Trey Murphy: 'My ability to be a student of the game puts me over the top'

Trey Murphy: 'My ability to be a student of the game puts me over the top'


Trey Murphy: 'My ability to be a student of the game puts me over the top'

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Trey Murphy, a 6-foot-9 wing for the Virginia Cavaliers, is widely considered one of the best sharpshooting prospects in this draft class.

Murphy was the only collegiate player who declared for the NBA draft to shoot at least 50.0 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from beyond the arc and 90.0 percent from the free-throw line. He was able to average 1.24 points per possession this past season, per Synergy, which ranked him in the 99th percentile among all D-I players.

He recently caught up with HoopsHype to discuss how he has evolved from a 6-foot-3, two-star recruit coming out of high school to a projected first-round pick in the 2021 NBA draft. Murphy also discussed how he studies basketball as well as his interest in music, fashion and plenty more.

Please note this interview was minorly edited in its transcript for clarity.

How do you reflect on going from being underrecruited out of high school to a potential first-rounder?

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

TM: In all honesty, I wasn’t underrecruited in high school. I was where I was supposed to be during the time recruiting was happening going into my senior year. I was like 6-foot-3 and maybe 150 pounds soaking wet. You can’t really say, oh yeah, he’s a high-major player. I didn’t have the body for it. That’s a super important piece of recruiting. Rice was a good option for me and I loved my time there and I developed a lot there. I don’t think I would have done it any other way. That was definitely the best scenario for me. I always told myself you can only control what you can control. You can control your effort, your energy and your work ethic and let the chips fall where they may. Luckily, the chips have been falling in a good position recently.

I feel like my story is very different from a lot of people in the draft. I went into college as a two-star recruit. I have the potential to be a top 20 pick in the NBA draft. It just shows that working hard, persevering and controlling your emotions and your effort and your energy in different situations can really help you go a long way. I feel like being a high-character person and I try to do the right thing every time. That’s helped me get far, too. You can look at my intel sheet. I promise you it’s one of the cleanest in the country. I feel like I really take pride in that because I want to make sure I represent my parents the correct way.

Can you describe the roles you played on the floor for your two college teams?

TM: My usage rating at Rice my first year was more similar to how I played at Virginia. I was primarily a catch-and-shoot guy. I was a vertical athlete and I got dunks but it wasn’t the same rate I was getting dunks at Virginia. I didn’t mix it up much. During my sophomore year, I was the best player on the team and their primary scorer. I had a lot more ball-handling and creation. Coach often called isolation plays for me during my second year. Then at Virginia, my role was mostly to defend as a good team defender and as a good on-ball defender. That included guarding the best player or the second-best player. Offensively, I would take good shots and take care of the ball. That’s what Coach [Tony] Bennett wanted from me. He really harps on that.

Building off that, what do you see your role being moving forward at the NBA level?

TM: I think it’ll be pretty similar to my role at Virginia. When I first get into the league, I’m not going to have free rein and I’m not going to be able to just come in and come off a million ball screens and stuff like that. There are already people who are primary ball handlers on each team. But with the role that I’ll have, I’ll be able to shoot the ball well and defend. As I do really well and strive in that role, I’ll be able to expand. I can see myself becoming someone who can handle the ball and also get ball screens and push the break in transition and just be a complete basketball player.

I’ve been through experiences that I feel like I’m going to go through in the NBA. When I first got to Rice, I was the 13th man and then I built my way all the way up to the first man. I transitioned to Virginia and it was a little tough at first. It was a bit more seamless than the transition from high school to Rice. But overall, I feel like I’ve dealt with basketball adversity and having to work my way up. I have not been handed anything. I think that’s just another reason why I’ll be able to succeed in the NBA. It’s a lot of having to earn everything and you have to just scratch and claw just to get your way in there.

You have a 7-foot wingspan. How are you able to use your length to your advantage?

TM: It helps me a lot offensively because I can just shoot over people and when I get to the rim and finish at the basket, I’m not really jumping that high and I’m still right there. The closer you are to the rim, the easier it is to finish. Defensively, that’s where it really helps a lot. I use my length to get into the passing lanes. I didn’t do that as much at Virginia because that’s the way we played. You didn’t try to gamble a lot. But I can get into passing lanes then get into transition and use my length for blocks and contesting shots. I don’t have to be really glued to people for on-ball defense. If someone is quicker than I am, I can give them a step and recover and contest shots and make it hard for people.

Almost everything you shot was at the rim or beyond the arc. How did you develop that?

Credit: HoopsHype

TM: I got a new coach my junior year of high school, Gibson Pyper. He is really big into studying the game. He is one of the film breakdown guys. He does a lot of different stuff like that. He helped me think about the game at another level. I was with him a lot, working out and at practice and just talking to him about basketball. He helped me develop a different love for the game and a different eye for it. I was watching a lot of game film. I feel like my ability to be a student of the game puts me over the top.

Now, it just comes with basketball IQ. I know where the better shots are. Coach Bennett always talks about passing up a good shot in order to get a great shot. I really always try to make sure our team is getting a great shot at all times. I also had in mind that I shot over 40 percent on my three-pointers so a lot of the three-pointers that I took were going to be good shots. I made sure I never compromised too much on my own shooting ability.

What are some of your strategies for watching game film and studying basketball?

TM: I’ve probably watched 80 percent of the NBA playoff games. The only reason it’s 80 percent is that the West Coast games keep me up late and I want my sleep so I might miss a few of those. But watching a full game is a lot different than watching highlights because when you are watching highlights, you’re watching all of the good things that happened. That’s all gravy. I want to see an area where a guy tried something and it didn’t work. How did he adjust after that?

I love watching clips on Synergy. My high school coach still makes edits for me. I also watch different workout videos. I watch basketball in a lot of different ways. I listen to podcasts and learn more about what people have to say about the game. They give out little nuggets on the podcasts that help me further the game as well. I’ve also gotten into reading sports psychology books and different books that people in the basketball world have recommended such as The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey.

You never feel rattled when I watch you play. How do you stay so composed?

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

TM: Honestly, I feel like I put on a good face sometimes. [Laughs] There are times where I definitely overthink. That’s a fault of mine. I don’t want to sound like some all-being who just knows everything about the game of basketball. But I think about the game at a pretty high level. I catch myself overthinking and I’m not just playing. That’s another reason why I try to keep a calm demeanor and try not to overexert myself. I know if I do that, it’ll affect my game. But overall, it’s just about controlling my emotions. I can’t get mad about what a ref does. I can’t get mad if my jump shot isn’t falling. It is what it is. That’s the way the game is so I’m just making sure I’m calm for my teammates and myself.

What has the last month or so looked like for you as you prepare for the draft?

TM: I’ve mostly just been going to workouts, it’s been a pretty busy month for me. I have around seven workouts with NBA teams in July. I was obviously working out a lot before that, too. But I am just waiting for workouts and then when I do get into these workouts, I just try to show off a complete skill set. A lot of different teams have told me and my agents that they were surprised about the ball-handling skills that I have. They didn’t see that when I played at Virginia. I feel like that was a product of their entire system. I really like it like that. I’m glad people think that I can’t dribble so then when they defend me like that, I show them something different and now they’re surprised. I really enjoy this whole process. It’s been really fun to be a part of it.

What are some of the things that you like to do when you’re not playing basketball?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

TM: I will say, I’m pretty prepared for the NBA for this one because I’m a big booray player. [Laughs] I like cards a lot. I won’t be in the varsity game because those might be a little too high stakes for me. I’m going to try to get a junior varsity table so I don’t lose all my per diem. But I love playing cards and playing ping pong and watching YouTube videos that can range from music videos to basketball videos to fashion and cars.

For music, I have a very wide range and selection in music. I can listen to Keisha Cole one day and there is another day where I can listen to Kodak or Key Glock. I listen to chill music and I have my tempo rap playlist, which is what I call the more upbeat stuff that gets me going. My top five from rap are Lil Durk, J. Cole, Drake, Lil Baby and Meek Mill. But that’s always changing based on when albums release and stuff like that. I like R&B, too, like Rod Wave and Giveon and Brent Faiyaz.

I’m also pretty big into putting on clothes and taking pictures and that kind of fashion stuff. I love shoes. I’m a big shoe guy. I’m very excited to get my shoe game up a little bit more when I get into the NBA. I’d say my Mt. Rushmore of shoes are the ‘Tiffany’ Nike Diamond Supply Co. x Dunk Low Pro SB, Jordan 4 Retro Off-White Sail, Jordan 1 Retro Dior — I don’t know for sure if it’d be low or high, I’d have to make that decision whenever I’m able to purchase them — and then it’d probably just be another pair of Nike Dunk shoes. I love those a lot, they are a really trendy shoe right now and they’re really comfortable and you can rock them with almost anything. You can rock them with shorts, pants, forever.

Outside of sneakers, I’m a big Crocs guy. If I’m going to a workout, beforehand and after, I’m wearing my Crocs, my fuzzy Crocs. They’ve been through a lot with me. I must say that. I’ve been wearing them a decent amount. I have a pair of Alexander McQueen sneakers as well. Those are pretty nice shoes that I like to dress up in. I can rock a good loafer. I don’t really have many loafers but as I get into the NBA and start to get a little more money, I will be expanding my variety in footwear for sure.

Do you already have your outfit picked out for the night of the draft? Are you leaning more towards a statement look or a classic look?

TM: Not all the way! I’m going to have something really special on the inside. I’m not going to say anything yet but I’m excited to show it off, for sure. I’m leaning towards a happy medium. I don’t want to be boring, so I’ll add some pizazz. But I don’t want to be over-the-top where there are people who think, oh, he’s doing too much now.

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