Marcus' Big Night

Marcus Morris (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas basketball has never had three Jayhawks selected in the first round of the NBA draft in the same year. But there's a good chance that could change on Thursday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., when Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Josh Selby are hoping to make history and hear their names called by Commissioner David Stern in the coveted first round of the 2011 NBA draft.

But where will they be selected and what kind of impact will they have during their NBA careers? To help break down the draft, Phog.net's David Garfield interviewed one NBA general manager via email, who took time out of his demanding schedule to give his candid comments on the three former Jayhawks. First up in this three-part series is Marcus Morris, the 6-9 do-it all-forward from Philadelphia.

KU coach Bill Self has said that Marcus Morris is the best all-round player he's ever coached. Morris certainly wouldn't argue with that statement heading up to Thursday's NBA draft.

"Honestly, I think I'm the most complete player in the draft," the confident Morris told the Deseret News Sunday while working out for the Utah Jazz. "I think I'm one of those guys that can just do a lot. (There are) lots of parts of my game I can hang my hat on."

One NBA general manager definitely likes Morris' versatility, but not willing to say he's "the most complete player in the draft."

"Not sure he's the most versatile player (in the draft) but he's up there," the GM wrote in an email. "Not too many players out there who can create a shot from the perimeter and make plays with their back to the bucket."

The GM is impressed with Morris' game, but believes he is a tweener who needs to make a greater commitment to defense.

"Decent overall athlete, skilled, can score inside and outside, polished for an underclassman," the GM wrote. "In between positions and that hurts him a little for our level, more interested in his offensive game and would like to see him sharpen his focus on the defensive side of the ball.

"(I) see him as a spread-4 at our level because of his ability to space the floor but worry about his ability to cover/chase 3's full time at the NBA level."

Morris likes to pattern his game after New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, and likened himself to the All-Star forward to radio station WSSP in Milwaukee when asked about a comparison to Denver Nuggets 6-9, 250-pound forward Al Harrington, who's averaged 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds during his 15-year career.

"I think the Al Harrington comparison is a little accurate, but I think maybe Carmelo I would say because I'm a mid-range king," Morris told the radio station.

This general manager believes that's a bit of a stretch.

"(Marcus) definitely has a strong mid-range game but don't think it's on Carmelo's level," the GM wrote.

Instead, the GM likens Morris' game to lesser-known but quality Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. The former DePaul star, who was selected with the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA draft, averaged 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last year for the Knicks and Nuggets. The 6-8, 225-pound Chandler has career averages of 13.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, while shooting 45.1 percent from the field, 32.4 percent from three-point range, and 78.6 percent at the free-throw line.

"(I) see some Wilson Chandler in him because of his ability to score the ball in a number of ways, particularly in the mid-range," the GM said.

Morris was the Big 12 Player of the Year and consensus second-team All-American last season as a junior while averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. But this general manager doesn't believe he will duplicate those scoring numbers in the pros.

"(I) think he ends up as a quality rotational big in our league for a long time. Probably never a star but definitely think he sticks in our league because of his versatility. Ten ppg and 6.5 rpg probably in his prime," the GM wrote.

But is there any chance he could develop into an All-Star player?

"Not sure he'll ever be an NBA All-Star  — lots of talent at 3 and the 4 in our league and think it's a long-shot for him to get to that level of player," the GM wrote.

Still, it looks like Morris will make a nice paycheck during his long NBA career and be a happy man come draft night.

"(I) think at the end of the day he ends up in the mid-late lottery," the GM wrote.

Phog.net Recommended Stories