Jamal Murray ready for Canada's senior basketball team
Kitchener native and University of Kentucky commit playing in men's basketball at Pan Am Games
Jamal Murray can add yet another achievement to a career that continues to see nothing but net.
The 18-year-old from Kitchener, Ont. joins Anthony Bennett and Sim Bhullar as three debuting members of the Canadian senior men's basketball team that will play in the Pan Am Games.
High expectations and a pool of opponents await the squad, who opened the tournament with a 105-88 rout over the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. Murray played 21 minutes and had 12 points in a solid opener.
The men's tournament comes on the cusp of Monday's monumental night in Canadian basketball history – the women's national team won gold against the U.S., Canada's first-ever championship title in an international games.
The question now is whether or not their male counterparts can match their success by winning a gold at home.
But another sight to see will be Murray – a high school grad viewed as the sport's next big name from the north.
"He's had a great career so far," said Jay Triano, head coach of the senior men's team. "We also have to remember he hasn't played a collegiate game so far, not an NCAA player yet.
"He's picked up things really well. He's going to get minutes, he's going to play quite a bit [and] play a big role for us."
The six-foot-four point guard is no stranger to standing out. Ranked as the nation's number one player from the class of 2015, Murray is considered a five-star recruit for 2016.
"He's an incredible teammate," said Carl English, seasoned shooting guard who has been a part of Team Canada since 2000. "He's a lot further than people understand. He's here training with us and playing against men, and he's holding his own."
As a member of CIA Bounce, the Canadian prospect is from the same development club that produced consecutive first overall NBA draft picks Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. He also attended Orangeville Prep where his academic standings enabled him to reclassify.
Murray was named MVP of this year's inaugural BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Game, the north's parallel to the McDonald's All-American Game that has showcased U.S. high schoolers for over 35 years.
In international play, he was the MVP for the 2013 Jordan Brand Classic and the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, two tournaments that select top young talent from around the globe.
Murray also represented Canada at the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championships and the 2015 NBA Basketball Without Borders Global Camp. Such NBA camps like the latter has seen 33 of its past campers go onto playing for the league.
And if those accomplishments weren't enough to raise his chances of making it, Murray solidified his star power when he became the first Canadian athlete to announce college intentions on a live and national broadcast.
He didn't have to cross the border to get the attention of thirty colleges. Draped with a Canadian flag over his shoulders, Murray declared his commitment to Coach John Calipari and the University of Kentucky.
"I didn't attend school in the States, I stayed in Canada, stayed at my home," said Murray during the announcement. "I thought it was necessary for me to wear the flag and honour my country. It's done a lot for me, I wouldn't be in this spot if it wasn't for Canada."
Murray will get the opportunity to return the favour, wearing Canadian colours on home court. The Pan Am Games will also be a precursor to his potential performance at the FIBA Americas in Mexico City this August, an Olympic qualifying event.
"We'll find out if he can do it," said Triano.