High basketball star who left the University of Tennessee after one season, is flying to North Carolina today to discuss a possible transfer to Gardner-Webb College.
Ratiff also is considering attending Howard University. He talked with Howard Coach A.B. Williamson when he returned to Washington and said yesterday, "There is a 50-50 chance I will be going to Howard. Right now I'm checking out a few other schools."
Williamson is relatively sure of Ratiff's decision. "I think there is a 90 percent chance he will come to Howard," he said. "He wants to come back to D.C. so his parents can see him play his last three years. I think he realized that being away from home is not all it is cracked up to be."
Ratiff, said he is looking into some junior colleges but says Howard and Gardner-Webb are the only four year institutions he is considering.
Although Ratiff agrees he would like to be close to his family, he said he is willing to go to North Carolina. According to Williamson, because of the freshman eligibility rules, "Ratiff will have to sit out for year if he comes to Howard and he will be eligible to play three years."
Ratiff said, "If I go to a junior college then I will only have to sit out for a semester." At a junior college Ratiff will only be eligible to play two years.
"My real goal is to play pro ball," he said, "so I may not want to sit out a year."
Williamson realizes how difficult it would be mentally for Ratiff to sit out a year but says. "We would have to take his mind off of the court and put it into the classroom. Perhaps get him involved in a fraternity."
Ratiff acknowledged he had academic problems at Tennessee.
"The academic problems I had at Tennessee could have been ironed out if I had gone to summer school. All I needed to be eligible were 12 hours. I could have done that with no problem, but I had already made up my mind to leave Tennessee."
According to Ratiff, he quit Tennessee because he should have played more, the social life was poor and team coaching was in constant change.
"I may have played in more games than some freshmen but for not as long. I was used sparingly. I remember one game where I scored five quick, straight points and was out."
"The social life was also part of it," Ratiff added. "There were only 3,000 blacks out of 25,000 students. At least in D.C., no matter what color you are there are always things to do. In Knoxville there were only two black clubs."
Ratiff says he was bothered and disappointed with the switching of coaches in midyear at Tennessee. "I was coached by Cliff Wettig most of the year and then (Don) DeVoe's administration came in. Wettig couldn't handle the team."
Neither Williamson nor Ratiff feel his chances of getting drafted by the pros will be hurt by his transferring to a smaller school.
"Howard had its first draft pick last year," said Williamson, "and scouts have already asked about Dorian Dent this year."
Ratiff said, "No way my chances will be hurt. I won't get the national TV coverage but many players from small schools are getting drafted now. Southern University had three picked last year."