Albany Coach Will Brown joined the chorus saying that Tyler Ulis is the best point guard in the country and Skal Labissiere the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
But Brown, whose team plays at Kentucky on Friday night, threw another king-sized bouquet UK's way.
"And I'll say it now before everybody jumps on the bandwagon," Brown said this week. "I think they have the best player in the country in Jamal Murray."
UK Coach John Calipari declined to join Brown in saluting Murray as college basketball's best player ... for now.
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"I would like to think that by the end of the year, people are looking at him and saying, wow," Calipari said Thursday. "Like they were with Karl (-Anthony Towns) and like they were with Anthony (Davis). At the beginning of the year, they weren't saying those things (about Towns and Davis). They said, nice player."
Calipari suggested it might be premature, if not incorrect, to declare Murray the best player in college basketball before Murray played a game.
"Right now, I don't want to put that on the kid," Calipari said.
Murray, a freshman from Canada, shrugged off the best-in-basketball comment.
"I'm just going to go out and do my thing," he said, "and prove that."
With Ulis and Labissiere, Murray has competition for best player on Kentucky's team.
"That just shows how deep our team is," Murray said, "and how versatile we can be."
Southeastern Conference coaches voted Murray to the second-team all-league team. Ulis and Labissiere made the first team.
"I don't really pay attention to rankings," Murray said. "I never really have. Even in high school. That's not a concern for me."
With a smile that suggested it's not that big a problem, Calipari said he had an issue with Murray's shot selection.
"He never thinks he takes a bad shot," the UK coach said, "(even) when he falls down and throws one over his head. It may go in, now."
Calipari said he asked Murray three days ago to tell him when he thinks he's taken a bad shot.
With timing a stand-up comic might envy, Calipari waited for someone to ask how often Murray had made such a confession.
When the question was asked, Calipari smiled and said, "He's not told me that."
Teammate Marcus Lee lauded Murray's competitive spirit or what Calipari likes to call will to win.
"That's what great guards do," Lee said. "They don't care what the situation is."
Murray's willingness to compete in practice and exhibitions came as no surprise. Lee said UK players saw that when Murray played for Canada last summer.
"His back was against the wall," Lee said, "and he blows it out of the water."
Whether or not he's the best player in college basketball, Murray expects to make multiple contributions for Kentucky as a shooter, scorer, rebounder and point guard.
"It's exciting," he said of his college debut. But not too exciting. "This is what I do for a living, right?" he told reporters.
Murray said he's seen a more intense Calipari in recent practices.
"We see Coach get a little anxious now," Murray said. "A little frustrated when we don't do something he wants us to do."
Calipari suggested there was an ulterior motive behind the anxiousness and frustration that Murray saw.
"I knew these last two days were the last two days I could really say, 'Let's really go,'" the UK coach said. "I tried to stretch them out."
Outside of a tournament, Kentucky rarely plays on back-to-back nights. UK is doing that against Albany on Friday and NJIT on Saturday in order to free up an extra day for preparation and travel to play Duke in Chicago on Tuesday.
"Just wanted more time before that Duke game," Calipari said. "Now, it may be a mistake. We could lose the second game. And you'll say, 'How do you like that now?' "
■ Dominique Hawkins returned to practice this week, Calipari said.
■ Calipari's record in Rupp Arena is 102-4. It's 54-1 against non-conference opponents.
■ Rich Hollenberg, Sean Farnham and sideline reporter Brooke Weisbrod will call the game for the SEC Network.