ATLANTA — John Morris probably is rooting harder for a Baylor-Kentucky matchup in the 2012 NCAA Tournament South Regional finals than anyone.
Morris is the radio play-by-play man for Baylor Bears athletics.
But the 1977 Danville High School graduate and Louisville native grew up a UK fan.
"I loved listening to Cawood Ledford," Morris said Thursday of the legendary Kentucky radio announcer. "I grew up listening to him."
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As a teen in Danville, Morris used to shadow local radio broadcaster Steve Bertram — who is still calling high school games in Boyle County.
"He just had a hunger and thirst for it," Bertram recalled of Morris. "Very few high school kids I've ever encountered show that kind of thirst" for sports broadcasting.
When it came time to pick a college, Morris remembers that a good many members of the Danville Class of 1977 were going to UK. His parents, however, were Baylor grads. "And I just thought part of it was getting away" from home, Morris said.
Once in Waco, he never left. After graduating from Baylor in 31/2 years, Morris hired on with the CBS TV affiliate in Waco. He worked there for 15 years, then went to work for Baylor University in 1995.
When Baylor's venerable radio announcer Frank Fallon — "our Cawood Ledford," Morris says — retired in 1995, Morris became the new radio Voice of the Bears.
This year, Morris has been describing perhaps the greatest year ever in Baylor sports. Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy. The Baylor men's and women's basketball teams are in the NCAA tourney round of 16.
Said Morris: "It is a golden age, it really is."
If Baylor beats Xavier and UK defeats Indiana on Friday, Morris will broadcast a Sunday game between his alma mater and employer and the school for which he rooted as a boy — with a berth in the Final Four at stake.
"It would be a thrill, a thrill of a lifetime for me," he said.