In two seasons at Oklahoma State, forward Kamari Murphy played a role that didn’t change all that often. Defending, rebounding and being a supplemental figure on the offensive end were his responsibilities, and there didn’t seem to be much room for him to go outside of those roles. After a sophomore season in which he averaged 6.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, Murphy decided to transfer and ultimately wound up joining a Miami program that also worked hard to reel him in as a high school prospect but fell short.
Now eligible to compete after sitting out last season, the 6-foot-9 Murphy is eager to take the floor. And with that comes the desire to show that he can do a lot more skill-wise than he was able to do in two seasons in Stillwater, as noted in a story written by Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel.
“The two years I was [at Oklahoma State], we had great teams, but I think I was used in the wrong way and the media and press got the wrong perception of me, that I’m just a rebounder or a set screen guy,” Murphy said. “I’m [more] than that. This year, I’m not going to do too much, but I’m going to show people I have the skill work and my IQ is better than just setting screens and running the floor. That’s why I can’t wait to play, to prove people wrong.”
Murphy joins a front court that includes seniors Tonye Jekiri and Ivan Cruz Uceda, and there is room for the New York native to show off a wider array of skills. One of Miami’s personnel losses from last season was forward Omar Sherman, who transferred after averaging 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest as a freshman. While Sherman didn’t post prolific numbers, he was a face-up four who could step out onto the perimeter and hit shots in pick and pop situations.
Can Murphy fill a similar role for the Hurricanes, who have the pieces needed to return to the NCAA tournament after missing out in each of the last two seasons? Given Miami’s numbers in the front court, with just five scholarship options, head coach Jim Larrañaga and his staff will need Murphy to not only fill that role but be more productive in doing so.
Miami’s added another piece to its front court for the 2015-16 season, as 6-foot-10 center Ebuka Izundu verbally committed to the ACC program Wednesday according to Rivals.com. Izundu played at Victory Christian in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his decision comes after being released from the National Letter of Intent he signed to attend Charlotte.
With the school parting ways with Alan Major, Izundu reopened his recruitment and received increased interest from high major programs as a result. Izundu’s high school coach discussed his player’s decision to attend Miami with the Charlotte Observer.
“It’s the ACC and he felt really comfortable there,” Aureice McCain said. “They have an African on their basketball team who is from his home area (of Nigeria). They have another on the football team. And Miami is a small school, with a student-teacher ratio of 12-to-1. He feels he’ll get the same type of academic support there that he got at Victory. Plus, he’ll get to play five or six games in North Carolina each year, so so he can play in front of family and friends.”
The left-handed Izundu was one of the best prospects in North Carolina this past season, and he picked Miami over Arkansas and Cincinnati. Izundu joins a front court that won’t lack for options as the Hurricanes look to get to the NCAA tournament after reaching the title game of the Postseason NIT.
In addition to seniors Ivan Cruz Uceda and Tonye Jekiri, Miami also returns rising sophomore Omar Sherman and adds Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy to its front court rotation. Those players should help Izundu next season as he get acclimated to the ACC.
While Miami wasn’t the best offensive rebounding team last season, ranking 12th in the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage, they did rebound nearly 71 percent of their opponents’ misses (4th in the ACC).
Whether it’s food, bobble head dolls, clothing or some other object that seems marketable, giving away free items is a good way to spike attendance to college basketball games. Wednesday Miami announced that they’ll be giving away a free tank top to the first 400 students in attendance for their game against Florida State Wednesday night.
The tank top features an illustration of head coach Jim Larrañaga and the slogan “give them L.”
That’s a pretty cool shirt, and a tank top can pretty much be worn at any point in the year in south Florida. Giveaway aside this is an important game for the Hurricanes, who are looking to play their way into the NCAA tournament after missing out last season.
Once appearing to be a lock to get that done, Miami enters tonight’s game with a 17-10 overall record and they’re 7-7 in the ACC after losing by two at Louisville on Saturday. Beating Florida State, which beat the Hurricanes by a point in Tallahassee February 1, wouldn’t make major waves in regards to Miami’s push for the NCAA tournament.
But that would keep the Hurricanes from adding an undesirable result to their resume, with No. 15 North Carolina visiting Coral Gables on Saturday.
H/T CBS Sports