Dressed in a sharp purple suit jacket and purple shoes, Dejounte Murray had to wait longer than most expected to walk across the stage at Thursday night’s NBA draft. But he was still picked early enough to mark a rare achievement for the Washington Huskies.
His former UW teammate, Marquese Chriss, had already been selected with the No. 8 overall pick by the Sacramento Kings and then promptly traded to the Phoenix Suns. And when the San Antonio Spurs called Murray’s name at pick No. 29, it marked just the second time in school history the Huskies had a duo picked in the first round of the same draft.
Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten are the only other UW players picked in the first round of the same draft. They were selected at No. 8 and No. 25 overall, respectively, in 2012.
Phoenix traded the No. 13 overall pick, the No. 28 overall pick and the draft rights to Serbian shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic for Chriss, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Draft-day trades are subject to the approval of the league office.
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Chriss, a 6-foot-10, 233-pound forward, averaged 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds during his one season at UW, catching the attention of NBA scouts with his athleticism and raw potential. His selection at No. 8 capped a startling rise that began late in his prep career at Pleasant Grove High School (California) and accelerated during his freshman season with the Huskies.
Chriss, still wearing a Kings hat during his live interview with ESPN shortly after being drafted, said he was already aware that he’d been traded to Phoenix.
“I love the city down there,” Chriss said. “I like the coaching staff. I’m willing to go down there and learn.”
He said Phoenix coach Earl Watson has told him he’s “willing to let me play through my mistakes.” Considered one of the more raw lottery prospects in this year’s draft, Chriss needed a team that would be patient with his development.
“Me and him talked about it,” Chriss said. “I know it’s going to take time for me to grow.”
Murray, a Seattle native who starred at Rainier Beach High School, had one of the most impressive statistical seasons in UW history as a freshman in 2015-16. He finished second on the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game and led the team in rebounding (6.0 per game) as a 6-foot-5, 170-pound guard.
He was projected to be selected as high as No. 10 in some mock drafts, which made it somewhat of a surprise that he fell to No. 29. Only one other player remained in the draft’s “green room” by the time Murray was selected.
Regardless, he told ESPN: “It’s a dream come true.”
Chriss and Murray are good friends, and decided together that they would both depart UW after one season. Both were invited to attend Thursday’s festivities in New York.
Chriss is just the sixth UW player to be drafted in the top 10, and the fourth during the 14-year tenure of coach Lorenzo Romar. Chriss and Murray give the Huskies 13 first-round picks in their history, nine of which have come in the past 12 years.