Murray State Coach Explains Ja Morant's Rise

If Morant's rise from Murray State to No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft surprises you, well, it shouldn't

Zach Gelb
June 24, 2019 - 11:39 am
Ja Morant Murray State

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If Ja Morant’s rise from Murray State to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft surprises you, well, it shouldn’t.

“Look at the NBA now,” Murray State coach Matt McMahon said on The Zach Gelb Show. “The days of having to play at Duke or Carolina or Kentucky or UCLA to be a star at the next level are gone. Certainly they’re always going to have those guys, but look at Steph Curry – Davidson; Damian Lillard – Weber State. Kawhi Leonard – San Diego State; Paul George – Fresno State; Ja Morant – Murray State. If you’re good enough and you have your priorities where they need to be, you can accomplish your dreams from Murray State or any other school in America.”

Morant, though, is a unique case in that he might not have been discovered if not for a hungry assistant coach and a bag of chips.

But Morant was discovered – and the rest is history.

“No. 1, dream big, and then you got to back it up with action,” McMahon said of his advice to recruits. “Everyone says they want to be a pro, but are you willing to put in the time? Do you spend the extra hours, the unseen hours that nobody else sees? When you do those things, you can make it happen.

“Now obviously you have to be blessed with some of the God-given talents and abilities that he has,” McMahon continued. “But he’s worked extremely hard to get to this point. . . . I would be absolutely floored if he didn’t (have a successful career).”

Many analysts have tried comparing Morant to other players, but his style of play makes that difficult. Seth Greenberg, in fact, compared Morant’s game to Patrick Mahomes.

McMahon’s Ja Morant comparison?

“Ja Morant,” he said. “That’s the only person I compare him to. I don’t do all these comparisons. I think he’s unique and different. When we recruited him, we told him, ‘We’re not comparing you to anybody. We’re recruiting you to come to Murray State and be the best Ja Morant that you’re capable of being,’ and I challenge him to do the same as he moves on to the NBA. I think that will be very sufficient for him.”

Click below to listen to McMahon’s interview in its entirety.