Murray State star Morant declares for NBA draft


Murray State sophomore guard Ja Morant announced in a press conference Wednesday that he has made himself eligible for the 2019 NBA draft.

Morant, whose electric performance powered the Racers’ first-round win over Marquette in the NCAA tournament, on Tuesday became the first Murray State player to be named a first-team Associated Press All-American.

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound point guard is the No. 2 prospect in ESPN’s draft ratings. He averaged 24.5 points, 10 assists — tops in the nation — and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Morant, who plays with confidence and swagger, scored 17 points, with 16 assists and 11 rebounds, in the 12th-seeded Racers’ win over fifth-seeded Marquette. It was the first NCAA tournament triple-double since Draymond Green had one in 2012.

As a freshman, Morant averaged 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game, but he burst on the scene this season.

Unheralded in high school, Morant joined the South Carolina Hornets the summer going into his sophomore season, teaming up with Zion Williamson before the Duke star’s legend really took off. Morant’s first Division I offer didn’t come until early in his junior season, from South Carolina State.

Murray State discovered Morant the summer before his senior season. Morant was a late add to the Chandler Parsons Camp. Then-assistant coach James Kane drove eight hours to the camp to see Murray State target Tevin Brown and happened to see Morant playing three-on-three in the auxiliary gym. Kane called Murray State coach Matt McMahon immediately.

“Right away you just saw the athleticism and the explosiveness, the creativity and his ability to make plays for not only himself but for others,” McMahon said. “He always had the flair. The creativity, the flair.”

Draft experts cite his explosiveness and his shiftiness. He changes ends in a blur, weaving through traffic with tremendous body control.

He puts pressure on the rim in the open court, knocks down pull-up 3s if given time and space, and hands out assists as well as any guard in the country.

DraftKings Sportsbook has opened odds on the player to be drafted No. 2 overall in the 2019 NBA draft, and Morant is the -190 favorite. RJ Barrett has the next-best odds at +140, followed by Zion Williamson at +550. Zion is the overwhelming favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall at -835.

ESPN gambling writer Ben Fawkes and draft analyst Mike Schmitz contributed to this report.

Source : ESPN