June 13, 2005
I still find it hard to believe that 108 early-entry players (including college underclassmen, international players and high schoolers) declared for the NBA draft. Yes, some underclassmen, such as West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle and Wake Forest's Eric Williams, have wisely pulled out of the draft.
Another player who should consider returning to college is Randolph Morris, Kentucky's freshman center. He has the opportunity to continue playing for one of the premier coaches in America, Tubby Smith. Morris could play at least one more season in front of those incredible fans who bleed Kentucky blue.
The passion of those fans makes the Kentucky situation something special. Playing in such a visible program is so unique. Why would Morris prefer to sit on the pine day in and day out in the NBA when his future would be brighter with more experience on the collegiate level?
|Randolph Morris averaged almost a triple-double as a senior at Landmark Christian School in Georgia. As a freshman at Kentucky, his numbers weren't quite as impressive.|
The money will be there, and the guarantee of first-round dollars could be greater after another season of improvement. Right now, there's a question about whether Morris would even go in the first round.
I don't understand why he would give up playing in that great environment at Kentucky. He would benefit more from the day-to-day practices and playing time as a starter in college. He is not ready to compete physically at the NBA level.
I know he can become more dominant at the college level, build his confidence and skill level, and then consider his options down the line.
I look at what he did in his first season at Kentucky and wonder why he put his name in the draft. His stats in SEC games tell the story: 18.4 minutes per game, 8.2 points per game and almost as many fouls (56) as rebounds (59). If you can't average at least four rebounds a game in the SEC (he averaged 3.7), how can you possibly be ready for the physical battles inside night in and night out at the pro level?
There were times at Kentucky last season when he was nothing more than a body on the court. At 6-foot-10, you would expect him to have at least one double-double in the regular season. His first one came in the NCAA Tournament against Cincinnati.
He needs to learn more about how to play. With another season in Lexington, his stock would rise.
Tell Mr. Morris to look at what happened to Ndudi Ebi, who opted for the NBA instead of playing for Lute Olson at Arizona. Ebi has been firmly entrenched on the pine with the Minnesota Timberwolves and hasn't come close to reaching his potential.
Morris comes from a great family, from all indications, and is a classy young man. This isn't a kid who lacks an educational background. I just feel that he's getting some bad advice about his NBA career.
Kids hear they should go late in the first round, and they see the dollar signs. So many players in this year's draft are similar in skill level, so some of them will be disappointed big-time when they drop to round two.
If Morris slides to the second round, nothing is guaranteed. Why not wait for a sure thing? Go back to the visibility of Kentucky, learn and grow and improve, and realize your the pro dream down the road.
When a player disappears from the court or becomes a basketball vagabond, the NBA draft isn't a wise career choice.
I hope someone gives Morris better advice, and I hope he returns to school.
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.