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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A dream come true: Morris twins soak up N.Y., eagerly await NBA fate

Kansas University forwards Marcus Morris (black shirt and red hat) and Markieff Morris (second from left) take a minute to soak up the scene at Times Square in New York on Wednesday, the eve of the 2011 NBA Draft. Joining the Morris twins are, from left, Sean Evans, Julius Kane and Guy Lipscomb.

Kansas University forwards Marcus Morris (black shirt and red hat) and Markieff Morris (second from left) take a minute to soak up the scene at Times Square in New York on Wednesday, the eve of the 2011 NBA Draft. Joining the Morris twins are, from left, Sean Evans, Julius Kane and Guy Lipscomb.

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Kansas University forwards Marcus Morris, left, and Markieff Morris, right, flank their mother, Angel, inside the Westin Times Square in New York on Wednesday, June 20, 2011. Angel was the first recipient of Headquarters Counseling Center's Life Saver Award. The center is seeking nominations for its 2012 recipient.

— For the past two decades, former Kansas University basketball stars Marcus and Markieff Morris have gone everywhere and done everything together.

For the past few weeks, they basically have been apart.

While that may seem like a cruel twist of fate, the reality of it actually lands a lot closer to the positive side than the negative.

Beginning tonight, when the Morris twins hear their names called in the 65th annual NBA Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., they most likely will be forced to accept a scenario that leads them to different NBA cities and, for the first time in their lives, different basketball teams.

Because of that, Markieff said he was thankful for the past few weeks and the trial separation that, no doubt, will make the real deal easier to digest.

“It’s been hard, but I’m comfortable with it,” said Markieff on Wednesday, shortly after working with a few dozen children at an hour-long NBA Cares event at John Jay College in downtown Manhattan.

While their draft stock — Marcus is a sure-fire lottery pick and Markieff has been projected most often in the 7-16 range — has led them to different workouts in different places, they always had basketball to keep them busy and take their minds off of not being together. Besides, they still talked every day and, in doing so, rehashed their workouts in such detail that, by the end of the conversation, the one listening felt like he had been there.

Wednesday, on the eve of realizing their dreams, Markieff was alone in New York, racing through the rigors of the scene that was the day before the NBA Draft.

Earlier Wednesday, Marcus, still grinding until the final hours, worked out in Charlotte — a realistic landing spot at No. 9 — and did not arrive in New York until mid-evening.

Alone in the Big Apple, Markieff tipped off his day by having his picture taken for the popular video game NBA 2K12. Marcus couldn’t help but react.

“When u take that pic?,” he posted to his brother on Twitter. “That’s crazy.”

Just talking about it brought a grin to Markieff’s face for the rest of the day.

“This whole thing is just a dream come true,” Markieff said.

Added Marcus: “It’s amazing, man. It’s amazing. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type thing and we gotta cherish it. Not everybody gets this chance.”

After posing for the folks at NBA 2K12, Markieff stopped in the Sean John store to pick out a suit, fielded questions from the media for 30 minutes at the Westin Times Square and participated in the NBA Cares event in the early afternoon that included other likely lottery picks Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight and Jimmer Fredette.

With a smile on his face, Markieff cruised through the day like a man without a care in the world. The whole time he thought about his brother and how he wished he could be there. At almost the same time, he was able to see the good in not having Marcus around.

“It’s definitely been real positive for both of us,” Markieff said of following separate paths. “Being away from each other has made it more real. We’re realistic, we understand that the time is probably coming for us to be apart, and we’re good with it.”

Marcus wasn’t quite as diplomatic.

“At the end of the day, I want to be with him,” he said. “But (splitting up is) just something that has to happen. We don’t have any control over it.”

In some ways, it actually may be the preferred route. KU coach Bill Self repeatedly has said he thinks playing apart would be good for the Morris twins’ development. Self will be at the twins’ table in the green room tonight.

Beyond that, neither Markieff nor Marcus has spent much time talking to friends and former teammates about what to expect from the draft experience.

