Ja Morant Reportedly Will Declare for 2019 NBA Draft, Leave Murray State

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2019

Murray State's Ja Morant in action during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against SIU - Edwardsville in Murray, Ky., Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

Murray State Racers guard Ja Morant reportedly will declare for the 2019 NBA draft.  

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Morant will make his decision official at a press conference Wednesday.

Morant arrived at Murray State as an unranked recruit in the 2017 class, per 247Sports' composite rankings, but quickly shot up draft boards with his head-turning play.

He flashed his potential as a difference-maker but didn't look like an NBA lottery pick as a freshman with 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game behind 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 30.7 percent shooting from three-point range.

While his ability to contribute on the boards from the backcourt and facilitate for others stood out, he wasn't the dominant scorer he would eventually become.

Morant then took an incredible leap from his freshman to sophomore season and posted 24.5 points, 10.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals per night. He also improved his field-goal percentage to 49.9 and his three-point shooting to 36.3 percent as a more efficient playmaker, even though he had the ball in his hands far more often as the focal point of Murray State's offense.

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He became a household name during the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament when he notched a triple-double in a first-round victory over Marquette (17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds) and poured in 28 points in a second-round loss to Florida State.

The flashy guard plays bigger than his 6'3" height, as evidenced by his rebounding numbers and ability to finish through contact when he penetrates the lane. He also uses his explosive first step when defenders push up on him but is capable of extending his game beyond the arc when they sag off to account for the drive.

What's more, Morant gets out in transition as effectively as any player in college basketball with elite explosiveness that should translate to the NBA. He also regularly facilitates for others when defenders collapse on him and can control the pace with his playmaking and ball-handling.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report projected Morant as the No. 3 overall pick behind the Duke combination of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett in a March 5 mock draft, underscoring how the Murray State guard can be a franchise cornerstone for whichever team selects him.

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