LASTEST NEWS: Overcome ACL, Jamal Murray Wins ESPY for Comeback Player of the Year

LASTEST NEWS: Overcome ACL, Jamal Murray Wins ESPY for Comeback Player of the Year

When the Denver Nuggets won the NBA Championship in 2023, Jamal Murray became the 16th Kentucky men’s basketball player to do so. On Wednesday, he became the first player in program history to win the ESPY award for Comeback Player of the Year.

Murray joins Klay Thompson (2022), Russell Westbrook (2014), Teddy Bruschi (2006), Evander Holyfield (1997), Michael Jordan (1996), and Dan Marino (1995) as previous champions.

The native of Kitchener, Ontario tore his ACL and missed 18 months before rejoining the Nuggets in 2022-23. Murray averaged 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists during the regular season, but then shone during the postseason. He averaged 26.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game while assisting the Nuggets to their first NBA title. He was the first player in league history to record at least 10 assists in each of his first four NBA Finals games, and he finished the series averaging 10.0 assists per game.

Murray was an All-American and All-SEC performer during his lone season with the Wildcats. He averaged 20.0 points, 5.2 boards, 3.14 three-pointers, and 2.2 assists per contest. His single-season scoring average remains the greatest of the John Calipari era and is the highest in program history for a freshman. Murray amassed 20 or more points in 12 consecutive games and became the first freshman in school history to score 30 or more points in three games. His 113 3-pointers in a single season are the second-most in school history. In addition, he made at least one 3-pointer in 36 consecutive games, surpassing Tony Delk’s record of 34. In 2016, Murray was drafted seventh overall by the Nuggets.

A total of 27 players (including two-way and inactive players) who played and completed their collegiate basketball careers at Kentucky were on NBA opening-day rosters, more than any other college basketball program. Duke was the only other institution with more than 20 NBA players, with 24. Additionally, Kentucky lead the NBA with 17 players on playoff rosters.

Under Calipari, the University of Kentucky has had unprecedented success in placing players in the NBA. More than any other institution, 47 players have been selected in the NBA Draft during the Calipari era. 35 first-round picks, three No. 1 overall decisions (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and John Wall), and 23 lottery picks are included in the recent run.

Not only are Calipari’s players reaching the next level, but they are also succeeding once there. Since 2010, ten players coached by John Calipari have been selected for 32 All-Star teams. Nine of his players have been named All-NBA (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins, Julius Randle, Derrick Rose, Wall, Davis, and Towns), and 15 players from his first 13 Kentucky teams have been named NBA All-Rookie.

Calipari has more total athletes (10) and more total All-Star selections (32) than any other active collegiate coach. Dean Smith (12) had the most former athletes selected to the All-Star team. Kentucky had more selections than any other program in 2023 with four.