basketball Edit

Murray twins a great fit for Iowa

The Murray twins have found a home with the Hawkeyes.
The Murray twins have found a home with the Hawkeyes.

Recruiting a prospect always starts somewhere and for Keegan and Kris Murray and the Hawkeyes, it all began this spring at the Eastern Iowa All Star game at Kirkwood Community College.

The game featured many of the top seniors from eastern Iowa and one team include the Murray’s and Patrick McCaffery, the son of the Iowa head coach, who was set to play for his dad this fall.

Fran McCaffery hadn’t see the Murray’s in about a year and after the game he approached their father, former Hawkeye Kenyon Murray.

“Fran hadn’t seen them play live for about a year and he said they had grown and they were showing the ability to not only shoot, but put the ball on the deck and play multiple positions,” Kenyon Murray said.

That was the moment where the ball got rolling to where on Monday, Keegan and Kris Murray followed in their father’s footsteps and committed to play basketball at the University of Iowa.

Keegan and Kris Murray were standout players at Cedar Rapids Prairie High School. Keegan averaged 20.3 points per game, shot 52% from the field, and 39.8% from three point range. Kris was close behind, averaging 18.4 points per game, shooting 55.3% from the field and 34.8% from three.

Keegan earned first team All-State honors and Kris was second team, but the D1 scholarships never really rolled in to the level they had hoped.

The fact that they are twins and wanted to play together and are essentially the same size at 6-foot-8, certainly impacted their recruitments.

“I really think that because of the twin things, maybe some schools were liking one over the other. There were very few that thought they would be able to take both, which is why we didn’t see the offers coming in,” Murray said.

They also continued to grow and add weight this spring. Iowa kept in touch and when Billy Taylor returned to Iowa City as an assistant, he asked for some game film and also invited the Murray’s to make the short drive to Iowa City to play in pickup games with the Iowa players.

By that point, the Murray’s had put on about ten pounds of muscle and it showed in the pickup games.

“They felt like they really flowed right in with the Iowa players when they would go there to play. It was at that point that I thought, well maybe they have a chance to play at this level.”

Still there were more hurdle to climb. The Murray’s were headed to play a post graduate year at DME Sports Academy in Dayton Beach, FL. Iowa kept in touch and that included Fran McCaffery and Billy Taylor headed down to check on their progress this fall.

“I had no idea they were going to be down there,” Murray said. “The boys let me know and then I heard from Fran and he said they both played really well and he really liked what he saw from them.”

Other schools were also poking around on the Murray twins. Auburn had been in touch. Illinois State, South Dakota State, Drake, and Missouri State were showing stronger interest and several Florida schools were in touch.

Then at the DME Showcase event, Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw was in the gym for what turned out to be Iowa’s final evaluation.

“He gave Fran his final report and told him that he felt like they were a perfect fit because of the way they could stretch the floor, their length so they could play positionless basketball, and their high basketball IQ.”

From there it was the final step in the process, making an official visit. It came together early in the week and the Murray twins made their way back to their home state.

They arrived on Thursday night and Friday included a tour around the campus and also an opportunity for the Murray boys to reconnect with Patrick McCaffery, who they had played against since they were in grade school.

Then it was a chance to sit down with Fran McCaffery and that’s a moment that Kenyon Murray will never forget.

“He talked to us about how the boys were under the radar, but they were great kids with a high basketball IQ and their late growth spurt really made them high upside prospects,” Murray said. “Then he told both boys he wanted to offer them scholarships and I was honestly speechless.”

Iowa has been home for Kenyon Murray since he arrived as a star freshman recruit in 1992. He scored 1,230 points, grabbed 566 rebounds, and had 200 steals in his Iowa career. This was an extra special moment to see is son’s get the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.

“I have been in Iowa since 1992 and this is my home and where I played,” he said. “To have a coach think that highly of your kids takes your breath away. I had to hold back my emotions because I know how hard they have worked. I know some will look at this as a gamble, but I know my boys and I know they won’t be outworked by anyone.”

Those emotions really flowed a little bit later. The Murray boys went from their meeting with McCaffery to a photo shoot where they would be putting on Iowa jerseys. Kenyon and his wife, Michelle, stayed back to talk with McCaffery. Later he saw the photos of his sons in an Iowa uniform and the emotions came to the surface.

“Honestly, I got a little choked up when I saw those pictures of them in an Iowa uniform. I’m glad I wasn’t there when it happened because I probably would have cried in front of them. That moment brought me back to when I first put on an Iowa jersey.”

There’s also a little extra special part of this story. Chris Street, who tragically passed away in an auto accident in 1993, was a big reason why Murray ended up at Iowa. He named Kris Murray after Street as a tribute to his friend. Now Kris Murray will have a chance to carve out his own path in Iowa basketball history.

“I actually called Mike and Patty Street once the boys committed to Iowa. I wanted them to hear it first from me and let them know and they were really happy,” Murray said. “It’s special because every time I look at him and say his name, I can’t help but think about the person he is named after.”

Keegan and Kris Murray are the third and fourth verbally committed recruits for the Hawkeyes in the Class of 2020 joining Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins.