Amherst Regional graduate Meikkel Murray signs to play DI basketball at Central Michigan

  • Amherst Regional graduate Meikkel Murray, right, looks to make a play for Coffeyville this past season. Murray signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Division I Central Michigan. COURTESY RED RAVEN SPORTS

  • Amherst Regional graduate Meikkel Murray, left, shoots a 3-pointer for Coffeyville this past season. Murray signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Division I Central Michigan. COURTESY RED RAVEN SPORTS

  • Amherst Regional graduate Meikkel Murray, left, looks to make a play for Coffeyville this past season. Murray signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Division I Central Michigan. COURTESY RED RAVEN SPORTS

  • Amherst Regional graduate Meikkel Murray goes up for a dunk for Coffeyville this past season. Murray signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Division I Central Michigan. COURTESY RED RAVEN SPORTS

  • Amherst Regional graduate Meikkel Murray, right, looks to make a play for Coffeyville this past season. Murray signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Division I Central Michigan. COURTESY RED RAVEN SPORTS

  • MEIKKEL MURRAY

  • Meikkel Murray, left, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Donovan Cordero, of East Longmeadow, Feb. 17, 2017 in Amherst.

  • Meikkel Murray, top, of Amherst Regional, shoots beside Henry Doherty, of Northampton, March 6, 2017, at Curry Hicks Cage.

  • Meikkel Murray, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots after getting past Levi Grady-White, of Central, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship March 10, 2017, at Curry Hicks Cage.

  • Meikkel Murray, of Amherst Regional, dunks against West Springfield, Feb. 14, 2017, in West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 5/6/2020 6:14:15 PM

Meikkel Murray helped the Amherst Regional boys basketball team reach three straight Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship games.

He had zero Division I college offers by the end of the senior year.

After spending a graduate year at Lee Academy in Maine, he had a couple low-level Division I schools show interest, but still received no offers.

Murray then took his game to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. After two success seasons of playing in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, the Amherst native had a decision to make. With 10 Division I offers, Murray had to decide what region of the country he would call home for the next two seasons.

He chose Central Michigan and on Tuesday announced that he had signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Chippewas in the Mid-American Conference.

“It’s for sure a huge accomplishment but there’s always more work to be done,” Murray said. “It’s a blessing to be put in this position.”

Murray has grown in the three years since graduating from Amherst.

“I’ve been away from home by myself for a while now,” he said. “That year at Lee taught me how to manage my time being by myself without family and friends. From there to Coffeyville was a huge adjustment being away from home, but I’m used to it and it’s made me a better person and player today.”

The 6-foot-6, 190-pound forward blossomed at the junior college level. He was named conference freshman of the year during his first season. Last year, he averaged 16.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists en route to conference player of the year honors.

Central Michigan is “getting a guy who can really score. He’s an attacking, athletic type of player,” Coffeyville coach Jay Herkelman said. “He came in as a freshman and we played him at the 4 and he was the freshman of the year in the conference. Then we had some other players returning with him that I wanted to play together so we moved him out to the wing and he played the small forward position for us. He got used to playing in that role and he was really good at it.”

Murray helped the Red Ravens to a two-year record of 57-12. As a sophomore, he was named first-team all-conference and a National Junior College Athletic Association Second-Team All-American.

“It’s the best conference, best JUCO conference in the country,” Murray said. “Night in and night out you play the best teams. ... It just challenged my game and definitely made me better, being able to play those other players.”

Murray’s last game produced a memorable highlight. Coffeyville and Butler were tied with two seconds left in the Regional VI championship. The Red Ravens had possession at their end, where Tony Hutson lofted a pass from out of bounds to Murray, who finished the alley-oop off the backboard to win the game.

Murray finished with 15 points in his final game. No. 15 seed Coffeyville (26-8) was scheduled to play No. 18 South Plains (22-9) in the NJCAA National Tournament, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murray’s season led to offers from several schools, including Stony Brook, Jacksonville State, Portland State University, Cal State Bakersfield, Lamar, Western Michigan and FIU.

“Talking with my dad (Anthony) helped a lot,” Murray said. “He really guided me and we talked a lot about the right feel. We narrowed it down as the weeks went by. Central Michigan made me really feel like a family. The coaches had a game plan with what they are trying to do with the recruiting class. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.”

The Chippewas finished 14-18 overall, 7-11 MAC last season.

“They want me to come in and play right away,” Murray said. “They have some good guys coming in, some good big men. They know what I’ve done at Coffeyville and they want me to go play right away, play my game. That’s another reason why I went there. How they play, my game will complement that.”

Murray is the second of three players from western Massachusetts who played in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference to commit to play Division I. Hopkins Academy graduate Sam’i Roe, who played at Independence Community College, signed to play at Nebraska-Omaha. Murray’s younger brother, Kyle, just finished his sophomore year at Murray State. He has yet to decide his future.

“I feel like a lot of people sleep on the talent in western Mass.,” Meikkel Murray said. “We have a great group of guys who can really ball in western Mass. In Massachusetts usually eastern Mass. guys go play Division I basketball. For us to move on to bigger programs puts a bigger spotlight on the talent we have in western Mass.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.




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