Summer skills: Marcus Morris works at NBA player’s camp

Kansas forward Marcus Morris stands in Allen Fieldhouse in this file photo. The Jayhawks' boot camp has begun.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris stands in Allen Fieldhouse in this file photo. The Jayhawks' boot camp has begun.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Marcus Morris finally knows what it’s like to be separated from his twin brother, Markieff.

Marcus Morris attends skills camp for bigs

Marcus Morris was in Chicago this past weekend for a skills challenge camp put on by some of the NBA's best big men. Marcus said much of what he learned at the camp was the same things former NBA great Danny Manning teaches at KU.

“That was the first time I ever flew or did anything away from him in my whole life — 20 years. It was kind of different,” Marcus, half of KU’s junior basketball twin combo, said Monday after returning from last weekend’s Amar’e Stoudemire Skills Academy in Chicago.

Marcus received an invitation to work as counselor at the camp for top high school power forwards and pivots. Markieff didn’t receive such an offer.

“I talked to him every chance I got, so it was almost like he was there with me,” Marcus said.

The college camp counselors (including Kansas State’s Curtis Kelly) couldn’t compete in pick-up games with the high schoolers (including future KU power forward Zach Peters of Plano, Texas) in accordance with NCAA rules.

The counselors and others in town did gather for games at night.

“Deron Williams (Utah Jazz point guard) played a little bit. He actually chose me to play on his team,” Morris said. “I felt like he was one of my (KU) teammates because he played for coach Self (at Illinois). We were doing a lot of pick and roll, pick and pop stuff. I was hitting a few threes off his assists.”

Some other NBA players hung around the gym.

“I got to meet some of the guys like Kevin Durant, Amar’e ... Gilbert Arenas was there,” Morris said. “We did a lot of footwork. It was a lot of stuff that (KU assistant) Danny Manning has already been teaching us. We did a few things with shooting, too, like knowing how to drop-step into it, knowing how to finish above the rim and take contact.”

KU coach Bill Self said Morris gained at least three things by working the camp.

“A.) competition against other guys that are comparable players,” Self said. “B.) getting to work with NBA-type skills development, which probably really reinforces the same things we drill with them for a long time, and C.) we are not allowed to do anything with them in the summer. So if they can go somewhere, get coached and get some ideas and get excited, I think it’s a benefit. I certainly believe it’s a benefit because they are able to be seen by NBA people and kind of get a head start on potential draft status.”

Morris — he’s expected to also garner an invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy — said he didn’t visit with any of the NBA scouts, who were allowed to observe the camp. lists Marcus as a first-round pick in the 2011 Draft. Markieff isn’t listed.

Marcus was asked if he could envision leaving KU without his brother.

“We really haven’t made that decision. I want to go with him, and if it takes me staying for a senior year, I think that’s what it would have to be,” Marcus said. “I like playing with my brother. Playing beside him is what I really want to do. We’ve been playing aside each other a long time. If that means I stay for my senior year, which I’m almost 50 percent that I will stay for my senior year ... I really want to enjoy college, get the most out of college. That decision plays a major factor. I would like to graduate from Kansas.”

He responded, “not at all,” when asked if there was any hurry to head to the NBA. “She (mom who lives in Lawrence) enjoys it. I enjoy it. I don’t think it would hurt at all. I saw that only like five seniors were drafted (in first round), but I’m not those seniors. Things can change.”

Roster: Here’s the list of college players who attended the Stoudemire Skills Academy as reported by Morris; Denzel Bowles, James Madison; Gus Gilchrist, South Florida; JaMychal Green, Alabama; Enes Kanter, Kentucky; Kelly, K-State; Vernon Macklin, Florida; Gary McGhee, Pittsburgh; Greg Smith, Fresno State; Jared Sullinger, Ohio State; Trey Thompkins, Georgia; Derrick Williams, Arizona.

The high school roster: Angelo Chol, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Mikael Hopkins, Kevin Johnson, Sidiki Johnson, Deng Leek, Trey McDonald, Daniel Ochefu, Norvel Pelle, Zach Peters, Marshall Plumlee, Zach Price, Julian Royal, Bernard Sullivan, Cody Zeller.

Official weight disputed: Morris took issue with one aspect of the camp. He was listed as 6-foot-9, 218 pounds on the camp roster.

“I haven’t lost any weight since the end of last season. I’m still about 230,” Marcus said. “That was a weird scale. It was like a homemade scale. I got on that scale then got another scale at the Attack (Athletics gym) and I was 227. That 218 ... that’s terribly wrong.”

Morris on his summer workout schedule: “Me, Markieff and Mario (Little) are up at 6 a.m., shooting 500 shots in the morning and 500 when we come back. We shoot about 1,000 a day. We mix in off the dribble, threes and stand-still two pointers. I want my midrange game to be better this year so I’m really working and focusing on that.”

On coach Self saying Morris, along with Josh Selby and Tyshawn Taylor could be three of the best players in the league this year: “I think the effort that I’m putting in, and as hard as I’m going to work this summer, I think will put me as one of the top players in the league. I think we have other guys on our team who could easily be the top players in the league. I had a great year last year, and feel that is just preseason talk, but you never know until the season gets going,” Marcus said.