LAWRENCE — A source close to the Kansas basketball program indicated late Tuesday evening that KU forward Marcus Morris’ onehanded facial over Pittsburg State’s Andy Smith in the Jayhawks’ 103-45 exhibition victory was not the first time Morris had brought the house down with a dunk this week.
The source said the other victim was none other than 6-foot-11 KU center Cole Aldrich.
“Don’t tell him I told you,” a worried Morris said. “Just say unknown source. Because if I say it, he’s going to try to dunk on me in practice, and I don’t want that to happen.”
Morris was more proud of one of his dunks on Aldrich because Smith was only 6-foot-1. The slams were similar in that Morris filled a lane in the middle of the floor on both occasions and rose for a onehanded jam. The one performed in Allen Fieldhouse brought the crowd to its feet for a loud standing ovation; the one performed in practice brought the Jayhawks’ jaws to the floor and made Aldrich the butt of some ribbing, confirmed another source close to the program.
“You ask Cole about it,” KU junior Conner Teahan said, “and Cole claims the play was over on one of them. But if you’re jumping and swatting at the ball, the play’s not over.”
Morris is the first to admit that he has no idea what would have happened a year ago if he received a behind-the-back pass from Tyshawn Taylor in transition as he did Tuesday.
“I don’t even know,” Morris said. “I probably would have pulled up right there where I caught it and tried to shoot it off the glass and hopefully make it.”
That sounds about right, and, back in October of 2008, Morris likely would have missed that pull-up, eliciting the shaking of heads all over the building. Despite dunking for the first time at the age of 14, Morris, a 6-foot-8 swingman out of Philadelphia, has always played a more finesse game.
“It was a great feeling, actually,” said Morris, who after the dunk leaned down and yelled into a TV camera. “I could probably count on my hands how many people I’ve dunked on.”
The top-ranked Jayhawks, who open the regular season Friday against Hofstra, were dunking fools against the Gorillas. Eight of freshman Thomas Robinson’s game-high 17 points came on dunks. Morris finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, and twin brother Markieff contributed a double-double 12 points and 10 boards. Certainly, it doesn’t seem Aldrich will be lacking for help inside this season.
On Tuesday, the perimeter rotation became more clear. Senior swingman Mario Little and sophomore guard Travis Releford were both wearing street clothes, and KU coach Bill Self said it’s just about definite that Little will redshirt and likely that Releford will. Self said he is giving them a few more nights to sleep on it. Teahan played and will not redshirt to give KU more depth at the No. 3 slot played by Little and Releford.
Self can more easily redshirt Little and Releford because Morris is clearly not the same player that gave fans headaches last season. It started in the weight room this summer with assistant athletic director for sport performance Andrea Hudy.
Morris said Hudy wanted him to add explosion so that he could, well, avoid those pull-up jumpers. Hudy had the Jayhawks doing 10 sets of 10 squat lifts along with a little taste of the popular arcade game “Dance Dance Revolution,” which is supposed to help with foot quickness. Morris was willing to talk DDR on the record, but he quickly drew the line.
“I wouldn’t do it in front of people,” Morris said. “I’m OK at it.”
Signings — Kansas recruit Royce Woolridge, who gave an oral commitment to the Jayhawks in the spring of 2008, will finally sign his letter of intent today to open the early signing period, according to Rivals.com.
Woolridge, a shooting guard from Phoenix, will have a ceremony at Sunnyslope High.
Woolridge, the son of former NBA player Orlando Woolridge, is rated a three-star recruit and the No. 117 player in the country by Rivals.com.
Harrison Barnes, the No. 2 overall player in the 2010 class, is expected to announce his decision on Friday at 3 p.m. at Ames (Iowa) Senior High. Barnes, a 6-foot-6 wing prospect, will choose between Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and Iowa State.
Other KU targets point guard Josh Selby, point guard Brandon Knight and shooting guard Doron Lamb are expected to make their decisions in the late period.