JOHN: NBA expert evaluates Morris' game

When Randolph Morris made a decision to come to Kentucky, he chose the Wildcats over not only Georgia Tech, but over an early entry into the NBA as well. While the NBA may not have been a serious consideration at the time, he has seen some of his AAU teammates like Dwight Howard and Josh Smith successfully make that jump.

When Randolph Morris made a decision to come to Kentucky, he chose the Wildcats over not only Georgia Tech, but over an early entry into the NBA as well. While the NBA may not have been a serious consideration at the time, he has seen some of his AAU teammates like Dwight Howard and Josh Smith successfully make that jump.

NBA Draft Analyst Chris Monter thinks that the NBA would be interested in Morris. "He is a big, nimble player with a soft offensive touch and a lot of upside," Monter said, "The NBA loves big guys like Morris."

The question is, would they like him better with another year or two of college under his belt?

"I think so," Monter said, "Morris started his career a little below expectations but developed toward the end of the season. He had a very solid post season."

In fact, Morris' best overall effort came in Kentucky's last game, the double overtime loss to Michigan State. Morris chipped in 20 points.

"And he developed on national television in front of millions of people," Monter added, "That sure did not hurt him a bit. Still, there are questions."

"If I am an NBA scout I would want Randolph to be a better rebounder. He showed flashes but was very inconsistent. And a guy his size should be a better shot blocker. That is something an NBA scout would see. And my impression of Randolph is that he gets into foul trouble a lot. I think everyone saw Morris pick up those 2 quick fouls against Utah and effective rose the bench with foul trouble."

The big 6-foot-10 Georgia product pulled down fewer than 4 rebounds in 11 of his first 19 games as a Wildcat. He has also underperformed in many people's eyes as a shot blocker. In 15 games during January and February, Morris blocked a total of nine shots.

Randolph's difficulty staying out of foul trouble is well-documented. Morris was saddled with four or more fouls in 12 of Kentucky's 34 games. In some of those games, the foul problems started early and effectively made Morris a non-factor in the game. In an important road game against Alabama, as an example, foul problems forced him to the bench for all but eight minutes of the game. Morris was whistled twice in the first two minutes of the game against Utah in the NCAA. He had a similar issue at the beginning of the second half, playing a total of 5 minutes against the best big man in the country.

But still, Morris played very well down the stretch for Kentucky, and most assuredly NBA scouts across the country have made note of that. As the season wore on, Morris began to become more comfortable offensively. It got to the point where Tubby Smith was, with some regularity, calling for offensive schemes using Hayes and Morris as a high-low team with success. Against Mississippi State, Morris was 5-7 from the field and scored 17 points. Morris also made good shooting decisions, dropping 36 of 60 field goal attempts over his last 12 games.

Despite the questions surrounding Morris' immediate preparedness for the NBA, General Managers will frequently take big men for their upside, and for potential, Morris shines. "Morris could come out now and probably get drafted in round one," Monter said, " but ‘probably' is something I would not want to hear if I was Randolph. This is a guy that could play his way into a top 20, top fifteen or top ten of the first round, perhaps with another year or possibly two under his belt. If I am Morris I would think to myself, ‘if I come out now I am not assured of a first round pick and I could potentially blow an opportunity for a huge guaranteed contract down the line. The smart thing for Randolph is to play on in college."


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