Former Kansas forward, Marcus Morris, brings a rare blend of size, skill, and athleticism to the NBA draft later this month in New York City. Morris was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and second-team All-American by the Associated Press and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He believes that his mid-range game is what separates him from other small-forwards in the NBA draft class along with his motivation to guard any position on the defensive side of the ball. After listening to the following interview with Morris you get the feeling that this young man is humbled by how far he has gotten. He wasn’t even a top one hundred player coming out of high school and felt privileged to play at Kansas. Morris made it count and didn’t take anything for granted while playing at Lawrence, Kansas, believing that starting with nothing has motivated him to become the player he is today.
Marcus Morris joined WSSP in Milwaukee on The Big Show to discuss who resembles his game the most in the NBA, college athletes being given more money, Coach Bill Self being aware of what the Kansas players did off the court as compared to the Jim Tressel scandal at Ohio State, the responsibility he put on his shoulders when times were tough at Kansas and the Morris brothers being better than the Lopez brothers when it’s all said and done in the NBA.
Who does your game most resemble in the NBA?
“I think the Al Harrington comparison is a little accurate, but I think maybe Carmelo [Anthony] I would say because I’m a mid-range king. I love the mid-range game. I think that’s what I can really hang my hat on being a mid-range player and on the defensive side I think that being versatile and guarding many positions. I think it can definitely work for me and just being so athletic and being versatile on the defensive side because I can guard any position.”
Should college athletes be given more money or given an extra stipend now that you are out of the NCAA? Do the players need to see more money?
“I wasn’t given anything. I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I don’t think the players need to get anything honestly. It keeps you hungry. It keeps you hungry. It keeps you working. You know what I mean? A guy like me I came from being not even ranked in the top 100 [players] coming out of high school and just happened to end up in a great situation at Kansas and by not getting anything I think it makes you work and see how much you really want to get to that next level. I don’t think players should be paid. That takes away from the game.”
How much do you think Coach Bill Self was aware of with the players off the court stemming from what happen with Jim Tressel at Ohio State?
“Everything. 100% everything. Kansas…I mean Lawrence is a small city. I mean Coach Self knew everything. There was really nothing you could do without him knowing. Plus when you are in Lawrence you don’t want that spotlight on you like that. You are already a big-time basketball player and you don’t want to do anything because you don’t want that spotlight on you.”
What kind of pressure or responsibility did you put on your shoulder when times got tough during your career at Kansas to be a leader in the locker room or out on the court?
“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I mean I wouldn’t say that I was the only leader because I did have my brother. I did have a couple of seniors on the team that helped me lead, but I mean we just try to stick together, try to stick together through personal situations and not break apart because that’s probably the worst thing that could happen is guys in the locker room don’t respect…other guys don’t trust each other and they don’t get along, so the most important thing that we tried to do was to just keep each other together and make sure we don’t get down on ourselves when everyone else is looking at us the wrong way. We made sure we stayed together and didn’t point fingers.”
Who will be the better set of brothers when it’s all said and done. The Morris brothers or the Lopez brothers?
“Is that a trick question? Not to take anything away from those guys. I think they are great players. I just think me and Markieff [Morris] have been through a little bit more. I mean I think we have different aspects of our game that are just a little bit more than those [brothers]. They are both just strictly centers, so there’s not too much they could do as far as stretching the defense and creating open shots off the dribble and things like that. I think me and Markieff both can really do that real well, so at the end of the day I think me and Markieff are probably going to better.”