HOUSTON – Rice Basketball is in a battle to make the Conference USA Tournament. Rice started the year with a troubling 1-8 conference record but has since righted the ship, winning four of the past six games.
The Owls are led in scoring by sophomore Trey Murphy III, a recruit they pulled out of Durham, North Carolina and stuck immediately into the lineup. Murphy has been arguably Rice’s best player in just his second season and is on pace to set records for the Owls.
A BASKETBALL FAMILY
Kenneth (Trey) Murphy III is the son of Kenneth Murphy, Jr., and the grandson of Kenneth Murphy. Grandpa Ken’s son “Kenny” played basketball at East Carolina from 1987-89. Murphy was the team’s third-best scorer and a sharpshooter, hitting 38.8% from three for the Pirates. He played with ECU superstar Blue Edwards - a 10 year NBA vet, best known for his career with the Jazz and Grizzlies. Kenny’s son didn’t want to be Kenneth, Ken or Kenny, so the third Kenneth is Trey. Trey grew up playing with his dad’s AAU team, the Durham Hurricanes.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Trey Murphy was not always the 6 feet 8-inch gunner whose shot is hard to block. In ninth grade, Murphy said he was just 5 feet 8 inches and worried about college offers. There was no specific growth spurt, but Murphy grew to be 6 feet 5 inches tall by the time Rice signed him. He’s since continued growing and is now 6 feet 8 inches tall at 19 years old. Murphy said he recently had an X-ray and doctors tell him his growth plates are still open.
Murphy is one of the team’s best and most willing three shooters. There are plays specifically designed for him to get a shot off. One, called “Elbow 4," gives him an open shot at the wing, where he shoots well. Murphy said his favorite spot is top of the key, where he’s grown from needing catch-and-shoot opportunities to learning how to effectively shoot off the dribble. Murphy says he worked on shooting off the dribble all summer. Murphy is shooting 36.6% from three on seven shots per game. His 64-made-threes is second on the team behind senior guard and Rice threes-made record holder Ako Adams. Adams has 218 and counting in his career, and is on pace to finish with roughly 235-240 career threes.
Murphy has hit 64 in both of his seasons, giving him 128 with two seasons and more to break the record. He’s on pace for roughly 260-270 career threes. Murphy shot 42.1% as a freshman on far fewer attempts, and with far less attention. Now, the sophomore is the team’s leading scorer at 13.2 points per game and teams have to game plan for the gunner.