The Washington Times - June 23, 2009, 10:52AM

As Maryland’s national title season hummed along, there were murmurs about the chances of Chris Wilcox returning for his junior season.

He was raw. He was also promising.

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When he was on, he could dominate in the post like no Maryland player since Joe Smith. When he was disinterested, well, it was easy to forget about him.

But even then, in the dead of winter, there was a crushing point offered into the discussion:

In no way was he going to pull a Terence Morris.

It was said with measures of both dread and disdain, at times accompanied by a shudder. Morris had the look of a lottery pick after exploding as a sophomore (and playing alongside Steve Francis and Laron Profit).

But he opted to return to school and, while good, probably wasn’t quite as good as everyone thought he would be as the focal point of Maryland’s offense.

Then he returned to school as a senior, and he demonstrably regressed. Scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, 3-point shooting, steals – they all dropped considerably as Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter became full-fledged stars.

Morris started every game for a Final Four team. He also fell to the second round of the NBA Draft. In the final analysis, “pulling a Terence Morris” meant frittering away millions to return to school and watch your draft stock plummet (as if playing four years in college was a pox upon anyone’s house).

And that, sadly for the taciturn Morris, is often how his career is viewed. To an extent, it’s unfair.

There’s no changing the fact Morris might have logged more pro time on this side of the pond had he bolted early, though he still is plugging away and getting paid for his trouble (last season in Russia).

It’s also true he was eclipsed in the Terps’ pecking order when he should have been the focal point of the offense, first by Dixon and later by Baxter.

But that ignores two major factors. First, his resplendent sophomore season, the one that generated all the hype in the first place. Regardless of his final showing, Morris was overwhelming in Year No. 2, more than doubling his scoring (15.4), rebounding (7.1), steals (1.6) and blocks (2.3) while shooting 55.4 percent.

Two, even though the following two seasons weren’t quite so jaw-dropping, the unassuming Morris managed to leave his name all over Maryland’s career lists. That includes:

* 10th in scoring (1,733 points)
* Fifth in rebounding (925)
* 11th in steals (162)
* Second in blocks (256)
* 15th in 3-pointers made (101)

That’s pretty sound work, especially for someone who many fans don’t seem to view nearly as fondly as contemporaries in the early (Francis, Obinna Ekezie, Rodney Elliott and Laron Profit) and later (Baxter, Dixon, Steve Blake and Byron Mouton) stages of his career.

Maybe Morris didn’t quite live up to the expectations created by that monstrous sophomore season. But overall, he didn’t disappoint, and for now he stands as one of the top 10 players of the Gary Williams era.

Previously:

* No. 20: Exree Hipp
* No. 19: James Gist
* No. 18: Obinna Ekezie
* No. 17: Evers Burns
* No. 16: D.J. Strawberry
* No. 15: Drew Nicholas
* No. 14: Tony Massenburg
* The Next 10
* No. 13: Chris Wilcox
* No. 12: John Gilchrist
* No. 11: Laron Profit

Patrick Stevens