Born: September 13, 1941 – Taft, OK
Graduated: Moton (Taft, OK) High School, 1960; Eastern Oklahoma A&M, 1962; Kansas State University, 1964
K-State basketball coach Tex Winter was in the midst of buidling a basketball dynasty when Willie Murrell stepped onto campus in 1962. One piece missing from his team that year was a star; a player who could lead the Wildcats back to the promised land and the Final Four. The player he found was Willie Murrell, a genuine All-American who would become, in two short years, one of the greatest players in K-State basketball history.
Junior College Career
Murrell, from the small town of Taft, Oklahoma, was hardly a “no-name” player when he arrived at K-State. Already a two-time Junior College All-American at Eastern Oklahoma A&M and the National Juco Tournament MVP, the six foot, six inch Murrell was a coach’s dream of pure, unfettered athleticism.
Career at K-State
Known in junior college as the “Scoring Artist,” Murrell struggled in his first few games after transferring into Winter’s structured triangle offense, but he quickly adapted his game and learned to play within the system. Despite his slow start, he averaged 18.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest during his first season, leading the team in both categories. He also led the Wildcats to a 1963 Big Eight conference title and was a first team All-Conference selection.
Murrell’s junior season set up the Wildcats for an historic run the following year. Not expected to be much of a force on the national stage, the Wildcats reeled off eleven straight wins to end the regular season and won another league title. Once again, he averaged a double-double for the season with 22.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game and earned All-Conference honors.
Murrell and the Wildcats carried their momentum into the 1964 NCAA tournament, advancing to the regional finals against the University of Wichita on the home floor of the Shockers. The Wildcats defeated the Shockers to advance to the school's fourth final four behind a twenty-eight point effort from Murrell. Murrell was recognized as one of the best players in college basketball in 1964 and was named to the All-Tournament team to go along with All-America honors.
He is one of only six players in K-State history to average a double-double for his career. In two short years, Murrell averaged 20.6 points and 10.7 rebounds.
Drafted in the fourth round of the 1964 draft by the St. Louis Hawks, he went on to play three seasons in the ABA for the Denver Rockets, Miami Floridians, and the Kentucky Colonels before he retired following the 1970 season.