Fayette County


Morgan Jones scores big with commitment to FSU

    Playing Private 1A ball for Our Lady of Mercy, Morgan Jones rises above as one of the top basketball players in Georgia.

Andrew Jones had to apologize to the mailman.

“In a month or two,” he said, “hopefully this will stop.”

It didn’t stop. Morgan Jones, Andrew’s daughter, was a coveted high school athlete, drawing serious attention from the most heralded college basketball programs in the country. The offers stuffed the mailbox for five months until Morgan provided relief for both her family and the mailman, pledging her verbal commitment to Florida State this past June.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, Morgan officially signed to play with the Seminoles, a growing program coming off an Elite 8 appearance. As a 6-foot-2 do-it-all senior for Our Lady of Mercy, Jones has shouldered the weight of not only leading her team in every notable statistical category, but also consistently showcasing her talents to the flood of recruiters that come to watch her play. She’s ranked 64th overall in the ESPN’s breakdown of the class of 2018 and 19th at her position. While she projects to fit in to a shooting guard or small forward role in college, Morgan’s spot on the Our Lady of Mercy floor has been much more fluid.

“1, 2, 3,” Morgan says as she tries to carefully pinpoint what position she plays, pausing in between, “4, 5.”

Scoring 1,000 points in high school doesn’t happen by accident. Morgan began playing organized basketball at three years old, and by middle school she had received an offer from South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.

As the offers stacked up, Morgan and her family narrowed her expansive list down to 10: Florida State, University of South Carolina, Mississippi State, Auburn, Georgia, Louisville, UCLA, Ohio State, Tennessee, and North Carolina State. She visited each school (Morgan wasn’t interested in powerhouses like UConn and Notre Dame because she preferred a more mild climate), and from there, the decision was made.

“She had the opportunity to choose from virtually every major college in the nation,” Mercy athletic director Bill Schmitz said.

Morgan’s parents said Florida State head coach Sue Semrau made a strong effort to sell their daughter on her program, showing up not only to the big AAU games that drew in a bevy of recruits. Semrau traveled to the 1A private school to watch Morgan play, which few recruiters were willing to do.

Mercy coach Kevin Walker, who served as an assistant in Morgan’s first three years at the school and now coaches in a lead role, said that Morgan’s commitment to Florida State should motivate the other student-athletes at the school to realize they are capable of playing at a high level in college.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or what kind of atmosphere or school setting that you’re in, if you’re that good, the coaches will find you,” Walker said.

Always the focus on the basketball court, Jones was the center of attention for a pack of photographers at her signing day celebration in November. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

Outside of an exceptional size-speed combo and rare versatility for a player her size, Morgan’s poise in big moments is perhaps the most significant indicator that the transition from Fayetteville to Talahassee will be a smooth one.

Walker believes Morgan can be one of the game’s biggest stars. He describes his senior captain as selfless, yet confident in her ability to make plays.

“She doesn’t care,” Walker said. “She just wants the ball in her hands, and she figures, I’m going to score.”

Morgan, if she feels pressure, doesn’t show it on the court. Last year, in a close game against Landmark Christian, Morgan drained a 3-pointer from way beyond the arc, lifting her team into overtime with a host of college coaches in attendance. Tennessee’s rep rushed out of the gym making a frantic call after she sank the big bucket.

Morgan has always taken games seriously, but she never puts too much stock in how many high profile coaches are watching her.

“It didn’t even faze her,” Morgan’s mother Jackie said, as she recalled the time Staley offered Morgan the chance to play for South Carolina. “It was fun. Winning or losing didn’t matter. It was just fun.”

Morgan also doesn’t invest too much emotion into personal accolades, even as they’ve accumulated throughout her four years at Mercy. She’s won Most Valuable Player every year since sixth grade, was Freshman of the Year for Fayette County, and made First-Team in Class A.

The past two seasons, Morgan has been the most competent ball handler for her team, although she likely won’t play much point guard in college. As a result, Morgan has been depended on for a large chunk of the scoring, as evidenced by a 51-point output in a 64-62 loss to Trinity Christian earlier this season.

Schmitz noted on Morgan’s signing day last month that she scored 1,000 points, the first in school history to accomplish such a feat in three years.

“We envision another ceremony to give her for her 2,000 points,” Schmitz said.

As Schmitz predicted another 1,000 points, Morgan, nearby, rolled her eyes. She won’t put a number on how much she wants to score this season. But one thing is for sure. Wherever she is on the court, she wants the ball in her hands.

By Justin Fedich

Justin Fedich is a reporter for the Fayette County News. He has been a reporter for various papers around the Southeast, including the Athens Banner-Herald and the Selma Times-Journal. Justin is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in digital and broadcast journalism and a sports media certificate.