Not many high school basketball players in the country get the opportunity to pick between Duke and Florida.
Then again, not many high school players are as talented as Alex Murphy, the younger brother of Florida sophomore forward Erik Murphy.
In the end, the 6-foot-8 Murphy picked Duke. But it wasn’t about creating an identity separate from his older brother. Instead it was about the relationship Murphy developed with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“I liked the campus and I liked coach (Billy) Donovan,” Murphy said. “At the end of the day, it was the close relationship I developed with Coach K. I had a gut feeling. Talking with him last year and visiting the campus in January, I just felt so comfortable with the players and the coaches.”
Murphy attended Florida’s elite camp last August. But he never watched his older play at the O’Connell Center. Murphy did watch his older brother face American in Washington, D.C., last December. Also, in November of 2009, the younger Murphy watched his older brother and the rest of the Gators upset Michigan State and beat Rutgers in Atlantic City, N.J. to win the Legends Classic Tournament.
“I think it would have been great to play with Erik,” Murphy said. “He said a lot of good things about the program and really wanted me to go there. But I felt like Duke was the better choice for me. We talk almost every day. We have a close relationship. He’s a little disappointed, but I think he’s happy for me, too”
Murphy has a different game than his older brother. The 15th ranked overall player in the class of 2012 and second ranked small forward, Murphy is more skilled on the perimeter and can handle the ball better than Erik. Murphy is averaging 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game at St. Mark’s Prep School.
Because Murphy will complete four years of high school in June, he could enroll in Duke as early as 2011. But he said he hasn’t decided whether he will go to college next fall or stay for a fifth year of prep school.
“As of now, I’m in the Class of 2012,” Murphy said. “That’s something I won’t decide until after the season and talk with my family.”
Murphy said he received a congratulatory text from Austin Rivers, who is headed to Duke in 2011. Rivers had committed to Florida as a high school freshman before changing his mind and signing with Duke.
“We played together at the Boost Mobile Tournament in Los Angeles last August,” Murphy said. “He’s a great player.”
Unlike Rivers, Duke was Murphy’s first choice all along. But Murphy said he’ll still be pulling for Florida this season, unless the Gators run into the Blue Devils.
“I want to see Erik and the team do well,” Murphy said.