WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Hank Morgan, the 6-foot-5 senior who just wrapped up his career last week for the Caldwell High School basketball team, can't deny that he's nagged by a few regrets, but he leaves the Chiefs' program with a great sense of pride.
"In my mind, we have created this expectation to win that wasn't there when I was a freshman in the basketball program here," Morgan said. "There were seasons where the team won only four or five games and lost close to 20. But the last few years, we've had three winning seasons."
Morgan played on the Caldwell freshman team as a ninth-grader, but he skipped JV and went directly to varsity as a sophomore. In his sophomore season, Caldwell improved from 5-18 to 13-12. The Chiefs went 18-7 his junior season, and 17-8 this year.
"Hank, who has shown improvement every year, has played varsity since his sophomore year and has been our leading scorer the last two seasons," Caldwell head coach Mike Fess said. "In these three years, we have won 48 games and have won two conference championships. Hank has been an integral part of this program in that time."
Morgan averaged more than 18 points per game this season after scoring 16 a game as a junior. He did so by using his rangy, slender frame to create mismatches on the wings, where he could operate effectively as a guard, and on the baseline, where he had the quickness to outmaneuver some bigger opponents.
"Idefnitelt have to guard bigger guys and I get thrown in post defensively," Morgan said. "Offensively, the hardest part was when most of time I would have smaller, quicker guys on me, there was a tendency to have fouls called on me because of a lot of contact. When I had to guard bigger guys, I wasn't as wide or thick as guys I was guarding, and it was kind of tough physically down low. I would definitely like to improve on that."
Morgan just found out this week that he has been accepted to the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, a fifth-year prep school where he will continue to play basketball, refine his skills and add some weight to his frame in the hopes of enticing interest from colleges. Morgan is playing with a local AAU team, Dragon Army, this spring.
"Hank had a great year for us," Fess said. "He faced junk defenses, double- and triple-teams and sometimes too physical defenses. He adjusted and still managed to average 18 points a game. Hank is a very coachable athlete and he was a leader for our basketball team."
Morgan had a six-game stretch in February in which he averaged 23.2 points, but that scoring binge wasn't quite enough to get him past the coveted 1,000-point career mark. He finished with 970 points. While he'd have certainly wanted that individual achievement, his larger regrets were more team-based.
"I had hoped for a deeper run in county and state tournaments," Morgan said. "I was disappointed in that. The state tournament, we thought we had chance at making more of a run there this year."
"Hank has been an integral part of this program," Fess said. "His versatility and work ethic will be missed here at Caldwell, and I am sure that these qualities will bring him success at the next level."