Analysis: Alex Murphy to Duke

Duke fans woke up to some terrific and unexpected news on Monday morning, just two days before the Tar Heels visit Cameron for the first Battle of Tobacco Road of 2011.

2012 Alex Murphy got comfortable in Cameron Indoor over the summer. (Photo property of Crazie-Talk

Alex Murphy, a highly touted 6’8” small forward from St. Mark’s in Southborough, Mass., gave the Blue Devils a verbal commitment, picking Duke over scholarship offers from Kansas, Florida, Villanova, and yes, North Carolina. Murphy is the first player in the high school class of 2012 to choose Duke, and his commitment helps keep Coach K’s recruiting hot streak going strong.

Conveniently for Blue Devil fans who don’t pay much attention to the rest of college basketball, Murphy’s most appropriate basketball comparisons come from inside the family. Two of his favorite players are Kyle Singler and Mike Dunleavy, Jr.—lanky small forwards with shooting range, high basketball IQ, and deceptive athleticism—and Murphy emulates them on the court.

Recruiting guru Bob Gibbons even gave Murphy a slight nod over Singler in terms of rate of development:

“[Murphy’s] not as physically strong and advanced right now,” Gibbons said, “but compare them at the same level as juniors in high school, I think Alex might get a little higher mark than Kyle.”

When C-T saw him play last summer in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, we noted Murphy’s fearlessness in going to the hoop with either hand, activeness on defense, and ballhandling abilities. Add to that list the ability to dunk over seven footers and posterize Indiana commitments and you have an inkling of what Murphy will bring to Duke. While it’s clear that he needs to improve his strength (which he admits himself), Alex has all the natural talent required for big time college basketball. He’s ranked in the top 20 by most recruiting services, and it’s likely he’ll continue to improve in the next year.

That Murphy chose the Blue Devils over several other big name programs is also heartening. His brother Erik, once a Duke target himself, is now a forward at Florida. The Gators went after little brother hard, but after visiting Duke for the home game against Maryland, Murphy knew where he wanted to play:

“As soon as I got back from there I knew that is where I wanted to be…I didn’t make the call right away, but I knew it was something I needed to discuss with my family and the important people in my life. I just knew that was where I wanted to be.”

If there’s any lingering feeling that Coach K is slipping on the recruiting trail, Murphy’s choice—which came pretty early in the game—should put those fears to rest. After picking up blue chippers Austin RiversQuinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee since the 2010 National Championship, it is clear that high school players—ever trend followers—think Duke is hot right now. Our continued dominance of the ACC and another big run in March will help solidify our rep. The 5-stars will come running.

Enjoy the filthy highlights of Alex Murphy from One Entertainment below. Welcome to Duke, Alex.

It’s Heel Week, everybody. Check back tomorrow for the sequel to the legendary “10 Questions for Ed Davis and Co.” YEEHAW!

8 thoughts on “Analysis: Alex Murphy to Duke

  1. Hey Jake, great write up. I’m happy Alex ended his recruiting early and we know we have a replacement for Kyle for the future. I wonder though does anybody have any info as to whether he will join this years recruiting class or stay with 2012? It’s interesting because we already have Michael Gbinje coming in who is also a good fit to play small forward. And not to mention Josh Hairston could definitely log minutes there with a little more work on his perimeter game. Just seems like a bit of a log jam so I assume Murphy would probably be better off waiting till 2012

  2. Hey Patrick, thanks for the comment.

    We have heard rumors about Murphy coming in a year early, but since it’s not exactly “news” yet, we omitted it from the article. Technically, we have the scholarships available next year for Murphy to join the ’11 class. I agree that Gbinije is a strong SF candidate. He’s a little stronger than Murphy at this point as well. Each is talented and athletic. It’d be interesting to see them both come in together…one shouldn’t complain about “too much talent.”

    I think Hairston could become a Singler style player, but that’s not been his role on the team so far this year. He’s such a hard worker on the boards and has such a motor. It’d be great for him to see minutes at the PF and be able to hit those turnaround jumpers. Some work on his back to the basket game would be valuable too.

    We have a ton of talent in the 1 and 2 spots next year. I think Gbinije, Alex and Josh could coexist as SF/PF hybrids if necessary. I guess we’ll see!

  3. Good point Jake. And the more I look at it, it seems like we may need Hairston to step up and play the 4 instead of the 3 due to lack of depth down the line. That is of course assuming we don’t sign anybody else, but I’m sure Coach K will address the issue with one of his next signings. I know we are in the running for a few big men. Seems to me like Murphy would be better off playing another year of high school ball and just using it to work on his jumper and to bulk up a bit. I’m excited to see Gbinje play, I feel like the guy gets no hype what so ever but he is an extremely solid player and due to depth could possibly get more time early on that Cook does.

  4. Yeah, I think Hairston will see more minutes in the post than at the three (at least next year) because of our tremendous guard depth. Murphy would benefit from either an extra year of HS or an early year at Duke. He’d definitely get stronger working out with the Duke staff, though. He’s already up to 210 lbs. per Evan Daniels, and he should be able to fill out more if he keeps working.

    Also, I think Mike G is the best kept secret in the incoming ACC class. There are some great new highlights of him on YouTube ( from his HS season. He looks more athletic and powerful than in earlier videos, and his jumper is still smooth. I think he’ll be a perfect college player and really surprise people. And agreed that if Irving stays (cross your fingers), Mike will see more time than Quinn early on.

  5. Gbinije looks awesome. I seriously think he is very underrated and he could be very useful against Carolina in the years to come due to his length and athleticism. Murphy and Plumlee need to bulk up big time, both need about 30 pounds, prolly even more for Plumlee… I wonder about Irving, I know he loves it at Duke and would love to play with Rivers but I don’t think he will take the chance of getting injured again especially when he has a chance to go number 1. I wouldn’t blame him at all for leaving early.

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