Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Posted: 5:09 p.m.
By John R. Finger
Tattooed on Markieff Morris right bicep was a mural of sorts of two basketball players standing back to back under the heading, Twin Towers.
Presumably, one of the ballplayers is Markieff, the 6-foot-10 big man out of Kansas by way of North Philly and APEX Academy in Pennsauken, N.J. The other player is Markieffs brother, Marcus, his 6-foot-9 twin also of Kansas and APEX.
However, Markieff was the only Morris twin at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Wednesday morning for a pre-draft workout with the 76ers. Joined by Tyler Honeycutt of UCLA, Eniel Polynice from Seton Hall, Xavier Silas of Northern Illinois and a second trip back for Villanovas Antonio Pena (see box), Markieff very well could be on the board when the Sixers make their selection at No. 16 at next weeks NBA draft.
Though Markieff might be there when the Sixers make their first pick, his twin brother likely will be gone as a lottery pick, perhaps as a Top 10 selection. So as a half of the twin Twin Towers coming off of back-to-back Big 12 championships for Kansas, Markieff and Marcus very well could be on different teams for the first time ever next season.
That could be as confusing for Markieff as it will be for opponents to see twins in the NBA. Then again, the Morris twins have decided to do their pre-draft visits and workouts apart from each other since they no longer will be a package deal.
Its been pretty cool, Markieff said. I can hold my own.
Thats the press on Markieff, too. An honorable mention All-American who led the Big 12 in rebounding last season, Markieff is known as a gritty, lunch-pail type on the low-post, which is exactly what the Sixers did not have last season. Better yet, in the workout with the 6-8 Honeycutt, projected to be a first-rounder, the Sixers put together their best crop of players for the pre-draft workouts.
Still, with the draft scheduled for June 23, Courtney Witte, the Sixers director of personnel, has a pretty solid idea of whom the team will draft. Though he didnt tip his hand, it might be pretty tough for the Sixers to pass on Markieff Morris if hes available at No. 16.
Obviously the things we like about Markieff is that hes a big that plays big is the way I would put it, Witte said after Wednesdays workouts. Hes not afraid to get inside and mix it up. Hes proud. He has a little bit of an attitude, obviously courtesy of his Philadelphia upbringing.
Certainly Morris hometown adds even more intrigue to him possibly landing in Philadelphia. Though he says he was more of a football fan as a kid and a Dallas fan at that Morris followed the Sixers last season and remembers watching the old-timers like Allen Iverson when he was learning the game in North Philly.
In other words: Morris not only knows what appeals to Philly fans, but also what the Sixers need. And if he can persuade the Sixers into picking him, hell do it. Of course he already has worked out for nine other teams and will visit with four others before draft day, but a trip home (and a night in a hotel, too) was worth it.
I can help the team. Im a stretch four and Im tough. I have that Philly pride, so, they like that about me a lot, he said. It was a good workout. I definitely wanted to impress these guys as much as possible.
Witte sounded impressed when talking about Morris game, too. The quiet toughness and Philly tude has a tendency to stand out in a crowd.
I think his mental makeup is one of real quiet toughness, and I think thats a really good thing to have, Witte said.
In the meantime, Witte and the Sixers brass will look at some more potential draftees on Thursday when Villanova alums Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes arrive at PCOM with Bengaly Fofana of France, Justin Hurtt from Tulsa and UConn's Charles Okwandu. The five players in Thursdays session are projected to be late second-round picks at best in the draft, but very well could join a club as a free agent or perhaps as a D-League prospect.
The team also will hold workouts on June 19 and 21 leading to the draft.
Jrue Holiday had a breakout season for the Sixers last season, but he might have some trouble keeping up with his younger brother. According to reports, Aaron Holiday, an incoming freshman at North Hollywood (California) Campbell Hall, scored 54 points in the opening game of a tournament in California.
The younger Holiday, only 5-foot-10, buried 28 foul shots and was scheduled to play another game on Wednesday.
E-mail John R. Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related: Sixers to extend qualifying offers to Young, Hawes Five targets for the Sixers at No. 16