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Jamal Murray: The Hero Lexington Deserved (and Needed)

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Without the services of The Blue Arrow throughout the 2015-16 campaign for Kentucky, where would the program be with one-half of the nation's best backcourt?

Jamal Murray became Lexington's Robin Hood and one of the nation's best scorers in what appears to be his lone season at Kentucky.
Jamal Murray became Lexington's Robin Hood and one of the nation's best scorers in what appears to be his lone season at Kentucky.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There was five seconds left on the shot clock of a sluggish possession for Kentucky.

With 17.8 seconds left in an extra session to decide the SEC Tournament winner, Jamal Murray rose and fired a contested shot that will live in Kentucky basketball lore for a long time.

It may not have sent Kentucky to a national title game like Aaron "ICE is in his Twitter handle" Harrison did during the 2014 Final Four in Arlington, but it was a shot that you'll see in many Big Blue Madness video packages for years to come.

(It's clear that, yes ... Young Metro trusts Jamal Murray.)

Murray's dagger triple to push the lead out to 81-75 against top-seeded Texas A&M on March 13 to seal Kentucky's record 28th tournament title almost felt like the ride off into the sunset for one of the nation's best prospects. It'll come as no surprise if and when Murray eventually announces his plans to enter the 2016 NBA Draft this summer.

(Murray is listed as the seventh-best prospect for the 2016 draft by the folks at DraftExpress.com.)

His partner in crime -- SEC Player of the Year Tyler Ulis -- will likely join Murray on draft boards across the NBA shortly, but with Ulis's ascension to the nation's best players through the latter part of this past season, Murray almost seemed like a footnote at times.

Sure, there were times where Murray's shot was off and his game wasn't at the elite level at times this season (look at his two NCAA Tournament performances), but without Lexington's latest superhero, the 'Cats wouldn't have been outright SEC title holders and one of the scary picks to win it all.

Murray was utilized as the perfect compliment to Ulis. At the next level, he'll still come off ball screens and utilize his outside jumper, but he'll be used as a primary ball-handler and leader of an offense.

Case and point: Remember that time Alex Poythress almost had to make an impromptu trip to a dentist in Chicago? How good was Murray here?

But, during his time at Kentucky, he morphed into one of the nation's most dangerous players with his Ray Allen-like usage in the dribble-drive offense.

This isn't to say Murray's NBA comparison is Allen by any means, but his ability to fly all over half-court sets like Allen did during his NBA career made Kentucky dangerous offensively. Shooting the rock was a big-time struggle for Kentucky early in the year (and in their tourney loss to Indiana) and Murray's ability to light it up from the perimeter made the season interesting.

There was also this side of The Blue Arrow. Sometimes, if it was needed, he'd take to the skies.

Murray's time in Lexington probably won't be remembered among the likes of John Wall or even Ulis himself, but without him, there's no telling where the 'Cats would have been. They both complimented each other's games well and that's what made Murray (along with Ulis) so much fun to watch.

(Speaking of which, since Murray is The Blue Arrow, Ulis totally deserves his own superhero name. If you have one, I'll gladly take a look at the comments because this has to happen.)

And on a parting note because NBA draft rumors and John Calipari going to the NBA rumors are the lifeblood of the Kentucky hoops off-season, DraftExpress has Murray as the No. 7 pick in this year's draft (based off of current records).

That would mean Murray would join DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Willie Cauley-Stein in Sacramento with the Kings, or as friends in NBA Twitter call them ... the KANGZ.

So basically, if all went according to plan, a Suns-Kings preseason game at Rupp Arena next season would be quite lit.