Iowa sophomore basketball player Keegan Murray is entering the NBA draft

Iowa sophomore Keegan Murray will enter the 2022 NBA draft.

“I am forever grateful that Coach [Fran] McCaffery gave me the opportunity to live out my dream,” Murray told ESPN on Tuesday. “Iowa will always be my home and I’m forever grateful to be part of Hawkeye Nation.”

Murray, the No. 5 prospect in the ESPN 100, was named a consensus first-team All-American after averaging 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 32 minutes per game. He led Iowa to a Big Ten tournament championship, being named Most Outstanding Player after scoring a record 103 points in four games.

He is currently a finalist for some of the most prestigious postseason awards in college basketball, including the Wooden, Naismith and Lute Olson awards, all of which are presented annually to the top player in Division I men’s basketball.

Murray took a unique trajectory to emerging as a potential top-five pick this June. He graduated from Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with only one Division I scholarship offer from Western Illinois, prompting him to spend a post-graduate year at DME Academy in Florida, along with his twin brother, Kris.

“I went into my first year at Iowa trying to learn,” Keegan Murray said. “I had the national player of the year on our team in Luka Garza, and veterans coming back. My goal was to learn from them and establish what I can do to get minutes and benefit our team, which meant being a hustle guy and really solid defensively. I tried to fill that role as best I could.”

Murray came off the bench as a freshman and averaged 7.2 points in 18 minutes per game. He then exploded into arguably the best player in college basketball as a sophomore, ranking fourth in the country in scoring and first in player efficiency rating (PER).

“The big emphasis for me in the offseason was becoming a better all-around player physically,” Murray said. “I put on 15 pounds and was able to increase my vertical leap. I was [6-foot-8], 205 pounds coming into college. I grew to around 6-9, and between 220 to 225 pounds, which helped a lot.”

Murray started this season projected as a first-round pick, but quickly proved to be one of the best NBA prospects in all of college basketball, as a 6-9 forward with a modern skill set and outstanding versatility on both ends of the floor. He shot 40% on 3-pointers this season, finished second in the country in transition scoring thanks to his ability to push the ball aggressively off the defensive glass, and proved capable of punishing smaller players inside the post. Perhaps most interesting from an NBA standpoint is the way he defended all over the floor for Iowa, be it spearheading the top of the Hawkeyes’ full-court press, switching onto smaller players in pick-and-roll coverages, or putting a body on centers inside the paint.

“Before I came to Iowa I always played on the wing,” Murray said. “This was the first time I played the 4 and 5. We were small in the Big Ten. I’ll do whatever is needed to win because of my skill set. This year I needed to play the 5. I feel like in the NBA, I can play 2 to 5. I can adapt to any position I’m put in.

“I’m looking forward to showing NBA teams my versatility on both ends of the court. I’m a lot more athletic than people realize. I’m as competitive a player as you’re going to get. It doesn’t show from my facial expressions, but I love the game of basketball and competing every single night was a blessing for me. I’m not worried about what spot I get drafted. I want to be in the best situation possible and play for a team that values my game and understands what I can excel at.”

The NBA draft combine will be held May 16-22 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 23 in Brooklyn, New York.