Suns News

Kansas' Self Gives Insight Into Markieff Morris

Morris' college coach believes that he will be able to stretch NBA defenses.
(Jeramie McPeek/Suns.com)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: June 24, 2011

Before the draft began, Kansas Head Coach Bill Self said that he asked Markieff Morris and his twin brother, Marcus, which team they hoped would draft them.

It just so happens that both Markieff, who was drafted at No. 13 by Phoenix, and Marcus, who was selected a pick later by Houston at No 14, ended up exactly where they told Self they wanted to be. For Markieff, it was an opportunity to play with Steve Nash that sold him.

“I’ve always wanted to play with him ever since I started watching him,” Markieff said. “I liked the way he and Amar’e (Stoudemire) played together.”

On most mock draft boards, Marcus was projected to be selected ahead of Markieff. Although Self, who said he was “a little surprised” by the order they were drafted, still believes that where a player is selected is “one of the most overrated things.”

“Obviously, Houston needed a combo forward and Phoenix needed a legitimate 4-man so Markieff definitely fit that bill better than Marcus,” Self said. “When you’re talking about a legitimate 4-man that can defend the five, that didn’t surprise me at all.

“It may come as a surprise to fans, but it’s all in who’s picking first and what their needs are. I think that Marcus was probably on the board with more people and that he had a chance to go higher than Markieff, but I think Phoenix was locked in on Keef.”

In one of the most memorable moments of the draft, Marcus burst into tears of happiness when his brother was chosen by the Suns. It demonstrated just how tight their bond is between each other.

“It would’ve been the exact other way if Marcus had gone (first),” Self said. “Those guys are about as unselfish as you could possibly be towards each other and they want the best for each other.

“I love what Keef said - although it was hard for us to hear - when they asked him about Marcus getting emotional. He said, ‘Yeah, he’s my boy.’”

Since the two drive the same car, possess the same tattoos and have never been split apart for any considerable amount of time, there have been questions have how they will thrive away from each other. Their former college coach doesn’t believe that is an issue.

“I think it’s fine that they’re separated even though they’re joined at the hip,” Self said. “They’re not near as joined as they were when they first got here. Not that they were ever breaking away, but you could kind of see that (happening).”

Self likened their split to any normal step in a young person’s maturation process. He believes it’s an adjustment, just as it would be for any player leaving college and entering the pros or any college student leaving the academic world and entering the work force.

Although it was meant in a complimentary manner, Suns fans will cringe when they hear that Self likens Morris’ game to Suns villain Robert Horry’s. Although he doesn’t have the history of making game winners like Horry, Self sees Markieff as having the same ability to space the floor as a stretch-4.

“I know Horry has made a ton of shots,” Self said. “'Big-Shot Bob' or whatever his nickname was. And Markieff hasn’t done that.

“But if you watch him, Markieff definitely has NBA range. And I would say they were pretty similar coming out of college, even though Markieff has a lot to work on. But that’s what I see: a stretch-4 that can really rebound the ball.”

Since we have confirmation that Markieff is an enormous fan of Nash’s, Suns fans should rest knowing the two-time MVP is in good hands. The last thing Markieff wants to do is check his team captain into the scorer’s table.

But he does hope to bring the toughness, rebounding and high-percentage shooting to the floor so he can help Nash and Co. get back into the playoffs. And he believes his time learning under Self will do just that.

“(I learned that) Nothing is going to be given to me and I have to work for everything,” Morris said. "(Coach Self) was hard on me at Kansas, but it definitely prepared me for this time.”

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