Murrell, Richmond to have Jerseys Retired

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State Director of Athletics Bob Krause announced Tuesday that the Wildcats will retire the jerseys of basketball greats Willie Murrell (1962-64) and Mitch Richmond (1986-88) in a halftime ceremony during the Nebraska game on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009.

“We are excited to announce the selection of Willie Murrell and Mitch Richmond for jersey retirement at Kansas State,” said Krause.  “Each of these individuals played a tremendous role in the development of our storied men’s basketball program.  They represent much more than just All-America honors, victories and NCAA Tournament appearances for K-State.  They have each enjoyed very successful careers beyond the basketball court and have served as great ambassadors for this university.”

In addition to the retirement ceremonies at the Nebraska game, scheduled for 7 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum, the two men, along with this year’s women’s retirees, will be honored at a public luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 28, at the Clarion Hotel.  Tickets to the luncheon can be purchased for $20 by calling the K-State Athletic Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS.

The duo becomes the fourth class of jersey retirements at Kansas State following those of Bob Boozer, Ernie Barrett and Jack Parr in February 2005, Mike Evans, Lon Kruger and Chuckie Williams in February 2006 and Rolando Blackman and Dick Knostman in February 2007.  The criteria for determining the honor includes statistical achievement, conference and national records, honors received (i.e., all-conference, All-America, Academic All-America, etc.), character and sportsmanship.  Murrell and Richmond become the first players with junior college ties to earn jersey retirement.

One of just 11 players to earn first team All-America honors, Murrell was a two-year letterman for head coach Fred “Tex” Winter from 1962-64.  He guided the Wildcats to a 38-16 (.704) record, including a pair of Big Eight Conference titles and a Final Four appearance in 1964.  He transferred to Kansas State after a two-year career at Eastern Oklahoma A&M (Eastern Oklahoma State College) from 1960-62.

The 6-foot-6 native of Taft, Okla., Murrell is one of just six players in Kansas State history to average a double-double for his career, averaging 20.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in 54 career games.  He was twice named an All-American during his record-setting senior season in 1964 and was also a two-time first team All-Big Eight selection.  His career averages in both scoring and rebounding still rank among the top-5 in school history, including third in rebounding (10.7 rpg.) and fifth in scoring (20.6 ppg.).

Murrell earned first team All-America honors as a senior when he led Kansas State to 22-7 overall record, Big Eight Holiday Tournament and regular season titles and its last trip to the Final Four in 1964.  He averaged 22.3 points and 11.1 rebounds in 29 games in 1963-64 en route to collecting first team All-America honors from the Helms Foundation and second team accolades from Converse Yearbook.  He was also named the Big Eight Player of the Year by several news outlets.

Murrell averaged 25.3 points during the Wildcats’ run through the 1964 NCAA Tournament, including a 29-point, 13-rebound performance in the national semifinals against UCLA on March 20, en route to earning recognition to the All-Midwest Regional Tournament team and the All-Final Four squad.  He is the only player to ever record a double-double in a Final Four game and the only one ever named to an All-Final Four team.  His 29 points against the Bruins are the most in a Final Four game in school history.

Murrell still ranks among the top 10 in 20 single-game, season and/or career statistical categories in school history.  He is one of just five players to average 20 points in a career, while he is one of just eight players to score 1,000 points and collect 500 rebounds in a career.  He ranks in the top 10 in eight career categories, including third in rebounds per game, fifth in scoring average, sixth in double-doubles (26) and 15-rebound games (seven), eighth in double-digit rebound games (26), ninth in 20-point games (26) and 10th in 30-point games (four) and field goals made (432).  In addition, he places third in single-season rebounds (321; 1964) and fifth in points (648; 1964) and scoring average (22.3 ppg., 1964).

Murrell is one of just 20 players in school history to top 1,000 points, while he ranks 12th on the all-time scoring list with 1,112 points and fifth in career scoring average (20.6 ppg.).  He scored a career-high 39 points in his final home game against Missouri on March 7, 1964, which stands as the 12th-most points in a single-game in school history, including the eighth-highest in a conference game. 

