I know it’s Friday night and thus many, if not most, of you were out doing other things. But you missed it. You missed the chance to see the future of UK Basketball. The future of UK Basketball is Jamal Murray and he was special on Friday night. Helping Team Canada knock off Team USA in Overtime, Jamal Murray did something that rarely happens in non-UK basketball games…he got me out of my chair and openly cheering for a team not in the Blue and White. The fact that the team I was rooting for was in red and playing against the Stars and Stripes was even more bizarre, but I couldn’t help myself. If you are like me and Kentucky basketball will always be your #1 sports team, then you couldn’t help but be thrilled as you watched the future of UK hit the spotlight right before your eyes.
Murray was amazing…22 points, all of which were in the 4th Quarter and Overtime. But that doesn’t even tell the tale of his dominance. After not scoring during the first three quarters, Murray started the 4th with his team down six and proceeded to take over the game and elevate the entire spectacle to another level. His passing was exquisite, hooking up multiple times with Anthony Bennett for perfect dimes that led to dunks. He played strong defense, rebounded efficiently and showcased a flair for the dramatic, hitting shots from all angles. During Overtime, he hit two back-to-back threes that gave Team Canada its final lead, both of which were so sweet that ESPN announcer Fran Fraschilla began to chuckle at the show being put on before his eyes. The Canada coach realized that even on a team with NBA pros in the lineup, Murray was the star and the future, and every big moment saw the ball in his hands, including a regulation buzzer beater that he just missed. It was thrilling to watch and provided one of the better random basketball viewing experiences I can remember. Take a look at some of his best plays:
"Made for the moment." He apparently hates America, but Jamal Murray sure is clutch. pic.twitter.com/d6jHyirfQq
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) July 24, 2015
Some may say that after this game we should all take a step back. It is true that Murray didn’t score for the first three quarters of the game and did have three turnovers during the closing minutes of regulation. Plus, the American team was an odd assortment of players, ranging from college stars such as Ron Baker to journeyman European league pros like Damien Wilkens. But such attempts at stealing my joy will be treated as lame party-pooping nonsense. The reality is that in a game on a big stage in his home country, Jamal Murray was a revelation. Everything we thought he might be able to do, he can and better than we thought. When Kentucky lost out on Malik Newman, Jaylen Brown, Stephen Zimmerman and others, many wondered if Calipari’s recruiting magic had slipped and UK could be in for a down year. Wonder no more. Jamal Murray is the best of that bunch and along with Ben Simmons and Skal Labissiere, he will challenge for the honor of best Freshman in college basketball.
Tonight I saw the future of Kentucky Basketball and he is a Maple Leaf ready to win his country the Gold Medal tomorrow night before coming to Lexington this fall and electrifying Big Blue Nation on the chase for #9.