Rising stars share spotlight at Classic: Paterson's Thomas scores 22 Morris named most valuable

January 28, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

One look at the couple dozen autograph- seeking youngsters lined up at the top of the stairs waiting for Paterson (N.J.) Catholic's Tim Thomas and Thomas Johnson's Terrance Morris to emerge from the locker rooms at Towson State told the story last night.

This was more than a high school basketball game in the CharCity Classic.

This was an event featuring two incredibly-skilled athletes whwill probably play at the highest level of basketball some day, barring unforseen circumstances.

It was the powerful 6-foot-10, 240-pound senior Thomas againsthe extremely quick 6-8, 210-pound junior Morris.

Thomas and Paterson Catholic won the game, 61-51, but Morriwalked off with the most valuable player award.

Morris, cheered on by several fans from nearby Frederickscored 23 points, had 15 rebounds, three blocked shots, one assist and one steal.

Morris hit 10 of 13 from the field and threee of four from the line.

Thomas, the recipient of many boos when he didn't dunk the balon several breakaways, nearly matched Morris in points with 22 but only had four rebounds along with four steals and two blocks.

Paterson coach Jimmy Salmon, Thomas didn't slam the ball lasnight because "he has a sore wrist."

"We were sluggish all night and it wasn't one of Tim's bettegames," said Salmon. "I'm sure the fans didn't want to see this kind of game (slow pace) but you have to give the Thomas Johnson coach (Tom Dickman) credit for his game plan."

Thomas didn't seem to be overly intense throughout the game for his matchup with Morris and said afterwards: "I didn't know it was a matchup with anybody. I was just out there trying to win the game."

And trying to deal with all the talk that he might be good enougto skip collegiate basketball and play in the NBA right away next season.

"It feels good to hear people say I'm good enough to go to thNBA," said Thomas.

"I can't control what people are going to say but I'll said before that I'd only consider playing in the NBA before college if I had a financial hardship."

Paul Baker, a part-time scout for the Washington Bullets, wathought to be the only NBA scout present but Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle were represented by scouting services.

Baker said of Thomas: "He certainly has the body to play in thNBA but needs to maturity. It's hard to evaluate a man among boys, you need to see a man among men. Thomas is unchallenged at this level and didn't seem to be mentally into this game."

In regard to Morris, Baker said: "He is a young Danny ManningHe is a more productive player at the high school level than Thomas."

Even though Morris' teammates all shouted that he was thsuperior player to Thomas, the MVP from Thomas Johnson would not comment much on the duel with Thomas.

"They were kind of a tough team and he (Thomas) is a big guy,said Morris.

"I can't say I'm a better player. I would have rather won the game than be the MVP."

On his oral commitment to attend Maryland Morris said, hhasn't changed his mind.

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