Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson were two of many college coaches in East Baltimore last night to see No. 1 St. Frances beat No. 2 Mount St. Joseph.
The Maryland men’s basketball head coach and assistant were courtside during the Panthers’ 58-57 win, presumably to scout two players with Terps offers: St. Frances small forward Dwayne Morgan and Mount St. Joseph combo guard Phil Booth.
Morgan was St. Frances’ third-leading scorer (13 points) behind UNC-Greensboro signee Tevon Saddler (19 points) and Loyola-bound combo guard Maurice White (16). Morgan, a five-star prospect and the No. 18 player in the 2014 class according to ESPN.com, played a major role in the Panthers rallying from a nine-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.
“Basketball’s just a game of runs,” Morgan said. “We [were] gonna have our run, they [were] gonna have their run. They happened to have their run later in the game, so we just had to fight back.”
Morgan hit a step-back jumper from the baseline to make it 53-53 in the fourth quarter. Throughout the game, the 6-foot-7 wing demonstrated confidence in putting the ball on the floor and shooting from long range. The former City player said he’s “real happy” to have settled in with St. Frances.
“I got a much bigger role than I had at City," he said. "I think it forced me to step up and knock down big shots. That’s what I proved I can do.”
Morgan has a top six of Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Seton Hall, South Florida and UNLV. Playing in front of Turgeon, Ranson, Indiana coach Tom Crean, Hoosiers assistant Kenny Johnson and several other college coaches was an exciting experience for the junior.
“I really wanted to stay confident and stay cool, for real,” Morgan said. “Not worry about that too much and just worry about playing my game.”
The floor leadership of Booth, the shooting of Ohio State signee Kam Williams and the athleticism of junior wing Jordan McNeil keyed the Gaels’ 22-4 run in the third quarter. Booth had five assists in that quarter and finished the night with nine points. The 6-foot-2 guard said after the game that he “wasn’t pleased” with his performance.
"I could have done a little bit more to help my team, score more points,” Booth said. “Coach [Pat Clatchey] said we had to get on the boards, and we had to fight back and get back in the game. We had them at the end, but threw it away with some minor errors."
Booth, who claims offers from Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland, SMU, Temple, Villanova, Virginia Tech and several others, is projected by many recruiting services as a shooting guard. But last night, Booth effectively ran the point and said working on his lead-guard skills has been a major priority.
Booth said he doesn’t have a final list of schools yet. He appreciated Crean and Turgeon -- the coach of “the big-time program in the area” -- coming out to watch him play.
“Of course you have to recognize, you’ve got Top 10 coaches in the country here,” he said. “It definitely goes into effect in your head.”
Morgan, meanwhile, said he has no timeline for his decision. The Terps are “in my top six,” he said. “So if you’re in my top six, that’s good.”