Bone back on trail of intriguing prospect

WITH TWO SCHOLARSHIPS now open and the spring signing period just two weeks away, Washington State has come calling -- again -- on a combo guard whose high school coaches describe as high character and athletic enough to jump out of the proverbial gym.

The Cougs were recruiting Emerson Murray, a 6-3 guard out of Vancouver, B.C., before the early signing period in November. But with only one scholie open, WSU didn't make him offer, and actually ended up oversigning with the inking of prep forward Patrick Simon and JC guard Fasial Aden.

In the wake of recent departures from the team, Murray is firmly back on the WSU radar and mutual interest has ramped up in recent days, his AAU coach tells

"They haven't offered him yet but I think they might be close. I think both sides are deciding right now," said Pasha Bains, who runs the DRIVE Basketball Academy. "And he visited back in the fall on an official there at Washington State – he likes WSU a lot."

What's the scoop on Murray as a player?

"He's an amazing athlete. As far as running and jumping and shooting goes, he's in the top percentage of guys out there … I would say what makes him special is his athleticism and his jump shot," said Bains.

"He's an intriguing talent with great character and a great basketball upside. He has a lot of potential, and I definitely believe he's going to blossom playing against high competition," said Bains, himself a former D-I player at Clemson after a star-studded Canadian prep career.

AND ACCORDING TO Murray's coach at St. Goerge's School, Brian Lee, the youngster is an excellent student (3.7 GPA) and has the kind of locker-room presence coaches seek.

"I've been doing this for 20 years and what makes him special is in addition to how athletic he is, he's a great, high-character guy. He's a bone-fide leader and he treats everyone so well -- at the end of his four years, there will be people on staff who are going to write letters talking about how much they enjoyed his time there," said Lee.

WITH ALL THAT going for him, on and off the court, why hasn't he had to beat off the majors with a stick?

Bains said after an excellent summer in AAU ball following his sophomore season, Murray tried too hard the following summer when he was a junior, putting too much pressure on himself. Adding insult to injury, Murray broke his ankle in the last summer game and subsequently missed more than half his regular season this past campaign.

Bains said Murray's ankle is back to 100 percent. He also said Murray has a little chip on his shoulder and a desire to prove he's one of the top unsigned talents out there that majors are missing out on.

As a junior in 2008-09 he averaged 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals per game. He nailed a 15-foot jumper with 2.6 seconds left to carry St. George's to its first-ever provincial basketball title in a 63-62 AAA donnybrook over perennial power Vancouver College Prep.

In addition to Washington State, Murray is talking to Baylor and UCLA, said Bains. Murray holds several "mid-major" offers, such as ones from St. Mary's and Portland State, but if a full ride from WSU, Baylor or UCLA doesn't materialize for the late-signing period, Bains said Murray's plan is to go to a prep school for a year and then re-enter the recruiting landscape.

NOTABLE: The Vancouver Province earlier this year described Murray this way: "His burst off the dribble, the rocket-launcher lift on his pull-up jumper, the lateral explosion that snuffs out driving lanes. All are trademark parts of Murray's game."

  • "There is very little that Emerson can't do. He is able to defend, shoot from deep, stick the mid-range, and drive hard to the basket and finish with authority. Not to mention, his freakish vertical leap," wrote Vancouver sports writer Tariq Sbiet in a May 2009 article.

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