Charm City puts Morris on display He leads Thomas Johnson against Paterson, Thomas

January 25, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Joe Smith was not the only super sophomore who played at Cole Field House last season.

Terrance Morris of Frederick's Thomas Johnson High heard the chants of, "Super sophomore, super sophomore" as he led his team in the state Class 3A championship game last season at Cole Field House.

Perhaps the premier junior in the state, Morris, a 6-foot-8 center, has committed orally to the University of Maryland and may hear those chants again someday at Cole Field House.

Morris will bring his act to Baltimore this week as part of the First National Bank Charm City Classic.

Saturday afternoon at 5:30 at Towson State, Morris will lead Thomas Johnson in a preliminary game against Paterson Catholic of New Jersey and Tim Thomas, arguably the nation's top player.

Only 16, Morris possesses an array of inside post moves and the ability to handle the ball and score from the perimeter. In a game last month against Loyola, he contributed 38 points and 18 rebounds and had a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.

"He's a fundamentally sound player who's in a great high school program," said Tom Strickler, Maryland editor and player analyst for Middle Atlantic Sports News. "He played with such great maturity at the states last year. I think as he grows and gets stronger, he could develop into a very fine combo-forward in the ACC."

Morris, who made his decision to attend Maryland in September, is unfazed by the praises and attention he has garnered. Quiet and unassuming, his play on the court has done most of the talking for him.

"I don't worry about things like that," said Morris, who weighs 195 pounds. "I just go out and play each game."

After losing to Randallstown in the state 3A championship game last year, Morris has the Patriots (11-1) in the running again, averaging 23.6 points, 13.8 rebounds and 6.8 blocks.

Many recruiting publications rank Morris among the nation's top 20 juniors. If Morris officially signs with Maryland in November, he may be the prize in the Terrapins' 1996-97 recruiting class.

"It's close to home," said Morris, who lives 45 minutes from College Park. "It's a good school and really a nice place to be."

Until he officially signs, Morris will continue to receive correspondence from other major colleges, but it seems unlikely he will change his mind.

"He's not into the ego thing where he needs people calling him all the time," said Thomas Johnson coach Tom Dickman.

"He could have waited another year to make his commitment, but he knew where he wanted to go and it wasn't going to change. He has always wanted to play for Maryland, and the opportunity presented itself."

Morris and Thomas are among many fine players participating in the two-day event that's expected to attract several college coaches and even a few NBA scouts to see the 6-foot-10 Thomas.

The area's top-ranked team, Southern of Baltimore, which is No. 12 in this week's USA Today Super 25 rankings, will play the nation's top-ranked team, St. Anthony of Jersey City, N.J., in a Northwest bracket first-round game tonight at 8:30.

If recent history means anything, Southern could pull an upset. ,, The last time the Bulldogs played in the Charm City Classic was in 1994, when they upset then No. 1 Rice of New York and Felipe Lopez, 64-58, to climb to the country's No. 2 ranking.

St. Anthony, the defending New Jersey state champion that defeated Dunbar and Lake Clifton in last year's Charm City, has one of the country's top 10 juniors in Anthony Perry, plus senior Ajmal Basit, who has signed with Massachusetts.

In the other Northwest bracket first-round game, St. John's Prospect Hall of Frederick, ranked No. 15 in the nation after beginning the season at No. 1, will play St. Raymond's of New York. The championship game will be Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

East Baltimore neighbors Dunbar (No. 5) and St. Frances (co-No. 3) meet for the first time ever at 7 p.m. Thursday in a Southeast bracket first-round game.

The other Southeast bracket first-round game has co-No. 3 Calvert Hall facing Strake Jesuit of Houston. Jesuit features two Connecticut signees in Jake Voshkhul and Michael LeBlanc. The title game will be Saturday at 7 p.m.

A preliminary matchup between the area's No. 2 team, Southwestern, and No. 6, Broadneck, today at 2:15 p.m. officially opens the tournament, which is now regarded as one of the best in the nation.

Charm City Classic

Site: Towson Center

Today's games

* 2:15, preliminary, Broadneck vs. Southwestern

* 4, Southeast bracket, Strake Jesuit (Houston) vs. Calvert Hall

* 5:30, Northwest bracket, St. Raymond's (N.Y.) vs. St. John's Prospect Hall

* 7, Southeast, Dunbar vs. St. Frances, 7

* 8:30, Northwest, Southern-B vs. St. Anthony (N.J.)

Saturday's games

* 2:15, Southeast consolation

* 3:45, Northwest consolation

* 5:30, preliminary, Paterson Catholic (N.J.) vs. Thomas Johnson

* 7, Southeast final

* 8:30, Northwest final

Tickets: $15, $12, $10 reserved; $8 general admission, available at Towson Center box office.

Players to watch

Ernest Brown, St. Raymond's, 6-10, sophomore, C

Ajmal Basit, St. Anthony, 6-8, senior, C

Juan Dixon, Calvert Hall, 6-2, junior, G

Johnny Hemsley, Southern-B, 6-6, senior, F

Nate James, Prospect Hall, 6-6, senior, F

Mark Karcher, St. Frances, 6-5, junior, F

Donta Lloyd, Southwestern, 6-1, senior, G

Woni Mohammed, Prospect Hall, 6-10, senior, C

Terrance Morris, Thomas Johnson, 6-8, junior, C

Pat Ngongba, Calvert Hall, 6-8, senior, C

Anthony Perry, St. Raymond's, 6-3, junior, G

Tommy Polley, Dunbar, 6-5, senior, F

Tim Thomas, Paterson Catholic, 6-10, senior, C

Jake Voshkuhl, Strake Jesuit, 6-11, senior, C

8, John Williams, Broadneck, 6-5, junior, F

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