Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Morgan takes leap into public school ranks

GREENVILLE – To Jason Morgan, his new test is his latest adventure.
And if his coaching record is a sign, the former Tri-State Christian Athletic Conference (TSCAC) coach of the year is up for the challenge.
After coaching basketball for nine years on the private school circuit – including winning nearly 80 percent (140-37) of his games at Greenville Christian the last three years – the 28-year-old now has taken his first job outside of Mississippi, and his first at a public school.
Morgan, who guided Greenville Christian to a 35-2 record and a trip to the MAIS Overall Tournament last season, recently accepted the coaching job at Brighton (Tenn.) High School, outside of Memphis.
But don’t feel sorry for the Saints; Morgan is leaving GCS in good shape.
Harry Williams, one of the top incoming seniors in the state, Keldrick Young, a 6-foot-6 junior with a giant upside, and senior 3-point marksman Justin Leavy all will return for the Saints.
“There are three or four guys that were going to be seniors and I feel like I left them early….but I did everything I could to teach them to be better men,” said Morgan, who led GCS to an Academy A championship last year and an Overall Tournament run before falling to Presbyterian Christian.
“They were state champions and they know what it takes to get to the top.”
The young coach, who got his first head coaching job before he turned 20 at Grace Christian School in 2001, brought a spark not only to the team, but to the fans as well. The “Morgan Maniacs” – some donning painted faces – showed up to support the team at home and on the road.
But now Morgan’s fan base swells from 300 at Greenville Christian to 1500 at Class 6A Brighton.
“It’s going to be a tremendous jump (from GCS to Brighton),” said Morgan, who said 60 students came out for tryouts in May. “We have to go through Memphis and they have a hub of talent.
“I knew soon as I got this job that I would have to raise everything I do to another level.”
Morgan said Calvin Knight, a former referee who worked two of GCS’s games last season, has now taken over the program.
With a quality coach in place, and Williams coming into his own, the Saints are in a position to make another run next season, Morgan said.
“(GCS) has a target on their back. They’re not going to sneak up on anyone,” said Morgan.
“(Williams) is the best player I’ve coached,” he added. “The guy wants it. He’s adapted well to every position change and has a bright future ahead of him.”

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