Kentucky lands five-star guard Murray
After a few kicks to the gut, Kentucky basketball's 2015 recruiting class finally got a shot in the arm.
Five-star guard Jamal Murray of Kitchener -- a late reclassification from the Class of 2016 -- on Wednesday picked the Wildcats over Oregon, rounding out UK's 2015 class and setting up a strong backcourt for 2015-16.
"Murray is a scoring guard who can play either on the point or off the ball,"Rivals National Recruiting Analyst Eric Bossi said. "He shoots it well from deep, has a good build that allows him to finish through contact and he's got a reasonable feel as a passer and decision maker."
Murray announced his decision on TSN's SportsCentre, similar to ESPN's American SportsCenter.
"It's been a great recruiting process," Murray said on TSN. "I got to meet many great coaches that invest their time in me and without further ado, I will be attending the University of Kentucky."
Murray then took off his Canadian flag cape, unzipped his jacket and was wearing a UK dress shirt with a UK tie.
Despite living in Canada, Murray said distance did matter.
"At first it was just distant," Murray said. "Being able to stay a little bit closer to my parents. After I looked at the history of Kentucky and the players they got to the next level, just made me want to go there even more, really set my mind of just one year of hard work and dedication to the game."
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound point guard took official visits to UK and Oregon in recent weeks.
"Murray's strength is his ability to score the ball," Bossi said. "He reads screens well, finds holes in defenses and is a balanced offensive player who can score at the rim, in the mid range and from deep. Like most young players he could be a bit better defensively and he can continue to get stronger. In situations where he's running a team, there can be times where he looks for his own offense a bit too often. The best thing about Murray, though, is he is a clutch player. When it matters most he tends to rise to the occasion and wants the ball in his hands."
Murray's decision snapped a string of near misses over the past few months -- UK came up short in pursuit of guard Malik Newman, swingman Jaylen Brown and centers Stephen Zimmerman and Caleb Swanigan -- and gives the Cats one of the most talented backcourts in the country.
Murray joins Isaiah Briscoe and Tyler Ulis, and though all are ball-dominant guards, Bossi said it would work for Kentucky.
"The easiest part of that equation is Ulis," Bossi said. "He's not likely to play anywhere other than the point and he's a terrific distributor. Briscoe and Murray will be interesting fits when playing together because they are both relatively ball dominant guards who are used to having control. Neither Briscoe or Murray is selfish, though, so they will hopefully be able to get it worked out. Murray and Briscoe have enough size that it wouldn't be a surprise to see all three play together."
In the Nike EYBL last season Murray averaged 12 points and five rebounds per game.
He also scored a game high 30 points in the Nike Hoop Summit in April.
"As you all know this has been a journey," Murray said. "Coming up as a kid I've always loved basketball. It was the first thing I touched and the last thing I put down. At an early age my dad talked to me about life, respect, trust, confident and sacrifice. Those are big words to a child but I later understand their true meanings.
"Playing in Canada presented unique opportunities for me. A lot of people said I can't do what I'm doing here in Canada but my response was you can do anything you want as long as you put your mind to it. It's always an honor to represent my country in Canada, so I wear the flag and I wear it proudly."
During the Bluegrass National Championship in March Murray had positive things to say about Kentucky but wasn't focused in on his recruitment.
He was also a class of 2016 recruit who just reclassified to 2015 this week.
"I haven't given it a lot of thought," Murray said in Paducah, Ky. "I'm going to finish up my high school season before I think about college first. I have a lot of time to think about that before making a decision.
"…Kentucky is one of the top schools in the country."