CEDAR RAPIDS - Earlier this season, a reporter asked Iowa City West boys' tennis coach Mitch Gross about the #x201c;triple crown#x201d; of prep tennis.
At the time, Gross dismissed the thought of winning a state championship in singles, dou ... »
WATERLOO — Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan takes to the gym to shoot at 6 a.m., often inviting his teammates to via text message.
The 6 a.m. workout is the first of three or four workouts Morgan does during the day, his UNI teammate Klint Carlson said, part of a summer routine Morgan is in to get ready for his senior year.
He will be the only senior on the Panthers this season, a squad with nine players who have been in the program less than two years.
In tandem with the early morning shooting and other daily workouts, Morgan has elevated his leadership as well.
“He’s going to be our only senior. He’s played since he was a freshman, he knows what to do and what it takes,” Carlson said. “He’s filling in that leadership role this summer, and it’s been special to watch.”
Morgan’s summer of work is all part of getting ready for his senior season, where much will be asked of him after the departures of seniors Paul Jesperson, Wes Washpun, and Matt Bohannon, and the Panthers will look to move on past the second round of the NCAA tournament.
He will be helped by a host of newcomers to the Panthers, as well as returning players like Carlson and Wyatt Lohaus, but with three starters gone from last season, the leadership load falls squarely on Morgan’s 6-5 frame.
Morgan knows it, however. He said he has tried to take on a leadership role on his Prime Time League team, which includes Iowa’s Tyler Cook and UNI teammate Hunter Rhodes.
“You can be a leader in a lot of ways, not just in sports, any way that I can work on that and try to develop that part of my skill set, I take advantage of that opportunity,” Morgan said.
He’s also working on adding ball handling to his skill set. He played point guard often for his Beat The Bookstore/Culvers team on Sunday, finishing with 22 points — 19 in the second half, 10 rebounds, and four assists in a Prime Time League semifinal victory over the Marion Iron Company team.
He said ball handling will be necessary, as he will take shots later in the shot clock this season.
“I’m working on the ball handling aspect of that just so I feel comfortable in that part of the game,” Morgan said.
He’ll be the go-to person late in the game as well, a prospect he’s excited for, though he said he believes any of his teammates can do that.
“I’m excited, that’s why I’m out here working so hard and doing that part of my game,” Morgan said. “But I feel confident in Wyatt doing that, Klint doing that, getting the ball inside to Bennett (Koch) and him going at the end of the shot clock.
“The way they’ve been working this summer has put them in a spot to be in that situation, too.”
His teammates praised the growth in leadership they’ve seen from Morgan this summer.
Lohaus echoed Carlson in noting that Morgan has been a key part of the Panthers’ summer.
“I think he’s also embraced that leadership role more vocally,” Lohaus said. “Getting on guys to get in the gym, getting as much work in as they can and pushing themselves as hard as they can. I’ve definitely seen a bigger desire from him to lead and to step into that leadership role.”
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