CG Tim Morris visits Stanford again

Tim Morris has now taken his second visit to Stanford in the past month, and I had the good fortune to meet him as well as watch him play. Read on for the latest on his nationally contested recruitment, and where he would fit in this Stanford recruiting class

CG Tim Morris (profile)
Whitefield Academy (Mableton, GA)
Ht: 6-4  Wt: 190
 21.6 ppg  11.0 rpg

One of the very important recruits who I have not been able to get a handle on has been Tim Morris from Atlanta, Georgia - the 1A state Naismith Award player of the year this past season.  He is a high-major guard, who at 6-3 or 6-4 could project as a shooting guard or off-guard in college.  His recruitment has run up and down the Eastern seaboard, with a lot of interest in the ACC, SEC and Big East - including Florida, Maryland, UConn, NC State and Clemson.  Though he has built an increasing national profile with the heavy involvement of Stanford and Notre Dame.

Tim came out to Stanford over the weekend of May 12 for his official visit, coming one week after his official visit to Notre Dame.  I regrettably was out of town that weekend and missed the chance to not only watch Tim play with the guys on the team, but also to meet him face-to-face.  Tim has just made a return visit to Stanford on Wednesday the 29th with his family to get another look at the Cardinal and the Farm... and this time, I didn't miss him.

Tim has recently hurt his ankle and has been taking his time rehab'ing back to good health and strength for the upcoming USA Junior Team tryouts in Colorado Springs this weekend.  Indeed it looked like Tim might pass on the chance to play with the guys on the team in Maples, though a little gentle coaxing from Julius, Chris and friends brought him onto the hardwood.  His ankle still does not look 100% to me, as he was a little ginger jumping for rebounds, but it is clear what a special athlete Tim is.  He did show how much he can elevate for his jumper and dunks, gimpy ankle and all, and also demonstrated his overall explosiveness both laterally and vertically.

Further comments on Tim's game can be best illustrated in comparison to what I have seen and wrote about another guard of great Stanford interest, Omar Wilkes.  Omar has a more pure shooting stroke from outside, but I did see Tim can the three several times.  His midrange jumper is a better scoring threat for him right now, though.  The great distinction between the two guards, though, comes with the ball.  Tim has a great handle, especially for his size, that allows him to play as a point guard on the floor at the Pac-10 level.  In particular, he showed several times a nasty cross-over dribble that blew by current Stanford players.  Tim may also look like a more aggressive scorer that Omar.

Those comparisons and distinctions help to elucidate the different roles these two renowned guards can play in Stanford's recruiting.  As I wrote yesterday with Omar, he could be a great on-floor leader and run the offense, but his handle and quickness would not let him regularly play against the highest level Pac-10 point guard competition.  He is an off-guard in my mind, squarely.  Tim Morris, on the other hand, has the full complement of skills to play at either guard position at that level.

In the bigger picture, that makes him an intriguing and uniquely versatile recruit in this class.  If Stanford wants both a ballhandler and a wing to come out of this class, to go of course along with David Padgett, Tim could fill either role.  Thus Stanford can still look at high level point guards as well as a variety of "wings."  And a loose definition of wing could range from an Omar Wilkes up to a Sean Phaler.

Tim told me that he currently has an offer from Stanford, as well as Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, South Carolina and NC State.  Though he is polite in not ruling anyone out, the trio of Stanford, Tech and ND are his favorites at this time.  His aim in selecting a school for his collegiate years is to find the highest level blend of academics and athletics.  A quick look back at those three schools reaffirms that criterion.

Georgia Tech is a local school for him, where he in facts plays often with his AAU club team, the Georgia Stars.  Thus, he knows the campus, facilities, players and coaches.  With visits and familiarity now in hand for all three of his top schools, he is deep into the discovery phase of his recruitment.  Of the head coaches, he likes all three, but said that Notre Dame's Mike Brey particularly struck him.

"He is a very personable guy.  That's his gift - he's a people person."

When you hear something like that from an intelligent kid like Tim, you can much better understand why Notre Dame has had such a spike in recruiting success the past 12 months.  The recruiting experts would tell you the Domers should have had no business landing Torin Francis in the 2002 class.

In comparing the guys on the teams he has met, he said he liked them all, but particularly remarked how much he enjoyed his two hosts at Stanford and Notre Dame: Josh Childress and Chris Thomas.

Though a core issue you might fret over if you are a Stanford coach would be distance.  Tim has grown up a Georgia boy, and Tech is in his proverbial backyard.  Stanford is clearly the most distant school from his home and family, but Tim did not hesitate to dismiss this as a factor for him.

"It doesn't matter at all to me.  All of them would be away from home.  Even Tech would not be right at home for me, since it is right in downtown Atlanta."

The factors working in Stanford's favor are really the same as his primary criterion.  While Notre Dame and Georgia Tech can comparatively sell themselves as good academic schools compared to others in the Southeast or Midwest, Stanford is recognized by the Morris family on a different plateau.  To better understand that, you should know that Tim and his parents have a very serious academic bend, with his PhD-toting father in particular on top of the academic offerings of schools.  During Tim's official visit earlier in May, he met with faculty and was very struck by them.  Again on Wednesday he met with two more Stanford professors and greatly impressed.

Oh, and Tim has fallen in love with the physical campus and surrounding areas.  In fact, he went mountain biking Wednesday for some scenery and a good workout.

"This is the most beautiful campus you could ever see."

Tim said some things to me that told me how comfortable he felt with Notre Dame.  And it is clear that Georgia Tech and Paul Hewitt (who has been a hurricane force in his first two years of recruiting at Tech) are gunning very hard for Tim.  All that being said, everything I see points toward this recruitment as one Stanford should not lose.  Stanford holds marked advantages over both schools in both academics and basketball today.  Distance isn't a factor, and I think the parents coming out for a visit with Tim can only help.

I don't make predictions often, but I think Tim Morris will be a Cardinal.  The timing is tough to say, as Tim says that he could decide in the summer or the fall, and might take other official visits after his summer basketball concludes.

Note that Tim has a strong academic profile and already sent in his admissions application earlier this month.  He should hear back very soon, and should very likely be accepted.

As mentioned previously, Tim's next stop is Colorado for the 18-and-under national team tryouts.  The invitees include kids in his class, as well as some graduating seniors in the 2002 class like Brad Buckman, Daniel Horton and Chris Bosh.  The competition will be very fierce, but

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