Despite social distancing measures preventing any in-person recruiting, Virginia men’s basketball secured a commitment from Rice sophomore guard Trey Murphy III. Murphy III will sit out for one year and will be eligible to play for Coach Tony Bennett’s squad for two years starting with the 2021-2022 season. The 6-foot-8 guard chose Virginia over offers from Villanova, Pittsburgh and Houston, among other schools.
“I really connected with Coach Bennett on the phone,” Murphy III said in an interview with The Daily Progress. “He’s a really great guy, and I appreciate everything he’s done.”
Although Murphy III wasn’t a heralded recruit coming out of Cary Academy, the Durham, N.C. native made an immediate impact his freshman year. In the 2018-19 season, Murphy III averaged 8.4 points per game, while setting a freshman school record in three-point percentage, converting 42.1 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Murphy III added 20 pounds to his frame and immediately slotted into a starting position for Rice’s 2019-2020 season. He led the Owls with 13.7 points per game while also averaging 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 made three-pointers per contest.
“I was a lot more physical and a lot bigger as a sophomore and that helped a lot,” Murphy said in a phone call with Jerry Ratcliffe. “I put in a lot of work on the court during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, so my confidence was sky-high.”
However, Murphy III did struggle at times with this greater offensive responsibility, turning over the ball 41 times in just 29 games. While he is not expected to play a ball-handling role for the Cavaliers once eligible, an extra year will enable Murphy III to fit into an offensive scheme that prides taking care of the ball and pinpoint passing. This maturity should serve Murphy III well even beyond ball-handling, as the former Owl grew an astounding 4 inches and 35 pounds since high school, and is likely still honing his newfound athleticism.
Murphy III has also shown flashes of brilliance on the defensive side of the ball. Boasting a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Murphy III is a natural fit for Bennett’s “pack-line” defense and should clog passing lanes with ease, as well as lock down forwards and taller guards one-on-one.
“Coach Bennett really liked me being a versatile big wing that can guard multiple positions as well as play multiple positions and coming off pin downs, being able to score the ball in iso situations,” Murphy III said in his call with Ratcliffe.
Despite the fact that Murphy III will sit out the 2020-2021 season, Virginia fans should still be able to see him in action at the team’s annual Blue-White Scrimmage in October, along with 2020 recruits Reece Beekman, Jabri Abdul-Rahim and Carson McCorkle.
This article has been updated to include quotes from Trey Murphy III.