After cutting his list of potential colleges to three finalists, St. Frances small forward Dwayne Morgan has spent the past two weeks deciding between Maryland, Georgetown and Nevada-Las Vegas.
On Wednesday, Morgan made his decision in front of an assortment of family, friends and classmates in a makeshift press room at St. Frances. One of the top recruits in the Class of 2014, he announced his intention to play for coach Dave Rice and the Runnin' Rebels.
“When I went on my visit, I felt like I was at home. The coaching staff really made an effort to recruit me,” Morgan said. “Their playing style fits me, and I just felt comfortable there.”
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Morgan, who is rated No. 13 overall in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com and No. 29 overall by ESPN, cited UNLV’s coaching staff as the primary reason he committed to the Rebels. He said the coaches made him a priority, attending all of his summer league games and treating him as though he was “their guy.”
And if his mind wasn’t already made up, Morgan was likely convinced by the raucous crowd he saw at the Thomas & Mack Center during his official visit to campus last month.
“The fans there are crazy,” Morgan said. “They treated me like I was from there. I didn’t feel like I was away from Baltimore.”
He won’t feel like he’s that far from home when he finally gets to Las Vegas, either.
Rebels assistant coach Heath Schroyer graduated from DeMatha, and he has used his local ties to help create a pipeline to UNLV, recruiting Daquan Cook, a St. Frances graduate, and Connecticut transfer Roscoe Smith, a Baltimore native and former Walbrook star.
Morgan and Cook played together in Amateur Athletic Union basketball for Bmore's Finest.
“That played a small part in my recruitment,” Morgan said. “But I realize that by the time I get to UNLV, Daquan will be a junior and Roscoe will be a senior. I’m pretty much going to have one or two years at the most playing with them guys.”
When he arrives on campus in 2014, Morgan will join a team budding with young talent. The Mountain West runners-up, who earned a No. 5 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament before losing to California, had nine players average more than nine minutes per game this season, and five of them were freshmen or sophomores.
The Rebels also have a strong group of 2013 recruits coming in next season. Rivals.com ranks their class No. 22 in the nation.
Morgan chose UNLV over Maryland and Georgetown, both of which made strong runs at the athletic wing. Terps coach Mark Turgeon targeted Morgan from the beginning of his recruiting process, and the Hoyas made a late push for the St. Frances star.
When Morgan made his announcement, though, he had hats from UNLV and Georgetown sitting on the table in front of him. There was no Terps hat in sight.
“I really wanted to go out and do something different for once,” Morgan said. “It’s a lot of pressure put on a hometown kid to go to a hometown school. But this is a decision that I have to live with for the rest of my life, so I picked the school that I felt I’d be most successful at.”
Morgan is the Rebels’ first commitment in the Class of 2014.
“It’s been a long journey,” Morgan said. “I’m really grateful for this opportunity because a lot of people don’t get this opportunity.”