This has been Conor Morgan’s personal great leap forward.
In one adventurous spring and summer on courts around the world, the basketball standout from Victoria won the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games silver medal with Canada, the New Zealand pro league championship with Southland Sharks, and has now signed a big-time European pro contract in Spain.
“It’s the second best league in the world behind the NBA,” Morgan said of signing with Divina Seguros Joventut.
The Badalona-based club, one of only three teams never having been relegated from the Spanish pro top division, has an alumni list that includes Ricky Rubio of the Utah Jazz, former Jazz player and Spanish Olympic silver-medallist Raul Lopez and former Denver Nugget and three-time Olympic-medallist Rudy Fernandez.
And now Morgan.
“It all came together at the right time,” said the six-foot-nine swing forward, who is back on the Island this weekend from New Zealand, before departing Tuesday for Spain.
“Signing in Spain is the biggest opportunity in my life so far . . . they took a chance on a kid from Canada. Crowds for games in Spain are between 10,000 and 15,000.
“My club plays in the arena just outside Barcelona, where the U.S. Dream Team won gold in the 1992 Olympics.”
Which begs the question, after representing Canada so well at the World University Games and Commonwealth Games, is there a call coming from head coach Jay Triano for 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifying play?
“Maybe it will happen, maybe not, but the senior national team is certainly a goal of mine,” said Morgan, 24, a graduate of the Mount Douglas Secondary Rams.
“I’ve put on the Maple Leaf a couple of times now and you don’t do that for money, you do that for pride in playing for your country.”
But the immediate concern is to continue establishing his pro career as a fluidly moving inside-outside threat who can get it done from both the paint and perimeter. Just ask the University of Victoria Vikes, who were scorched time and again the past five seasons by Morgan, a two-time Canada West MVP with the UBC Thunderbirds.
It isn’t lost on Morgan that Slovenian Luka Doncic was selected third overall this year in the first round of the 2018 NBA draft out of Real Madrid of the Spanish pro league. Real Madrid is one of the teams Morgan will be facing this upcoming season.
“In the back of your mind, the dream of the NBA is always there for any basketball player,” said Morgan.
“As an athlete, you can’t sell yourself short. Hopefully, I can cash in with something really big at some point in my career.”
Morgan is the son of Dave Morgan, a star Island basketball player of the 1960s.
“The biggest thing my dad taught me was to have shooting form . . . before I sprouted to six-nine,” said Conor Morgan.
That has held the younger Morgan in good stead as such a multi-faceted and versatile threat.
But not all the lessons have been about fundamentals and tactics.
“The greatest takeaway I got from my dad is to keep level, on and off the court, and in all aspects of life,” said Morgan.
And this is one basketball life that is taking off.