to the competition out there and what it takes to play at a high level. He's not looking to do it for himself, but for those who matter most to him.

"It's just the fact that I want to make my mom live in a better place," Morgan said. "I don't want her to stay in Baltimore her whole life. I want more for my family than I want for myself so it drives me to work hard."



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