Terps' Morris named an AP All-American

He's first UM player so honored since '94-95 when Smith was picked

November 11, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Terence Morris began his college basketball career on the bench. Two years later, he's a preseason All-American.

Morris, a versatile junior forward from Frederick's Thomas Johnson High, yesterday was named to the Associated Press preseason All-America team. He joined Auburn forward Chris Porter, DePaul forward Quentin Richardson and a pair of guards from the Big Ten, Ohio State's Scoonie Penn and Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves.

"It feels good," Morris said, "but the best part will be if I finish the season off still on the first team."

Coach Gary Williams used Morris, 6 feet 9 and 205 pounds, as a reserve in his freshman year, when he helped Maryland reach the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. Last season, the Terps set a school record for victories and he developed into an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, when he averaged 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.

While Michigan State, Auburn and Ohio State are ranked in the preseason top five and DePaul is No. 20, Morris is the only returning starter for a team rated just outside the Top 25.

"Last year, he played on a team that won a lot of games, and he got some exposure," Williams said. "With the way things are now in college basketball, with guys leaving early, Terence is still there. I feel he's one of the best players in the country, and I guess other people do too."

Morris is the first Maryland player to be named a preseason All-American since Joe Smith in 1994-95. Earlier, Morris was voted preseason Player of the Year in the ACC.

Awaiting word

Maryland's recruiting haul could hinge on the academic improvement of some high school seniors.

The early national letter of intent signing period opened yesterday with no announcement from the Terps, who have received an oral commitment from DeMatha's Matt Slaninka, a 7-3 center.

They could receive a positive announcement as early as today from Chris Wilcox, a 6-9 forward who is rated the top prospect in North Carolina.

Wilcox's only official visits thus far have been to Maryland and N.C. State. He transferred to Raleigh's Enloe High this year, and his freshman eligibility next season is dependent upon his SAT score. He was scheduled to retake the SAT last week, but missed the test.

If Crisfield guard Andre Collins raises his SAT score, he could provide the Terps with depth at the point. A dominant player on the Eastern Shore in recent years, Collins impressed the Terps' coaching staff with his play on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit this summer. His high school coach said that if Collins takes care of his academics, he'll be offered a scholarship by Maryland next spring.

"Andre hasn't fully qualified," Crisfield coach Phil Rayfield said. "His SAT score needs a little work. They [the Maryland staff] have said that as soon as he gets the necessary score, there's a scholarship for him. They're ready to offer when he's fully qualified."

Freshman Steve Blake is expected to start for Maryland at the point through the 2002-2003 season. Juan Dixon will back him up this season, but the redshirt sophomore from Calvert Hall is also the Terps' starting shooting guard, and Williams doesn't want to spread him too thin.

Collins, 5-9 and 160 pounds, will start for the fourth straight year for Crisfield, in Somerset County. He averaged 28 points last season, and also led the Crabbers in assists and steals.

Maryland is the only major conference program recruiting Collins, who has received offers from Appalachian State and James Madison, among others.

Briefly

The Terps open Wednesday at Cole Field House against San Francisco in the first round of the 16-team Preseason NIT. It is expected to be Williams' 400th college coaching victory. He spoke from the Camden Club last night, as he was in Baltimore to promote the Terps' Nov. 30 game against Iowa at the Arena. It's part of the inaugural ACC-Big Ten challenge. Cleaves is recovering from a foot stress fracture, and won't be available to play for the Spartans until mid-December.

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