Virginia draft prospect Trey Murphy III may nonetheless put on some weight to make him a extra bodily defender, like his fellow former Cavalier and present Hawks ahead De’Andre Hunter.
But Murphy, a 6-foot-9 swingman, has come a good distance. Virginia affiliate head coach Jason Williford recruited Murphy popping out of highschool. And handed.
Murphy’s uncle, who performed on the University of Richmond, had contacted Williford, a pal and Richmond native.
“He referred to as me and stated his nephew is fairly good however fairly skinny,’’ Williford advised The Post in a cellphone interview. “He wasn’t kidding. He was 6-3 ¹/₂ then and 160 kilos soaking moist. I cherished how he competed. But bodily, he wasn’t prepared for the ACC.’’
Murphy, whom the Knicks are eyeing with the nineteenth or twenty first choices in Thursday’s draft, wound up at Rice. Two years later, he transferred … to Virginia.
“Two years later, Trey is 6-9 and wants to transfer from Rice,’’ Williford said. “We beat out Villanova and N.C. State. The backstory was our relationship and having done legwork early when he was in high school. He was an under-the-radar kid because of his size.”
The 21-year-old Murphy has now grown right into a prototypical “3-and-D” NBA prospect. He labored out for the Knicks final week and had a strong displaying, in response to a supply. The Knicks additionally labored out 6-6 Oregon sharpshooter Chris Duarte on Friday. The Post reported final Saturday that Duarte is squarely on their radar, too.
Murphy has risen up the mock-draft boards from an early second-round choose final month. Williford believes, in response to his intel, his identify can be referred to as between 17 and 30.
Six weeks in the past, Murphy, listed at a still-light 206 kilos, wasn’t certain he’d keep within the draft. Murphy shot 43.3 p.c from 3-point vary and averaged 11.3 factors in his lone season with Virginia in 2020-21. He additionally shot 92.7 p.c from the free-throw line.
“He can guard a number of positions — 2-to-4 for certain — and generally 1-to-4 with all of the switching,’’ Williford stated. “I see him as a ground spacer. Cam Johnson [of Phoenix] involves thoughts. Similar dimension, related skill to shoot the ball. He’s that wing-hybrid ahead.’’
He’s proper up the Knicks’ alley as Tom Thibodeau’s squad is searching for wings who can shoot from deep. That is, if he can deal with the defensive finish. Knicks normal supervisor Scott Perry doesn’t need to draft the following Kevin Knox, who is popping right into a lottery bust. The scuttlebutt inside scouting circles is Murphy may use extra toughness — additionally the knock on Knox.
But scouts and coaches love the athleticism, quickness that probably can have Murphy guarding anybody on the perimeter.
“He’s bought a ton of upside,’’ one ACC coach stated.
“He got here a good distance for us defensively,’’ Williford stated. “He bought higher because the yr progressed. He’s not De’Andre Hunter, who we had from a bodily standpoint. His subsequent step is to place on weight to be stronger, to have the ability to maintain floor with some bigger-body man and rebound at that stage. That will come.’’
That difficulty pales compared to the Knicks’ main want — a 3-point sniper. As respectable as they had been within the common season, they struggled to attain towards the Hawks within the playoffs, when groups really put collectively far more detailed recreation plans. The Knicks shot 34.2 p.c from 3-point vary within the first-round sequence after posting a 39.2 p.c regular-season charge.
“He’ll be two-way man in capturing the ball and defending,’’ Williford stated. “He’ll be franchise man — excessive character, characterize himself effectively within the locker room. He’s prototype dimension, good with all of the measurements. With his skill to shoot the ball, he’s too intriguing for NBA guys to go up. That’s why he moved up the board.’’
When Murphy transferred from Rice, he needed to sit down out this previous season to work on his physique. Virginia’s workers talked him out of it.
“He wanted to redshirt that year to put on that weight for the next level,’’ Williford said. ”They had been adamant about it. But the NCAA allowed everybody to get the yr again, so it made no sense to sit down and never play. The finest means to enhance your recreation and inventory is to be on the ground. We advised him it is advisable to present what you are able to do. Experience is the very best instructor. And you possibly can all the time proceed working on your physique.’’
The Lakers, who choose twenty second, are believed to have curiosity if the Knicks go.
“We had hoped he’d come again,’’ Williford stated. “I knew it could be a tricky choice however the suggestions he was getting, I believe it was the very best transfer for him.’’