The final piece of the 2015 recruiting class has been added and his name is Jordan Murphy. Murphy will be coming to the program this fall as a part of a 7-man recruiting class, six of them coming in as true freshmen. The good news is that the Gophers have a young and talented group of incoming kids who will fit Pitino's desired style of play and can grow together. The bad news is that 10 of the team's 13 scholarships are taken up by a freshman or sophomore.
But back to Murphy, who comes to the Gophers as a 6'7" forward capable of playing SF or PF. Last Fall he signed a Letter of Intent to play ball for Shaka Smart at VCU, but then Coach Smart took the job at Texas and Murphy re-opened his recruiting upon getting released from his VCU LOI. He took an official visit to Boston College and was getting pressured from Indiana to take a visit as well, but Murphy pulled the trigger on an opportunity to play for Coach Pitino at Minnesota.
"I think it was really how comfortable I was with the players and the coaching staff," Murphy said Friday. "They really made my parents feel welcome. That put them over the top. My dad didn't stop smiling from Minnesota back to my house. He couldn't hide it from anybody. He was just so happy. Just seeing the look on his face and the feeling I had inside was great."
Hometown: San Antonio, TX (Brennan HS)
So what are we getting here? First and foremost it appears as though Murphy is a hard-working kid who has a good head on his shoulders. This from his AAU coach (via GopherIllustrated $).
"The basketball talent with Jordan is pretty obvious, but I've known Jordan for a number of years and his character is so high, his work ethic is high, his coach-ability is high, and he's a very measured, mature guy as opposed to most of the young kids who need some seasoning where as Jordan will not require a lot of that mental seasoning. Jordan is a great basketball player but also a tremendous person.
I like reading those kinds of comments about incoming players. Having talent is great but having talent and being a coachable kid increases his potential. But what about on the floor?
Rivals ranks Murphy as the 113th best player in this class which would make him the second highest rated recruit in the Gopher's recruiting class. TexasHoops.com ranked him as the #7 player in the state of Texas. And Murphy lead his Brennan HS team to a 32-3 record averaging 23.6 points per game, 10.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He also earned 1st team All-State honors for the Texas 6A class (the biggest class). All of that to say that this is a talented and productive kid.
What he primarily brings to the table is an ability to score with this athleticism, defensive ability and rebounding. Murphy can score around the basket and has a decent jumpshot but the thing that will get him on the floor quickly will be his defense. The ability to defend at both the SF and PF should help him earn playing time early and as the rest of his skill set grows, he should be able to stay on the floor because his offense will become too valuable. His ESPN Insider scouting report has this to say.
Murphy is a long and athletic forward that excels in transition where he is capable of rebounding and taking the ball coast to coast and finish above the rim or with either hand. He is also a good straight line slasher and his rim dribble jumpers and threes off the catch with needed time and space. Murphy can score and is a pretty good rebounder as well. Defensively Murphy is a capable of defending both wing positions and even some smaller power forwards.
He is an athletic and smooth scorer that is a multiple position defender as well that is loaded with potential.
Areas to improve would be outside shooting and ball-handling.
Overall this appears to be a very nice, late addition to the 2015 class giving the Gophers some help in an area of need and a talented kid with some upside. We are attempting to play a similar style of basketball to what Shaka Smart had employed at VCU so the idea here is that this is certainly a kid who brings the right skill set to the Gophers as Richard Pitino attempts to shape his roster to fit his style.
So what kind of impact does this have on the Gopher roster? As stated, the addition of Murphy makes an already young roster even younger. This Fall the Gophers will be playing with just two seniors and one junior eligible to play. Over the next two recruiting cycles the staff will have three scholarships to utilize, with one already taken up by Michael Hurt. (caveat that things always change; rosters and scholarships are a moving target)
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This should be a very interesting fall for Gopher basketball. We may have to endure some growing pains with this young roster but we may also get to enjoy watching a couple kids really emerge as players we are going to thoroughly enjoy watching over the next few seasons.