“With the fourth pick in the 2022 draft, the Sacramento Kings select Keagan Murray.” Murray stood up from the audience and walked across the stage to embrace NBA commissioner Adam Silver. At that moment Keagan Murray was officially an NBA player, but four years prior to this night not many would have guessed that he would become a top-five pick in the NBA draft.
A Basketball Family
Keagan Murray is a one-of-a-kind player, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. He is a minute younger than his identical brother Kris. Growing up in Cedar Rapids, basketball was in their blood. Under the tutelage of their father Kenyon Murray, who was a former McDonald All-American and Iowa Hawkeyes star, the two brothers excelled in their high school basketball careers. As a Senior, Keagan Murray put up over 20 points with seven rebounds a game and was named Metro Player of the Year. Despite these great numbers, Murray only had one division one offer with the rest being division two.
In April of his senior year, his only division one offer fell through and Murray elected to attend prep school at the DME Academy in Daytona Beach, Florida with his brother.
The Coaches at DME quickly saw the talent that the brothers possessed making Keagan and Kris focal points in their offensive scheme while helping the brothers put on mass and improve their offensive decision-making.
“We’re talking about 6-foot-8 guys who can shoot, pass it, they can rebound, and you can tell that they’re smart enough to play the game,” said DME Academy head coach Wesam Al-Sous. “It’s just a matter to showcase them and brush them to be consistent every day, not just a one-day thing or ups and downs during games and practices. My main goal throughout the year was to get them to work hard every day. One of the important things I said coming in, they need to play with different types of basketball players. In high school, they used to play with each other. They need to bump themselves and be challenged.”
The plan worked. By the end of the season, Keagan Murray was putting up over 22 points per game along with seven rebounds while his brother put up a solid 17 and 10 a game. With an impressive prep year, over 50 division one programs were interested in the Murray brothers but they decided to follow in their father’s footsteps and attend the University of Iowa.
Black and Gold
When the Murray brothers arrived on campus they were still relatively unknown despite putting up solid numbers in high school and in their prep year. That line of thinking became apparent to Keagan Murray when he first spoke to the media. The first question he received from the media when he arrived on campus was “Do you think you will have to walk on?”
Murray told the New York Post that fans assumed that the only reason he received an offer was because of his dad. With so much doubt surrounding him before he even played a game in a Hawkeye uniform, he made sure to control the only thing he could, his work ethic and his attitude.
“I just focused on myself,” he told the post.” I had a good circle of people around me who have supported me, so I really didn’t have any negativity coming my way. I knew that my hard work would take care of itself at some point, but I didn’t know when it would.”
His work paid off pretty quickly. In his freshman season, he started five games and averaged seven points a game. The next season he elevated his game to the next level averaging over 23 points per game and becoming a first-team all-American in the process. He became the only Hawkeye player to score more than 800 points in a single season and the only player in NCAA Basketball last year to average over 23 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.
He also added Big Ten Tournament MVP to his resume after helping lead the Hawkeyes to their first Big Ten Title since 2006.
A Winners Mindset
After being drafted by the Kings he was asked by the media what kind of player they were getting. His response was simple and succinct. “A winner,” he said. That attitude was on full display in the Big Ten Tournament Press Conference where he shared his team’s approach to winning the championship game after playing consecutive days.
His mental approach to the game combined with his length and athletism is going to make him a match-up nightmare in the NBA. Throughout his basketball career, being overlooked and under-recruited, even as the fourth overall pick, Keagan Murray still has something to prove.
“I don’t really care who I play, I’m gonna give 100 percent,” he told reporters. “I don’t really care what anybody says about me, I think criticism is better than praise because that means you have to work on stuff, so yeah, I have a chip on my shoulder for sure.”
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