The Sacramento Kings officially introduced Keegan Murray on Saturday. Here's what he said.
Keegan Murray still hasn't fully processed the last 48 hours or so yet. On Thursday night as the No. 4 overall pick he became the highest-drafted player in Iowa men's basketball history.
On Saturday he was officially introduced as the newest member of the Sacramento Kings franchise from the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
He'll wear a new number, 13, as he begins what he described as "the first step in his journey."
"I'm excited to be here in Sacramento," Murray said to reporters. "It's a dream come true to be able to pull on the purple and black so I'm grateful to be in this position. Sacramento has welcomed me with open arms so far. So I'm excited to see everyone at the games and things like that. For me, it's been a journey from where I've came from and to where I am now."
Murray took some time to reflect on that journey that included being an unranked prospect as a senior in high school. His unusual path to a Top 5 NBA draft pick is what's deepened his connection for basketball.
He's no longer underrated and said he is excited for the change in expectations.
"I think what shaped my love for the game of basketball is just how I've been unappreciated my whole life," Murray said.
"I felt like coming out of high school and ranked one Division I offer and thinking about going the (junior college) route just built my love for basketball even more. I know that I have a lot to do to grow in my development, and I’m obviously excited to develop my game even more here," he said
Murray touched on several topics in his 20-minute session with reporters. Here are three takeaways:
An impression left by the Kings' stars
As much as Murray impressed the Kings throughout the pre-draft process, he said they made just as much of an impression on him. A highlight for Murray was meeting with two of the Kings' top players: point guard De'Aaron Fox and center Domantas Sabonis on his visit to Sacramento.
Fox was the Kings' No. 5 overall pick in 2017 and is the franchise player on a five-year "super-max" NBA contract. The Kings traded for Sabonis, a two-time NBA all-star, mid-season and have plans to pair him with young talent — including Fox and Murray — to build a winning foundation.
"I felt like that was a big statement that they made," Murray said. "I knew that they really cared about me and my abilities to be able to play here."
Murray had individual time with both players, a dinner with Fox and then breakfast with Sabonis the following morning. Their praise of Murray to Kings general manager Monte McNair further solidified the decision to select him.
Murray said he's exchanged texts with them and other players in the last few days and is excited to begin working with them.
"I feel like just having those guys there really benefited me," Murray said. "I know that they cared about me and what I represented. They didn't have to come to those events, but they did and so that was really special for me."
An Iowa connection on the roster
There's a good chance that the Kings starting lineup next season features two Iowa-born players.
Prior to Murray, the most notable recent Iowa-born NBA player was current Kings forward and Ames native Harrison Barnes. The No. 1 player in high school in 2009-10, Barnes went on to a legendary college career at North Carolina and is entering his 11th year in the NBA.
“I think it's an incredible opportunity," Murray said. "Not many guys have come out of state of Iowa and been able to be drafted and been able to play in the NBA. For us to be on the same team to play basketball with each other and be from the same area I think is special."
Murray's been a longtime fan of the 2015 NBA champion. Barnes was a member of one of the most dominant teams in Iowa history, Ames High alongside fellow NBA player Doug McDermott. Murray's looking forward to the chance of playing alongside him and learning how to have a successful NBA career himself.
"Growing up I always watched the Ames team with him and Doug McDermott," Murray said. "They're one of the best high school teams ever in the state of Iowa. So that's really cool just to be able to have him as a (veteran player) on be able to teach me the ropes. He's hit me up text me just welcoming me to Sacramento and I'm just excited to get started."
Murray will have a diverse role
Murray's size and skillset fits the current mold of the NBA. At Iowa, Murray started exclusively at power forward but there's a good chance he'll play multiple positions for the Kings.
His versatility is a key reason Sacramento coveted him so much and should pair nicely with their current roster. Small forward, power forward and small-ball center are all on the table.
"I think my versatility plays a factor playing alongside both (Fox and Sabonis)," Murray said. "Being able to cut to the basket and also read what Sabonis is doing in the post, things like that. That obviously takes time with developing chemistry but I feel like I'm just excited to be able to play off on Fox, a dynamic point guard.
"He's a guy that you can create his own shot and create for other guys. So for my ability to catch and shoot threes, play on the perimeter, things like that will expand both of their games even more."
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 email@example.com.