July 7, 2005
Please tell me it isn't true that Randolph Morris is thinking about playing for the Atlanta Hawks' summer-league team next week.
If he does that, his college eligibility will be gone. But if he hasn't made a commitment to the Hawks and hasn't signed with an agent, he still has the opportunity to salvage his undrafted situation and return to Kentucky.
You prefer to be a basketball vagabond and bounce from league to league?
Here is my open letter to Randolph Morris:
Please, please get on the first plane back to Lexington and meet with coach Tubby Smith. Tell him how much you'd like to put on that Kentucky uniform again.
Do you know how many kids would give their right arm to play at Rupp Arena and put on that Wildcats jersey? There's nothing like playing in front of the most passionate fans you can find in college basketball.
Doesn't it make sense to hear the Big Blue fans cheering again? Standing-room-only crowds at Rupp, fans going wild, all sorts of visibility and national coverage ... and you don't want any of that? Are you serious?
You prefer to be a basketball vagabond and bounce from league to league? Come on. Don't you understand, you were passed by all 30 teams not just once but twice. Two rounds of the draft and your name wasn't called.
The message is loud and clear: You must work on many parts of your game. If you get better and better, there is some potential. You have great size and youth on your side, and it could happen.
Think about some other Kentucky players who improved, like Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans and Jamaal Magloire. They all stayed at Kentucky, and look what happened. They enjoyed moments they can treasure the rest of their lives, and they went on to play in the NBA.
Come on Randolph, get real! Don't go to those Hawks tryouts. It would be sad if you lost out on that special college environment this season. You might not land a job in the NBA.
Many kids don't have a chance to go back to college -- Kennedy Winston, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh, to name a few. Randolph, take advantage of it and make it happen. Ask for reinstatement and get your eligibility back.
I don't have anything to gain by this. I simply want to see you do the right thing. I love young people and I hate to see them make mistakes like this.
Go back to Lexington, be a kid, be a student.
I know you see your buddy Dwight Howard in the NBA, but he was clearly ready. You see him doing his thing. The question wasn't whether he would be a first-rounder, but No. 1 or No. 2. Howard made the right decision, and he will get better and better.
Mr. Morris, there is nothing wrong with being a star on the college level and improving there. With the returning cast in Lexington, with you operating inside in a lineup that includes Rajon Rondo, Joey Crawford and Patrick Sparks, Big Blue could be a top-10 team -- and you would enjoy that.
Wouldn't you be better off wearing the UK jersey in front of 20,000 screaming fans instead of being a basketball vagabond sitting on the pine somewhere or bouncing from league to league?
It is time to get real and make a good, intelligent decision. Go back to Kentucky.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.