Washington’s Murray, Chriss declare for NBA draft
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington freshmen Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray both declared for the NBA draft Wednesday and will hire agents, ending their college careers after one season and issuing a blow to the Huskies hopes of getting back to the NCAA Tournament next year.
The decision by both players was announced by the school and was not a surprise considering both are projected to be first-round picks after up-and-down seasons where each flashed NBA potential. There were hopes among Washington supporters that one or both would consider returning for their sophomore seasons after the Huskies won 19 games including a number of narrow losses that cost them an NCAA bid, and with highly-touted high school star Markelle Fultz joining the team next season.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was not available for comment, the school said. Washington was eliminated from the NIT with a second-round loss to San Diego State on Monday. When asked at the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas what next season could be like if all players returned, Romar said, “Having a lot of fun. That’s what I would say.”
“I would like to thank Coach Romar, U-Dub and everyone else that has put me in this position,” Murray wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night. “I’m excited for the journey ahead and truly blessed.”
Now the Huskies will be left trying to fill two significant gaps, along with the loss of senior Andrew Andrews, the No. 3 scorer in school history. It will also turn up the pressure on Romar after missing the NCAAs for a fifth straight season with two potential first-round picks on the roster, neither of which was recruited with the idea they would be one-and-done players.
“I think we have a group of guys - guys coming in, guys sitting out, guys that will have more experience,” Romar said at the Pac-12 tournament. “We’ll wait and see what happens with all of that, but I like our group.”
Despite Washington missing the NCAAs, both Chriss and Murray had plenty of opportunity to flash the potential the NBA is seeking.
Chriss is a 6-foot-9 forward from Sacramento, California, with the ability to play on the low block and stretch his game beyond the 3-point line. He was a late arrival to basketball, only taking up the game seriously when he got to high school, but has athleticism and jumping ability will be sought after. The knock on Chriss as a freshman was overcommitting on defense and a problem with fouls. He played just 25 minutes per game and fouled out of 15 games, the most of any player since 1996 according to STATS.
But despite his playing time limited by the foul trouble Chriss still averaged 13.7 points and had games of 29, 27 and 24 points.
“Washington and coach Romar believed in me before anyone else and I am forever grateful to them for that,” Chriss wrote on Twitter.
Murray, a 6-foot-4 guard from Seattle, came on as the season progressed with his ability to get between defenders and hit a variety of shots around the basket. Murray averaged 16.4 points, 6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, but had a handful of standout moments, including a 34-point, 11-rebound game against Arizona State in conference play. He scored 25 points or more six times and was a second-team all-Pac-12 selection.