“I just wanted to do it on my own and see what happens,” Markieff said. “I’m just enjoying every step of the way.”

He means that. Wednesday, with his world a mere hours from changing in nearly every way imaginable, Markieff was the picture of poise, the same kind of low-key, laid-back guy Jayhawk fans grew to love.

“There really hasn’t been a lot of emotion yet,” he said. “We’re both real humble and we haven’t really got into all that yet. It’s just a great feeling to be where we’re at and we feel really blessed to be in this position.”

Maybe it was because they were separated and he knew how much fun his brother was having in New York without him, but Marcus seemed decidedly more jacked up about what was unfolding. Then again, he always was the more outgoing of the two.

Shortly after his workout with the Bobcats wrapped, Marcus posted on Twitter, “Finally finished, can’t wait to see my family... 1 more day!!!”

From there, he chimed in with frequent updates on his progress to meet up with Markieff.

While the final day of their amateur lives was spent in different places doing different things, the questions Markieff fielded about his future were the same ones his brother could’ve predicted he’d hear. The answers? They weren’t quite as predictable.

Where would you most like to play? “I want to play anywhere,” Markieff said.

What will your first NBA purchase be? “I’m not sure,” he said. “I might be in the airport and get hungry and buy a Snickers or something.” Then, remembering who helped get him where he is today, Markieff expanded. “That’s still up in the air. I’ll probably just let my mom shop ‘til she drops. That’s what she wants to do.”

When the Wednesday sun disappeared giving way for the vibrant lights in Times Square to take its place, the twins shuffled off to dinner with friends and family. For Marcus, the end of the day was a welcomed sight, especially because now the big day has arrived.

“You just want to get it over,” he said. “Now, I finally have a chance to just relax and see how everything plays out.”

If it happens to play out in a way that allows the twins to remain teammates, well, after all this time apart, that’s just something they’ll learn to adjust to.

“Oh, man. That’d be crazy,” Markieff said. “It’d be just like it was in college.”

Comments

onlylookin2score 3 years, 4 months ago

You dudes are the best. If either or both of ya come to charlotte, ill be at every game... Cause tickets are cheap rite now.

REHawk 3 years, 4 months ago

While shopping, Angel Morris might keep an eye out for a huge brass piggy bank, about the size of a cab of an 18-wheeler. Once the lockout talk gets resolved, and the twins begin banking the dollars, Ms Morris can oversee their filling that bank with $100 gold pieces! What a family bonanza, the biting off a huge chunk of the lucious ol' American Dream! The Morris family has stuck together and maintained their determination to make the most of the bodies with which they were blessed. They certainly did right by Jayhawk basketball. I wish them the very best. Twins, produce lots of similarly earnest sons; send them to Lawrence to polish their skills and luxuriate for a full four years of Div. I Hoops.

jayhawktalk 3 years, 4 months ago

"What will your first NBA purchase be? 'I’m not sure,' he said. 'I might be in the airport and get hungry and buy a Snickers or something.'"

Classic. These guys are fun.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 4 months ago

I would hope that Snickers would instantly offer him a contract for that.

I can see the commercial now.

Markieff you were just drafted in the first round of the NBA draft...What are you going to do?

I'm going to go buy a Snickers bar on my way to Disneyland.

KU_alum_2001 3 years, 4 months ago

I was told by a friend in LA that their first purchase was matching Cadillac Escalade's three days after KU lost to VCU. I'm a regular poster on here and a huge KU fan so don't kill the messenger (and yes, this is simply based on what I was told by a friend in LA when they were out visiting agents). Just saying... I think their first purchases may have been those.

ku1otaku 3 years, 4 months ago

Why don't we ever get stories from Selby's perspective concerning the draft? Oh wait...

