SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It hasn't been the easiest path, but former Tennessee Tech men's basketball standout Kevin Murphy has finally achieved what so many players never do; he signed an NBA contract.
"It feels pretty good knowing I've signed a contract and officially made it to the NBA," said Murphy, a 2012 Tech graduate, "but it still really hasn't hit me yet. I know I've still got a lot of work to do. I've been lucky and blessed to have so many people support me throughout the process."
"I'm happy for Kevin," said Tennessee Tech head coach Steve Payne. "He worked extremely hard and did a lot to improve his game both here and in the off-season. He's extremely serious about how he approaches the game; it's nice to see that all the work paid off."
Murphy, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz in June with the 47th overall pick, became the third-highest Golden Eagle drafted behind Jimmy Hagan, the 18th pick in 1960, and John Best, the 36th pick in 1993. He was also the first Tech player drafted since Best in 1993.
While some of the higher picked players in draft, those who signed lucrative multi-year deals, were all but guaranteed roster spots, Murphy knew that he would have to earn his spot the old-fashioned way. With the knowledge that it he could very well have to spend a year or two in either the NBA's developmental league or on an international roster, he chose to work extra hard and take advantage of every opportunity given to him.
"I'm really looking to come in here and show all the doubters that said I couldn't make it, I couldn't play, or that I was going to be a bust, that I can do it," said Murphy. "I love showing people they're wrong about me."
On top of his constant work both in and out of the gym, Murphy also played in the NBA Summer League. The league, which the Jazz participates in at the Orlando location, had five games in five days from July 9-13. He played a minimum of 20 minutes in every contest recording 22.6 minutes per game and shooting over 42% from the field. He averaged 8.6 points per game while bringing down 2.4 rebounds a contest. He scored a game high 10 points twice while the team went 3-2 during the week.
With the Jazz, Murphy will play in the NBA's Northwest Division of the Western Conference, which includes NBA finalists Oklahoma City. In that division, Murphy will also get the chance to face another former OVC standout, Kenneth Faried, with the Denver Nuggets.
"Having a young man part of the TTU family being able to play at the highest level is great," said Payne. "His work ethic is great. I think the greatest accomplishment he made here is that he graduated on top of all his other accomplishments."
The Utah Jazz will open the 2012-13 season against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Murphy will suit up in his familiar No. 55 alongside a new wave of fantastic young players like Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter as well as NBA veterans in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Marvin Williams. Murphy will learn under the tutelage of third-year head coach Tyrone Corbin, a disciple of the legendary Jerry Sloan.
"I love the coaching staff here," said Murphy. "It's a great coaching staff. I haven't gotten to meet a lot of my teammates yet because we don't report to training camp until October, but the ones I have met are great. I feel we'll be able to have great team chemistry this year."
A finalist for the 2012 Tennessee Tech Outstanding Male Athlete award, Murphy shattered numerous school, conference and national records over the duration of his senior season. He finished the season with 2,019 career points in 128 games overall (14th in OVC history) en route to becoming just the 16th player in conference history to score 2,000 career points. His top performances included four 30+ point efforts,11 20+ point efforts, and a 50 point outburst against SIU-Edwardsville.
Nationally, Murphy finished the season ranked No. 10 in scoring, while his 20.6 points per game led the OVC. He now holds the No. 2 spot on the school's all-time scoring list, and became Tech's all-time leader in games played during the Ohio Valley Conference tournament quarterfinals. In 33 games played during his senior season, Murphy led the team in scoring 20 contests.
A member of the OVC All-Tournament Team for the past two years, Murphy garnered the OVC's Player of the Week award twice in the 2012-13 season (on Dec. 19 and Feb. 6) and was also a finalist for CollegeInsider.com's Lou Hensen Player of the Year award.
Murphy's best game of the season was arguably his 50-point performance against SIU-Edwardsville on January 30, which earned him the Capital One Impact Performer of Week award. That effort worked to remain the most points scored by any DI player this year, and the most since NBA player and former BYU great Jimmer Fredette scored 52 on March 11, 2011. It is the first time that an OVC player scored 50 points since the 1991-92 season, and the most points scored by any TTU player in school history. His 16 field goals made in that outing also tied the Eblen Center high for most field goals made in a game.
Over the course of Murphy's career, he racked up 2,019 points to become just the second player in Golden Eagle history to have surpassed 2,000 career points. Ahead of him is Earl Wise (1986-90) with 2,196 career points.
Murphy averaged 15.6 points per game from 2008-12, played in 128 games (the most of any Golden Eagle in history) and started in 100. He tallied 533 rebounds and 252 assists on his career, and shot at a .437 mark from the floor. He also shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in his last two seasons as a Golden Eagle, finishing his career with 36.7% accuracy from downtown.