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IOWA CITY — Kris Murray didn’t join his family in Las Vegas last week to watch his brother, Keegan Murray, tear it up for the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Summer League.
The Iowa men’s basketball team is in its summer sessions, you see.
“I can’t just take a week off even though I love Keegan and I’m going to support him,” Kris said Tuesday before a team practice at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “We had a week of workouts and I can’t miss those. I could watch him on TV, and I can always call him whenever.”
This is Kris’ time with the Hawkeyes. Keegan’s was in 2021-22, and he seized it like few in Iowa history have seized a season, averaging 23.5 points and becoming a first-team All-American.
Keegan left for the NBA draft because it was the only sane thing to do. He was picked fourth, and will earn $36.4 million over the next four years. He made an instant splash by playing really good, consistent ball in Las Vegas and earning the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
Kris Murray averaged 9.7 points coming off the bench last season. He declared for the NBA draft in April. He trained with Keegan and other players in Chicago for a few weeks. He withdrew from the draft on June 1 to remain a Hawkeye for his junior year.
“I could have had two-way offers if I’d stayed in the draft,” Kris Murray said.
Two-way players spend the majority of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team, and are paid a corresponding amount based on the number of days they play in each league. He’s confident he can do better next year.
“I’ll always have the opportunity to make money and be able to showcase my talents on a national level,” said Murray. “But having the college experience and being able to kind of distance myself from Keegan and kind of take on a leadership role and being on top of scouting reports this year will help me a lot in my future.”
We saw flashes of greatness and plenty of contributions from Kris last season. He had 29 points against Indiana. He had a stretch of 17 straight games in which he made 3-pointers. He was second to his brother on the team in blocked shots and third in scoring and steals though he was sixth in minutes played.
The ball will go through him a lot more in the season ahead.
“It’s the first time he hasn’t played with his brother,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “He accepted the challenge of coming back. He bet on himself.
“A lot of guys, they have a two-way contract, they take it. He could have gone to a two-way if he wanted it. But he wanted to come back. He loves his teammates and he wants the responsibility that’s going to be placed on him. He’s ready for it, he’s worked hard for it, and I’m excited for him.”
“I’m definitely a more-independent person,” Kris said. “So I think that I definitely make to make that impact on this team, separate from Keegan.
“I think that my legacy will be different here at Iowa. I think the one that he left was a platform for the rest of the team to grow, and especially me to kind of take over the role that he had last year.”
Kris did join Keegan and his whole family at June’s NBA draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. When Sacramento drafted Keegan, the photo on the Barclays Center video board was of Kris. That didn’t sit particularly well with Keegan.
“I guess they just picked the better-looking twin,” Kris said.
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