Murrell was selected in the fourth round of the 1964 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Bombers.  He went on to play three seasons of professional basketball, including stints with the ABA’s Denver Nuggets (1967-68) and Miami Floridians (1968-70).  He averaged 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds in his professional career, including 16.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in his lone season with the Nuggets in 1967-68.   

One of the most recognizable players in Kansas State history, Mitch Richmond was a two-year letterman for head coach Lon Kruger from 1986-88.  He helped guide the Wildcats to a 45-20 (.692) record, including a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and a trip to the 1988 NCAA Midwest Regional Final.  Like Murrell, he also transferred to K-State after a distinguished junior college career at Mobley (Mo.) Community College from 1984-86.

The 6-foot-5 native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Richmond assembled perhaps the greatest two-year playing career in school history.  He is one of just 20 players in school history to top 1,000 points, while he ranks eighth on the all-time scoring list with 1,327 points and fourth in career scoring average (20.7 ppg.).  His 1,327 points are the most by a player in a two-year career.  He still ranks among the top 10 in 21 single-game, season and/or career statistical categories in school history. 

Richmond was a member of K-State’s All-Century Basketball Team announced on March 1, 2003 and was a 1998 inductee into the K-State Sports Hall of Fame.

As a senior, he led the Wildcats to a school-record tying 25 wins, a second-place finish in the Big Eight and a rousing trip through the NCAA Tournament that led K-State to an Elite Eight appearance.  He broke the then single-season scoring mark by pouring in 786 points.  Fellow All-American Michael Beasley broke the record in 2007-08 with 866 points.  He averaged 22.6 points on 51.4 percent shooting in 1987-88 with 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists en route to earning second team All-America honors from UPI, Basketball Weekly, The Sporting News and U.S. Basketball Writers of America (USBWA).  He was also named first team All-Big Eight and first team All-District by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

A highly-regarded junior college player, Richmond was the second-leading scorer for Kansas State in 1986-87, guiding the Wildcats to their first 20-win season and NCAA Tournament appearance in five years.  He averaged 18.6 points on 44.7 percent shooting with 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists en route to earning recognition to both UPI’s All-Junior College team and the All-Big Eight second team.

In all, Richmond still ranks in the top 10 in seven career categories, including third in 20-point games (34), fifth in 30-point games (seven), sixth in minutes played (33.8 mpg.) and field goals made (465) and ninth in double-digit scoring (63).  He scored a career-high 41 points against Oklahoma on Feb. 13, 1988, which stands as the seventh-most points in a single game, including the fourth-highest in a league game.

Following graduation, Richmond won a spot on the 1988 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team and was a first-round draft pick (fifth overall selection) by the Golden State Warriors.  He became one of the premier shooting guards in the NBA, appearing in six NBA All-Star games, and being named the most valuable player of the 1995 NBA All-Star game.  He also earned second team All-NBA honors in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and third team honors in 1996 and 1998 with the Sacramento Kings.

Richmond is one of just six players in NBA history to average 21.0 or more points in each of his first 10 professional seasons (others Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson).  He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 1989 after averaging 22.0 points per game.  After three seasons with Golden State, he spent six years with Sacramento (1991-98) before being traded to Washington (1998-2001) following the 1998 season.  He retired following his 14th season in the NBA after helping the Lakers win their third consecutive NBA title in 2002.    

Richmond earned much of his fame during his six-year stint with Kings and is the first player in Sacramento-era history to have his jersey retired (Dec. 5, 2003).  He still ranks among the top five in franchise history in points, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, free throw percentage, steals, three-pointers made and attempted and three-point field goal percentage.  He became the first Sacramento King to be named to the All-Star Game, and earned the All-Star most valuable player award in 1995 after tallying 23 points in 22 minutes off the bench. 

Richmond was a member of Dream Team III that won the Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  He was named to the All-1990s teams for each of the teams he played for during the decade (Golden State, Sacramento and Washington).

Richmond is currently the Director of Player Personnel of the Golden State Warriors.

Joining the numbers of Boozer (30), Barrett (22), Blackman (25), Evans (12), Knostman (33), Kruger (12), Parr (33) and Williams (10) to hang from the rafters in Bramlage Coliseum are Murrell’s No. 44 and Richmond’s No. 23.  Of note, each of these numbers will remain active for future student-athletes to wear.