Morgan Wootten, meet Earl Jones . . .

Earl Jones - next year's Ralph Sampson?

Two years ago, after making All-West Virginia as a freshman, Jones thought about transferring from little Mount Hope High School to De Matha. A year ago, same again. Now, after his third straight all-state campaign - second as a Parade magazine All-America - Earl Jones, 6 feet 10, summer resident of washington, D.C., heading into his senior high school year, is saying:

"I'm living with my sister now in Washington and haven't decided if I'll go back to Mount Hope or go to De Matha. But . . . I prefer playing against better competition and I like the pressure."

Jones knows De Matha means the best competition. He also knows De Matha players well. The 205-pound Jones has been playing AAU ball this summer for the Metropolitan Police Boys Club - made all-tournament in the national AAU junior event in Florida - alongside just-graduated Stags Sidney Lowe and Percy White.

Lowe, N.C. State-bound, compared Jones with Sampson, the 7-4 Harrisonburg, Va., talent signed by Virgina: "I like playing with them both but I prefer Earl. Earl's not a selfish big man while Ralph dominates by shooting so much . . . Earl is quicker than Ralph."

White, a Western Kentucky frosh-to-be, said he prefers Jones over touted Sam Bowie, the Lebanon, Pa., 7-footer going to Kentucky: "Both of them are great, but Earl takes control and you know he is always going to block shots."

William (Doc) Robinson, coach of the Washington AAU team, said Jones' parents in Mount hope told him Jones was not to be pestered by college scouts and recruiters this summer - though Earl says, "After next year, I'll be going to college and not the pros."

All right, and De Matha isn't pestering the big fellow either.

Hence our reintroduction of Jones to Wootten.

De Matha Coach Wootten, contacted at his and Joe Gallagher's 18th annual summer basketball camp at St. John's here, said this is all very interesting but "I met (Jones) just one time, and have never even seen him play - never." Your assistants? "No contacts." But, "we'll take him, if he qualifies academically. He would have to apply, and qualify."

We only thought the John Tate-Gerrie Coetzee bout was sealed and delivered last week to Pretoria for Oct. 20 production. It has just become official in the wake of hours of haggling in Knoxville, Tenn., Tate's hometown, with Tate's manager, Ace Miller. The Star Spangled Banner will be sung before the fight in South Africa by country music singer Con Hunley of Knoxville . . . Lyle Alzado, after mixed reviews for his weekend exhibition with Muhammad Ali, headed for Denver Bronco camp uncertain whether to come out for a ninth round for profootball this year or to accept alleged million-dollarish offers to become a pro boxer. Someday will we see Alzado versus Too Tall Jones for the world Heavyweight title? Or one of the NFL refugees against Joe Bugner, now that the erstwhile European champ is out of retirement under Ali's auspices? . . .

Greg Winchell, a silver-medal swimmer in the Pan American Games (100-meter breaststroke) and 1983 Olympic prospect, was listed in very serious condition, unconscious, in a California hospital after being thrown off a motorcycle in a freeway accident in his hometown Long Beach. Skull fracture . . . Fifteen nations withdrew their teams yesterday from the World Archery Championships in Berlin to protest participation by South Africa and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

Hmmm. West Virginia U. has just signed to a grant-in-aid 6-10 Tim Kearney, a 20-point, 12-rebound All-Great Falls District basketeer for Marshall High in Falls Church - and he has a year of high school ball to go. Seems the Kearneys were subjected to more recruiting hassle than they cared for two years ago before brother Steve opted for St. Joseph's of Philly. So Tim, eligible for pursuit once his junior year was over, up and decided to follow former Marshall coach Bob Smith to Morgantown, where Smith is on Coach Gale Catlett's staff, and forget the pressure as a senior . . .