It was less than a year ago that Ja Morant led Murray State to the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. Now the mid-major will honor the star by retiring his No. 12 jersey on Saturday.
Morant, the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, averaged 24.5 points and 10 rebounds in 2018-19, his sophomore season. He became the first in NCAA history to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in a single season.
Murray State head coach Matt McMahon made the jersey announcement Tuesday morning.
Murray State Athletics is proud to announce Ja Morant's No. 12 will be retired Saturday, Feb. 1 at halftime when the Racers host SIUE at the CFSB Center. https://t.co/hPFO1aOieB Here's a special message from Racer Head Coach Matt McMahon. #GoRacers pic.twitter.com/mIl2zkopUZ— Murray State Sports (@MSURacers) January 28, 2020
Murray State will retire the number at halftime of Saturday’s game against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Tip-off is 7 p.m. The Grizzlies (22-24) play in New Orleans on Friday night and back home for a game Monday. It’s a three-hour drive from Memphis to Murray, Kentucky, and Morant is expected to be in attendance with his family.
“All of the awards, amazing statistics and championships only tell part of the story,” McMahon said. “Ja Morant made a lasting impact on our basketball program, Murray State University and the entire Murray, Kentucky community. Ja Morant’s journey has been an inspiration to millions of people and he continues to be a great ambassador for the Racers across the country and around the world.”
Morant, 20, was an unranked prospect in high school with scholarship offers from two low-major programs when James Kane, then a Racers assistant coach, discovered him in an auxiliary gym at an AAU combine.
The Racers were 54-11 in Morant’s two seasons, winning back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles and tournament titles, and making the NCAA tournament twice. He won the Bob Cousy Award for nation’s best point guard and was a finalist for the John Wooden Award for national player of the year. His triple-double against Marquette in 2019 was the ninth in men’s NCAA tournament history, and gave the Racers their fourth NCAA tournament victory in school history.
He set various program records in two years, including single-season scoring (808 points) and career assists (532). The No. 12 will be the 11th number retired in program history.
Now with the Grizzlies, Morant is a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors. He’s averaging 17.6 points and 7.1 assists in 30 minutes per game and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month in both November and December.
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