Nobody took the premature Kansas University exit from the NCAA Tournament harder than Marcus Morris, who was balled up on the corner of the Ford Center floor, bawling so hard he was shaking.
Asked about that afterward, Morris said disappointment brought him to the ground because he knew he had played his last game with teammates Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich.
“I feel like I grew up with them,” Morris said. “I became so close to those guys, for them to leave, it’s going to be emotional. I feel like next year I’ve got to come back and get a championship for them.”
It’s a lofty goal for someone who plays for a team that went 33-3 with the help of three starters not expected back. It’s also an attainable goal, even with Collins’ eligibility exhausted and Aldrich and Xavier Henry expected to enter their names in the NBA Draft.
First, Kansas must secure a commitment from Josh Selby, a 6-foot-2, 183-pound guard from Baltimore ranked No. 4 in the nation by Rivals.com. He would become Bill Self’s highest-rated recruit in his time at Kansas. Selby said he’ll announce his college choice April 17 at the Jordan Brand Classic in New York City.
Selby’s known as a skilled scorer just as happy setting up teammates for buckets as getting them himself. He’s also ahead of most high school players defensively in that he seems to enjoy playing it. At Kansas, from Day 1 he would play point guard, his NBA position.
Adding Selby and November signee Royce Woolridge and subtracting Aldrich, Collins and Henry would bring Kansas to 12 scholarships, one short of the limit. The coaching staff has the luxury of using that scholarship to land the best player available, regardless of position.
Some believe Kansas will use it on a post player, but with nobody taking ownership of the second guard spot this past season, why not consider landing someone who immediately could play alongside Selby?
A 6-4 guard ranked 21st in the nation by Rivals.com, Doron Lamb lists Kansas and Kentucky among his schools of choice. He, too, has said he will announce his decision April 17 at the Jordan Brand Classic. A native of Queens, N.Y., Lamb attends Oak Hill Academy, a boarding school in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
A starting five of Selby, Lamb, Mario Little, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris could make Kansas a national-title contender. The competition among reserves for playing time on the perimeter, waged by Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Woolridge, could bring out the best in all the players. Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey, who showed flashes as freshmen and bring different styles, give Kansas quality depth in the post. Little also has the ability to play in the post, if needed.
Whatever recruits come to Kansas, they’ll enjoy playing with the friendly Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, who arrived as lazy players and became hooked on self-improvement.
“I’ll take a week or so off and just push harder than I did last summer,” Marcus Morris said. “This is not going to happen next year. I’ll be a leader. I’ll push myself over the summer to be the best player I can be and win a national championship at KU.”