Keegan Murray Preparing for Early Impact at Iowa

May 10, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

Keegan Murray understands he’s joining a loaded Iowa roster and that could lead red shirting. He’s open to that being his path.

The former Cedar Rapids (IA) Prairie High standout isn’t conceding anything, however. He wants to help the Hawkeyes as a freshman next season.

“I’m not going in there to red shirt. I’m going into there to play,” Murray told HN. “I’m going in with the mindset that I can make an impact on the team.”

Murray, along with his twin brother, Kris Murray, signed a letter of intent with Iowa during November. After graduating from Prairie in the 2019 Class, they spent last season improving their games and recruiting profiles at DME Academy in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Keegan Murray averaged 20.3 points as a Prairie senior. He shot 39.8 percent from behind the three-point arc and 87.2 from the foul line. He added 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Despite that production, the son of former Hawkeye Kenyon Murray didn’t received the college opportunities he wanted.

He reshaped his body and headed to DME Academy. He weighed in at 180 pounds when he graduated from Prairie. He added 28 pounds to his 6-foot-8 frame by the time he got to Florida.

“I’m just a completely different person. In high school, I was just a skinny kid. Adding more weight and more muscle, it helped my overall game by being able to play through contact,” Murray said.

While he didn’t add much more weight after arriving at DME, he became more toned and muscular.

“I was able to compete against really good competition and play 40-45 minutes a game on some occasions. That really helped my (recruiting) stock a lot,” he said.

Iowa already had built a relationship with him before his performance in Florida attracted some other high major programs. Coach Fran McCaffery saw improvement from the end of Murray’s senior season at Prairie and two months later when he played in the Eastern Iowa All-Star game with his son, Patrick McCaffery, now a Hawkeye freshman.

“He said he was going to keep tabs on us when we got to Florida. (Iowa assistant) coach (Billy) Taylor started staying in regular contact with us from there,” Murray said.

Last summer, he played in open gyms at Iowa with the Hawkeye players. McCaffery and Taylor watched a DME practice last fall, shortly after Murray arrived in Florida.

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“They liked what they saw and then sent down (assistant) coach (Kirk) Speraw. He liked what he saw. Then the next weekend (Oct. 18) we took our official visit to Iowa,” Murray said.

The staff offered the twins scholarships and they committed. They raised their profiles even more throughout the winter at DME, but they were locked in as Hawkeyes.

Keegan Murray led DME with 22.3 points per game and in free throw shooting (87.3 percent). He ranked second in three-point percentage (39.3) and rebounding (7.6 RPG).

The team reached the prep school national tournament in Connecticut before losing its opening game, 70-65, to Woodstock (CT) Academy. The COVID-19 pandemic closed DME not long after that and Murray returned to Cedar Rapids where he’s been preparing for college, working out with his brother and father.

“Every morning I get up and go on a run of one or two miles. I’ll do sprints at the end of my run and then I’ll jump rope. Then I go into my basement and lift. (A) Prairie (family) lets us use their gym, so we go there a couple of times a week,” Murray said.

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Iowa captains Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp and Connor McCaffery send workouts to other members of the team. They also lead regular online meetings with the group and some guys play video games together.

“They sent us a full-body workout that they do. It’s one you can do with or without weights, so all of us should be able to do it. I’ve done it and it’s really good,” Murray said.

The staff and members of the team meet online every Friday. It aids with keeping everybody on the same page and promoting bonding.

“It’s helping bring us together as a team and makes the new guys feels a part of it,” Murray said.

A strong skill set has long been a strength of his game. Before proving it in Florida, some folks questioned his athleticism. He showed them they were wrong and even posted a 36-inch max vertical.

He’s still working on improving in those areas. That’s the concentration of his current training.

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“Right now I’m focusing on my footwork and getting my foot speed better. I’m also working on getting my shot off quicker and my ball handling in traffic. That’s what my dad has really been putting an emphasis on. It’s about getting open against better competition,” Murray said.

Kenyon Murray competed at Iowa from ’92-96 after being named a McDonald’s All-American playing at Battle Creek (MI) Central High. He scored 1,230 points, playing in all 122 games of his Hawkeye career and starting 95.

He brought his sons to Carver-Hawkeye Arena throughout the years. And while they we raised cheering for Iowa, it still had to be the right place for them.

“I grew up with my dad’s legacy at Iowa but I wanted to go to a school where I could fit in and where my talents would be used best. Fran was real honest and told us how we fit into their system. I realized there was not another system that I’d rather be in and I felt I could succeed in. It was an easy decision for me after he explained it to me,” Keegan said.

“He sees us as position-less players, playing on the wing, being able to post up if we need to. He sees us being able to spread the floor and use our talents. He’d put us in situations where we’d be able to succeed on both ends of the floor.”

Murray will study Business and Communications at Iowa. He sees opportunity upon arrival.

“I just want to go in there with an open mind and just learn as best as I can from the older guys. Whatever happens, happens. I’m just going to go in there with a determined mindset and be the best player I can be on and off the court. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

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