Reports: Murray State star Ja Morant to declare for NBA draft


After bursting onto the national radar with a phenomenal sophomore season, Murray State star Ja Morant is moving on to the NBA.

Murray State said Wednesday it has a special announcement planned involving Morant later Wednesday. According to multiple outlets, Morant will announce his decision to forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and declare for the NBA draft.

Morant, an explosive 6-foot-3 guard, was one of the best players in the country this year, leading the charge for a Murray State team that won the Ohio Valley Conference title and earned a 12 seed in the NCAA tournament. Morant, who averaged 24.5 points, 10 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game, put his skills on display in the Racers’ first-round upset of Marquette.

Morant dazzled with a triple-double, posting 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in a 83-64 victory. It was the first NCAA tournament triple-double since Draymond Green in 2012. In the second round, Morant scored 28 points with five boards and four assists, but did so in a 90-62 loss to Florida State.

To those who follow the sport, Morant was already a household name, but his profile elevated with his tournament performance and further cemented his status as one of the nation’s best players — and NBA prospects.

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While Duke freshman Zion Williamson is considered a shoo-in to be the No. 1 pick, Morant could very well slide in behind Williamson as the No. 2 choice. That’s where he landed in Yahoo Sports’ most recent mock draft, and that’s where plenty of NBA scouts see envision him being selected in June’s draft.

Wherever Morant is chosen, it will cap off a miraculous rise from unknown prospect to NBA first-rounder. As Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde detailed back in January, Morant had just two scholarship offers before Murray State assistant James Kane spotted him playing in a three-on-three game at a side court of an AAU tournament in July 2016.

Kane called his boss, Murray State head coach Matt McMahon, to come see Morant with his own eyes. Not long after, Morant had another scholarship on the table and was committed to Murray State by Labor Day — before his recruitment seemed set to explode. It quickly was apparent that the Racers landed a gem as Morant averaged 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game as a freshman.

That season put him on the radar of NBA scouts. Now, after his star-studded sophomore campaign, Morant is overlooked no longer.

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