When he first announced he was entering the 2021 NBA Draft, Trey Murphy III left open the possibility of returning to the University of Virginia. That possibility no longer exists. The 6’9” sharpshooter revealed Monday (June 21) that he has signed with an agent and will forego his remaining college eligibility and remain in the NBA Draft.
Forever a wahoo at heart 🧡💙 Thank you UVA https://t.co/azy59Jsfh2
— Trey (@Treymurphyiii) June 21, 2021
Murphy III revealed the news to Jonathan Givony and told the ESPN NBA Draft analyst the reasons behind a decision many felt would come eventually.
“I loved my time at UVA and everyone there, but it’s time for me to move on,” Murphy told ESPN. Click here to read the full article. “I feel like I am ready to take on this challenge. I wanted to show that I am fully committed to this opportunity, and how serious I am about this process. I’ve been looking forward to it my entire life. I’ve never been more ready to embark on this journey; I feel ready and confident.”
The Durham (N.C.) native transferred to UVA in the spring of 2020 from Rice University, where he spent two years. Murphy III received a waiver to play immediately and made an instant impact for the Cavaliers, finishing third in scoring average (11.3 PPG) while making a team-high 43.3% from beyond the arc. He poured in 17 points as the Hoos captured the 2020-21 ACC Regular Season title with a regular season finale win at Louisville.
Of his one-year stint in Charlottesville, Murphy III told Givony: “We had a great season, I enjoyed it a lot. One of the most fun years of basketball I’ve been a part of. I grew a lot as a player, which I owe to Coach [Tony] Bennett. I wasn’t a great defender when I arrived, and I improved there. I’m a good defender now and UVA helped me expand my game and become a more attractive prospect.”
Murphy III’s departure leaves UVA having to replace its top three scorers from last year’s team. This offseason, Virginia saw three seniors, including top two leading scorers Sam Hauser and Jay Huff, decline the opportunity of an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. In addition, sophomore guard Casey Morsell, sophomore forward Justin McKoy, and freshman wing Jabri Abdur-Rahim transferred out of the program.
Head coach Tony Bennett has added two transfers of his own this offseason, landing 6’4” shooting guard Armaan Franklin, who transferred from Indiana after two seasons in Bloomington, and 6’7”, 235-pound forward Jayden Gardner, who starred for three years at East Carolina. Franklin averaged 11.4 points and made 42.4% of his 3s as a sophomore last season. Gardner averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest for the Pirates this past season. As a sophomore he averaged 19.7 points and 9.2 boards per game, and as a freshman he averaged 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Hoos welcome two first-year players to the program in 6’5” guard Taine Murray and 6’9” wing Igor Milicic Jr. Murray is already on Grounds, while Milicic Jr. is expected to arrive later this summer.
Murphy III’s stock has been rising since he declared for the 2021 NBA Draft. However, since landing transfers Franklin and Gardner and signing Milicic Jr. in May, hints or indications of any further UVA involvement with transfers or high school recruits have been nonexistent. Could Coach Bennett have something up his sleeve? That certainly could be a possibility. Milicic Jr’s recruitment is a prime example, and Virginia does have three scholarship spots open. If not, the projected 2021-22 roster looks like this:
Point Guards: Kihei Clark (Sr), Reece Beekman (Soph)
Wings: Kody Stattmann (Sr), Armaan Franklin (Jr), Carson McCorkle (Soph), Igor Milicic Jr. (Fr), Taine Murray (Fr)
Posts: Jayden Gardner (Sr), Francisco Caffaro (R-Jr), Kadin Shedrick (R-Soph)