Former Iowa star Kris Murray eyes first-round NBA draft selection as he trains for the combine

One year's time has made all the difference for Kris Murray.

This time last year, the Iowa men's basketball standout was in Chicago going through the 2022 NBA pre-draft process, unsure of what the future held. This spring, following his third and final season as a Hawkeye, he's back in Chicago with a one-track mind toward his goal, a first-round selection in the upcoming 2023 draft.

"It's definitely familiar territory for me," Murray said via Zoom on Wednesday. "I obviously learned a lot and to be able to kind of follow (twin brother and Sacramento Kings rookie Keegan Murray) through this process helped a lot too. This year I know that there's just one goal in mind and it's to get drafted, so I try to work hard every day and make it a really tough two months for me because I know I can get better from it."

Kris Murray was an All-America selection this past season. He was the only Division I player with this stat line: 20-plus points per game, 7-plus rebounds per game, one block per game and 65-plus made 3-pointers.

For that reason, he believes he's shown enough to warrant a first-round selection in a talented draft class.

"For me the first round was obviously the goal coming back (to Iowa for his junior season)," Murray said. "I think I play myself into that and I just want to go to a team that just fits me the best on and off the court."

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Kris Murray says observing Keegan's rookie year puts the NBA in perspective

Former Iowa forward Kris Murray is in Chicago training for the NBA combine.

Last week the Murray family traveled to Sacramento to watch Keegan and the Kings begin their NBA playoffs run against the Golden State Warriors. On Wednesday, Kris Murray noted the elevated physicality from college basketball was eye-opening.

"I'm going to add on some strength for the NBA," Murray said. "That's obviously a big factor. It's a physical game as you've kind of seen in these playoffs. You're going to get away with a lot and just going to Sacramento and seeing that first-hand was really cool."

Murray has stated previously that the separation from his brother this year was good for their growth as players, but that they still maintain a very close bond. Whether it's exchanging stories over the phone or watching games, Keegan has provided a road map of how to navigate a rookie NBA season. Among the biggest lessons were finding a role on a team that will likely be different than what it was at Iowa and developing consistency each day.

Keegan Murray set a new NBA rookie record for 3-pointers made in 2022-23.

"I would say the biggest thing is just identifying your role early," Kris Murray said. "Keegan was really able to do that with the Kings, be a professional in that role. I think that's admirable. He treats it like a job, a job that he has fun with, is excited to go to every single day. That's kind of where I learned a lot about it.

"I know I have the skill set to be able to play in the NBA. It's really the mindset that you got to bring it every single time because in reality players are fighting for the jobs, vying for positions and just fighting for success in their lives."

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Kris Murray outlined his goals during the pre-NBA Draft process

Former Iowa twin basketball forwards Kris Murray, left, and Keegan Murray could become back-to-back NBA first-round picks when Kris is selected in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Kris Murray's pre-draft experience last year was about gathering information from teams about where he stood on draft boards and what improvements he needs to make. This year, the goal is "refining his skillset."

"Just sharpening everything up," Murray said. "My ball handling, my touch and jump shot. That's the big thing, just catching and shooting, being able to read defenders on the fly ... just take a step back and see what things I can get better at little by little every single day. It takes a complete game to be able to play in the NBA and have success. So that's kind of what I've been doing is just training like the NBA player."

Murray will do that under Priority Sports Entertainment, the same agency that represents Keegan and that facilitated his pre-draft training last year. Their training groups include a wide range of players: draft hopefuls, NBA and overseas players and NBA G-League players. Those workouts include 1-on-1s, 3-on-3s, situational drills, skills development and basketball classroom work.

"The (workouts) are tough," Murray said. "We go multiple times a day and I'm putting more stress on my body than I did last year just because it's gonna take a lot to be able to play in the NBA and we're just getting ready for that."

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Mock drafts have Murray on a wide-ranging scale in the first round, from as high as No. 14 overall to the mid-20s, including a possible projection to the Kings to join Keegan. Kris said he is undecided if he'll go through the full extent of NBA combine workouts from May 16-18.

For now he is focused on on development and enjoying the moment. His story is rare, going from unheralded high school prospect to the NBA, and he's not taking it for granted.

"It means a lot," Murray said. "After my senior year (of high school) I didn't know if I'd play college basketball, barely had any looks or any opportunities. So just to have this opportunity is really cool."