Kris Murray ascended to stardom this past season with the Iowa Hawkeyes, averaging 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The Cedar Rapids native made most of his decision to return to Iowa City.
In addition to points and rebounds, Murray stuffed the stat sheet all over. He finished the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season with per game averages of 2.0 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.
As a result, he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the league’s media and by the Associated Press. Murray also garnered consensus third-team All-American honors.
His monster season had him up for a number of top national awards, too. Murray was a finalist for the Lute Olson National Player of the Year and the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year. The 6-foot-8, 220 pound forward was also a semifinalist for the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Player of the Year Trophy.
Murray’s night in and night out performances leading Iowa to a 19-14 (11-9 Big Ten) mark earned him an NBA draft combine invite. The buzz from DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony is that plenty of NBA executives were on hand to watch Murray’s Combine workout.
Murray caught up with Andy Katz of NCAA.com to discuss how his time at Iowa prepared him for the 2023 NBA draft. Last summer, Murray entered his name into the 2022 NBA draft before eventually withdrawing his name.
Katz started by asking how getting to be the lead option in his final year at Iowa benefited him going forward.
“Yeah, I think it was one of the big reasons why I came back. Just to kind of make a name for myself. I knew that I’d have the opportunity to do it. It was just whether I took the reins or not. This last year’s gave me a lot of confidence in myself and that I know I can play at this next level. Playing in the Big Ten’s tough, especially because it’s a really scout-oriented conference. You get the best out of everyone every single day and I think it really prepared me for what’s to come,” Murray said.
Of course, his twin brother, Keegan Murray, just ended a fabulous rookie NBA season with the Sacramento Kings. Keegan was named to the NBA All-Rookie first team.
Katz noted how well Keegan’s skills have translated to the NBA and asked how Kris’ skills will.
“I think shooting is something you can’t compete with, being just a great shot maker and being able to space the floor is really key in the NBA. And, I think just being versatile, I feel like that’s something I’ve always been my whole entire life. Especially these last few years, I’ve been a versatile defender, versatile offensively. Just play multiple positions, guard multiple positions. I think that’s something I can definitely take to the next level,” Murray said.
Katz pointed out that he’s more than just a floor-spacer. He’s a terrific rebounder and passer. How will that help Murray in the NBA?
“It’ll help a lot. I feel like my passing really came along. The game started to slow down a lot more. I think my playmaking got a lot better. I’ve always had a knack for rebounding. I feel like I’ve always been able to kind of just read the ball off the basket. It’s a simple skill, but it means a lot to teams and I think that’s something that I can really bring,” Murray said.
There’s plenty of NBA draft projections out there suggesting where Murray might wind up. In fact, one of the most recent from For The Win had a Murray twins reunion in Sacramento. For The Win’s Bryan Kalbrosky had Murray going with the No. 24 pick to Sacramento.
Most everywhere you look, Murray is projected as a first-round pick. Katz asked Kris if there was a point before this season where he and his family thought both he and Keegan would be first-round NBA draft picks.
“Probably not up until last year when Keegan started getting some first-round buzz. We play the same, so we knew that if one of us could do it, both of us could do it. It’s definitely kind of a surreal experience for my family just to be in this position. It’s definitely not common ground for them, but it’s soon to be. We’re definitely taking advantage of it and just being grateful for this opportunity,” Murray said.
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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire