Highland Park High School alum and current USF freshman standout guard Jahmal McMurray has declared for the 2016 NBA Draft.
McMurray, who averaged a team-high 15.2 points a game en route to earning All-AAC Rookie Team honors this past season, is taking advantage of a new rule that allows college underclassmen to declare and return to school if they do not hire an agent.
“It’s more or less to get his name out there buzzing from a marketing standpoint,” McMurray’s former AAU coach Tony Barksdale said. “He knows what he needs to work on and everything, but this is more or less trying to capitalize on the season he had.”
McMurray made the announcement Sunday afternoon.
“I just want to put my name out there so it makes them have a definite person to watch and they see that I’m serious about it,” McMurray said. “I just want to get some feedback and I’ll come back and work on whatever they say.”
He does not plan on hiring an agent and is hoping to be invited to the Chicago pre-draft combine May 11-15 to get evaluated by team personnel and get a true reading on his draft status.
“That would be crazy and would be nothing but a blessing,” McMurray said. “It would just open up more doors that it is possible to do.”
Prospects are allowed to attend the combine and go through one team workout before making their final decision for the draft, which has to be done by May 25. The draft will be held on June 23.
Barksdale, a former Western Michigan standout, coached McMurray on his Top City summer team.
“I use the analogy of Kevin Hart,” Barksdale said. “To me he’s not really that funny as a comedian. I’ve went and seen his shows, but what he’s doing is while he’s hot and having a good year he’s capitalizing on it and getting movie roles just because of the name his buzz has created. You have to kind of play that politics side of it.
“That’s what I told Jahmal, ‘With the season you had even though the numbers and percentages weren’t that great your name is kind of buzzing and you’ve got to capitalize off of it to where if next year you have a year that’s not like this one people will still say he’s still good. But if you don’t capitalize off of it people will label this year as a fluke.’”
McMurray had one of the best freshman seasons in USF history finishing on 12 of the school’s freshman single-season top 10 lists including second in points with 500. His 73 3-pointers were the eighth most in school history.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin gave the 6-foot McMurray praise during a game on Feb. 4 telling a reporter at halftime:
“McMurray is, in my opinion, the best small guard in the country. I don’t care if he’s a freshman.”
McMurray also averaged 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33 games making 26 starts for the Bulls.
He scored a season-high 30 points in a 71-62 win at Houston on Jan. 23.
“I just try to come in every game and try to be a dog,” McMurray said. “This season allowed me to do that and I got some success. I’m very thankful for that.”
Highland Park’s James Patrick was the last player from Topeka to be selected in the NBA Draft when Denver selected him in the fifth round in 1980.
Kyle Weems, another Highland Park grad, participated in the NBA Summer League in 2012 and 2013 with the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, and Atlanta Hawks, but did not play in an NBA game. Weems is currently starring in France with Strasbourg.