Ex-Cats

Denver chooses Jamal Murray with No. 7 overall pick in NBA Draft

Jamal Murray hugs a supporter after being selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jamal Murray hugs a supporter after being selected seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) AP

The Denver Nuggets drafted Kentucky’s Jamal Murray with the 7th overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Murray had been projected to go third to Boston, fifth to Minnesota or sixth to New Orleans but had to wait on Denver to take him.

“You know, what every player waits on, you’re just waiting for your name to get called,” he said. “You don’t know what’s behind the scenes, you don’t know the trades, you don’t know when the clock runs out what happens. You’re just waiting for Adam Silver to make the announcement. So I was just patiently waiting, and I got picked up by a great team.”

The 6-foot-4 guard from Kitchener, Canada, averaged 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his lone season at UK. Murray joins former Morehead State star Kenneth Faried, whom the Nuggets drafted in 2011, in Denver. He is the first player Denver has ever selected from UK.

He did not work out for the Nuggets but was pleased to be chosen by the franchise.

“Denver sounds good. I’m just happy to be part of a great organization and part of the NBA now,” Murray told ESPN during the draft. “I’ve spent 19 years waiting for this moment so it’s a great experience.”

Murray was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press, and a second-team All-American by USA Today and Scout. He also made the All-SEC First Team and SEC All-Freshman Team.

Only Stephen Curry (122) made more three-pointers as a freshman than Murray’s 113 last season at Kentucky.

“I think as far as talent goes, Murray has the ability to be the best perimeter scorer in this draft,” ESPN’s Chad Ford said before the draft. “I think that he’s going to be a 20-point per game scorer in the NBA and one of the best shooters in this draft.”

He was the first player in the John Calipari era to score 700 or more points in a single season, and only Cotton Nash, who reached 700 points in 30 games in 1961-62, did it faster at UK.

“If he can take the next step (defensively) ... he can be a very good guard,” Indiana Coach Tom Crean said as part of The Vertical’s NBA Draft show Thursday.

Denver drafted Emmanuel Mudiay, a point guard, with the No. 7 pick in last year’s draft. He was named to the All-Rookie second team after averaging 12.8 points and 5.5 assists a game. Murray was asked about how he’ll fit alongside Mudiay, who played professionally in China for a season instead of going to college.

“Me and Mudiay, we played in the Hoops Summit together for one year,” Murray said. “So I kind of got to see what he's like. He's a great player and he's a great guy. Family person, and we'll be a good team. We'll be working together and playing off each other.”

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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