Iowa Hawkeyes fans have sure enjoyed some exciting hoops teams over the past couple of years. Luka Garza was a scoring machine and gave the fans some Final Four hopes. So, losing him to the NBA was a massive blow to the program’s aspirations.
Then, the Murray twins came along, with Keegan Murray balling throughout the whole season, leading them to a Big Ten Championship and paving his way to becoming a top-10 pick in the past NBA Draft.
Needless to say, that put a lot of pressure on Fran McCaffery’s team ahead of this season, as the Hawkeyes wanted to replicate that success, this time with Keegan’s twin Kris leading the way for them.
Season’s Highlights: Departures And The Ones Who Stayed
That’s why expectations for this season weren’t as high as they were last year. On top of Keegan, McCaffery also lost Jordan Bohannon and Joe Toussaint, and it’s not like his track record on Opening Weekend is anything to brag about or look forward to.
So, it’s not much of a surprise to see the Iowa Hawkeyes finish 2021 and enter 2022 sitting on an 8-6 record (1-3 in the conference), especially considering Kris Murray, by far their best player, had to miss four games due to injury. Even so, when he’s been on the floor, he’s proven to be at least a couple of steps ahead of his competition.
“I’m really excited just to show people what I can do this year,” Murray said before the season. “Playing with Keegan, though, made the game a lot easier, so that’ll be a little bit different. But we’ve got really good players on this team. I think they’ll help me show my skillset, and we’ll have a lot of success this year.”
𝐁𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 & 𝐆𝐨𝐥𝐝 & 𝐌𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐲 & 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 ☃️
— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) December 25, 2022
Our Hawkeyes Basketball Player Of The Year: Kris Murray
Entering his third season with the program and with the responsibility of taking a step forward with his brother going to the NBA, Kris Murray hasn’t batted an eye to embrace that leadership role. His first season as a starter has been even more impressive than even the most optimistic Hawkeye fan would’ve expected.
Through 10 appearances this season, Keegan’s twin is no longer just Keegan’s twin. He’s averaging 20.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 2.3 three-pointers per game on 50/37/77 shooting splits.
Murray’s ability to spread the floor while also being a much-improved defender has helped him make winning plays on both ends of the floor. He’s proven just that by leading his team in minutes, points and rebounds while being third in field goal percentage and second in blocks. Oh, and he averages just 1.3 turnovers and 1.9 personal fouls per game. That’s elite efficiency in elite usage.
Despite missing time with an injury, Murray’s electric play on both ends of the floor is more than enough to keep the Hawkeyes’ hopes up going forward. Also, he was recently named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25.
Coach McCaffrey predicted a breakout year in Kris’ junior season, claiming it was his team now. Also, considering his father’s Kenyon history with the program, he most definitely wanted to live up to the expectations:
“When I first got here, the first day of practice I didn’t even know it was up there and when I saw that it kind of took me back and made me realize, wow, he had this huge impact here,” Kris said when he enrolled at Iowa. “I just want to be someone like who he was and just look at him as a role model.”
— Kris Murray (@KrisMurray24) April 14, 2022
Another NBA Player For The Murray Family?
Keegan Murray’s career with the Sacramento Kings didn’t get off to the best start, especially with the wrist injury. Nonetheless, watching his glimpses of greatness and how he’s got a similar skill set could help Kris join his footsteps and become an NBA player as soon as next season.
In fact, the latest mock drafts have Kris Murray going in the middle of the first round, which is unusual for a guy who’s been in college for three years. That speaks volumes as to how dominant he’s been throughout the season.
Of course, not many 6’8’’ combo forwards can knock down threes at an efficient clip as the Murrays do. Their wingspan and length allow them to shoot over nearly every single defender on Earth. And Kris’ improved defense as a rim protector only makes him a more appealing prospect.
“It’s about time we went our separate ways,” Kris once said of his brother. “He’s enjoying his time in Sacramento and I know he loves it over there, and I’m enjoying my time in Iowa City for a year.”
Now, it’s just a matter of time before they square off again. This time, on the ultimate stage.
Iowa Commits Keegan & Kris Murray Show Out @ IMG Beach Blast!
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) February 24, 2020
Credits on Featured Image: Phil Roeder/Flickr/Commercial License Allowed