Hometown brother-sister duo Malik and Kolby Morgan ignite Tulane basketball

Mackenna Barker, Online Sports Editor

Stories of shooting extra baskets at the gym late at night depict the most cliche of successful past ballers. It shows work ethic and a drive to perfect one’s game. For Kolby Morgan, hitting the court late at night with her older brother Malik is more than just practice.

Basketball and competing is all Malik and Kolby Morgan have ever known.

“[Growing up] they were extremely competitive,” mother Detra Morgan said. “[Kolby] tried to do everything [Malik] did. They’re only two years apart and so whatever we were trying to do with Malik, expose him to every sport, she tried to do the same, even football. That’s where we drew the line, we drew the line.”

Kolby, a current sophomore guard on the women’s basketball team, and Malik, a redshirt junior guard on the men’s team, are tearing it up on the court for their respective basketball teams.

In her second season, Kolby continues to improve and lead the team in scoring at a 17.2 average. Her squad (19-9, 10-6 American Athletic Conference) continues to perform at a high level and looks to make a repeat NCAA tournament run this post-season.

Malik and the men’s team (10-18, 3-12 AAC) are braving a tougher season. The team is working through the natural adjustment period brought on by seven fresh faces to the program, but Malik has added some offensive punch to this lackluster season.

The duo showed talent for the game from an early age. Father Sam Morgan, who played basketball at Southern University, introduced the two, along with their younger brother Kai Morgan, to the hardwood life before their elementary school days.

Kolby and Malik developed quickly, playing for both Amateur Athletic Union programs and school ball at John Curtis Christian in River Ridge, Louisiana, where Kai is currently a junior.

In 2012, the pair guided both of their respective teams to the Class 2A State Championships. As a sophomore, Kolby led the girls’ team to its third state title. Later that same evening, Malik pounced to secure the first ever state title for the boys’ team against the defending state champ, Riverside Academy, completing the sweep for John Curtis and the Morgan’s.

Malik spent his first two years at the collegiate level in Baton Rouge, averaging 8.2 points and five rebounds per game in 31 games at Louisiana State University.

Driven to Tulane by strong academics and the stellar Green Wave program headed by Lisa Stockton, Kolby committed to play basketball for the university at the end of her junior year of high school.

“It’s not just playing basketball,” Kolby said. “There are two factors to it.”

By the end of Kolby’s senior year, Malik announced he would join her at Tulane, transferring from LSU to finish out his collegiate career back home in New Orleans.

“To be able to have not just my direct family but also cousins and friends from local high schools who just come to support, it is big for everybody,” Malik said. “It gives us a little edge when we are playing, knowing who we are playing for with the name on the back of our jersey and the front of our jersey.”

Between the three siblings, it seems there’s always one Morgan in action in the Crescent City, and mother Detra Morgan, friends and other family can be seen at virtually every event in the winter season.

“You never have to worry about someone not being in the stands, from a family perspective,” Kolby said. “They are always there. Even if they have to split up, one is always there to support. Having friends, cousins and people from local high schools coming to support is always a big boost to our confidence.”

While Malik sat out the 2014-15 year according to NCAA transfer rules, Kolby exploded onto the collegiate scene. Starting every game but the first two, Kolby topped the team in average minutes at 28.5, points per game at 12.2 and steals at 2.1 per game. She earned American Freshman of the Year honors four times and was the first Tulane freshman to be selected to an all-conference team, earning Third-Team AAC honors. She also made the All-Freshmen Team, the ninth Wave player ever to earn the honor. All the while, her big brother was beaming in the stands.

“She had a lot of accolades throughout her freshman year,” Malik said. “I was able to watch every game that she played. I was just sitting in the stands and I felt as proud as my dad.”

With his eligibility restored this season, Malik and Kolby are back to their old ways of igniting a spark on both sides of the basketball program.

Right from the beginning of this season, when the duo faced off in a 3-point competition for Midnight Madness (Kolby won by one shot; Malik swears he was cheated out of a shot), the siblings have been key pieces to each program’s identity.

“We are known for scoring,” Malik said. “That is all we ever knew how to do. Just get the ball in the hole. That is one thing that carries over from all three of us.”

Malik and sophomore forward Dylan Osetkowski remain the only players to start all 28 games so far this season. He ranks in the top three on the team in average minutes at 31.8 and points per game at 12.3. With no experienced true point guard in the starting rotation, Malik and senior guard Louis Dabney have tag-teamed the one position, earning Malik most assists on the team at 68. A natural shooter, Malik has the highest 3-point field goal percentage of the team at 35.1 percent and has the greatest overall field goal percentage in the back court with 43.6 percent.

While the two siblings share a similar intensity on the court, they do differ in their playing style.

“On the court, he is more of a shooter,” Kolby said. “I think that I like to go to the goal a little bit more. I mean, I will shoot if I am open, but I would much prefer to go to the goal.”

Their passion for the game can’t be questioned. But more than that, their commitment to each other, family and this city is even more evident. Between late night trips to the gym to put up shots together, cheering each other on at every home game they can and the tremendous support system the siblings have in the school and beyond, Malik and Kolby Morgan are a powerful and special piece of the Tulane basketball program.