Players embrace the return of Randolph Morris

The return of Randolph Morris does not appear to be a problem for the 2005-2006 edition of the Kentucky Wildcats. The players have accepted Morris back into the fold. Coach Tubby Smith and his players expect the 6-10 center to regain the eligibility that was put in jeopardy by his NBA draft foray last summer.

After saying there was "nothing really to talk about" in regards to Randolph Morris, Kentucky coach Tubby Smith again spent a lot of time talking about UK's sophomore center today.

Morris was not at UK's Media Day as previously announced because Smith has decided he will be off limits until there is a resolution by the NCAA about his playing status.

Smith says he's not worried about players having to adjust to Morris when he is eventually ruled eligible - and the coach made it clear that he does not expect Morris' flirtations with the NBA last summer to keep him from eventually playing for UK this season.

"That's why we have two or three guys in his position," Smith said when asked about Morris' absence. "It's not that we don't miss him. He's playing very well. It's awful that he's not eligible.

"I like his attitude and demeanor. His disposition has been very positive. He appreciates the players welcoming him back and embracing him as well as the fans doing it."

Smith says Kentucky has a lot of "good front-court people" but that Kentucky will miss Morris' bulk and athleticism while he is out. However, he also made it clear that Morris must conform to Smith's system.

"We never depend on just one guy, but he's a valuable part of what we ultimately want to accomplish in the long term. He could make a difference there," Smith said.

Smith says he hopes Morris has learned how to deal with disappointment and to consult and confide in those who can have the most impact on him.

"It won't be a big adjustment when he comes back. He's playing every day (in practice). He only play 19 minutes a game last year. Somebody else played 21 minutes (each game)," Smith said. "He just has to fit into our system. We are not going to adjust for him."

Senior Brandon Stockton says Morris' return to Kentucky has not been a problem. "He came back and worked hard from day one without even knowing if he would get to play or not," Stockton said. "We expect him to play. Once the decision (about his eligibility is made), we'll just move on and get him back in the lineup.

"He came back and apologized to some people. It's just something kids go through. We don't always know what goes through Randolph's mind, but he's a good kid. We're glad he's back."

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