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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Michelle and Kenyon Murray bought their twin sons, Kris and Keegan, a Little Tikes basketball hoop when they were 14 months old.

“I was coaching at Indian Hills (of Ottumwa) at the time,” Kenyon recalled. “I’d come home and we’d spend hours messing around (with that hoop) until it was time for bed. We’d read books to them and put them down, and start the whole thing over again the next day.”

It’s safe to say that the hoop purchase was the best investment ever.

“Oh my gosh, yes,” Kenyon said.

Keegan became a millionaire Thursday night when Sacramento selected him with the fourth pick in the NBA Draft. A 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, he also supplanted Fred Brown (No. 6 in 1971) as the highest-drafted Hawkeye in program history. Kris, who also entered the draft but decided to return to Iowa for the 2022-23 season, is poised for a breakout season of his own.

But there will be something missing for the twins: each other. They’ve been on the same team since they started playing organized basketball together in the second grade.

“Michelle and I know this is the first year our kids won’t be on the same bench together,” Kenyon said. “But I think they’ve been preparing for it, with Keegan in Chicago and Kris back here the last three weeks or so. They’ve adjusted to doing things by themselves. I’m sure there will be times when they wish their brother was right there next to them. But they’re 21, and we knew this would come at some point. I think they’ll be OK moving forward.”

Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery had planned to add a few degrees of separation back in the 2020-21 season. He was going to play Keegan off the bench and redshirt Kris.

“I just wanted to separate them a little bit, and give Kris a little more time to develop,” McCaffery said. “We had a veteran team. Now it looks like he’s going to leave early anyway, but if he was going to stay the whole time we’d have him an extra year at the end. You’ve got to remember what your thought process was with redshirting in the past. And it all kind of went out of the window with COVID and guys leaving early.”

McCaffery’s redshirt plan went on the shelf when the NCAA gave everyone an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic. And with Keegan’s dramatic jump, from a guy averaging 7.2 points off the bench to a consensus all-American and first-round NBA Draft choice, Iowa is looking for a go-to guy to replace him a season sooner than expected.

Kris is the logical leading candidate. When Field of 68 posted its list of the nation’s top breakout stars for 2022-23, Kris landed at No. 3. McCaffery wasn’t surprised.

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“I would have been surprised if he wasn’t on there,” the coach said.

McCaffery wants Kris to be treated as his own man, not a guy trying to match his brother’s performance.

“I just want him to be Kris, and not constantly compared to his brother,” McCaffery said. “He’s not his brother. His game is different and his personality is different. He’s going to be great in his own way. And that’s what I want to see from him. I want him to blossom with just the focus on him.”

Kenyon, a four-year letterman for the Hawkeyes (1993-1996) and the twins' coach during their AAU and Prairie High School of Cedar Rapids careers, knows better than anyone the different skills his sons possess. And it goes beyond the fact that Keegan is right-handed, and Kris is a southpaw.

“I think Kris can dominate a game a lot like Keegan did, but it will be in different ways,” Kenyon said. “This year’s team is going to be built a little differently. But I don’t think that will lessen the impact that Kris will have, especially being a two-way player like Keegan was.”

The defensive end is where Kris will emulate Keegan the most, being able to guard the perimeter and the post and using his length as an advantage.

“I think you’ll see a lot more versatility in Kris offensively, because of where Fran puts him on the floor, as opposed to playing the 5 (post) position last year,” Kenyon said. “Kris is his own guy, and he’s always been that way. I’m not worried about Kris thinking he has to do the same things that Keegan did. People will see this year that Kris is Kris and Keegan is Keegan.”

One thing Kris is working on over the summer is improving his ability to attack off the bounce, something Keegan did very well. Kris is also working on his mid-range game, and his one- and two-dribble pull-up game.

“I think you’ll see Kris really mix it up at all three levels,” Kenyon predicted.

If he does that, the 2023 NBA Draft will be very interesting (again) for the Murray family.

And that investment in a Little Tikes basketball hoop two decades ago will pay even more dividends.