Iowa basketball forward Kris Murray returns to Hawkeyes for junior season

Kris Murray is back. 

And that is big news for Iowa men's basketball. 

After over one month in the NBA Draft process, the Iowa forward announced Wednesday that he will return to Iowa for his junior season. The Cedar Rapids native made his announcement via his Twitter account. The Register can confirm that Murray will be present with the team for the start of summer conditioning beginning next week. 

Murray is expected to replace his brother, Keegan, projected to be among the top picks in this month's NBA Draft, as Iowa's top scoring option in 2022-23. 

Kris Murray's decision completes his NBA Draft process, which consisted of a six-week training period in Chicago alongside twin brother and projected lottery pick Keegan Murray. During that time Kris Murray's NBA interest rose after consistently impressing during training sessions, so much so that Kris received an invitation to the NBA combine in mid-May. Murray declined the invitation but participated in Priority Sports', the agency that represents Keegan, pro day at the combine on May 21. 

More:Why Keegan Murray could have a better NBA career than other top draft prospects, according to Mike Schmitz

Kris entered the 2022 NBA Draft without official representation to retain college eligibility. He made the decision to enter to get direct feedback from NBA teams. It was widely assumed that Kris would return to take over as Iowa's go-to threat in 2022-23 but his combine invitation makes clear the NBA interest was real.

His return signifies that he's betting on more favorable draft positioning next year. 

Last season, Murray demonstrated two valuable traits to NBA teams, 3-point shooting ability (38%, second-best at Iowa) and versatility on defense. Those skills paired with his 6-foot-8 and 225 pound frame makes him the prototypical "three-and-(defense)" prospect that professional teams covet. 

Kris could play himself into a higher position with another strong season as the Hawkeyes No. 1 option. He just saw his twin brother do that last season. 

"He's not going to be the same player as Keegan," Kenyon Murray told the Register in mid-May said. "(Kris) has always been a face-to-the-basket, get to his spot (and shoot) and create for other people. He can play from the post but I think he's going to be deadlier from the perimeter. I think you're going to see a more well-rounded version of Kris being able to score at all three levels." 

More:Here's where Iowa's Keegan Murray is projected in 2022 NBA mock drafts, post-lottery

Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at