J'mison Morgan, the 6-10 center from Dallas, Texas who originally committed to Louisiana State University announced at a press conference today that he will attend UCLA and play for the Bruins in the upcoming season.
I just got off the phone with J'mison Morgan, and he told me he just announced he is going to attend UCLA.
Because Morgan signed a national letter of intent with LSU, he will not be signing an LOI with UCLA. He may sign a scholarship agreement which binds the school, but not the player.
Morgan won't officially become a Bruin until he starts class, mostly likely in one of UCLA's summer sessions. Morgan's change of heart regarding the Tigers came after LSU fired John Brady and hired former Stanford coach Trent Johnson. LSU released him from his commitment and he is eligible to play this season.
UPDATE: This is a fairly amazing turn of events for the program. Six months ago, Morgan was committed to LSU and Bruin fans were already bracing themselves for life without Kevin Love -- who was a near-certainty to leave Westwood after only one season.
While Ben Howland was locking down the nation's top recruiting class -- Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee and Drew Gordon -- the search for a center continued. With no real prospects in the Class of 2008, the 2008-2009 season looked like it would be center-by-committee, with James Keefe and Alfred Aboya forming the committee in the absence of Love and Lorenzo Mata-Real.
Somehow, someway, Howland has hit the lottery with Morgan. Not in the sense that he's a savior-type player. No one is expecting a Love/Greg Oden-type impact. But in the sense that he beat the odds in landing Morgan. Morgan is a legit, five-star prospect at center and adding him to the Aboya/Keefe group and center and adding him to the nation's top recruiting class both solidifies UCLA's hopes for 2008-09 as the future.
Now, watch Howland add University of North Carolina transfer Alec Stepheson. Stepheson would not play in 08-09 due to the transfer rules, but he would assume the senior Aboya's spot in the rotation.
Stepheson is not a done deal yet, he hasn't signed or said anything yet. But to think that six months ago Morgan was Tiger and Stepheson was a Tar Heel and now the odds are on for them to become Bruin teammates.
If you had told me six months ago this was going to happen, I would have called you crazy.
UPDATE II - N: Here is the latest depth chart:
I am not penciling in JS yet notwithstanding Mom's comment in today's paper. I will wait till the official announcement. I will also wait for the official announcement re. AA2 even though recent reports indicate that he is leaning towards come back. What is clear now is that once again Coach Howland has a roster that will make a serious run towards a fourth straight Pac-10 championship. Again I will patiently wait till June 16th when the NBA draft picture in terms of who is staying or leaving will clear up. In Howland we trust. Oh ... and welcome to BN Bobo. GO BRUINS. - N