JOHN: Morris needs to come back to Kentucky

If NBA General Managers so desired, they could fill both rounds of draft picks with underclassmen that have declared their eligibility for the upcoming NBA draft. Sixty-three players have already decided to test the NBA waters early and join and already sizeable graduating senior class. And with each new early entry that begins to surface, the hopes of Randolph Morris fades a notch.

If NBA General Managers so desired, they could fill both rounds of draft picks with underclassmen that have declared their eligibility for the upcoming NBA draft. Sixty-three players have already decided to test the NBA waters early and join and already sizeable graduating senior class. This list does not yet include players like Greg Oden, who many experts believe would be the number one pick in the draft, but has still not yet made a decision to make the jump. It also does not include names like Fran Vasquez, a power forward from Spain, or Martynas Andriuskevicius a monsterous 7-foot-3 center from Lithuania, and a growing list of other foreign players that are sure to play a factor in the draft.

And with each new early entry that begins to surface, the hopes of Kentucky's two early entry hopefuls, Kelenna Azubuike and Randolph Morris, as well as the Wildcats' graduating senior, Chuck Hayes, fades a notch.

Many of the young players testing the waters have at least done the smart thing, not hiring an agent. Randolph Morris is in that group. Morris now has the opportunity to attend the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago in June and evaluate his chances of being selected in the first round, which guarantees him a contract and spot on a team.

If Morris does not feel like he will be selected in the first round, he has retained the option of returning to the Wildcats. But Chris Monter, of monterdraftnews.com thinks Morris might be in a tough situation.

Morris has been projected by some experts as a selection in the low twenties. Still others think he may go much later in the first round. And some speculate he may slip from the first round altogether.

"Morris needs to go back to Kentucky, in my opinion," said Monter, "that would be my advice. He needs to learn to rebound better and score more consistently."

Still, NBA General Managers have a long history of rolling the dice on quality big men with solid upside potential even if that potential has yet to be realized, "But there is always a risk when you are looking at a player like Morris who has upside but really hasn't proven it yet," Monter said, "We have 63 underclassmen or high schoolers now, and we don't know how many more will enter. We don't yet know how many foreign players will be part of the draft.

Morris is in a fragile position right now, as is any early entry that is projected to go in the late first round. Every time a Brandon Bass or an Ike Diogu enters his name in the draft, the potential for Morris to slip out of the first round becomes a greater and greater risk, "That is one reason why Morris should just go back to college," Monter said, "there is no real reason to take such risks. He should go back to Kentucky, improve his game, become more consistent and evaluate his chances next year."

In short, this is not a great year for players to come out early. With this many players coming out early, it would seem to me that Morris would need to play extremely impressive in the NBA draft camp to increase his chances to solidify that first round selection. There is now doubt, by looking at the list below, that dozens of NBA hopefuls are going to come away extremely disappointed with the result.

Underclassmen in 2005 NBA draft
Player School Pos. Year
Alex Acker Pepperdine G Jr.
Deji Akindele Chicago State C So.
Kelenna Azubuike Kentucky G/F Jr.
Sean Banks Memphis F So.
Jose Juan Barea Northeastern G Jr.
Brandon Bass LSU F So.
Martellus Bennett Texas A&M F Signee
Andray Blatche None F/C Unsigned
Andrew Bogut Utah C So.
Brandon Bowman Georgetown F Jr.
Dee Brown Illinois G Jr.
Keith Brumbaugh None F Unsigned
Andrew Bynum  Connecticut C Signee
Ike Diogu  Arizona State F Jr.
Toney Douglas  Auburn G Fr.
Monta Ells Mississippi State G Signee
Olu Famutimi  Arkansas G/F So.
Raymond Felton North Carolina G Jr.
Torin Francis Notre Dame F Jr.
Francisco Garcia Louisville F Jr.
John Gilchrist Maryland G Jr.
Gerald Green  Oklahoma State G Signee
Mike Hall George Washington G Jr.
Chris Hernandez  Stanford G Jr.
Bryan Hopkins SMU G Jr.
Jarrett Jack Georgia Tech G Jr.
Amir Johnson Louisville F Signee
Dwayne Jones  Saint Joseph's C Jr.
Linas Kleiza Missouri F So.
Carl Krauser Pittsburgh G Jr.
Dennis Latimore Notre Dame F Jr.
Darshan Luckey St. Francis, PA G Jr.
Sean May North Carolina F Jr.
Rashad McCants North Carolina G Jr.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu  George Washington F Jr.
C.J. Miles Texas G Signee
J.R. Morris Seton Hall G Jr.
Randolph Morris Kentucky C Fr.
Tim Parham Maryland Eastern Shore C Jr.
T.J. Parker Northwestern G Jr.
Chris Paul Wake Forest G So.
Pierre Pierce Iowa G Jr.
Kevin Pittsnogle  West Virginia C Jr.
Shavlik Randolph  Duke F Jr.
Anthony Roberson  Florida G Jr.
Nate Robinson Washington G Jr.
Chris Rodgers Arizona G Jr.
Steven Smith La Salle F Jr.
Marcus Slaughter  San Diego State F So.
Chris Taft Pittsburgh F So.
Charlie Villanueva Connecticut F So.
Tiras Wade Louisiana-Lafayette G Jr.
Von Wafer  Florida State G So.
Matt Walsh  Florida F Jr.
Martell Webster  Washington G Signee
James White Cincinnati F Jr.
Deron Williams Illinois G Jr.
Eric Williams  Wake Forest F Jr.
Louis Williams Georgia G Signee
Marvin Williams North Carolina F Fr.
Kennedy Winston Alabama F Jr.
Antoine Wright  Texas A&M G/F Jr.
FBracey Wright Indiana F Jr.

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