Matt Tait 3 years, 4 months ago

Asked both twins if they knew if Selby was in NYC. Markieff didn't know, Marcus said he didn't think he would be. I'll see if coach Self knows tomorrow...

notinksanymo 3 years, 4 months ago

Hey Tait, Is Guy Lipscomb the same one that threatened a KU athlete with a gun recently?

cajayfan 3 years, 4 months ago

Laid back, was I watching the same guys who caused so many technicals and shoving matches. Oh ye of short memories...

phi4life940 3 years, 4 months ago

These two are great guys. I'll miss seeing them at the Burge!

Rock Chalk!

DDDHawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Good luck tonight, Marcus and Markieff! May all of your dreams come true!

Alohahawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Would be great if both hit the lottery. Would that be the first time twins, or siblings, were ever lottery picks? I can't remember in what position the Lopez twins were picked. Rock Chalk in NYC.

Good luck guys, including Selby.

If mom's going shopping, I imagine the twins will split the bills, half and half, between them.

I think it's time M&M's candy company started promoting the twins. Perhaps Markieff's agent should hit up Snickers. He's already given them some free advertising.

Justin LoBurgio 3 years, 4 months ago

From a Sports Illustrated article:

Marcus Morris, 6-9 junior forward, Kansas. He worked out for us and he shot it better than I thought he could. He's a versatile scorer. Offensively, he could play the 3 [small forward] or 4 [power forward]. He's in between positions -- not quite strong enough to guard 4s, not lateral enough to guard 3s. There are not many 4-men his size in this league, but he has a chance to be a starter on a bad team.

Markieff Morris, 6-9 junior forward, Kansas. He has a more defined role than his brother; he's a 4. He'll face up and shoot, he'll rebound and defend. He doesn't have the offensive skill-set his brother has, but he loves to bang inside.

Josh Selby, 6-3 freshman guard, Kansas. He shouldn't have come out. He didn't give himself a fair chance. He's worth taking a flyer on in the second round, but he's not a first-rounder. Is he a point guard? Will he make your team better? I don't know. We're digging in deep to his background, but when you talk to him, he seems like a good kid. I've never been a real fan because I think he plays with blinders on. Shelvin Mack would kick his butt 10 out of 10 times.

jayhwkr77 3 years, 4 months ago

i can't wait to watch the morris twins play in the NBA i think they're gonna do a little better than most people think they are. i may be one of the only people who thinks that Markieff is gonna have a better NBA career than Marcus does but i just think that Markieff will be able to live in the paint and gobble up a lot of rebounds.

i worry that Marcus may be a little too much of a tweener and struggle to find a true position in the league. but i hope for the best for both of them. it amazes me that after living with hardly anything their whole lives they're gonna have the opportunity to spend a ton of money in the near future that must be an incredible feeling. good luck to the both of them tonight!

notinksanymo 3 years, 4 months ago

Hey Tait... is the Guy Lipscomb in the picture at the top, the same Guy Lipscomb charged with threatening a KU athlete with a gun? I wonder if his Anger Management classes have a global campus in NYC.

AverageCitizen 3 years, 4 months ago

I've heard she will stay in Lawrence for TRob. Don't know if there is truth to that or not.

AverageCitizen 3 years, 4 months ago

The brothers represent what is near and dear to my heart, namely putting in your dues and working hard which pays off big time. The reward that comes from achieving through effort is extremely satisfying. Who would have thought they would have turned into this their freshman year?

Marcus and Markieff also have an experience that lasts a life time, that is, remembering with fondness your college years and being part of the Jayhawk family forever. The rest of their life, KU people will recognize them and they will always have family wherever they go.

Good Luck tonight guys. One last thing............Angel for Mother of the Year.!

shottybotch 3 years, 4 months ago

Remember when they couldn't dunk? It was fantastic watching their growth throught the last few years

100 3 years, 4 months ago

Every big man recruit that Self, Manning & Co. ever recruit should receive 5 minutes of clips (no audio, no music, just the visual facts) from the twins freshmen year... I recall not only the fact that they could barely jump, but often they couldn't shoot, get to position or even play defense. They looked close to awful.....

