The last available five-star recruit selects Kentucky over Oregon

Jeff Eisenberg
The last available five-star recruit selects Kentucky over Oregon

When Oregon forward Elgin Cook tweeted Jamal Murray last week congratulating him on his commitment and welcoming him to the Ducks, it raised an obvious question.

Did Cook have inside information that the last uncommitted five-star recruit in the class of 2015 was going to choose Oregon?

Turns out Cook's since-deleted tweet was erroneous since Murray did not choose the Ducks. The highly touted Canadian point guard instead announced Wednesday evening that he is headed to Kentucky, a huge coup for a program that must replace seven members of its rotation from this past season's 38-1 Final Four team.

Originally a member of the class of 2016, Murray began strongly considering reclassifying after earning MVP honors for his 30-point, five-assist masterpiece of a performance at April's Nike Hoop Summit. The 6-foot-5 Murray thrives with the ball in his hands but is big enough to guard opposing wings, which will be crucial for a Kentucky team that will also feature returning point guard Tyler Ulis and high-scoring incoming combo guard Isaiah Briscoe. 

Murray became a critical recruit for Kentucky when John Calipari uncharacteristically swung and missed in his pursuit of a handful of top recruits this spring. Jaylen Brown (Cal), Ivan Rabb (Cal), Malik Newman (Mississippi State), Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV), Brandon Ingram (Duke) and Cheick Diallo (Kansas) all spurned the Wildcats, leaving Calipari in jeopardy of taking thinner roster than usual into next season.

The addition of Murray alleviates much of that concern.

With him, Ulis, Briscoe in the backcourt, Calipari has a trio of guards who should thrive in a dribble-drive offense and potential capable backups in freshman Charles Matthews and veteran Dominique Hawkins. Highly touted freshman Skal Labissiere and returners Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee should serve as mainstays in the frontcourt.

It's foolish to ever count out Kentucky in a recruitment, but it's mildly surprising that Murray became the prospect who ended the Wildcats' string of spring misses. Oregon appeared to have the strongest connection between the presence of an assistant coach (Mike Mennenga) who was once co-director of Murray's grassroots program and the addition of Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis, Murray's former teammate on the AAU circuit.

Alas, it was not to be for Oregon, which knows the pain of finishing second in the pursuit of a five-star prospect all too well. The Ducks have been the runner-ups in the recruitment of Anthony Bennett, Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon, among others.

Elgin Cook's tweet gave Ducks fans hope this time might be different. Instead Murray altered next season's college basketball landscape by choosing Kentucky instead.

Rivals.com Video of Jamal Murray

 

For more Kentucky news, visit CatsIllustrated.com

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!