Juwan Morgan’s emergence not only as a player, but also as a leader, served as one of the biggest bright spots of Indiana’s season last year.
With every given game, Morgan provided fans with a level of tenacity and effort that nearly willed his team to victories over more talented opponents.
Now, with a breakout year behind him, Morgan finds himself facing high expectations and a new level of responsibility.
On October 1, Morgan was named a co-captain of the team alongside Zach McRoberts.
“They lead by example on the floor every day with their work ethic and in the locker room by not being afraid to hold their teammates accountable in representing the standards we expect when you wear Indiana across your chest,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said per IU Athletics.
Miller’s sentiments about his leaders are important. Every person that has seen the two play can clearly appreciate the work ethic of both individuals on the floor. The difference maker is how Morgan and McRoberts conduct themselves off the floor.
At the culmination of last season, I gave Morgan the lofty title of Big Ten Instagram User of the Year. It was a comedic concept without much valuable backing to it. Up until this point, I didn’t really understand the meaning behind it. Now, that meaning is too clear to ignore.
When asked about whether he feels his Instagram comments help bring the team together, Morgan’s answer was immediate.
“Yeah I definitely feel that,” Morgan said. “I think laughter, camaraderie amongst the team is the best thing to have and it translates to the court.”
Morgan’s comments aren’t just some random jokes. It’s a concentrated effort. This a real leadership tactic in 2018 and it seems that Morgan’s on the court work ethic has found its way to social media.
“I think they’re the best there ever was you know,” Morgan said. “I put a lot of time and effort into those Instagram comments so I take pride in them.”
Morgan’s off the court work is not lost on his teammates either.
“I think he spends a lot of time on them,” Indiana guard Johnny Jager said. “He thinks through those and they’re very articulate and he’s got a lot of stuff he says, so I think he thinks about it for a good 30 minutes before he says it.”
“He has to sit there and just stare at all our captions and all our pictures just thinking of something to say,” Indiana forward Justin Smith said.
So, what makes these captions so effective? They follow the protocol established by the man in charge.
Miller gave Morgan the captaincy because of his ability to hold his “teammates accountable.”
“I just challenge them to be the best they can be every day,” Morgan said.
Here we see Morgan looking out for his teammate Devonte Green. Morgan wants to ensure Green is aware of NCAA rules, so he can ensure Green makes good decisions.
Morgan is looking out for Jager. Everyone knows about the harmful damage of staying out in the sun too long without sunscreen.
I’m going to assume Ms. Hunt is Jager’s girlfriend. Morgan wants to ensure that Jager maintains his healthy relationship.
As anyone with a nagging parent knows, as helpful as this level of accountability can be, it won’t always elicit the happiest reaction.
“It depends, it depends on his comment,” Smith said. “If his comment is something kinda snarky it’s kinda like ughhhhh.”
Along with this level of accountability that Morgan has established, one of the other major keys to his leadership has to sit on the other side of the spectrum.
Just like a good parent, every snarky remark can be effectively followed by a sincere level of support.
Morgan clearly wants to ensure that Smith receives the proper credit for his efforts.
Morgan appears to be all-in on his teammates’ work ethic and body composition prior to the season.
Here Morgan is giving Jager credit for his fashion choices. The neutral colors seems to suit Jager well.
Oh come on, this McComment is so McPerfect it McHurts.
To be completly honest, I have little idea what this means. All I know is that it seems supportive. In addition for those that are unaware, the phrase “no cap” means “not lying,” so we at least know Morgan is being honest. If you would like further clarification, I can use it in a sentence: “Aye no cap, I have no idea what this caption means.”
Lastly, another proponent of every effective leader is an unquestionable lack of fear. A leader needs followers, and nobody isn’t going to follow an individual that is scared of what’s in front of them.
“He went through a career-best year last year on the floor, and I think he gained a ton of confidence,” Miller said. “I think he’s carried that confidence into the off-season in his actions and his leadership ability.”
Bringing cheese to the grill is an extremly clutch action. Forgetting cheese will leave your grill experience without an important element. Morgan clearly brings that important element to the table and he’s confident in that.
With all of the attributes that Morgan has clearly exuded on Instagram, it’s hard to have much doubt in the leadership structure of this year’s Indiana Basketball team.
But, what about Morgan’s co-captain?
“I do have an Instagram account,” McRoberts said. “Yeah, @ZachMcroberts15”
Indiana basketball fans should find comfort in knowing that McRoberts himself seems to have the same focus on accountability as Morgan.
“He thinks he’s funny,” McRoberts said about Morgan’s instagram comments. “He thinks he’s got the best comments in the game, but I mean you know he’s reaching for some of them. I’ll give him some. Some are funny, some aren’t but you know you can’t win ‘em all”
Even with McRoberts’ criticism, as a good leader, he still knows not to rain on the parade. When asked if he could concoct better Instagram comments than Morgan, his answer simply exuded care for his teammates’ passion.
“If I wanted to, yeah,” McRoberts said. “But I don’t really want to. I don’t want to take that from him.”
As odd of a sentiment it is to express, it’s hard to argue against the value of Morgan’s Instagram comments. Will they be a difference maker come March? Who really knows? What is known, is that Morgan’s mentality off the court will at least leave him with relationships that will last forever.
“Yeah JMo is very passionate about his comments on Instagram,” Jager said. “He says that’s why his Instagram is the hardest. But you know what? JMo is one of my best friends.”