After recruits watch that.... They can watch 5 more minutes of clips from the twins career...

5 minutes of edge of your seat highlights (imagine pregame scoreboard video) from their final year at Kansas (recall big 12 championship game against Texas?)....

Hmmm....

You know, the more I think about the twins their freshman year compared to their Junior year...

The more I like the ring of the following names:

  1. Young
  2. Anderson
  3. Lindsay
  4. Traylor
  5. McLemore

Rock Chalk, boys.....

Rock Chalk!!!!!!!

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Great point regarding their improvement from Fr. to Jr. years. Wonder what one more year together would have done for them/us ? (or, Us and Them, if you're a Pink Floyd fan)

jaybate 3 years, 4 months ago

Close to awful?

Marcus was close to awful.

Kieff was past awful. :-)

Do you remember when they said they couldn't dunk, because their hands weren't big enough?

Probably Self's greatest coaching job was masking Marcus weaknesses as a freshman. Man, that was a smoke and mirrors act, if I ever saw one; that was when I knew Self was a special coach. Any coach can coach to strengths. The great ones know how to mask weakness, while playing to strengths.

jayhwkr77 3 years, 4 months ago

i'm gonna miss the swag the morris twins brought every night. i felt like for once at the end of the year KU was actually a feared team. i loved the clips of them getting into it with the opposing team in the tunnel before the richmond game.

hopefully some of the new guys the next couple of years bring that to the table

ku_tailg8 3 years, 4 months ago

I imagine some teams are wondering if these guys (including Selby) are so good then why did they lose to VCU. Come on. Marcus promised that he had to correct what went wrong a year earlier. He just added to the legacy. I do think both of these guys are ready, I just wish their play would've backed up what they were saying.

Selby, I wish him luck. I don't think we as KU fans really ever saw the stud that he was in high school. Only 1st round picks get guaranteed contracts so I hope, for his sake, he gets it. Good luck guys. I hate the NBA but I will watch when you play.

jaybate 3 years, 4 months ago

"Some Things Experienced GMs Say Under Their Breaths Before They Tell David Stern Who They Are Drafting:"

~Hail Mary, Mother of God!

~Schlimazel, or mensch, David, what am I gonna be this time?

~Life is a carnival, two bits a shot.

~This isn't rocket science. Rocket science is easy.

~If diligence is the Mother of luck, after my last pick, I must be a frickin' orphan, David.

~David, David, David, if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

~High ceiling? I would settle for no basement with this kid.

~How can I pick the best player available. I can't even pick out my own tie.

~I am picking the right to have to pay some unproven putz millions of dollars. What kind of life is this?

~David, why shouldn't I kvetch. I'm drafting bupkis and you're feeding us all chazeray in a food line, like its cheese cake from Eileen's?

~David, if I lack the luck of the Irish again today, may you be afflicted with the itch and have no nails to scratch with.

~Ah, David, there is an old Irish saying, "Man is incomplete until he marries. After that, he is finished." Substitute drafts college player for marries and you'll understand me predicament just a little, laddie.

~My old German grandfather used to say, "Arbeit zieht Arbeit nach sich," which translates as "Work involves work." I wonder if this ass bandit I'm about to draft gets that?

~Why am I drafting a poor, uneducated 18 year old kid from a burned out tenement in the Bronx? My Russian grand father had a saying, "Better fed than taught." So sue me.

~David, you ask me how it feels to have the Number 1 pick in the NBA draft? Something Franz Kafka said seems appropo here: "I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy."

~Ah, lucky me, David. First I have to draft this picher, then I have to haggle over a contract with his schmendrik lawyer. Remember, David, Kafka defined a lawyer as a "...person who writes 10,000 words and calls it a brief."

~To borrow from Camus, neither art, nor the draft, tolerate reason.

~To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, am I not destroying my enemies, when I draft them?

(Note: All fiction. No malice.)

Ed Brown 3 years, 4 months ago

Haha....Markieff goes before Markus. Ironic but a little humorous imho. RCJH

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