Thursday, August 29th, Murray State Racers basketball picked up a commitment from Ja’Queze Kirby, a three-star prospect out of Georgia. Right now, Kirby is the 5th highest-rated recruit the Racers have landed since 247Sports began their service. I spoke with him shortly after his decision to commit and got to know a little bit about the 6’6″ forward.
Ja’Queze Kirby is coming to Murray State from Jeff Davis High School in Hazlehurst, Georgia home to less than 5,000 people. However, as a three-star recruit, Kirby is the definition of a big fish in a little pond. The only other notable athlete from Hazlehurst played football, the sport that Ja’Queze would be playing if he wasn’t playing basketball, former Oklahoma University, and NFL quarterback Nate Hybl. However, Kirby, or Kirbz as his parents call him, has a similar story that many of the players that Murray State head basketball coach Matt McMahon recruits. Coach McMahon has his roots in the south and relies heavily on the hidden gems strewn throughout the southeast, which is what he got in Ja Morant. The difference between Kirby and other recruits are the other offers he had on his list.
When Ja’Queze gets to campus in the fall of 2020, he will more than likely be on the same team as two of Murray State’s highest-rated recruits ever. Both Tevin Brown and DaQuan Smith are top-5 all-time recruits at Murray State according to 247Sports. However, they did not have the offer and interest list that Kirby has. When he committed, Kirby denied both of his home state schools, Georgia led by Tom Crean, and Georgia Tech coached by Josh Pastner. He turned down Buzz Williams and Texas A&M and also said no to SEC Coach of the Year Kermit Davis and Ole Miss.
I’m a Murray State alum and love Murray, Kentucky. However Murray is not Athens, it is not Atlanta, it does not have the recognition of College Station, and it surely doesn’t have the reputation of Oxford. So how does Matt McMahon pull Kirby away from those other schools? Murray felt like home.
A young kid from Hazlehurst, GA felt like he belonged at the school once referred to as “Kentucky’s Public Ivy College.” Kirby feels at home when in Murray and can’t wait to bring his athleticism and court vision to the CFSB Center. He isn’t concerned with recruiting anyone else specifically to Murray State but plans on being the best teammate that he can be regardless of who is on the team or in his class. He also has a very simple pitch to recruits considering the Racers:
“They [recruits] will love [Murray], the people show so much love!”
There is a tenacity that Ja’Queze brings to his game. He models himself after his favorite player, Kevin Durant. He is a good athlete and is a player that can play up to the two-position and down to the four position in small ball situations. He has the tangibles to defend 1-4, and he shows that his passing ability is above average for the three, his natural position. His jump shot is improving, and he has a good form that can be built upon in college. He absolutely gets after it on defense, averaging 2.3 steals and 3.9 blocks as a junior last season.
As Ja’Queze heads into his last season of high school basketball, he has his goals set on winning a championship, improving his game, and eating his favorite post-game meal, pizza. He is currently ranked #352 overall in the 2020 class, and alongside fellow 2020 commit, Dionte Blanch, the Racers have the top class in the OVC and are ranked 42nd in the nation. The Racers have a lot of offers out to a lot of really good players and judging by their offer list in the 2020 class, Coach McMahon seems to be going after recruits that Murray State used to never offer. The 2020 class may be legendary for Murray State fans.
Racer fans should be really excited about the new Ja coming to the Murray State Racers in 2020.