KU notebook: Former Jayhawk Markieff Morris is an expectant father, while Kelly Oubre needs knee treatment, guitar lessons

Former Kansas Jayhawk Markieff Morris (left) plays in the NBA for the Washington Wizards. | Charles Krupa | The Associated Press

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Markieff “Keef” Morris and his wife are expecting a baby girl in September.

Kelly Oubre is about to undergo non-surgical treatment on his aching right knee and is planning on making music with his trusty electric guitar this offseason.

The two former Kansas basketball players, who play for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, definitely had some news to report to media members in their exit interviews on Wednesday — a day after Washington’s Game 7 loss to Boston in a second-round playoff series.

“We’re having a baby in September,” revealed Morris, the brother of twin Marcus Morris, another former Jayhawk. “I was hoping for twins, but we’re having a baby girl. I’ll be here (in Washington) for most of the summer working out. I can’t do too much moving,” Markieff added.

Markieff, 27, who has completed six years in the league, averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game across 76 regular-season games. He averaged 12.1 points and 6.4 boards per game in 13 playoff contests.

Morris, by the way, was wearing an FOE shirt during his post-playoff exit interview with media. FOE stands for “Family Over Everything,” the motto of the twins when they played at KU (2009-11).

Oubre, 21, just finished his second year in the NBA. Oubre, according to ESPN and the Washington Post will receive platelet-rich plasma injections in the right knee that bothered him during the playoffs.

PRP therapy, according to the Post, “is a process that involves removing and then re-injecting a small amount of the patient’s blood at the point of injury. It is said to promote tissue regeneration that speeds the healing process.”

Oubre should be out of action a couple of weeks. The 6-foot-7 Oubre averaged 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in 79 regular-season games. He averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 boards in 12 playoff games.

He was suspended from Game 4 in the Celtics series after charging into Kelly Olynyk after Olynyk a forward for the Celtics, fouled Oubre hard on an illegal screen.

And oh yes, concerning his growing love of the guitar, Oubre last season told csnphilly.com: “Since I was a kid when I was in New Orleans and just started picking up electric guitar and playing that. I’m a left-hander, but I got a right-handed guitar by accident and I’m playing it backwards.” 

Was the slap playful?

Markieff Morris was involved in a “controversy” of sorts after a Game 6 victory over Boston. He slapped the backside of ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith fairly hard while entering the tunnel to head to the locker room.

Most considered it a playful slap. Yet Smith has been critical of Morris in the past.

“It hurt like hell, but I understand,” Smith said on his “First Take” program.

“Look, what you all want me to say?” Smith said on TV as reported in an article at Businessinsider.com. “Listen, I talked smack about him, having given it to him about Paul Millsap in the first round. The second round against Boston he has been inconsistent. They won a big game and he screamed at me, ‘Don’t desert us, Stephen A.! Step up! C’mon man! Don’t desert us now.’ And then he slapped me on the backside. It hurt like hell! But I understand.

“Not like I’m gonna smack him back. I’m not gonna hit him,” Smith added, smiling.

Morris told CSN Mid-Atlantic: “That’s the only thing you can do other than hit him. I would get in trouble for hitting him or doing anything. That’s the only thing I can really do without hurting him. I know a lot of people probably wouldn’t mind, but my paycheck would have minded.”

Josh Jackson stock is high

Josh Jackson has a fan in former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Tim Legler, who told Philadelphia’s 97.5 radio station “The Fanatic” that former KU guard Jackson should not slip past Philly’s No. 3 spot in the June 22 NBA Draft.

“I draft Josh Jackson,” Legler told the radio station on Wednesday as reported in an article at csnphilly.com. “I wouldn’t hesitate. I would draft Josh Jackson at No. 2 if I got 2,” he added of the Los Angeles Lakers’ slot.

At this time, Markelle Fultz is expected to be the top pick (of Boston) and Lonzo Ball the choice of the Lakers at No. 2 with either Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk or Jayson Tatum going third.

“There’s no question in my mind he’s going to develop into a guy that can consistently make shots, even at the NBA three-point line,” Legler said of Jackson. “Maybe not right away, but down the road, he will do that because he’s that hard of a worker,” Legler said.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that wants it more in this draft to be great than Josh Jackson, and he’s a game-changing player defensively. From day one, you’re better if he’s on the floor, because he’s that competitive defensively.”

Legler compared Jackson to Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.

“I’m telling you, Josh Jackson handles the ball and passes the ball right now at a higher level than Leonard did coming into the league. There’s no question about it,” Legler said.

Meanwhile, NBA and college analyst Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report and SI Now wrote on Twitter: “Multiple teams have fallen in love w/Josh Jackson. Is perhaps highest upside player in this draft and has a legit shot to go first overall.”

Lakers want to speak to Jackson

The Lakers have not decided which player to take at No. 2.

“A lot may change once you interact with them,” Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. “We interviewed Markelle Fultz at the combine last week. A bright young man and very talented … but we haven’t sat down with Lonzo yet. We haven’t sat down with Josh Jackson yet, on and on and on. We’re going to look forward to doing that. It’s different when you can sit down and get a feel for the person and have them all in. That’s going to be fun, too,” Johnson added.

Tarik Black update

Tarik Black parlayed a highly-successful season as a graduate transfer at KU into a lucrative NBA career. The 25-year old Black — who was immediately eligible at KU for the 2013-14 season after graduating from Memphis where he played three seasons — earned $6,191,000 this past season with the Lakers after earning $845,059 with the Lakers in 2015-16 and $507,336 his rookie year with both Houston and the Lakers.

Black, who averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds a game in 2016-17 — will make $6,655,325 next year in LA, if the Lakers elect to keep him and not release him to free agency.

“I believe I will be (back), but once again, the NBA is passion, basketball, business,” Black said in his exit interview with media.

“They (coach Luke Walton, team president Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka) were sitting there, telling me things to work on. If they weren’t interested in bringing me back, they would just say, ‘It’s nice having you here Tarik. We enjoyed you. We’ll be in touch.’ The fact they listened and answered my questions, the fact we talked about development (in postseason interview) gives me confidence moving forward.”

Black said he wants to be part of a Laker title team.

“I’ve been here. I worked hard,” Black said. In one season he improved his free-throw percentage from 42.2 percent to 75.2. “I’ve been through many ups and downs with this organization. I’ve invested literally blood, sweat and tears. That means a lot to me. Tarik Black is not a guy to invest in something and not see it through. I hate that. I really want the opportunity to see it through.”

Of continuing to improve, he said: “I feel I’ve established myself as an NBA player. At the same time you can never become complacent. I feel I’ve shown the NBA yes I can play at this level and can play at a high level at this level. There’s a mountain of potential still there. Whether it comes out or not we’ll have to wait and see. I’ll never take a position of comfort saying, ‘I”m an NBA player and that’s it.’ I’ll be first in the gym.”

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore


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