While John Calipari-led Kentucky Wildcats teams have consistently been top-10 groups, it’s often led to multiple top players leaving school and becoming high picks in the NBA draft. But for current Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, his lone season with Kentucky played out quite differently.
Murray was the headliner for a Wildcats team which was different than many others, although they still found plenty of success during the 2015-16 season. The group didn’t result in nearly as many future NBA players as we’ve seen in other recent years.
The 22-year-old’s time playing under Calipari featured 36 games and he led the team by averaging 20.0 points per game while tacking on 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game. Murray also shot a strong 40.8 percent from beyond the arc, good for the second-best mark on the roster.
Jamal Murray’s Kentucky Team: Wildcats Roster in 2015-16
*Note: Roster and stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.
- Jamal Murray
- Tyler Ulis
- Alex Poythress
- Isaiah Briscoe
- Derek Willis
- Skal Labissiere
- Marcus Lee
- Dominique Hawkins
- Isaac Humphries
- Charles Matthews
- Mychal Mulder
- Jonny David
- EJ Floreal
While Murray led the way in scoring, Tyler Ulis averaged 17.3 points along with 7.0 assists. He entered the 2016 NBA Draft and was a second-round pick, coming off the board at No. 34 overall to the Phoenix Suns.
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Beyond Murray and Ulis, Skal Labissiere, who posted marks of 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds over 15.8 minutes per game, was also selected by the Suns in the same draft. He was a first-round pick, going No. 28 overall.
Jamal Murray, Kentucky Still Find Success & Win SEC Tournament
While the Wildcats didn’t feature a roster of future NBA stars, they still had a talented group that meshed well. The team finished out the year with a 27-9 record while going 13-5 in conference play to win the regular-season SEC championship.
Going one step further than that, the 2015-16 Kentucky basketball team went on to win the SEC tournament as well and were ranked as high as No. 1 in the country during the season. Calipari’s squad reeled off a strong three-game stretch to take the SEC title, defeating both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs by double digits. They proceeded to then defeat No. 17 ranked Texas A&M in overtime to take the title.
The Wildcats earned a No. 4 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, defeating Stony Brook 85-57 in the opening round, a game where Murray scored 19 points with seven rebounds and two assists. Unfortunately, Murray’s only collegiate season ended in the second round with a 73-67 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers, although the guard filled up the box score with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Murray proceeded to enter the 2016 NBA Draft and was selected with the No. 7 overall pick by the Nuggets. He’s improved his game in each of the first three seasons at the next level, averaging 18.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds during the 2018-19 regular season.