What's Up With Murray?

Illinois fell just short yet again in their hunt for a point guard when Jawun Evans elected to attend Oklahoma State. Focus now shifts internationally to Canadian product Jamal Murray. Get the latest from Murray and his recruitment in this interview.

Athlete Institute (CAN) guard Jamal Murray is one of the premier guards in the nation regardless of class. Illinois and their coaching staff have made great connections in Canada since arriving a couple years ago. They have put themselves heavily in the mix with several prospects from Canada including the talented Murray. We spoke with him to get an update on his game and recruitment.

It has been quite a summer for Murray as he elevated his game on the Nike EYBL circuit with CIA Bounce and at the Nike Elite 100 camp to prove he was one of the best prospects in North America. He then showed out internationally starring for Canada in the FIBA U17 World Championships in Dubai averaging 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per contest.

“Summer time is really one of the most exciting times for basketball for me," Murray said. "Playing with Bounce you know Peach Jam and the circuit really helps me try new stuff and have confidence in it. With Team Canada it’s really all about discipline and timing. That helps a lot from running and executing plays properly to working the hardest as your leader on the floor and leading by example adds to my game.”

Murray is a big guard that can really score. His ability to get to the basket at will as well as get his other teammates involved is intriguing not only for colleges, but NBA teams at the next level. Murray discussed his strengths at this stage.

“I see myself as an all-around point guard," he said. "There’s going to be times where my team needs me to score and then there’s going to be times that I have to run the team and let the players play off of me. You know like the drive and kick game or dump offs. So I see myself as a point guard that can take over games. My height also gives me the advantage to make certain passes and to post up smaller guards.”

Murray, who doesn't let recruiting consume much of his attention, updated us on where his recruitment currently stands.

“I’m not trying to pay a lot of attention to that as of right now," he said. "A lot of schools have been calling though, but I’m not really letting it get to my head. I still have possibly another year of high school after this.”

There has been much discussion of whether the 2016 prospect could reclassify to 2015. That's still up in the air.

“It’s a possibility," Murray said, "but it’s too early for me to make that decision.”

The talented guard discussed the programs that have been most active this fall recruiting him.

Murray said, “Oregon, Mizzou, Michigan State, and Illinois I would say,” are recruiting him the hardest.

Murray is taking things slowly on the recruiting front and doesn't have any college visits in his immediate future.

“Nothing planned yet," he said, "but definitely more than likely to do that later. I don’t know what schools yet though.”

The Illinois coaching staff has been in contact with the Canadian star guard.

“I’ve talked to the head coach over the phone and I’ve met Coach Ford,” Murray said.

Illini assistant coach Dustin Ford has been up to see Murray this fall. The staff has told him what they are intrigued by about his game.

He said, “They like how I can create my own shot for myself and they like my overall game.”

Murray has spoken to Head Coach John Groce about his system and likes what he has heard.

“There’s a lot of freedom offensively and in transition,” Murray noted.

IlliniPlaybook Evaluation from Nike Elite 100 in June:

Murray put on a phenomenal performance against high quality competition. The 2016 guard measured in at 6'3" 193 pounds with a 6'7" wingspan. He has wide shoulders and a frame he will be able to continue to add strength.

The playmaking guard showed a lot of athleticism against some very quick defenders. He was assertive from the opening tip and was looking to score, showing the ability to be more of a combo or even shooting guard than exclusively a point guard.

The first aspect of Murray's game that jumps out was how he consistently got to the basket all week. His quickness and burst getting into the lane could not be contained. He got to the rim at will with plus handles, speed, and a slippery ability to get through defenders. When in the paint Murray did a great job shielding his man by using his body to finish at the rim. Several times he took contact at the hoop and finished well through it.

Murray's jump shot was falling as well. He is a plus shooter that can knock it down from both mid-range and three. While playing off the ball he had a few nice curls that he converted into triples. His pull up jumper was also working as he would stop and pop from 15-18 feet. As a bigger combo guard, he can also take his man to the post to finish at rim or with a fadeaway jumper.

While Murray was definitely in score first mode in St. Louis he did make good decisions and had a few spectacular passes. He likes finding cutters to the hoop and showed a good feel for making sound decisions with the ball in the half court. In transition, he was great at pushing it and making impressive finishes or dishes. Murray is an-above average rebounder for a guard that will stick his nose in there on defense with the intent to start the fast break going the other way. Defensively, he has potential with his size and quickness to be very good at the next level matching up with both ones and twos.

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