Following the plans he set out for himself when he declared in April, Matt Morgan has withdrawn his name from consideration in the upcoming NBA draft and will return to play for Cornell men’s basketball.
Morgan himself admitted that the decision to declare in the first place was more an effort to get name recognition and show he has intentions of someday playing at the next level. It seems to have worked, as he was contacted by the Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors — all of which expressed interest and said they would continue watching his tape.
“We all knew that it was going to be hit or miss type process, whether I was going to get calls or whether I wasn’t,” Morgan told The Sun. “It was a good time to see that I had gotten a few calls from some teams. The process was exciting … [and] just having that opportunity was just really enjoyable.”
The latter of the aforementioned teams — the Warriors — holds an especially important place in Morgan’s heart. A North Carolina native, Morgan grew up just outside of Charlotte — the area in which Warriors star Stephen Curry first made a name for himself.
At one point, Morgan considered transferring high schools to Charlotte Christian — Curry’s alma mater — but that ended up not going through. Regardless, Morgan became enamored with Curry. He would watch in awe as the sharpshooter lit it up during his college days at Davidson, just 20 miles from Morgan’s hometown.
Despite not having any origins from Oakland, the Warriors have become Morgan’s favorite team simply because of his childhood idol in Curry.
“It was surreal, to be honest,” Morgan said of the Warriors expressing interest. “After [Curry’s] junior year when he decided to go to the draft, I told myself whatever team drafted him would be my new favorite team because he was my favorite player and still is. I’ve been ride or die with Steph.”
The Warriors have undoubtedly shaken up the nature of the NBA today. Small lineups have become all the more popular, as have the run-and-gun, fast-paced offenses. Morgan notices hints of that evolution have trickled down into the Cornell program.
“The way that we play here is very similar to the way they play,” he said. “I try to watch as much film on them. It was crazy to hear [Cornell head coach Brian] Earl telling me my favorite team had shown interest, and both of us were excited about it.”
But until Morgan has to make the decision whether or not to declare for the draft again, and potentially play with the likes of Curry or Kevin Durant, he will look to continue his repeated success at the collegiate level.
Morgan has led the Ancient Eight in scoring both his freshman and sophomore seasons, earning second-team All-Ivy nods in each. But despite the numerous accolades, Morgan knows he has some areas of weakness he needs to strengthen if he wants a shot at the pros.
“I’ve been in the gym, I’ve watched film on myself over and over again, so I know what I need to work on,” he said. “I’ve heard from my coaches and even my dad has heard from a couple people that there are certain parts of my game I need to work on to hopefully one day play in the NBA.”
To go along with Morgan’s withdraw, the Cornell program also announced this week that six new recruits will be joining Morgan and the squad in 2017-18, looking to improve in Earl’s second year at the helm of the program.
“Our freshman class is a really deep class. They are all talented, all really skilled … and we’ve seen that they can impact the program from the moment they step on campus,” Morgan said. “They are capable of learning at a very fast pace. It shouldn’t take long to teach them.”
As a team, there is room for improvement. Cornell finished tied for last in the league, but just one point behind Princeton for fifth in scoring. Of the anticipated goals, getting to the Ivy League tournament was one Morgan laid out for the team.
And on an individual level? “Next season just getting started with the process,” he said, as well as making himself as attractive to NBA teams as possible.
Morgan does not know what the future holds for him, and is not sure if he will test the waters in the draft again next year. That, he said, depends on numerous factors and how the upcoming season pans out.
But until then, he knows his work ethic must only increase from here on out to set himself up for the most beneficial of futures.
“This was a great learning experience for myself and my family, and after hearing from a number of teams, I have a clearer picture of the things I need to do on and off the court over the next two seasons,” Morgan said in a statement to Cornell Big Red. “I appreciate the support I’ve gotten from my teammates, the coaching staff, my family and friends. I’m excited about suiting up for the Big Red next season.”