Marcus Morris, who just returned from the LeBron James Skills Academy — where, as a camp counselor, he competed against some of the top college players in the country — soon will be going against some of the world’s best pros.
Kansas University’s junior forward from Philadelphia on Thursday was one of 20 collegians named to the USA Men’s Select Team that will train against the U.S. National Team, July 19-24, in Las Vegas.
“I know Kevin Durant will be there. I kind of want to compare my game to his,” Morris said of the Oklahoma City Thunder phenom. “He’s 6-11, but I think I’ve grown an inch, too. I’m 6-9 now.”
Morris was speaking Thursday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse — his stint at the Monday-Wednesday LeBron camp in Akron, Ohio, and secured spot at the USA training camp both fresh in his mind.
“It is very exciting going out and competing against those guys, seeing where I’m at against pro guys — definitely the elite guys. It’s going to be special,” Morris said.
The U.S. National team roster includes Durant, James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Amar’e Stoudemire.
“This makes my confidence go high. I feel I’m putting in a lot of hard work to put myself in this position. I am going to go and make the best of it,” Morris said.
Morris, K-State’s Jacob Pullen and Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn are three of the 20 collegians to be coached by Villanova’s Jay Wright and Washington’s Lorenzo Romar.
“Jay Wright ... he’s a good guy. He recruited me in high school. Getting to play for him a few days is going to be fun,” said Morris, who wishes his brother, Markieff, could attend as well.
Marcus was the only Morris to attend the LeBron camp and recent Stoudemire camp in Chicago.
“I love being a twin. I love being Kieff’s brother,” Marcus Morris said. “I wish he could have been at those camps with me because I think he’d do real well. I think Kieff will be a big sleeper this year. He’s getting up early in the morning and lifting weights two times a day. I think he’s going to explode this year.”
Marcus also had good things to say about KSU’s Pullen and Curtis Kelly, who both attended the LeBron camp.
“Those are the two guys I hung out the most with. Those two guys are really cool,” Morris said. “We really got a close bond hanging out for the last couple days. I played on Jacob Pullen’s team three or four times when I was at camp,” added Morris, who also competed with and against the likes of Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith of Duke and Scotty Hopson of Tennessee.
Hopson’s Vols beat KU last year.
“I told him we let him win because we felt sorry for them,” Morris said, laughing.
Morris said he learned a lot from the individual drills at the LeBron camp as he continues to improve his shooting this summer.
“I really think my mid-range game is getting a lot better and I think I needed to get better because I’m going to be one of the go-to guys. By me stepping away from the basket it may open it up for everybody else. If I can knock down threes and mid-range jumpers, I’ll be doing better,” Morris said. “I think this is really helping me a lot. I’ve been working on my conditioning. I am probably full speed. It’s like I never even took any days off (after season).”
Off court, he said the best thing about the LeBron James camp was hanging out with James.
“I got to see him, how big he really is and how amazing he is. I didn’t know he was as good as he really is,” Morris said. “Just to see him and interact with him and talk to him, talk about what his decision is (on where to play next season) and what it’s based on, it was really good.”
Morris headed into Thursday night’s LeBron announcement TV show figuring James would choose either Miami or New York.
“He said he wanted to win. He wanted to go somewhere he could win multiple championships. He said maybe five and six. When he said that I started thinking about the Heat because they’ve got Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. With LeBron that may be five or six championships,” Morris said. “He seemed he knew where he was going. He was playing like he was enjoying himself, but like he was ready to make a decision, too.”
• Self enthused: Members of the Select Team will conduct a private training session July 19, then train with the USA National Team July 20-23, at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion. An intrasquad game concludes the camp on July 24 at UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center. That is the only event open to the public.
“It is a great opportunity for 20 collegians from across America to have the chance to be coached in a highly competitive manner, and also play against some of the best players in the world,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I know Marcus is excited. He had a great summer and has been working a lot on his game. He is very much looking forward to playing against many of the world's best.”
• Here’s the complete roster of the Select Team: Lavoy Allen, Temple; William Buford, Ohio State; Dunn, Baylor; Jimmer Fredette, BYU; Hopson, Tennessee; Scoop Jardine, Syracuse; JaJuan Johnson, Purdue; Jon Leuer, Wisconsin; Shelvin Mack, Butler; Morris, KU; Pullen, KSU; John Shurna, Northwestern; Singler, Duke; Chris Singleton, Florida State; Smith, Duke; Howard Thompkins, Georgia; Mike Tisdale, Illinois; Kemba Walker, UConn; Chris Wright, Dayton and Tyler Zeller, North Carolina.