Murray State's Ja Morant became the highest NBA Draft pick in the history of the Ohio Vall41938ey Conference when the Memphis Grizzlies selected him as the second pick during the glitz and glamour of draft night at the Barclays Center in New York City.
The 2019 NBA Draft put a perfect cap on Morant's rise from little-known talent from small town Dalzell, South Carolina to Murray State where he became a consensus All-America, set many records and led the Racers to 54 wins in 65 games and a pair of OVC regular-season and OVC Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances.
Morant becomes the highest draft pick in the history of the Ohio Valley Conference and the highest pick in the league since 1994 when the Seattle Supersonics picked Tennessee State's Carlos Rogers as the 11th selection. Other recent first round picks from the OVC include Rogers (Supersonics 11th overall), Kenneth Faried (Nuggets 22nd overall) and Murray State's Cameron Payne (Thunder 14th overall). Western Kentucky's Clem Haskins had held the OVC record for the highest pick. Haskins was selected as the third pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1971.
Becoming a star at the mid-major level, Morant proves again NBA talent can be found at places like Murray State. Morant did his part to keep MSU as what some call Point Guard U after Isaiah Canaan was drafted in 2013 by the Rockets, Payne went to NBA after two seasons in 2013 to Oklahoma City and Jonathan Stark had a tremendous career that ended in 2018 and he's currently in the Minnesota Timberwolves system. Along with Morant, this entire group of former Racers are all OVC Player of the Year winners and All-America selections.
Since 2010 there have been 10 players selected in the first round from schools outside the Power 5 conferences and Big East, American, Mountain West, Atlantic-10 and Gonzaga. Other players from this designated group includes: Damian Lillard, Weber State (2012), Jimmer Fredette, BYU (2011), Kenneth Faried, Morehead State (2011), Norris Cole, Cleveland State (2011), CJ McMollum, Lehigh (2013), Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette (2014), Cameron Payne, Murray State (2015), R.J. Hunter, Georgia State (2015), Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State (2016) and Ja Morant of Murray State (2019).
Murray State – All-Time NBA Draft Picks
Name Year, Rd(pick), Team
Bennie Purcell 1952 NA Baltimore
Garrett Beshear 1953 NA Syracuse
Howie Crittenden 1956 NA New York
Quitman Sullins 1958 5(33) Minneapolis
Stewart Johnson 1966 3(21) New York
Don Duncan 1967 10(112) San Diego
Herb McPherson 1967 5(55) San Diego
Dick Cunningham 1968 2(21) Phoenix
Claude Virden 1970 9(142) Seattle
Hector Blondet 1971 5(71) Portland
Ron Johnson 1971 9(144) Baltimore
Les Taylor 1973 9(142) Cleveland
Grover Woolard 1977 6(132) L.A. Lakers
Mike Muff 1978 10(193) Golden State
Gary Hooker 1980 4(89) Seattle
Glen Green 1983 6(119) Denver
Mike Lahm 1985 5(100) Detroit
Jeff Martin 1989 2(31) L.A. Clippers
Popeye Jones 1992 2(41) Houston
Marcus Brown 1996 2(46) Portland
Isaiah Canaan 2013 2(34) Houston
Cameron Payne 2015 1(14) Oklahoma City
Ja Morant 2019 1(2) Memphis