- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Rockets selected Kansas forward Marcus Morris with the 14th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

The 6-foot-9 Morris was drafted immediately after his twin older brother, Markieff, was taken by Phoenix at No. 13. Marcus Morris was named the Big 12 player of the year after averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in 38 games for the Jayhawks in the 2010-11 season.

The Rockets missed the playoffs and ended up with the 14th overall pick for the second straight season. Houston also has the 23rd and 38th overall picks in the draft.

With Morris, Houston added some size with the future of Yao Ming in doubt. The top overall pick in 2002, the 7-foot-6 Yao has been plagued with foot and leg injuries in recent years, and played in only five games in the past two seasons.

The Rockets had three weeks to prepare for the draft since hiring Kevin McHale to replace Rick Adelman, who parted ways with the team after four seasons.

Houston international scouting director Arturis Karnisovas said the Rockets liked Morris‘ defensive versatility and toughness. He also said Morris will contribute offensively, after shooting 57 percent from the field and topping 20 points in 12 games last season.

“He’s tough inside and he can score close to the basket,” Karnisovas said. “He can take you outside, as a perimeter shooter. He’s a tough player, who can also defend. He’s an all-around good player.”

Morris worked out with the Rockets and impressed with his finishing ability and basketball smarts.

“High basketball IQ,” Karnisovas said. “We were looking for a versatile guy who can do many things, and that’s what he does.”

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