True will start against Cats

December 07, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Because he went to several games in Rupp Arena last season when he was thinking about joining the Kentucky basketball program, Jonathan True doesn't expect to be overwhelmed when he plays there Wednesday.

"It's going to be a good atmosphere. It should be fun," said True.

The former Lincoln County player will be Morehead's starting center Wednesday when the Eagles face No. 10 Kentucky.

True has started four games for Morehead this season and has played well. He's averaging 24 minutes, 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He has a team-high 10 blocked shots and is shooting well from the field (9-for-17) and free throw line (10-for-16).

"Things are actually going real well," True said. "I didn't really think I would get to play this much this early in the year. I was hoping to be contributing by midseason, but I've worked hard and things have worked out well."


The 6-9 True debated becoming a walk-on player at Kentucky before signing with Morehead at the end of last season.

Smith liked his potential

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith liked True's potential and felt he could have helped the Cats in two or three years.

"Jonathan was here quite a bit last year," Smith said. "We talked about him joining our program. In the end, he is a young man who wanted to play more and contribute more early. Certainly he's doing that more so at Morehead than he would have at our place.

"He is off to a good start and having a good year. We did spend a lot of time talking with him about the opportunity to walk on in our program because we didn't have a scholarship for him."

Morehead coach Kyle Macy did and convinced True that the chance to play early at Morehead would benefit him more than backing up players such as Randolph Morris, Lukasz Obrzut and Shagari Alleyne at Kentucky.

"He needed somebody big and physical who could rebound, play defense and block shots inside the paint," True said. "A few games have brought my numbers down, but I just want to keep improving.

"I know it will be exciting to go into Rupp Arena and play, especially since they looked at me and wanted me to go there. It's going to be a big test for us, but we just have to look at it as another game and another step in our season."

Several Lincoln fans will attend

True has heard that he'll have several Lincoln County fans at Wednesday's game. He says many of his former classmates at Lincoln now attend UK and also plan to be at the game.

He's not sure if Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson will be at the game. UK walk-on guard Ravi Moss also played for Jackson at University Heights.

"I just have a feeling he will be there," True said.

He doesn't have to worry about Morris, one of three McDonald's All-Americans from last season on this year's Kentucky team. True will be matched often against Morris, one of the nation's top prep centers last year.

"They all put their shoes on the same way I do," True said. "I am looking forward to playing against all of them. It will be nice to face that type of competition to test myself and see how much more I need to improve.

"I am a lot stronger and more physical than I was last year. You have to keep getting stronger to play at this level or you won't last very long."

True said he's adjusted well to college life except "the dorm rooms are small" and that he misses home at times.

"But it's only two hours away, so it is not a big deal," True said.

No major changes in his play

True says Macy has done some minor fine tuning on his shooting mechanics, but has not made major changes in his play. The freshman center also has not had any trouble adjusting to Macy's detailed scouting reports.

"Coach Jackson prepared me well for that. He was big on scouting reports and game plans. I was already used to that, and it has helped," True said. "Coach Macy is a good guy and is fun to be around. He's showing a lot of confidence in me, something I appreciate."

Macy, a former UK All-American and starting point guard on UK's 1978 national championship team, scheduled this game to expose his players to big-time basketball. It will be a major adjustment for a team that has beaten Asbury and Kentucky Christian for two of its four wins.

In five previous games, Morehead has played in front of about 7,139 fans. At UK, more fans than that will be on one side of the arena.

"I don't think the crowd will have that much impact on me," True said. "I'm going to tell my teammates who have not been to Rupp Arena about the atmosphere, how big it is and what Kentucky basketball is around here compared to where they are from. But I'm not sure they'll believe me until we actually get there."

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