Stephen Bardo says Iowa basketball's Keegan Murray 'has a chance to be the Big Ten MVP'

Adam Hensley
Hawk Central

The Keegan Murray hype continues to grow.

Prior to Iowa basketball's season-opener against Longwood on Tuesday, the Big Ten Network studio panel dissected the upcoming slate of games. When it came to discuss Iowa, Big Ten Network analyst Stephen Bardo made a bold declaration: He thinks the Hawkeye sophomore has a chance to be the best player in the conference this season.

"I love Keegan Murray," Bardo said. "I think this young man has a chance to be the Big Ten MVP this season. Now, here me out. Fran McCaffery is an offensive wizard. And the fact that they are going to have different moving parts — Jordan Bohannon is going to be in a position he's normally in — but Keegan Murray will be asked to be the leading scorer on this ball club, and, quite frankly, I really think he has a chance to do just that."

Bardo's statement didn't seem far-fetched in the slightest after Iowa's first half against Longwood. Murray scored 22 points (seven-for-nine shooting), grabbed six rebounds, knocked down three 3-pointers and assisted on a basket in only 13 minutes in the opening half on Tuesday. Murray finished the game with 24 points, seven rebounds, five blocks, one assist and a +38 rating in 17 minutes.

Bardo isn't the only basketball mind to predict big things for the Hawkeye forward. During the offseason, ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony predicted Murray to be a late first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo labeled Murray as one of the 10 best NBA Draft prospects returning to college this season. 

Murray scored 17 points on seven-for-10 shooting in Iowa's exhibition win over Slippery Rock on Nov. 5. Last season, Murray averaged 7.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game last season.

Following the Hawkeyes' game against Longwood, Iowa basketball hosts Kansas City on Friday and North Carolina Central on Nov. 16.

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Adam Hensley is a digital producer with the USA Today Network. You can follow him on Twitter @A_Hens83 or reach him at ahensley@gannett.com.