LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Jamal Murray (pictured) officially announced he has declared for the NBA Draft at a press conference in Memorial Coliseum on Friday, April 1.
Murray has decided to move forward and enter the NBA Draft after one of the most prolific scoring seasons in school history.
“At first my mom, dad and I made a goal to get to a good university,” Murray said. “All my life we’ve been thriving for the best schools to take a look at me. When I first committed to Kentucky, it was the biggest moment of my life, being able to hug my dad and all my family members behind me as we took the next step. I came here with a goal to improve myself and I did. I cherished every moment I was on the court. I made Kentucky my second home to Canada. Coach Cal and the staff told me that I would have to work hard every day and that they would demand the best of me. I’m thankful for how much they’ve pushed me to become a better player, teammate and person.
“With that said, I’m ready to take on the challenge of playing at the next level and I have declared for the NBA Draft. I want to thank the fans for all their support. It was a crazy experience and we had a lot of fun this year. I’m excited to take on new challenges in the journey ahead of me.”
The 6-foot-4 guard was one of the nation’s best scorers all season long and led the Wildcats in scoring at 20.0 points per game, which is the highest individual scoring average at Kentucky in the Calipari era. He earned a plethora of postseason accolades, including Associated Press Third Team All-America honors as well as All-Southeastern Conference First Team recognition by both the AP and the league’s coaches. He was tabbed a freshman All-American by Sporting News and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
“Jamal is one of the greatest kids,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “The improvement he showed over the course of the season may be unmatched by anyone I’ve ever coached. He grew into a true winner and one of the most efficient scorers. What I love about Jamal is he’s a great teammate who has a smile on his face every day. I’m going to really miss coaching him.”
With 720 points this season, he owns the school’s freshman single-season scoring record, surpassing Brandon Knight (657 points in 2010-11). That mark is also good for eighth all-time among all players in UK history.
The Kitchener, Ontario, native posted three 30-point games this season, two of which came against league foes. The three 30-point games are the most by a freshman in school history, and his 35 points vs. Florida tied Terrence Jones (Jan. 11, 2011 vs. Auburn) for the single-game freshman school record. It also tied Jones for the most points in a single game in the Calipari era.
A five-time SEC weekly award winner, Murray was the first Wildcat to reach double figures in 30 or more games since Jodie Meeks had a run of 32 times in 2008-09. Murray’s streak stretched to 34 straight games. He racked up a 12-game streak of scoring 20 points or more, matching the longest such streak for any UK player since Kevin Grevey topped 20 or more points in 12 straight games in 1974-75.
Having hit a 3-pointer in every game this season, Murray owns the UK freshman record for most 3-point field goals in a single season with 113, surpassing Knight’s previous record of 87. His 113 made 3-pointers are second on the UK single-season 3-point field goal list and the most of any freshman in the history of the SEC. It’s also the second most of any freshman in NCAA history, trailing only Stephen Curry’s record of 122.
Murray’s postseason honors list continues to lengthen by the day. Among the honors he’s been recognized for include:
• AP All-America Third Team • All-SEC First Team (Coaches/AP) • SEC All-Freshman Team (Coaches) • USA Today All-America Second Team • Scout.com All-America Second Team • CBS Sports All-America Third Team • USBWA Freshman All-America Team • Sporting News Freshman All-America Team • USBWA All-District IV Team • NABC District 21 First Team • Wayman Tisdale finalist
Players have until May 25 to make a final decision based on the new rule between the NCAA and NBA so long as they don’t hire an agent.
The NBA Draft Combine will take place May 11-15. Players who have not hired agents will have 10 days following that opportunity to make a final decision as to whether to forgo their athletic eligibility or return to school.
The 2016 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught