A little good news on the Iowa hoops front: Kris Murray, the other Murray brother who terrorized Big Ten opponents last season, has removed himself from consideration for the 2022 NBA Draft and announced his return to Iowa for the 2022-23 season.
Murray entered the NBA Draft process back in April and while he declined an invitation to the NBA Draft Scouting Combine, he still engaged in several other aspects of the draft process, including workouts and interviews with teams. Murray seemed to appreciate the process:
“These past two months have been a tremendous learning process for me,” said Murray. “By going through the NBA Draft process, I believe that it will help me in the long run and this upcoming season at Iowa. I can’t wait to get back to work with my teammates and coaches to play for the best fan base in the world. Go Hawks!”
Fran McCaffery is, naturally, quite excited to have Murray back at Iowa:
“Everyone in our program is very excited to have Kris back,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “We are happy that Kris had a positive experience going through the NBA process. He gained valuable feedback through workouts and conversations with NBA personnel. Kris will be awesome next year.”
His return is, not to put too fine a point, absolutely massive for Iowa. The prospect of replacing the production of Jordan Bohannon, Keegan Murray, and Kris Murray next season was extremely daunting; replacing Bohannon and Keegan alone will be difficult enough.
Kris took a huge jump between his freshman and sophomore seasons, going from a little-used bench player to one of the best sixth men in the Big Ten. His scoring average improved from 0.6 ppg to 9.7 ppg and his rebounding improved from 0.6 rpg to 4.3 rpg. Murray was second on the team in 3-point shooting (38.7%, 43/111), blocks (0.9 per game), and field goals made (124). He was a disruptive force on defense as well, recording multiple steals in 10 games and multiple blocks in 9 games. There were games when he was the best Murray on the court, too, as in Iowa's 83-74 victory over Indiana in the regular season in which Kris had a season-high 29 points on 12/18 shooting and 11 rebounds. He and Keegan also formed a potent one-two punch against Michigan in an 82-71 regular season win in which Keegan had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Kris had 19 points and 6 rebounds.
After the impressive leap in production from 2021 to 2022, the question for Kris becomes: how much better can he get as a junior in 2022-23? Part of his improvement in 2021-22 came from getting more opportunities and he should get even more opportunities in 2022-23 with Keegan Murray departed. Put simply, Keegan was the main man for Iowa in 2021-22, but in 2022-23 it's going to be Kris' turn as the main attraction. It would be unfair -- and unrealistic -- to expect Kris to duplicate Keegan's efforts from this past season. For one, Kris is not his brother -- they have slightly different games and styles. For another, Keegan had one of the best seasons in the history of Iowa basketball, so expecting an encore of that just doesn't seem too plausible. But if Kris can put up, say, 17-18 ppg and 8-9 rpg? That would result in another pretty excellent year for a K. Murray in an Iowa uniform.
Welcome back to Iowa, Kris. We're thrilled to see you return to Iowa City -- and we can't wait to see what you have in store for Iowa fans next.