Kentucky center Sam Bowie, who has not played this season because of a broken leg, rejoined his teammates in practice yesterday for the first time this season. But Coach Joe B. Hall said Bowie is "probably about 15 percent back" from the injury and no decision will be made for at least a week whether the 7-foot-1 junior will play this season . . . In Charlottesville, Virginia Athletic Director Dick Schultz said Ralph Sampson, the Cavaliers' 7-foot-4 junior center who twice has rejected professional offers, has applied for a room on campus next fall. Sampson's application for a room does not necessarily mean he will return for his fourth season, but "it's a good sign," Schultz said.

In the pros, Utah Jazz owner Sam Battistone, acknowledging that his National Basketball Association team is suffering serious financial problems, has suggested that a merger with another NBA team might be a solution. Reports from Denver said that a merger of the Jazz with the Denver Nuggets is one idea that will come up for discussion during meetings in conjunction with the NBA All-Star game Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Denver Post reported that such a merger wouldn't be total, however, since Battistone wants to sell Adrian Dantley and Darrell Griffith, the team's two stars, and merge the remainder of the team with the Nuggets.