Tiny Morton out at Seton Hall

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According to Zach Braziller of the New York Post, Seton Hall assistant coach Dwanye “Tiny” Morton has decided to step down from his position on the Pirates’ coaching staff.

Braziller added that former player and assistant Grant Billmeier, who is currently an assistant at local school Fairleigh Dickinson, is a leading candidate to re-join the staff in place of Morton.

Braziller’s report has been confirmed by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, which assures its validity. Goodman added that the decision shocked Kevin Willard and his staff.

While Braziller added that Isaiah Whitehead is going nowhere, which makes the most sense at this juncture, the star guard did tweet this shortly after the news broke last night, although it can be completely unrelated.

Whitehead had also tweeted “Big Year I’m Ready” with a short workout clip just 24 hours prior.

Morton’s departure from Seton Hall’s staff comes after just one year, with his role always being that of a mentor — instead of an in-game coach — for last year’s incoming freshman class, specifically Isaiah Whitehead, Desi Rodriguez and even Khadeen Carrington.

Making his first public statement on Saturday night, Tiny told Adam Zagoria via text: “I’m a teacher and I’m going back to teach. If Lincoln [High School] accepts me back, I will be honored. This is in no way a basketball thing.”

The coaching change comes very late in the off-season after Morton was spotted on on the AAU circuits watching Seton Hall recruiting targets during the July evaluation periods. Tiny has been active in the recruitment of New York City prospects like 2016 guards Cahiem Brown (Abraham Lincoln) and Rashond Salnave (Benjamin Cardozo), among others.

Morton’s loss affects the molding of Seton Hall’s younger players vastly more than it does in-game tactics as he was behind associate head coach Shaheen Holloway and assistant Fred Hill in the pecking order as far as actual coaching goes.

This reality was plainly seen whether it be during games or in Seton Hall practices. Morton was quite literally behind Hill and Holloway while barking out instructions to the players.

Further, not to throw Morton under the bus, but he was a bit all over the map when it comes to recruiting. I had heard a well-cited anecdote of how he was strongly recruiting a DMV-area player, who later landed at a local low-major after being close to committing to Seton Hall, but then the recruitment was basically taken over by Kevin Willard and Shaheen Holloway and nothing came of it.

Morton was also seen committing an NCAA violation, albeit a minor one, by publicly tweeting a comparison of a 2015 recruit to NBA player Brandon Jennings after watching the recruit during a midwest road trip last season.

For many people who cited Morton’s hiring as being strictly a power move to woo McDonald’s All-American Isaiah Whitehead to South Orange, his departure after just one year – instead of after the duration of Whitehead’s collegiate career – appears to validate this common claim.

Adding a local guy like Grant Billmeier, who was a two-time team captain at Seton Hall and is currently at Fairleigh Dickinson, to the staff would certainly bolster the ability to coach up forwards like Angel Delgado and the other youngsters.

Update (8/30, 9:30 pm): Seton Hall AD Pat Lyons confirmed to WSOU that Tiny is leaving and to expect an announcement tomorrow (see 2:14 here). “I think deep down he just felt more comfortable in the setting that he was [at] and we wish him all the best,” said Lyons.

  • Pirate_Law

    Very interested in hearing others’ insight about this. Morton may be able to help us in future recruiting if the parting was truly amicable and the guy missed being a head coach. On the other hand, he could really hurt us if there is some animosity beneath the surface that resulted in his departure. That said, the guy didnt really bring anything to the table besides the one recruiting class and serving as their handler which he clearly hadnt done well give the divide between that recruiting class and the veteran players.

    • Well put.

      I know the rules/restrictions for the inverse move (where an AAU/HS coach joins a D-I staff) re: recruiting, but I’m actually unsure if there are any restrictions for one of Morton’s future HS players if that is what he returns to. I know you were more addressing perception and such, but this is something I had thought of since last night.

      Don’t think that is anything to worry much about, even if he were to return to Lincoln as soon as this fall/winter, though. FWIW, seems like the consensus is that Morton is very well liked by some and not liked at all by the rest when it comes to local connections.

  • hallstorm

    I don’t know how to react to this either. Since we really have no insight as to why he left, it’s difficult to have an opinion. That being said, this further decorates Williard’s tenure here as extremely unstable and possibly highly manipulative-given that Morton is leaving after just one season. Maybe if Billmeier comes it can be perceived as a positive move, but overall it just adds to the constant revolving door of the entire basketball program (and why wait for a year to bring Billmeier in).

    I just hope this wasn’t a “forced” departure.

    • From everything I’ve heard personally and seen reported elsewhere, he wasn’t forced out. I have my own highly-speculative and probably unlikely theory as to why he left, but the consensus is that he didn’t fit the mold of a high-major D-I assistant. Was clearly a work in progress whereas he fits right in coaching/teaching HS.

      • hallstorm

        That’s good to hear Chris, but then why the “shock” from Williard?

  • Jersey Jerry

    Looks like our Pirate Ship is still NOT sail’n in smooth waters!!! Let’s hope we can get EVERYONE on the same page and set our sails to the Madness of March this season!!

  • fouline

    He probably wasn’t forced out but was made to feel uncomfortable. Also he probably missed coaching. So I look at it as an opportunity to sell the job again and get another top 100 recruit and his coach. Maybe we could put it up on Ebay. Or just call up the coaches at Roselle Catholic or St. Ben’s and see if they’re interested in moving up… but it’s package deals only. Hey, Willard’s tried everything to improve the team including “coaching”. And selling a staff position has been his best shot at winning so far. So why look a gift horse in the mouth. Bidding is opening…again!

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