Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball coach John Calipari said the Philadelphia 76ers should select Jamal Murray as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on June 23 over LSU's Ben Simmons and Duke's Brandon Ingram.
Calipari, appearing on ESPNU's College Basketball podcast, said Murray is "the safe No. 1.'' Calipari added that he's had No. 1 picks who have been an MVP (Derrick Rose) and a rookie of the year (Karl-Anthony Towns).
Calipari coached No. 1 picks Rose at Memphis and Towns, Anthony Davis and John Wall at Kentucky.
"If you're going to take the No. 1 pick, you probably should do it from our program,'' Calipari said.
Calipari said Murray could be the best player to come out of this NBA draft five years from now. Murray is projected to go as high as No. 3, where the Boston Celtics select. Coincidentally, Murray worked out for Boston on Wednesday, knocking down a Celtics workout record 79 of 100 3-pointers during the session.
"I believe I'm the best player in the draft, but every team needs what they need," Murray said after the workout.
Murray said he would do four team workouts: Boston, Phoenix, Minnesota and New Orleans. He also credited Calipari on preparing him for the NBA, saying, "Coach Cal really makes you look good.''
"He can stretch the defense, play off the ball and the NBA is going positionless,'' Calipari said. "He can flat-out shoot the ball and is physically ready.''
When asked why the Sixers should take Murray over Simmons or Ingram, Calipari said: "What does Philadelphia need more than anything else? Someone to make shots and guard play. I am biased. I want my guy. But he can play multiple positions, he can physically step in and play right away. He can play the point. He can score in bunches. You watch Golden State. Who really is their point guard? Whoever has it.''
Calipari continued to say that Murray is "the safest pick. Simmons is really a talent. He's big. He has size, speed and basketball ability, and there is LeBronish in him. Brandon is long and can score the ball. He's a very good player. But it should be Jamal or one of those two guys.''
Simmons is projected as the No. 1 pick, with the Lakers likely to take Ingram at No. 2, especially after drafting Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell last year at the same spot.
The 6-foot-4 Murray was a key member of the Canadian National Team at the Pan Am Games last summer in Toronto. He was a third-team All-American this past season as a freshman, averaging 20 points per game, 2.2 assists, 2.3 turnovers and shooting 40.8 percent on 3s and 45.4 from the field in 35.2 minutes per game for the Wildcats.