Former Eisenhower Cadet Demario Morgan Finding Success In California
2020 Oxnard (Calif.) power forward Demario Morgan is a proud former Eisenhower Cadet, who is now fulfilling his potential as a senior in Southern California.
After spending the first two years of his prep career playing for Eisenhower, Morgan would receive news this past off-season that he and his family would be making the move to Oxnard. It’s a mid-sized town about an hour west of Los Angeles, right on the ocean.
“Playing for Ike was a huge blessing, so at first I didn’t want to move,” Morgan said. “I had good friends on the team, and we were looking forward to having a great senior year.”
But after doing some research on Oxnard Athletics, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Morgan realized this could be a great opportunity to join a program with a history of winning. The move would become set in stone after his stepfather took a job in the Oxnard area.
So following his junior year at Eisenhower, Morgan made the trek out to Southern California. The move was a culture shock in virtually every facet. The weather was warm year round, and he was close to the beach. Certainly nothing like he had experienced in Yakima.
But Morgan said that he didn’t particularly care about warm weather, or sandy beaches, or living the ‘Southern California lifestyle.’ What was most important to him was having a fulfilling senior year in every way possible; Whether it’d be athletically, academically, or socially.
Because he arrived in the summertime, he was able to focus his energy in becoming involved with the Oxnard Yellowjackets Basketball program.
The head coach of the Yellowjackets, Jeff Staniland, said that he and the team had an extremely memorable first interaction with Morgan.
“What’s interesting is when I first met the kid, he walks in the gym, and he looks like he’s 25 years old,” Staniland said with a laugh. “I had told the team earlier we were getting a new player and a new strength and conditioning coach. So when he walked in, they all thought he was the new strength and conditioning coach.”
Staniland added that he knew very early on Morgan was going to be a great addition to the team. Not only because of his basketball skills, but also because he’s a great person.
Normally when a student-athlete moves to a new school, the path to playing time becomes very difficult. This is even more true in basketball, where only a handful of players contribute, and there’s usually an already established group of players.
In Morgan’s situation, it was amplified even more because he was joining a Southern California program.
It’s one thing to move to Boise, Idaho and earn playing time. It’s a whole other thing to earn playing time in Southern California, which is one of the biggest hotbeds for young basketball talent in the world.
Morgan had shown a lot of toughness and perseverance as he navigated the obstacles of moving to Oxnard. He was doing all the right things as far as introducing himself to the program, and helping out in any way he could. Fortunately for him, he was about to catch a big break.
“What helped Morgan, and us, is at his position, we weren’t very deep at all,” Staniland said. “Our guards were stacked, so if he was a guard it wouldn’t have been a good fit. But for his role and his position, it was honestly perfect.”
Throughout Morgan’s career, he’s embraced the gritty role of playing the power forward position. He’s not the biggest guy out there at 6-foot-3, but he always plays with heart, and he has an explosive vertical which is beneficial on both ends of the floor.
Going into this season, Oxnard had plenty of All-League guard talent coming back, which had them in the conversation to win the league title. But they simply didn't have the depth they felt they needed at the four and five spots. With the addition of Morgan however, it’s helped fill that void, and it’s also helped take the program to a whole new level.
Morgan has embraced an ironman role, as he’s started 29 straight games this season. You won’t often see him fill up the stat sheet, but his presence is enough to make a huge impact just about every single contest.
“My teammates have been incredible to me during this whole season,” Morgan said. “They’ve been really helpful guiding me along, and I really feel like I’ve become a part of the family.”
The Oxnard Yellow Jackets have a tremendous opportunity this year to capture a California State Championship. But regardless of how the season ends, Morgan is hoping this will not be the last year of his basketball career.
Because of the move to California, Morgan has been exposed to a host of brand new colleges in the region. Schools he likely wouldn’t be getting looks from if he was still in Yakima.
Some of the schools that are expressing interest right now include Lewis & Clark, Ventura College, and a high volume of California based JuCo programs.
Staniland said that while he does see Morgan eventually becoming a contributor at a four-year college, it could be best for him to attend a Junior College first. This would give him a chance to hone his guard skill set, before making the transition to the big stage.
Growing up, Morgan quite literally lived all over the world. He was born in the Caribbeans on St. Martin, then at two years old he moved to Jamaica, then he moved to Seattle at five. While in Seattle, he moved about five times in the region. In middle school, he moved to Moses Lake, then once high school started he moved to Yakima. Now he is finishing his prep career in Oxnard, California.
“Everytime I moved, I didn’t want to move, but once I moved, I didn’t want to go back. Now I’m having a really great time in California,” Morgan said.
He added that because of the constant moving growing up, it’s given him the life skills to adapt to any situation, and always be ready to take on whatever’s next.
Morgan said that he’s looking for any sort of opportunity to continue playing at the next level. He’s also hopeful that wherever he ends up is like a family, similar to what he’s experienced at Oxnard.
The past year has been an absolute whirlwind for this 18 year old. It could have been very easy for him to fall into obscurity after moving schools right before his senior year, but instead he took it upon himself to make something amazing happening, and currently he’s accomplishing it. Dedication like that truly is admirable.
This is a player worth keeping track of going forward, as he and his Yellow Jackets chase a State Championship. Beyond that, it’s hard to bet against him accomplishing anything that he sets his mind to. Morgan has the right drive that will fuel him for many chapters to come.