Tony Bennett, Top Facilities, Defense Led Trey Murphy III To Pick Virginia

The University of Virginia men’s basketball program filled its only remaining scholarship spot in the 2020-21 season with Rice University transfer Trey Murphy III, a 6’8” wing who announced his decision on Monday, April 13. The Cavaliers’ pursuit began with a phone call from a coach Murphy III recognized from his days at Cary Academy in North Carolina.

“I had a previous relationship with [UVA associate head coach Jason] Williford,” Murphy III said. “In high school he had interest in me. Things just didn’t fall into place. When he reached out, it was like, ‘It’s good to talk to you again.’ He said he was showing interest and said they want me to be part of the program. He said they had talked to a lot of people near me. That’s how they do things. They take their time and make sure they get someone who is a good fit.”

Trey Murphy III likely projects as a combo forward for Virginia. He’ll have two years of eligibilty for the Hoos beginning in 2021-22. ~ Photo courtesy of Roger Steinman, Rice University Athletics

Coach Williford began UVA’s pursuit of the talented transfer, who departed Rice after two seasons. Virginia head coach Tony Bennett sealed the deal. Bennett phoned Murphy III two days after Williford’s call, and the initial conversation was a good one.

“When we first talked, we just talked about life,” Murphy III said. “He was asking me about the Rice situation. I just felt a connection. We were just talking. It seemed like I knew him before.”

Murphy III spoke several times with UVA’s head coach. At the end of the final conversation – a chat via Zoom – the Durham (N.C.) native’s decision was made.

“It really was just a gut feeling,” Murphy III said. “On the last conversation I had with Coach Bennett on Zoom, we just connected. At that point I knew.”

“Really, just my trust and belief in Coach Bennett,” Murphy III added, reflecting further on his commitment to the Hoos. “And then the facilities there. They showed me the facilities online and they are beautiful. Some of the best in the country. I saw others and they didn’t really compare.”

The amount of schools interested when Murphy III’s name surfaced on the transfer portal quickly reached double digits. In the end the decision came down to four – Virginia, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Villanova. After narrowing the field, Murphy III made virtual visits with each of the four finalists before settling on UVA.

Virginia’s virtual visit included a look at the facilities and discussions with coaches, including a film breakdown with Bennett.

“[Bennett] glossed over [the role he envisions Murphy III playing] a little on the first phone call. He wanted to save a good portion of it for the virtual visit,” Murphy III recalled, adding that, on the virtual visit, Bennett “showed me areas I need to improve and areas where I can help the team and the program.”

Bennett and Murphy III went over film of past UVA players as well as the versatile sophomore’s play at Rice. What role might we expect to see Murphy III playing for the Hoos?

“A lot like De’Andre Hunter,” he answered. “A versatile wing. Being big, I’m able to do different things and I can guard multiple positions.”

Measuring in at 6’8”, 200 pounds, Murphy III led the Owls in points per game (13.7) and total blocks (16), was second in total steals (27), and was third in rebounds per game (5.5) while averaging 30.2 minutes per contest last season.

Outside shooting is the trademark of Murphy III’s offensive game. He made 42.1% of his 3s as a freshman and shot 36.8% from beyond the arc as a sophomore. Three-point shooting isn’t his only attribute on the offensive end, though.

“I’m a three-level scorer,” Murphy III said. “I can get to the basket and create. I want to work on my defense a lot, which is another reason why I picked Virginia. They are so good