In the Big West Conference, there is only one stat in which a men’s basketball player is in a league of his own—blocks.
Leading the Big West with 48 blocked shots, freshman center Joshua Morgan has not only shattered expectations but also Long Beach State Athletics’ records set over 26 years ago.
Against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 18, Morgan broke Terrance O’Kelley’s single-game block record with eight rejections. Through 21 games, Morgan sits sixth on Long Beach’s list for the single-season blocks record. With at least 11 more tip-offs for Morgan to jump for this season, he is already on pace to crack the Beach’s top-10 in career blocks.
Ranked 32nd in the nation, with an average of 2.3 blocks per game, Morgan has surpassed head coach Dan Monson’s preseason assessment of him having an immediate impact as a dynamic rim protector.
“We haven’t had anybody like him because his timing and length is such a presence behind your defense,” Monson told the Daily Forty-Niner in October. “He helps protect the rim as good as anybody I’ve seen for his age since I’ve been here. It’s really exciting for us because other guys can make mistakes and somebody like that can clean that up by just being able to protect the rim as well as he does.”
However, before Morgan had anyone’s back on the hardwood, he competed on the gridiron after failing to make it past basketball tryouts in middle school.
Growing up in Sacramento, Morgan’s initial breakthrough in his hoops career took place when he was a freshman at Pleasant Grove High School. By his senior year, however, Morgan’s aspiration of simply making a team elevated to attracting college scouts, sparking his decision to transfer to Sheldon High School’s renowned basketball program.
“I felt if I wanted to improve my game and take it to the next level, I had to go to a platform where I was going to have more visibility,” Morgan said. “Where they’re going to really work with me and help me develop my game … The program, they always expect to be top-tier. Not even in Sacramento, just all of NorCal.”
Averaging 9.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and over four blocks per game in the high-pressure environment, Morgan helped bring Sheldon to a 24-11 record.
Fellow Sactown native and Sheldon alumnus, junior guard Drew Cobb said he’s been impressed by more than just Morgan’s shot-blocking ability this season.
“This dude’s been in the weight room at least twice a day every day throughout the week, so he’s working hard, handling his business in school and overall being a good kid,” Cobb said. “I’m proud of him, he’s made huge steps and he’s much more advanced than anybody thought he was gonna be coming in here.”
Coming into training camp with a thin 195-pound, 6-foot-11-inch frame, Morgan said adding more weight had been one of his top-two goals throughout the past eight months he’s been a member of the Beach.
“I know it’s gonna take time,” Morgan said. “There’s gonna be a little bit of frustration, but I’m always going to put a lot of effort into it because I know it’s going to be the next step in elevating my game.”
On the court, Morgan says he doesn’t know what motivates him to have the high motor and intensity he brings to basketball but enjoys the idea of playing faster than most others in the frontcourt.
Off the court, he wants people to know he’s an ordinary freshman college student.
“I’m goofy,” Morgan said, smiling from ear to ear. “Honestly, not many people know that. They always think I’m a serious guy, but nah. Once you get to know me, I’m real goofy. Probably the funniest person on the team, I’m not going to be modest about that.”