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Former Murray State star Ja Morant makes history as overall No. 2 pick by Memphis Grizzlies in NBA Draft

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Ja Morant made history Thursday night.

The Murray State University guard became the highest player drafted in Racers history when he was selected as the second overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA Draft Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York.

For Morant, the experience of being drafted among the top elite players in the country was a “crazy” experience.

“Obviously a wild moment for me, coming from my story, what I’ve been through to get to this point,” he said. “ I’m just very excited to be able to accomplish my dream.”

Ja Morant was taken as the overall No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. He was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies. (NBA Photo)

Morant liked the idea of playing for Memphis and is “very excited” about playing for the Grizzlies. Memphis targeted Morant during pre-draft workouts.

“Obviously it means that Memphis sees a lot in me,” he said. “I’m grateful and thankful to them for drafting me. … It was very exciting and emotional (to get drafted). I’m trying not to get emotional now. It’s just an honor to be in this position that I’m in right now. I’m happy for it.

Morant said other mid-major stars such as Portland guard Damian Lillard served as an inspiration and desire to reach the next level. Lillard played collegiate basketball at Weber State and was Rookie of the Year after being selected as the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

“We can go down the line of mid-major players who made a name for themselves in this league,” he said. “I feel like guys who opened the door for me, it’s only right that I go in, try to do what those guys did, make a name and keep the doors open for other mid-major players. It just means a lot for them to look up to me.”

Although stressful, Morant enjoyed the pre-draft process and tried not to get tied up in the excitement.

“Obviously my first time going through it,” he said. “Who would have thought I would have been in this position right here three, four years ago? I have the opportunity to do it now. The process was very exciting. I’m just happy.”

Despite the night for the former Murray State star, Morant doesn’t plan on letting up and is ready to showcase his skills at the next level.

“I’m just going to continue to try to be the best Ja on and off the court — try to come in, do whatever I can to help this team win games,” he said. “Also try to come in and make a name for myself and an impact on the Memphis Grizzlies.”

In addition to getting drafted, Morant also became a member of the Nike endorsement family.

“Growing up, I always wanted a pair of Nikes,” he said. “Now I have the chance to work with them. Like I said, it’s a wild moment for me, to be able to be part of Nike.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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