Western Kentucky added two frontcourt transfers to its basketball program Wednesday.
WKU announced Wednesday afternoon the additions of Auburn graduate transfer Desean Murray and Northern Kentucky transfer Carson Williams.
Murray, a 6-foot-4 forward, is immediately eligible and will play the 2018-19 season for the Hilltoppers as a redshirt senior. He visited WKU last weekend.
Williams, a 6-5 forward, will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018-19 season. He visited WKU’s campus April 13 and again Saturday.
Murray averaged 10.1 points per game in 2017-18 for a Tigers squad that went 26-8, shared the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He’s scored more than 1,200 points in his college basketball career.
Murray started all 34 games last season for Auburn. He averaged a team-best 6.7 rebounds, including 2.7 offensive boards per game, with 59 assists, 30 steals and 19 blocks against 63 turnovers.
The Stanley, N.C., native shot 45.5 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from 3-point range and 84 percent from the free-throw line.
“We’re excited to add Desean to our program and family,” WKU coach Rick Stansbury said in a news release. “He brings a wealth of experience from a winning program, and most importantly, he brings exceptional toughness, which is something we were looking to add.”
Murray chose to leave Auburn early and pursue a graduate season at another school. Baylor, Clemson, Maryland, Memphis, Nevada, Southern California, Southern Methodist and St. John’s all reportedly contacted the forward after he received his release.
Murray transferred to Auburn after playing the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons at Presbyterian College.
He was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Year and was a member of the all-conference honorable mention and all-freshman teams in 2014-15. He averaged 15.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game as a freshman.
The following season, Murray was a Big South all-conference first-team selection. He led the Big South and ranked 29th in the nation in scoring (20.2). He was tied for fourth in the conference in rebounds (7.4) and field goal pct. (.543), and third in steals (2.0).
Williams, an Owenton native, joins the WKU program after playing his first two seasons at Northern Kentucky.
“It’s obvious that Carson has to sit out a year, but after watching his game films and finding more out about him, he’s absolutely too good of a player and too good of a person to not have as part of our program,” Stansbury said. “He comes from a great family and is a great student, and this is the highest compliment I can give him – he reminds you of Justin Johnson.”
Williams started 61 games across his two seasons at Northern Kentucky, averaging 12 points and 5.6 rebounds as a sophomore in 2017-18. He shot 60.8 percent from the field on a 22-10 team that won a Horizon League regular-season title for the first time in program history.
Williams was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team in 2016-17 while starting 34 games for NKU. The forward averaged 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in his first college season, helping the Norse to 24 wins, a Horizon League Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Williams was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball in 2016 after averaging 26.3 points and 10.7 rebounds as a senior at Owen County High School.
He’ll be the second Kentucky Mr. Basketball on WKU’s roster, joining 2017 award winner Taveion Hollingsworth. He’s the seventh Kentucky Mr. Basketball award winner all-time to join the Hilltopper program.
Williams scored 2,967 career points in high school along with 1,671 rebounds, the fifth-highest total in Kentucky history.
Murray and Williams are the sixth and seventh players to sign with Stansbury’s WKU basketball program for the 2018-19 season.
Junior college forward Matthew Horton and JUCO guard Trevelin Queen both signed last fall with the Hilltoppers. So too did Class of 2018 prep prospects Dalano Banton (wing), Jeremiah Gambrell (guard) and Galen Smith (forward).
All of those players will be eligible to compete next season except for Williams.