Virginia Basketball Makes Rice Transfer Trey Murphy III’s Final Four

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Rice University wing transfer Trey Murphy III announced his four finalists on Tuesday (April 7), and the list includes Houston, Pittsburgh, Villanova, and reigning national champion University of Virginia.

Murphy III and Santa Clara transfer Trey Wertz, who both hail from the state of North Carolina, appear to be the primary players on UVA’s radar in terms of filling the open scholarship spot next season. Wertz, a 6’4” combo guard, includes UVA in his final seven along with Arizona, Butler, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Murphy III may be the primary target when you look at Virginia’s positional needs in 2021-22.

UVA scouted Murphy III when he starred at Cary Academy (Cary, N.C.) but did not offer. Head coach Tony Bennett has one available scholarship for 2020-21. Looking ahead to 2021-22, the Cavaliers have four scholarships available.

Point Guards: Kihei Clark (Sr), Reece Beekman (Soph)
Wings: Kody Stattmann (Sr), Casey Morsell (Jr), Jabri Abdur-Rahim (Soph), Carson McCorkle (Soph)
Combo Forwards: Justin McKoy (Jr)
Posts: Papi Caffaro (R-Jr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Soph)

The 6’8”, 200-pound Murphy III fits well into the combo forward role at UVA. He is a well-rounded scorer with plus 3-point shooting ability. Defensively he would be a good fit in the mold of an Isaiah Wilkins, Darion Atkins, or Akil Mitchell.

Murphy III, whose father, Kenneth, played basketball at East Carolina from 1986-88, is transferring from Rice after two years. Owls head coach Scott Pera loses one of his top players, as the 6’8” wing averaged 13.7 points in 29 games – he started 23 of those contests – last season as a sophomore.

Jeff Goodman of Watch Stadium ranks Murphy III as the 24th-best sit-out transfer option in the country. Watch Stadium’s “Scout’s Take” describes the intriguing prospect as a “great shooter with NBA range and high-level skill. Not a playmaker, but his best days of basketball are ahead of him. Length and athleticism allow him to play anywhere in the country.”

Murphy III, a native of Durham (N.C.), averaged 24.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his final season at Cary Academy, earning Raleigh News & Observer All-Metro honors for his performance. The sharpshooter made 45% of his 3s in his high school career, including 47% his junior season. Pera described Murphy III as an “elite shooter” and “true gym rat” when he signed with the Owls in November of 2017.

Listed by 247Sports and Rivals as a 6’4” shooting guard in the class of 2018, Murphy III estimated in this interview with Darren Wolfson of KSTP Minnesota that he measured in at 6’5”, 168 pounds upon his arrival at Rice. His most recent official listing is 6’8”, 200 pounds. Murphy III adds that he is still growing, a reason why he feels a redshirt would be a benefit.

“Just looking long term,” Murphy told KSTP when asked why he wants to redshirt this coming year. “I feel like I would need to gain a little more mass as well as pick up more strength, and then learn more and develop my skill in order for me to be ready to play that next year.”

The sophomore’s outside shooting ability was on display in his two years at Rice. He made 42.1% (64-152) from beyond the arc as a freshman and 36.8% (75-204) as a sophomore. Added height and length have helped Murphy III become a force on the defensive end, where led Rice in blocks (16) and was second in steals (27) last season.

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