All-American Keegan Murray broke out in the 2021-2022 season, averaging 23.5 points per game and leading Iowa to its third Big Ten Tournament championship. He evolved into one of the NBA’s premier draft prospects, and was selected 4th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2022 draft.
The Hawkeyes now have a void to fill, and the most likely candidate doesn’t even leave the Murray family. Keegan’s twin brother Kris is entering his junior season for the Hawkeyes and will inevitably step into a larger role.
“He is expected to go to the league,” said Murray’s teammate Filip Rebraca. “He knows he’s that guy and we’re going to need him to be that guy.”
Last season the 6-8 forward came off Fran McCaffery’s bench, averaging just under 18 minutes a night. In that time Murray averaged 9.7 PPG and 4.3 rebounds per contest, which was good for second on the team. He also shot the ball exceptionally well from the beyond the arc at a 38.7% clip. McCaffery believes Murray has had a fluid transition into his new role.
“He is accepting that responsibility and has been way more aggressive offensively,” McCaffery said. “Defensively he’s always in the right place. Last year he was late, sometimes getting in foul trouble. He’s been really aggressive on the glass because we certainly need that.”
Murray himself said he’s up for the task and doesn’t compare his play to his brother’s.
“I’m always ready for a good challenge,” Murray declared. “I know a lot of people are trying to put pressure on me this year but I really feel that there’s none. I know my game, I know how to play. That’s all I have to do this year — just stay confident in myself and when team success happens, individual success happens. The biggest thing is to get wins this year and be able to showcase our team at the highest level.”
And while this is new territory, it’s not uncharted. In 2021, Iowa lost the nation’s player of the year in Luka Garza to the NBA, and didn’t lose a step with Keegan Murray’s emergence.
Can Kris take that next step?
Can Iowa go back to the Big Ten championship?
I don’t know the answer to those questions, but the season starts November 7 against Bethune Cookman at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And a new era of Hawkeye men’s basketball will commence.