On the night of the NBA Draft Lottery earlier this month, Iowa all-American Keegan Murray posed for a picture. He was holding the hats of the teams that had drawn the first five picks in the June 23 draft.
“When I saw the picture I said to Michelle, “Man, just imagine, three years ago we were trying to figure out how we were going to pay for them to go to DME,’ ” Kenyon Murray said.
Life comes at you fast. Kenyon, the former Iowa basketball standout, and wife Michelle found the funds to send twins Keegan and Kris to DME Sports Academy in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Colleges didn’t show much interest in the pair at Cedar Rapids Prairie. The Murrays hoped prep school would change that. And then Iowa came calling.
And now, after two seasons as Hawkeyes, the twins have been working out for NBA teams in preparation for the draft.
Some mock drafts have Keegan going to one of those first five teams, and landing somewhere in the Top 10 for sure. He could become the highest-drafted Iowa player ever. Fred Brown owns that distinction, going to Seattle with the sixth pick in 1971. Keegan should become Iowa’s 10th first-round pick, and the first since Ricky Davis in 1998. A dozen different mock drafts have Keegan going as high as fourth and as low as eighth.
Kris also entered the draft, and has created a buzz of his own during workouts. He was selected to take part in the NBA Combine, but passed. Instead, he’s worked out with Keegan and a handful of players including Pete Nance of Northwestern, Patrick Baldwin of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marcus Sasser of Houston. All 30 NBA teams watched them at an event hosted by Priority Sports on Saturday at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Kris is still weighing his options – return to Iowa for another season or remain in the draft. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is June 1. Kenyon said Kris will take that decision to the wire.
“As of today I have no idea what he’s going to do,” Kenyon said Wednesday evening.
While Keegan’s future is on solid ground, Kris has several appealing options in front of him.
“Kris has always had confidence in himself,” Kenyon said. “He may have an opportunity to get taken late in the first or early in the second round. That’s still to be decided. But I think he’s confident in coming back to Iowa and being able to carry the load, and be one of the main cogs on the team next year. He’ll shine next year at Iowa. It will be a little bit different than what Keegan has done. But whichever way he decides to go, I think he’s going to be phenomenal.”
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Keegan, a consensus all-American last season, has a bright future guaranteed. Kris goes into each workout still chasing that dream.
“There’s 30 picks (in the first round), and everybody wants that guarantee,” Kenyon said. “Because that shows a team is investing in you for the next three years. I think there’s got to be at least an inclination that’s going to happen before he (Kris) stays in the draft.”
Keegan has signed with Priority Sports, which is conducting the workouts the Murrays are taking part in. Priority Sports is an NCAA certified organization, which means they are able to represent athletes and conduct training and other things related to preparing for the draft. The Murray family has to pay the bill for Kris’s participation. Since Keegan has signed with Priority Sports, his costs are covered.
Kenyon has seen both his sons improve since workouts began. Former Notre Dame player Kyle McAlarney, who works for Priority Sports, has helped the twins improve their footwork and release on their jump shots. Keegan has worked to improve his handle and getting to his most advantageous spots on the floor. Kris has improved his lower body stamina, which used to affect his shot mechanics when his legs got tired.
“With Kris, his confidence is through the roof,” Kenyon said. “He’s scoring on guys, including Keegan. They’ve had other G-League and NBA guys come through for workouts, and he’s been able to score on them and defend them. I think that’s taken his confidence to a new level.”
Keegan has played with quiet confidence.
“He’s played himself into a position where he doesn’t necessarily have to work out,’ Kenyon said. “And that’s a good thing. I think that shows people where teams have him as far as how highly they regard him and his body of work.”
Kenyon Murray has seen his sons dedicate themselves to the game for years.
“Just all the hard work they put in,” he said. “That’s the part, as a parent, that you just love. Because you want your kids to be able to have an opportunity to chase their dreams.”
For Keegan, the realization of that dream came in one photo and included five hats.
“That was pretty moving, when we saw that picture,” Kenyon said.