Raymar Morgan's breakout moment as a Maccabi Rishon Letzion player came at exactly the right time. On Saturday evening, the 2.01-meter rookie forward capped by far his most impressive performance in Israel's Super League with a follow-up tip-in basket in the final second, to give coach Effie Birenbaum's squad a 76-74 victory over Galil/Gilboa in Gan Ner. Morgan's 22 points and nine rebounds sparked his team to victory and a 3-2 overall record.
After the game, the 22-year-old Canton, Ohio native would say, "After last week's loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv, I was asked to be more focused in practice and I'm finally beginning to feel comfortable here."
Morgan had averaged only 11 points a game in Rishon's first four contests, so Saturday's game could be a sign of better things to come.
Last spring, Morgan completed a career as a four-year starter at Michigan State, one of the elite college programs in America, under legendary coach Tom Izzo. Michigan State appeared in the last two Final Four's, including the title game against North Carolina in 2009, so Morgan is no stranger to big games and pressure situations.
As one of the top 30 rated prospects in his high school years, Morgan entered Michigan State with the expectation of becoming one of the greatest forwards in the school's illustrious basketball history. Instead, his college career was characterized by impressive moments along with inconsistency and a lot of time lost to injuries and illness (mononucleosis ). Although never becoming a star as predicted, Morgan was an important member of a team that almost won national championships in each of the past two seasons. He finished his career averaging 11 points a game, but was probably most effective as a defender capable of handling any opponent, whether center, forward or guard.
Morgan played for the Washington Wizards in 2010 NBA Summer League, and once again his development there was curtailed by injury and a need to improve his outside shot.
Last Saturday, Morgan shot 70% from the field, and put on an impressive display of aggressiveness around the basket and a nice touch from midrange. For the moment, Maccabi Rishon will be very happy to see him pick up exactly where he left off Saturday night.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now