Jerry Tipton

Albany coach: Murray is the best player in college basketball

Jerry Tipton

Albany Coach Will Brown called Tyler Ulis the best point guard in the country and Skal Labissiere as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

But Brown, whose team plays at Kentucky Friday night, threw an even bigger bouquet UK’s way.

“And I’ll say it now before everybody jumps on the bandwagon,” Brown said earlier 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.

“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.

“Right now, I don’t want to put that on the kid.”

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. “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.”