Marcus Morris hasn’t heard if he’ll be playing with — or against — NBA phenom Paul Pierce during Saturday’s Legends of the Phog exhibition game in Allen Fieldhouse.
“If I end up guarding him, I’ll guard him,” Morris, a 6-foot-9 Houston Rockets rookie-to-be said, referring to the 6-7 Boston Celtics veteran.
“I’m right at him, though. I’m going right at Paul,” Morris added with a smile.
Good-natured trash talking figures to take place before, during and after the 4 p.m., Legends contest, which will include 12 of Kansas University’s 14 NBA players and some other KU greats.
“I wouldn’t say we’d go back and forth,” Morris said of a possible match-up versus Pierce. “It will be fun just to be on the same court and maybe get a chance to guard him and give him a couple buckets.
“I’m super excited to get to interact with those NBA guys and meet ‘em, talk about the experience they had at Kansas and compare,” Morris added. “It’s going to be fun, not even the game, just to meet those guys and have a chance to be around them.”
Other NBA players confirmed to play in KU’s sold-out Legends game: Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City), Darrell Arthur (Memphis), Mario Chalmers (Miami), Nick Collison (OKC), Xavier Henry (Memphis), Darnell Jackson (Sacramento), Markieff Morris (Phoenix), Brandon Rush (Indiana), Josh Selby (Memphis) and Julian Wright (Toronto). Other Jayhawks to participate in the game as of Thursday: Nick Bradford, Jeff Graves, Jeff Hawkins, Christian Moody, Ron Kellogg, Greg Ostertag, Scot Pollard, Ryan Robertson, Wayne Simien, Billy Thomas and Darnell Valentine.
“I’m excited to be back here playing in front of the great Kansas fans playing with some of the great guys,” Markieff Morris said.
Asked to identify the one player he’s most looking forward to playing against, Markieff said: “Probably Nick. He’s really good. I’ve not had a chance to play against Nick yet.”
Collison of the Oklahoma City Thunder enters the game as KU’s second-leading scorer of all time (2,097 points) behind KU assistant coach Danny Manning, who scored 2,951.
Collison grinned when asked if he’d “remind” Pierce that he’s six slots behind him at No. 8 (1,768).
“I’m sure he’ll remind me he has an NBA ring. I’ll probably keep quiet on that,” Collison said.
Coaches of the two teams are former Jayhawk head coaches Larry Brown and Ted Owens. Brown is a member of the Hall of Fame.
“I could never picture it,” Marcus Morris said of playing on a team coached by Brown. “I’ve been around him a lot. He’s been at practice a lot the last couple years we’ve been here. It’ll be a great feeling to have him on the bench.”
Details: The NBA’s 24-second clock will be used as well as the college 3-point line. Doors will open at 2 p.m. for KU students and 2:30 p.m. for the general public. There will be no formal autograph session with the players before or after the game. The game will be televised by Metro Sports as well as statewide Cox Communications Kansas 22. It also will be shown via the Internet on AT&T; Jayhawk All Access. The game will air on the Jayhawk Radio Network, including KLWN in Lawrence.
Recruiting: Ioannis Papapetrou, a 6-6 senior forward from Greece, who attends Florida Air Academy in Melbourne, Fla., will make a recruiting visit to KU this weekend, Rivals.com reports. He’s also planning a visit to Texas. Former KU center Sasha Kaun attended the academy.