Murphy carving his own legacy

Alex Murphy followed in his brother’s footsteps when he decided to leave Duke and finish his career at Florida, and he’s reminded of it every day.

Few workouts go by that Murphy doesn’t hear about it from Billy Donovan. It’s all in fun, and Donovan knows Murphy’s sense of humor well enough to understand he can joke with the redshirt junior.

“You can’t shoot like your brother.”

“Your brother could’ve done more reps than that.”

The jokes always draw at least a smile from Murphy every time. Donovan is comfortable laughing about it with Murphy because both know the transfer is a much different player than his brother was at Florida.

Erik Murphy was the perfect stretch-four for Donovan’s system. He provided lights-out shooting from long range, shooting 43.5 percent from behind the three-point line during his career in Gainesville. He wasn’t a slasher, and while he did have some moves around the basket, 429 of Murphy’s 1,052 points came from behind the three-point line.

Alex Murphy isn’t that. He can still shoot three-pointers, but he is more athletic than his older brother. Alex can attack the basket, get around defenders on the dribble and is a better rebounder. His athleticism also makes him a better defender, but he has versatility to help Florida in multiple ways.

“Alex is a totally different player than Erik,” Donovan said. “He's more of a small forward. He's better with the ball. He almost can play like a guard, whereas Erik was obviously a stretch four man.”

The Murphy brothers are still in contact often. When Alex decided to transfer from Duke because “things weren’t going as” he planned, there wasn’t much hesitation around where he wanted to go. Erik didn’t pressure him into making a decision to come to Florida, but Alex remembered the positive experiences with Florida during the recruiting process and his older brother raved about Donovan and the rest of the staff.

"When I made the decision to transfer, I knew I was coming here,” Alex Murphy said. “I’d always loved Florida. I have great respect for Coach Donovan and the program. It was an easy call.”

Even though he has to sit out until the fall semester ends because of the NCAA transfer rules, Murphy is ready to get on the court in Gainesville, making the team deeper at multiple positions because of his versatility.

“I think I do a lot of things well,” Alex Murphy said. “I can shoot it, drive it. I’m a good finisher. I can defend multiple positions. I think I make guys around me better. I worked on my overall game this summer and shooting the ball, but I think my versatility and size for my position is big. I can create a lot of mismatches.”

Transferring to Florida put Murphy in an awkward spot last year. Most transfers occur in the summer when the college basketball season is over, they sit out one full season and play the next year. Murphy elected to transfer when the fall semester of 2013 finished. He had to sit out the second half of last season for Florida and will have to sit out of games until the fall semester ends this year.

Murphy had to sell himself on making teammates better. Even though he couldn’t get on the court, he focused on preparing a team that would eventually end up in the Final Four. Murphy wanted to work more on his shot and get stronger during the end of last year, but he bought into helping prepare the team for its difficult schedule down the stretch last season.

“It was tough,” Murphy said. “Anytime you’re sitting out, it’s tough but I knew that was going to happen as soon as I decided to transfer. It was fun though. I got to practice every day and felt like I was a big part of helping that team get better.”

Now Murphy is in a similar situation, trying to get his team ready for the season that begins on November 14 against William & Mary. He’ll be on the court when the fall semesters ends, and it’s a team the redshirt junior has high hopes for.

“I think we’re very talented,” Murphy said.” We have a lot of great individual players. The next step is becoming a team and bringing all that together and focusing on one goal.”

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