Two local basketball players are having a huge impact on their new college teams as freshmen.
Northwest Player of the Year Jordan Hiatt and West all-state teammate Morgan Midkiff are proving to be diaper dandies at Lenoir-Rhyne and Belmont Abbey, respectively.
There is a story that is all too familiar for small towns. A player rises head and shoulders above the local competition, winning awards and drawing accolades. Then he or she goes off to college and struggles. The player may transfer to another school or quit the sport altogether.
That is not the story of friends Jordan and Morgan. The two off-court buddies battled each other for four years on the hardwood at Mount Airy and North Surry. Now the two point guards are showing that all those intense head-to-head battles are paying off on the collegiate level.
Jordan is second on Lenoir-Rhyne’s team in scoring (8.9 points) and first in conference play. She also has posted the highest single-game total this season at 19 points.
The guard is first on the team in assists (2.7), first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2-to-1), first in steals (1.0) and second in rebounds (4.6).
The 5-foot-8 sharpshooter is hitting 38.1 percent from long range and 85.2 from the foul line.
“The transition for me from high school to college wasn’t exactly that hard,” said Jordan. “My only block in the road was time management.
“In high school I could just kind of sit back and let life go on,” she said. “But in college, I have to keep track of everything: waking up for class, getting work done on time, getting ready for practice, and having everything taken care of before I start the next day.
“It was a whole new responsibility that I never had to deal with before, but I like it. I like being in control of what I do, because then I am the only person who can be held accountable for what happens.”
With all the changes in her life and all the classes vying for her free time, Jordan may very well feel most at home on the basketball court, despite all the new teammates and venues.
“The people that I am around here in Hickory have definitely helped me a ton,” she said. “Every person is so supportive and always here to help me when I need them, especially my teammates and coaches. I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better start to my freshman year.”
Morgan joined a Belmont Abbey team that was picked to finish eighth out of 12 teams in a Conference Carolinas preseason coaches’ poll.
With the 5-foot-4 PG leading the way, the Lady Crusaders have been the surprise hit of the season.
Coker (9-3, 5-1) is atop the standings, but by only a game over Belmont Abbey. Coach Susan Yow’s team is 4-2 in the conference and 5-5 overall.
Morgan is leading the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game, ahead of junior Kelsey Long at 12.1. A week ago, Morgan scored a season-high 26 points in a win over Converse.
She is second on the team in assists (2.7) and steals (1.6) while grabbing 3.4 rebounds a game, good for third on the team.
She is shooting a fine 35.7 percent from three-point range (first on the team) and 88.5 percent from the charity stripe.
North Surry Coach Shane Slate predicted last spring that Morgan would be an even better college player than she was in high school.
Slate believed she would receive instruction from college-level coaches and play alongside college-level athletes that would push her to get better.
Morgan said one of the things she loves about basketball is that there is always room for improvement. That could be scary for opponents because she’s already doing pretty well now.