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March 6, 2011

KU Well Represented All-Big 12 Awards

Kansas junior Marcus Morris, his twin Markieff Morris, seniors Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed and head coach Bill Self were honored by the conference office as the All-Big 12 men's basketball awards were announced Sunday.

In a vote of the conference coaches, Marcus Morris was named the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year. Additionally, Marcus was an All-Big 12 First Team selection, while Markieff Morris earned all-conference second-team accolades. Morningstar and Reed were named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and Morningstar also earned recognition on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Conference coaches, who were not able to vote for their own team, selected Bill Self as the 2011 Big 12 Coach of the Year.

"I am very proud any time our players get named to a postseason award," Self said. "I am especially proud of Marcus for being consistent this year and being the premier performer in our league. It certainly is a compliment to him but also to his teammates to allow him to do what he does. Markieff, Brady and Tyrel also very deserve their recognition as well."

Marcus Morris led the Jayhawks to another Big 12 regular-season championship after averaging 17.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. The Philadelphia, Pa., forward shot 59.7 percent from the field, a mark that was ranked in the top 10 nationally in the latest rankings. He improved those totals in league play, finishing with 18.8 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per contest, while shooting 60.6 percent. Morris' honor marks the sixth time a Kansas student-athlete has won player of the year and first since Wayne Simien in 2004-05. Big 12 Player(s) of the Year from Kansas include Raef LaFrentz (1996, 1997), Drew Gooden (2002), Nick Collison (2003), Simien (2005) and Morris in 2011. Additionally, Marcus Morris' All-Big 12 First Team selection marks the 20th time a Jayhawk has earned the distinction. KU has had an all-league first-team award winner in 13 of the 15 seasons the Big 12 has existed.

"I'm happy," Marcus Morris said. "I give all the credit to my teammates. Without them there is no way I would have been selected. We've had a great season so far but we still have a lot of work to do heading into the Big 12 tournament and the NCAAs."

Markieff Morris leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 59.8 percent, which is just ahead of Marcus' 59.7 percent. Markieff also leads the conference in rebounding at 8.3 boards per game and averages 13.5 points per contest. An Academic All-America First Team selection for 2011, Reed is among the conference leaders in three-point shooting at 39.7 percent (eighth) and his 1.9 threes per contest rank 12th. The Burlington, Kan., native is scoring 9.9 points per game. Morningstar, from Lawrence, Kan., averaged 8.1 points in Big 12 play and 6.5 points per contest overall. He leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.7 and his 1.5 steals per game are ninth in the conference.

Self has earned Big 12 Coach of the Year for the third time. He also earned the honor in 2006 and 2009. This season, Self led the Jayhawks to a stellar 14-2 campaign and garnered the program's 11th shared or outright Big 12 regular-season crown in the 15-year history of the conference. Kansas has 29 victories for the fourth time in five seasons, including a 9-1 mark in true road games and a 13-1 record away from Allen Fieldhouse. Self has been named his conference coach of the year four times as he was the WAC Coach of the Year in 2000 while at Tulsa.

"There are a lot of coaches that have done a great job in our league this season," Self said. "The primary reason for any postseason award is because you have good players who have performed at a high level."

Top-seeded Kansas (29-2, 14-2) will play its quarterfinal game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Thursday, March 10, at 11:30 a.m. (Central) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. KU will face the winner of the Wednesday, March 9, contest against No. 8 Nebraska and No. 9 Oklahoma State. KU's quarterfinal game will be televised on ESPN2.

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