This year’s Kentucky team probably won’t start 38-0, but there was still plenty of preseason hype for the No. 2 Wildcats. The Coaches’ Poll had them No. 1, while the All-SEC teams included four ‘Cats, including two freshmen.
One of those first-year players was Skal Labissiere, a 5-star Haitian immigrant who is roundly expected to be a top pick in next year’s NBA Draft.
The other is Jamal Murray.
An Ontario native, the guard found his way into John Calipari’s starting lineup this fall, and exceeded expectations with a breakout performance against Albany on Saturday night.
Murray’s 19-point game, which included a couple of late dunks to seal the win, left Great Danes coach Will Brown feeling vindicated.
“I said it to everybody that I talked to before the game,” Brown said in his postgame presser. “(Sophomore) Tyler Ulis is the best point guard in the country. Skal Labissiere will go number one or two in the NBA Draft, and Jamal Murray is the best basketball player in the country. Nothing that happened tonight changed my mind.”
Later, he piled on the praise for Murray.
“He was on cruise control,” Brown said. “He was hanging out and picking his spots. In my opinion, he’s a combination of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller with a jump shot. He plays at a great pace, has great feel, and great size. He can post up and can score from all three levels. He’s really good.”
Kentucky will play the second game of a back-to-back Saturday night against NJIT (8:00 pm ET, SEC Network +), then travel to Chicago for a game with No. 5 Duke at the United Center on Tuesday.