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Kentucky recruit Morris not jumping to NBA

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

May 7, 2004
The rich simply get richer in Bluegrass Country.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith had to be jumping with joy at the news that 6-foot-11 center Randolph Morris decided not to go to the NBA early, instead opting to go to college and join the Wildcats.

Randolph Morris
6-foot-11 Randolph Morris averaged almost a triple-double as a senior at Landmark Christian School in Georgia.
A quality big man is a key part of the puzzle that Kentucky really needed, his signing completing a recruiting class that ranks among the nation's best.

Morris, a McDonald's All-American, joins a Kentucky recruiting class that includes two other McDonald's All-Americans (guards Joe Crawford and Rajon Rondo).

Morris made the right decision to put the NBA on hold, and he should benefit from his experience at Kentucky, learning from Smith and getting quality practice and playing time. So many high-school kids have declared for this year's NBA draft -- eight at last count -- and you have to wonder about their decisions.

Not everyone is LeBron James, and if all these kids stay in the draft they'll miss out on the college experience, which should be a great time in anyone's life.

Morris averaged nearly a triple-double as a senior at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Ga. (23 points, 16 rebounds, eight blocks per game). He picked Kentucky over 2004 NCAA runner-up Georgia Tech. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt had to be disappointed that Morris didn't stay closer to home.

Transfer Patrick Sparks also will be eligible next season for Kentucky. Sparks sat out last season after transferring from Western Kentucky. Mr. Sparks can flat-out shoot the rock.

Since seniors like Erik Daniels, Gerald Fitch and Cliff Hawkins have completed their eligibility, it's time for Kentucky to restock the talent. The Wildcats will always bring in lots of top-notch players and enjoy a competitive team in the SEC as Smith keeps that special winning tradition going strong at Kentucky.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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