Virginia fans received some great news today with the commitment of Rice transfer Trey Murphy. The 6’8 sharpshooter chose the Wahoos from a final four that included Villanova, Pittsburgh, and Houston. He plans to red-shirt next season, then will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Murphy was Rice’s leading scorer, averaging 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds this past season. The Durham native is a career 39% three-point shooter. Virginia evaluated him in high school, but didn’t extend a scholarship offer. A 6’5 guard at that time, he’s since grown three inches and developed into a versatile combo forward. 247Sports recently ranked him as this year’s fourth best traditional transfer
He was initially contacted by over forty programs, mostly high majors, before narrowing his list to four last week. Virginia was one of the last to reach out. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person recruiting activity is banned until at least June. Like all other transfers, that meant Trey had to depend on so called virtual tours and Zoom sessions to learn about his options. It’s believed that it came down to the last two national champs in the end, Virginia and Villanova. His final decision was made over the weekend.
It’s really a great recruiting victory for Coach Bennett and staff. There were certainly some advantages, geography and a prior relationship. But other programs such as Villanova offered a clearer on-court opportunity for Trey. I think he chose the program that he believes gives him the best chance to develop his game, and especially improve weaknesses. That’s quite a compliment to the reputation that’s been built at UVA. It also speaks to the coaching staff’s ability to recruit in this unusual environment, where comfort with technology is critical.
What is Virginia getting?
Murphy has always been a great shooter. That’s what drew Virginia’s attention in his high school days, when they were one of the few major programs that looked his way. He”s mostly been a three-point specialist at Rice, attempting over 70% of his shots from behind the arc. That number dropped as his game diversified this past season, and his physical development allowed him to do a little more in the paint. Along with growing three inches, Trey has also gained forty pounds since high school. He now stands 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan, weighing 200 pounds.
Defense is where the questions come, which will also determine how he’ll be used positionally. In part because they were so small, Rice played him at power forward. Ideally, he would be a guard that occasionally slides down to the forward spot, much like Braxton Key or DeAndre Hunter. That’s the role Virginia has in mind. He has the offensive tools, but will need to greatly improve to defend ACC guards. As we know, guarding the position is a prerequisite under Tony Bennett.
Strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtis will be Trey’s best friend for the next year. While he’s improved his body during his time at Rice, there’s still a long way to go. Not only is adding strength important, but also quickness to stay with smaller players on the perimeter. One thing is certain, Trey’s college choice and his willingness to red-shirt regardless of potential rule changes demonstrates maturity as well as humility. He’s ready to go to work and accept the challenge ahead. He has the potential to be a difference maker in the ACC.
Virginia Green Machine Box Logo Tee (Gray)
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At UVa, they form the heart of the Green Machine, the scout team that is so named because of the green pinnies its members wear during drills. Its job is to help prepare the Cavaliers’ rotation players for upcoming games, and the Green Machine takes that assignment seriously, no matter what it entails in practice.
“They don’t worry about how anything looks,” Bennett said. “They just say, `What needs to be done?’
“They’re a huge part of this team. Their attitudes are significant for us, and they’re just enjoyable guys to be around. And that’s important too, that chemistry-wise they’re great and they’re hard-working and intense. And the nice thing is, they’ve all improved [as players].
Recruiting Going Forward
Virginia is now out of scholarships for next season. There’s three left for potential 2021 recruits. That’s where the focus will return as they try to close the deal on long coveted top targets.
Nothing changes on the top line for the 2021 class. They have two must get additions, a big man and a guard with size. Current top targets are Steward (VA) seven-footer Efton Reid and Paul VI (VA) guard Trevor Keels. The same names you’ve been hearing about since Tony Bennett visited with them the opening week of the recruiting period in September, and has continued to return over and over. They’ve been recruited as hard as anyone we’ve seen in the Bennett era. UVA was never going to do anything this spring to jeopardize their standing with those two.
That still leaves one scholarship open, which with Murphy on board becomes more of a luxury. As Coach Williford recently said in an interview with Cavs Corner, they’d still like to use all three with the third going to the best available. No one comes off the board. Millennium (AZ) forward DaRon Holmes visited back in November. He’s still an important recruit. They could consider guards too such as Stevie Mitchell, the Wilson (PA) point guard that’s received a lot of attention without yet being offered. There’s just more flexibility than before, and it doesn’t need to be used at all.
For now, those two top targets are where the action will be as Tony Bennett looks for a five-star breakthrough in his backyard. Without live periods or being allowed out recruiting, new names might not come around any time soon. That could actually work to Virginia’s advantage as everyone is dealing the same circumstances. Only Bennett and company put their work in early. In the coming few months, we’ll find out if it pays off.