There’s never a dull moment for the Kentucky Wildcats, as there is now a second elite recruit that has questions surrounding whether or not he’ll end up playing for Big Blue this season.
More than anything, that has been the biggest outcome of Jamal Murray’s performance at the Pan-Am Games this month. Murray had a pair of explosive outbursts — 15 points in a five-minute stretch against Argentina and scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists in the fourth quarter and overtime of a win over the US — while averaging 16.0 points in the event which was impressive enough to put him into consideration for Canada’s senior national team.
That’s a problem because FIBA Americas — an event that Canada has to finish either first or second in to qualify for the Olympics — will take place Aug. 31st-Sept. 12th, and that doesn’t include the national team’s training camp. Classes at Kentucky begin on Aug. 26th.
“He’s going to Kentucky,” Roger Murray, Jamal’s father, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “That’s not the issue. The issue is just if we want to miss two weeks of school. We’re just trying to see how much time he’s going to miss, and if it’s too much, if he should just go to school and not worry about it. From what I’ve gathered, he has to (physically) be in class. So we’re just trying to see how much school he could miss and still play in the tournament.”
Cal has given the Murrays a “drop-dead” date on when he has to be on campus and in class if he wants to play the first semester.
“We’ll see if there’s any way he can do both, because that’s what I want,” head coach John Calipari told the Sporting News. “The kid absolutely wants to play for the national team, and we want that. But the NCAA has really clear guidelines on this.”
There is also no indication yet of whether or not Team Canada will actually want Murray on this team. He is, after all, just 18 years old, and he didn’t even start on the team that played in the Pan-Am Games. Junior Cadougan did, and Cadougan might still end up behind the likes of Cory Joseph, Tyler Ennis and Kevin Pangos on the Canadian point guard depth chart.
The other Kentucky freshman that has concerns about his status is center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. No wonder Calipari is already pushing 2016 as his ‘best class ever‘.
In all seriousness, I would be surprised if either Murray or Labissiere missed significant amounts of time this season.