By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kris and Keegan Murray have played basketball together since being introduced to the sport at a young age, and now they’ll keep playing together in college.
That decision was made this past weekend when the 6-foot-8 twin brothers from Cedar Rapids, whose father is former Iowa basketball player Kenyon Murray, both were offered scholarships to Iowa and then committed while on an official visit together.
Kris and Keegan waited until Monday afternoon, however, to make it official because they wanted fellow 2020 Iowa commit Tony Perkins to have the stage to himself on Sunday.
Perkins, a 6-4 shooting guard from Indianapolis, announced his commitment to Iowa on Twitter on Sunday.
Kris and Keegan both currently attend a prep school in Daytona Beach, Fla., after having graduated from Cedar Rapids Prairie last spring.
They chose to attend prep school in hopes of getting more exposure and better scholarship offers, and now they’re both headed to their father’s alma mater and will get to play in front of family and friends, and be on scholarship.
So their decision to attend prep school for one year has paid huge dividends.
“I’m excited about the future and I’m excited for my boys,” Kenyon Murray said Sunday night in a phone interview. “I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Kenyon Murray said his sons waited until Monday to make their announcement out of respect for Perkins.
“Their respect for Tony, they like him so much, they were like, let him have his day today,” Kenyon Murray said.
Kris and Keegan Murray both flew from Florida to Iowa on Thursday, along with their mother. They spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning on official visits and received scholarship offers from Iowa coach Fran McCaffery during that time.
Kenyon Murray said Iowa’s interest in his two sons started to pick up in the spring, and even more so after Billy Taylor was hired as an Iowa assistant coach.
“When Billy came in, he kind of headed up their recruitment and really liked them,” Kenyon Murray said. “I knew they were really interested when Fran and Billy flew down early back in September to see them play. And Fran called me right afterwards and he was really impressed with the progress they had made both in the weight room and in their game.
“He was like, I know they can shoot, but he said they still played really well and did the things that we had talked about.”
Iowa assistant coach Kirk Speraw watched Kris and Keegan play in a showcase event last weekend, and was impressed by what he saw, according to Kenyon Murray.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking publicly about a recruit before the recruit has signed a national letter of intent.
“(Kirk) came back kind of the same way, yep, we really like them, let’s get them here on official visits,” Kenyon Murray. “So it all kind of came together pretty fast.”
The addition of the Murray brothers and Perkins means Iowa now has four players committed to its 2020 class.
Point guard Ahron Ulis, who is from Chicago Heights, Ill., committed to Iowa in early August.
Iowa also is among the five finalists for 2020 post players Xavier Foster and Josh Ogundele. The 6-11 Foster is from Oskaloosa and is ranked among the top players in the 2020 class.
It’s uncertain at this point how many scholarships will be available for the 2020 class, but there could be as many as five scholarship available if senior point guard Jordan Bohannon decides to play this season.
Bohannon had hip surgery in late May and is deciding whether to play this season or take a medical redshirt and play next season.
Kenyon Murray grew up in Battle Creek, Mich., and was ranked among the top players in the country when he signed with Iowa in 1992. He played small forward for Tom Davis at Iowa from 1992-96 and is ranked third on Iowa’s all-time steals list with 200.
Murray is proud to have both of his sons following in his footsteps, but he is more proud of the fact that Kris and Keegan made it a goal to play college basketball at the highest level, and now they both have achieved that goal.
“It’s more about them reaching their dream, a goal of theirs to play division one basketball,” Kenyon Murray said. “To be able to realize that all the hard work that they’ve put in over the years wasn’t for nothing.
“And to have them be able to play at Iowa, obviously, yeah, that’s just kind of icing on the cake.”
Kris Murray is named in honor of former Iowa forward Chris Street, who was killed in an automobile accident midway through the 1992-93 season when Kenyon Murray was a freshman. Kenyon Murray had become close friends with Street during their short time together as teammates and Kenyon felt that naming one of his sons after Street would be a good way to honor Street's legacy.
And now that son, and his twin brother, are both going to be Hawkeyes.
"It means a lot to be a Hawkeye, to be able to come back to Iowa and play for them, it's unreal," Kris Murray said on Monday. "We both have been putting in a lot of hard work over the summer every single day and down here in Florida, and being patient was a big key in the recruiting process. But I knew that wherever I ended up, it was meant to be and I have found that at the Universisy of Iowa."
Keegan Murray said it means a lot to have a chance to follow in his father's footsteps at Iowa, but that is just part of what is applealing about being a Hawkeye.
"I'm going there because it was the best fit for me," Keegan Murray said of Iowa. "And being close to home makes it so much more special because my family gets to experience it as well."
Kris and Keegan both had a scholarship offer from Western Illinois and were starting to hear from major programs on a more regular basis, including Auburn, according to their father.
Auburn's head coach is former Iowa assistant Bryce Pearl.
Kenyon Murray said Fran McCaffery listed five or six things that he wanted Kris and Keegan to work on in order to show that they could play at the Big Ten level. The Murray brothers accepted McCaffery's challenge and then worked hard to get better.
“Between March and now, they’ve done them and to me it’s just a proud moment that they were able to take that first step and reach the goal of playing division one basketball,” Kenyon Murray said. “And like I said, playing at Iowa is just kind of icing on the cake for mom and I.”
Kris and Keegan Murray both earned all-state accolades while playing for Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Kenyon Murray said Sunday night that he thinks his sons can play both forward positions in Fran McCaffery’s up tempo system. Kenyon said Keegan weighs about 215 pounds, while Kris weighs about 205 pounds.
“Keegan, I think a lot of schools like him as like a stretch four because he’s a little bit bigger than Kris now,” Kenyon Murray said. “Kris is more of a two-three, but down at (prep school) they played all five positions.”