In his most recent college game last December, former Highland Park All-Stater Jahmal McMurray hit five of seven 3-pointers and scored a game-high 25 points for South Florida in a 77-66 loss to South Carolina, which went on to make a Final Four appearance.
Since that night the 6-foot-1 McMurray has been counting the days until he can return to the court.
McMurray, who scored 1,155 points at Highland Park and helped lead the Scots to three state tournament appearances and two runner-up state finishes, announced in late December that he was going to transfer from South Florida and eventually decided on Tim Jankovich’s SMU program in late January.
McMurray is now in the process of sitting out a full year before he becomes eligible the second semester of the 2017-2018 season. He will have a season and a half of eligibility remaining.
“This is the hardest process I’ve ever dealt with in my life because I’m a gym rat,” McMurray said Saturday after participating in the Shawnee County Alumni Classic at Topeka Collegiate. “I love playing and I just love being a part of a group and a team. Not playing is a little setback but it’s just making me more hungry.”
McMurray has been attending classes at Eastfield College and will not officially enroll at SMU until the upcoming fall semester.
In the meantime, McMurray, who averaged 15.2 points as a freshman and 20.3 points in three games last season for South Florida, has been doing what he can to be ready when he can play again.
“I got back (to Topeka) in late June and I’ve been in Texas most of the time, just been working out, grinding, and trying to stay in shape and stay ready,” said McMurray, who briefly tested the NBA waters following his freshman season.
Because of transfer rules, McMurray’s contact with his future SMU teammates has been minimal.
“I can watch what they do and stay on the side but I’m not able to work out with them yet,” he said. “I’ve been playing a lot of pickup with some players from overseas and a couple of NBA guys from the Dallas Mavericks that come out and play with us. I’ve been staying on top of my game.”
Despite the fact that he’s yet to officially join the Mustangs, 30-5 last season, McMurray is convinced he made the right decision.
“The family feel and the family vibe is what I was looking for mostly and that’s great,” he said. “It’s a great team, an (NCAA) tournament team and there’s some stuff I’m going to be able to do there that I didn’t think I’d be able to do.”
But while McMurray’s focus is on the future, he also relished the chance to re-live the past in Saturday’s tournament, hooking up with several former high school teammates and helping his team reach the semifinals.
“It’s always love to come back and play with your old high school teammates,” he said. “I feel like high school is some of my best memories, so coming back and playing with the guys is fun and seeing a lot of old friends and a lot of old enemies on the court. It’s all fun.”