After a tumultuous past week-and-a-half the LSU men's basketball program received some good news Wednesday when the Tigers picked up their first commitment for the Class of 2012 from John Curtis guard Malik Morgan.
"It just felt like family … it felt like home," Morgan said. "I've always loved playing basketball in my own backyard and this way my family can come and see me play."
Morgan, the nation's No. 17 off guard, selected LSU over scholarship offers from Boston College, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Oklahoma and UTEP. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder averaged 28.9 points last season and was selected to the honorable mention Class 2A All-State team.
Morgan, a 3.5 student who will re-take the ACT, said he plans to sign with the Tigers during the early signing period in November.
"I wasn't trying to get it out of the way before school started," said Morgan, a Rivals150 member and four-star prospect. "I just really felt comfortable with my decision. It just felt like I was ready."
The news was a welcomed relief for fourth-year LSU basketball coach Trent Johnson, who has had to watch in-state prospects Ricardo Gathers of Riverside Academy and Javan Felix of St,. Augustine commit to St. John's and Texas, respectively.
To compound matters earlier this week returning letter winner Matt Derenbecker left the program and withdrew from school with three years of eligibility remaining.
The addition of Morgan turned out to be a rainbow amongst the recent storm clouds.
"I tried to make it that way," Morgan said. "When I talked to him tonight I told him I was ready to stay home and be a Tiger. I think I made him do a back flip.
"I congratulate Javan and Ricardo on their decisions but I'm also going to try and get them to come back down there at some point," Morgan said. "I wish them the best of luck in the future but I'm still going to come in and do my part the best that I can."
Morgan credited the entire LSU staff, especially his lead recruiter Brent Scott, for making him feel comfortable and welcomed.
While LSU had shown interest over the course of the last year where Morgan more than doubled his scoring average over his sophomore season, Scott was in attendance when Morgan's Louisiana Dynasty AAU team made stops in Indiana, Nevada, Mississippi and Texas for competition.
"He (Scott) really makes me feel comfortable but actually the whole staff does," Morgan said. "They made me feel a part of their family already and I've only been there a couple of times before.
"I've been to a couple of their games and even went into the locker room once," Morgan said. "I know they've been behind me but hadn't heard as much as I've heard now after my junior year and the summer kind of brought everything together."
Morgan, a two-year starter, improved from a 13-point-per-game scorer in 2009 to nearly a 30-point-a-game scorer last season with his 28.9 point average to go along with nine rebounds, two steals and two assists.
"He is probably one of the best two guards I have seen around this area in a long time," Curtis basketball coach Michael Kracjer said in a previous interview with TigerBait.com. "He has a very quick first step. His first step is lethal. When he catches the ball he beats the opponent regularly with his first step because it's so quick and so long."
One of the highlights of Morgan's season a year ago - one that ended with a Class 2A state quarterfinal loss to Ville Platte - included a spectacular outing against two-time state champion Riverside Academy in district action when he poured in a career-high 52 points and Gathers and Co.
Morgan praised the system LSU runs and said it's tailor-made for his game which can flourish in the number of set plays the Tigers run in the half court or being able to get out in transition and finish at the rim.
"It feels like the same type of the game that I'm used to playing," Morgan said. "I'm ready to come in and help make the people I'm supposed to be playing with better and make the whole program better."
That LSU's labored through consecutive losing seasons mattered little to Morgan in the final analysis. He's optimistic this year's incoming class of newcomers led by Johnny O'Bryant, Anthony Hickey and John Isaac - along with Iowa State transfer Justin Hamilton - will signal an immediate turnaround for the program.
It's one that Morgan wants to be around to see.
"They have struggled but the class they're bringing in before me will turn their whole program around and I look forward to coming in the year after that and making it even stronger," Morgan said. "Maybe we get us a championship under our belt, too. I'm going to bring leadership, determination and attitude. I'm going to try and make everyone on the team better as well as myself and we're going to work hard every day."