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.
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 Rivers, Quinn 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!