High School Basketball

A familiar face at the Tiger Den

ewarnock@newsobserver.comJune 24, 2014 

To mangle a memorable line from Douglas MacArthur, “Old coaches never die. They just change programs.”

MacArthur made his “old soldiers” remark during a return to his alma mater at West Point.

Tod Morgan isn’t old, and Chapel Hill High School isn’t his alma mater, but he’s happy to be back in town this week for a brief visit.

“It’s pretty surreal to be back in the Tiger Den,” Morgan said Friday after wrapping up the first of two weeks working at Roy Williams’s Carolina Basketball Camp.

The Carolina camp has grown so big, it sprawls out of the Dean Smith Center and across many gyms in town. Chapel Hill High School, where Morgan coached for five years, has been a venue for the camp for more than a decade.

“I’m glad to be back in Chapel Hill and glad to be back at Chapel Hill High School,” Morgan, 47, said. “It’s nice to be back in the old gym. This place holds a lot of good memories for me.”

Morgan enjoyed a series of progressively improving seasons at Chapel Hill, culminating with three straight conference championships shared or won outright. His last three teams went a combined 75-12, and his 2012 team reached the NCHSAA East Region final after rolling undefeated through league play.

The player who did more than any other to derail Chapel Hill’s 2013 team from another run to the regionals – Isaiah Hicks of state champion Oxford Webb – joined Morgan in the Tigers’ gym last week. This time, he was there to help.

Hicks, a rising sophomore for the Tar Heels, was assigned to work with campers at CHHS.

“At first, I was a little taken aback,” Morgan said. “But it was good to see him in Carolina Blue instead of that Oxford Webb red.

“We had some friendly banter back and forth. He was a really good sport about it.”

Morgan left his post as Chapel Hill’s basketball coach and athletics director last spring so he could be closer to New Bern, where his family had moved after his wife Courtney had secured a top position in the county’s school administration.

Morgan’s first season as head basketball coach at Pikeville Aycock (8-16) was almost identical to his first year at Chapel Hill (8-14). Like that first team at CHHS, which had a 1,000-point scorer in Denzel Ingram, Morgan had another 1,000-point scorer in Aycock’s Michael Williams.

Like Ingram, Williams earned spots in the North Carolina-South Carolina All-Star Game in Myrtle Beach and in the N.C. Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star Game in Greensboro.

Morgan hopes to build his Aycock program on that foundation.

“Like we did at Chapel Hill, we’re working to turn around the basketball culture at C.B. Aycock,” Morgan said. “They’ve never had a lot of success here. We didnt see immediate results last year, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

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