Conor Morgan is going to spend this week proving he’s one of the best Under-19 basketball players in the country. The Mount Doug grad, who just finished his first season with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, has been invited to the 10-day junior men’s national team training camp, starting today at Ryerson University in Toronto.
“It’s pretty tough,” Morgan said about the upcoming tryout. “You’ve got to play against and know the other guys going for the same position.”
A six-foot-eight forward, Morgan made the cut for the Under-18 national squad last year and travelled to Brazil, where Canada finished third in the International Basketball Federation Americas Under-18 Championship, behind the U.S. gold medallists and Brazil. He said the wild atmosphere in the gym packed with 3,000 to 4,000 fans was very different from anything he’d experienced.
“Down there, it was almost like a soccer game. The fans were always chanting. It was crazy.”
Morgan goes into the tryouts after posting an impressive freshman season at UBC. Right from the get-go, he found an instant rapport with fellow freshmen Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Isaiah Solomon, and the three combined to play a quarter of the team’s minutes on the floor.
At the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 championship in Ottawa this spring, Morgan played 35 minutes in a consolation-round loss to the University of Victoria Vikes. Over the season, he grew up, living away from home, along with making the adjustment to the CIS hardwood.
“The first couple of practices were really physical. It took a couple of weeks to adapt,” Morgan said, adding the UBC experience will help him adapt to the intensity of the national team tryouts.
Making use of his 7-foot-2 arm span, Morgan played every position for the T-Birds except point guard, doing, he said, whatever the coach told him to do.
He considers his best moves, however, come from outside the arc on three-point shots, thanks to his dad, Dave Morgan, who played college ball in the States on a scholarship.
“My dad was a real good three-point shooter, and he taught me at a young age.”
Morgan is hoping those balls will be dropping during the gruelling week and a half of two-a-day workouts in Toronto. He didn’t see much floor time on the national team last year, and with 17 out of 22 hopefuls coming from Ontario, he has a point to make.
“A lot of people don’t expect me to make the team,” Morgan said. “I’m going in as an underdog, and I want to prove myself to Ontario and the rest of Canada.
“It’s pretty much going to take everything I’ve got.”