Back in March, Hancock basketball player Danielle Morgan was happy just to be back on the court.

Morgan, a Lompoc High graduate, had missed about 18 months of action after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum. The time off also allowed a nagging knee injury to heal.

Now, Morgan isn't happy just to be back, she's excited to go to the next level.

Hancock College has announced that Morgan will play basketball at Cal Lutheran. This comes after Morgan spent three years at Hancock. She starred with the Bulldogs as a freshman in the 2018-19 season. She then missed all of the 2019-20 season with the injury to her shoulder. 

The coronavirus pandemic then wiped out most of her third year this spring, though she did get five games in during a condensed season. Morgan, in fact, could've returned to Hancock again, due to eligibility changes spurred by the pandemic.

Instead, Morgan is heading to the next level. 

The former Brave, who played for her mother at Lompoc High, another former Hancock great Claudia Terrones, led the Bulldogs in scoring as a freshman in 2018-19. She averaged 15.8 points a game and added a team-best 7.7 rebounds. Her father, Scott Morgan, starred on the Hancock College baseball team in the 1990s. Both her parents played their sports collegiately at Gonzaga. 

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Hancock women's basketball player Danielle Morgan brings the ball up during the Bulldogs' scrimmage in February. 

Morgan originally intended to continue her academic career at Gonzaga after graduating from Lompoc in 2018. She instead opted to play for coach Cary Nerelli at Hancock. Now, three years later, she's off to a four-year program. 

"I can't even explain how great it feels to be back on the court," Morgan said after scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in her 2021 debut. "It was over a year and a half since I had been on the court. it feels great to be with this group."

Hancock reported that Morgan plans to pursue a degree in exercise science with a minor in psychology. 

Morgan played two seasons with the Bulldogs and redshirted one during her AHC tenure. In her freshman season, Morgan started 23 of 25 games and was tabbed as an All-Conference selection. In the 2021 season, Morgan led the Bulldogs on the boards with 38 rebounds and posted two double-doubles during the abbreviated five-game schedule. She ended her Hancock career with a total of 409 points (14.6 per game), 230 rebounds (8.2 per game), 39 steals (1.4 per game), and eight double-doubles. 

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Cal Lutheran, located in Thousand Oaks, is a Division III member of the NCAA and competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. 

"I tore my labrum in my right arm. I had that repaired and I just had an ongoing knee injury since high school. But it was my labrum that kept me out," Morgan said in March.

The 5-foot-9 Morgan said her focus this season was to work on her conditioning after missing considerable time and also develop more of a guard-like approach on the court. Morgan is also a relentless defender. She was named the All-Area Defensive Player of the Year while at Lompoc.

"My mom and dad never really cared about points. They made sure my main priority was rebounding," Morgan said. "We only had a 6-footer at Hancock this season, so rebounding was my main priority. The points followed. I am trying to transition into more of a guard. I am most comfortable down low, but going to the next level I've been expanding my range and shooting more. I need to try and be more of a guard on the court." 

Hancock women release schedule

The Hancock College women's basketball team is set to return to a full slate of games in the upcoming season, which starts with a road trip to Cosumnes River College for the Cosumnes River Tournament on Nov. 4.

The upcoming schedule features action against 16 non-conference opponents and 12 games versus Western State Conference foes.

The Bulldogs are set to host two tournaments next season, beginning with the annual Toys for Tournament on Dec. 2 for the team's home opener. The AHC Crossover, a two-day event, will take place the following week.

Conference action is set to begin after the holiday break with a home showing versus Moorpark Jan. 5 and will come to a close on Feb. 19 at home against LA Pierce. Postseason action will feature three rounds of regional play (Feb. 23, Feb. 26, March 5) at campus sites, followed by the CCCAA State Tournament at West Hills Lemoore on March 10-13.