Keegan Murray: Time to Buy NBA Draft Stock of Iowa Hawkeyes Forward

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(Editor’s note: with the NBA Draft tomorrow night, we’re re-posting back to the top from March 23 Update: We discussed this topic during a guest appearance on WGN News Now

When the Iowa Hawkeyes absolutely throttled Northwestern this past Thursday, in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, NBA blue chip prospect Keegan Murray became just the third Hawkeye to surpass 700 points in a single season (724). The second generation of balling talent (his father, Kenyon Murray, was a legend at Iowa) led all scorers with 26 points (11-16 shooting, 3-3 from three-point range) and grabbed eight rebounds in only 21 minutes.

At this point, Murray, a first team AP All-American, is looking like a NBA Draft lottery lock. ESPN rates him the eighth best overall prospect in this class, and he’s been described as the best possible point forward in the class of 2022. He has the ability to play both the 3 and the 4, with the ball handling skills of a one or a two.

His 11 field goals, in the absolute curb-stomping of NU, a game that was somehow even more lopsided than the 112-76 final score sounds, (it was literally 64-31 at halftime, and really no fun to watch at all for anyone involved who isn’t yellow and black), to tie Dean Oliver’s single-game Iowa Big Ten Tournament record set in 2000.

“Every time I step on the floor, I feel I’m the best player on the court,” Murray said in postgame. 

You got to love his swagger. I’d definitely rate his #NBA Draft stock as a “buy” right now. He has top 10 to top 15 written all over him. 

Keegan Murray was asked what it felt like to win the Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player award.

“I feel like back at it, like I’ve had to learn from a lot of guys last year just what it takes to be great at this level, good at this level and guys especially in this tournament have just really had faith in me,” he responded.

“That’s all I could ask for. I take a bad shot, they tell me to shoot the next one. I miss a shot, they say shoot the next one.”

At 6-foot-8, 225, Keegan Murray ranks first in the country in Player Efficiency Rating (38.2); fourth in points per game (23.6); 32nd in field goal percentage (.555); and 45th in blocks per contest (2.0) and double-doubles (10). His 23.6 points per game average is tops among players from a major conference.

iowa hawkeyes

Everybody’s All-American and the Hawks alpha dog, he’s the only individual player, in the entire nation, to average 23+ points, 8+ rebounds, and 2+ blocks this season and one of three players from a major conference with those averages over the last decade. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native has tallied 20+ points 25 times and 25+ points 16 times this season, both of which rank first nationally.

While Luka Garza established himself as the alpha of all alphas last season, he graduated, leaving a void for someone to fill, and Keegan Murray stepped in admirably. NBA Draft Room described him as “a long, smooth wing with a pretty 3pt stroke and great defensive versatility. A highly efficient player.”

Keegan Murray and #5 seed/16th-ranked Iowa (26-9) will take on No. 12 seed Richmond (23-12) at 2:10 p.m. (CT) at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. The game will be televised on truTV and broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network and Westwood One.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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