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Friday, April 1, 2005

Free State’s Morningstar opting for prep school

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Free State High senior basketball guard Brady Morningstar has decided to attend prep school for a year before accepting a major college scholarship.

"It's really the only smart thing to do," said Roger Morningstar, Brady's dad, who attended junior college two years before becoming a standout at Kansas University.

"The theory behind it is, it doesn't matter what level of school, he needs a year to catch up physically. This is the best way to do it. You go to a junior college and your clock starts ticking. You go to a big four-year school and red shirt and your clock starts ticking.

"Go to a prep school, and your clock doesn't tick. They have great coaches and programs. You play 35 games then you revisit everything in a year."

Morningstar, a 6-foot-31/2, 166-pounder, who was named first-team all-state and Sunflower League player of the year, had offers from schools in the Big 12, Big Sky, Big East, Missouri Valley and Mid Continent conferences, said Roger Morningstar, who didn't want to name specific schools. It was believed a walk-on spot was available at KU.

Morningstar -- who averaged 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals this past season -- has yet to choose a prep school, where NCAA rules allow him to receive a full scholarship. Winchendon School in Massachusetts and Blair Academy in New Jersey are possibilities.

"When you are 166 pounds you've got a dogfight on your hands," Roger Morningstar said. "Everybody puts on 15, 20 pounds their freshman year. You come back at 180, 185, it's a little different deal. Everybody who was there (on his list of schools) now will not disappear, but it might open up a few more."

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Roy's phone calls: KU senior Wayne Simien on Thursday discussed the controversial issue of North Carolina coach Roy Williams keeping in contact with his former players the past couple of years.

USA Today recently reported that Williams phoned Simien after he suffered a thumb injury earlier this year and spoke frequently with the Jayhawks.

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Morningstar

"The whole coach-Williams-talking-to-the-players issue is definitely being blown out of the water," Simien said.

"He has called me I'd say four times over the last two years. I probably called him three on top of that, basically on holidays, during the summertime when we ran into each other on the road. It was not anything during the season or after big games or losses.

"He was not calling to criticize our play or any of that. It was casual, a minimal amount rather than what has been portrayed."

Simien, who will attend the Naismith Awards ceremony Sunday night in St. Louis, said he wasn't planning on attending any of the Final Four games this weekend.

"I won't go to the game," Simien said of the North Carolina-Michigan State semifinal Saturday at Edward Jones Dome. "We know from experience he (Williams) is busy. We'll probably just watch from afar. If we casually meet up, we meet up. There's not a big rally or anything where we're going to St. Louis wearing Carolina blue."

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High praise: Dick Vitale on Wednesday in USA Today wrote that he'll miss three things in college basketball next year: Purdue coach Gene Keady, who has retired; going to KU and not seeing the "classy" Simien in the post; and going to Syracuse and not seeing the "superb baseline work" of Hakim Warrick.

"This is pride right there. I'll take that. That's Dicky V right there," Simien beamed. "He's seen a lot of college basketball, been to a lot of great venues, seen a lot of great players, to say something like that ... man, that is nice."



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Retired jersey: As a consensus All-American, Simien will have his jersey hung in the fieldhouse rafters someday.

It will be several years down the road, however, when Simien might be able to enjoy the ceremony more.

"I think it'll be good. I'd definitely rather wait a few years. Coach (Bill) Self talked to me and said it might be nice for me to come back with a family and be able to share it with them. It's a great honor if that happens. To hopefully see my name in the rafters is great."

Speaking of honors, the Senior CLASS award winner will be announced in a ceremony Saturday during the Final Four coverage on CBS. Simien is a leading candidate of the 10 finalists.

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AAU tourney coming: The Jayhawk Invitational Tournament for AAU teams, will be held May 6-8 at Allen Fieldhouse, Horejsi Center and perhaps other venues. Details will be released later about what top recruits will be attending.

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