Separate Ways

Phog.net's Kristi Setaro chimes in on Thursday night's NBA Draft, as three former Jayhawks set out to make their dreams of professional basketball stardom a reality.

It's a stressful time for all involved when an NBA Draft suddenly isn't following script.

There were some unpredictable selections early on in the lottery at Wednesday night's draft making everyone feel just a little uneasy.

"I don't think i was really nervous. I was anxious because I knew that they were going to get picked real soon," said KU Head Coach Bill Self who flew from vacation in St. Maarten Wednesday to attend the draft.

But finally the moment, or moments we should say, came for Morris twins.

You just had to look at the raw emotion on Marcus Morris' face when his brother Markieff was selected 13th by the Phoenix Suns to know all you needed to about their special relationship and the level of closeness they share. You also had to know that the twins were likely taking their first steps in the next chapter of their basketball careers...apart.

"They are unbelievably close and you could tell by Marcus' emotions when Kieff (Markieff) got picked and I thought that was so cool," Self admitted.

The tears shed by Marcus were ones of joy as he watched his brother walk to the podium with his new team hat and shake the hand of NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"It was great," Self answered when asked about how special it was for the twins to show the world their relationship at that moment. "It would've been exactly the other way if Marcus had gone."

Markieff got a chuckle when he was asked about being away from his brother for the first time.

"It's not the end of the world. Maybe I'll send him food or flowers or something."

Wherever they usually are the other brother isn't far behind. Their jersey numbers are 21, 22. They were born seven minutes apart and Wednesday night their names were called just five minutes apart. But just like the day they were born Markieff went first.

"Both guys are about as unselfish as you can possibly be towards each other. They want the best for each other," Self said.

The Houston Rockets then made 6-8 Marcus Morris the final selection of the lottery giving the brothers back-to-back selections. Quite a feather-in-the-cap for the twins and for KU. It was the 4th time Kansas has put two players in the lottery in the last 14 years and the second straight year the Jayhawks had back-to-back lottery picks (11th Cole Aldrich, 12th Xavier Henry).

"It felt good," Self admitted. "It didn't feel great knowing what our team could potentially be if these guys returned but it was time for all four of them to go. I'm happy for all of them. I'm ecstatic."

Might've been a slight surprise that Markieff was the first one of the two drafted but both went near their projected range.

"I guess I"m a little surprised but I think that's one of the most overrated things. It doesn't go to the best players it goes to the team with need," Self pointed out.

And both players went to West Coast teams with needs that matched areas they can contribute. The Suns need a legitimate four-man and got the bigger of the two twins in Markieff. Kieff led the Big 12 in field goal percentage and has shown over the last few years he has yet to reach his ceiling. Self and Assistant Coach Danny Manning are big reasons for that. The Rockets needed a combo forward that can put some points on the board and Marcus fits the bill. He showed his versatility this season leading KU in every statistical category at least once during the season and put up 20 or more 12 times for a team that was extremely balanced.

Both twins spoke favorably of each stop before the draft and after Self said they were "ecstatic" over the franchises they would soon be a part of.

"Marcus told me I love Houston and Markieff told me I love Phoenix," said Self. "So they're probably the franchises they wanted to be with even though I think Marcus may have hoped he'd have gone a little bit higher."

Basketball-wise they were ready and no one doubted the choice they made to be a part of the 2011 NBA Draft, coming off a 95-17 record during their three seasons at KU and three Big 12 regular season titles the two are also proven winners.

Though they've matured that doesn't mean it won't hit both brothers when they arrive with their respective teams and they look across the locker room and don't see that familiar face. Their mother Angel Morris swears her sons are ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives as individual men and not just twin brothers and Self concurs.

"I think it's fine that they are separated," Self said. "Even though they are joined at the hip they aren't as joined as when they first got here. Not that they were ever breaking away, but you could kind of see it. I think they will both stand on their own very, very well."

Nights like this are why Self preaches if you do what we ask and our team has success the rest will take care of itself. The twins did their part working hard to improve. 6am workouts and intense weight room sessions all paid off for the twins from Philly who will now realize their NBA dreams.

Meanwhile, for 6-2 guard Josh Selby there was no green room but there was a lot of waiting. Selby opted to leave after a difficult freshman year and with workouts looking promising early on in Las Vegas he decided he was ready. He started out as a latter first round projection but slipped all the way to the 49th pick and the Memphis Grizzlies - the same team that drafted Xavier Henry a year ago and also boasts Darrell Arthur.

"I don't know if he's disappointed or not. They're excited about him," Self said referring to the Grizzlies. "So much of getting picked in the second round is going to the right place and I think there's certainly a thinking on their part that they got a first round talent in the second round which he really is."

It isn't easy watching 48 names called before you and not hearing yours until nearly 3 hours into the draft. Self had not yet talked to Selby post-selection but said he texted back and forth with him before the draft and sent a text after he was picked.

"He's a first round talent that went in the second round because he was hurt and suspended and those things were out of his control," Self said after telling reporters he had spoken with members of the Grizzlies staff. "Memphis may have been one of the winners of the draft because they got a first round pick."

When someone slips a long way the thinking is that there could be an injury ala Darrell Arthur back in 2008. But Self said he knew of no such issue with Selby.


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