Duke Blue Devil: Is It Fair to Compare Alex Murphy to Kyle Singler?

Ro ShiellAnalyst IMay 10, 2011

Murphy watches a game in Cameron, a place where he will soon play. BDN Photo, LKI
Murphy watches a game in Cameron, a place where he will soon play. BDN Photo, LKI

At 6-foot-8, playing the same position and being of the same race, Alex Murphy will inevitably suffer comparisons to one of the greatest Duke players of all time, recently graduated Kyle Singler.

It does not help that Murphy will be foregoing his senior year in high school to battle for Singler’s vacant spot. Draftexpress.com says he has a “versatile skill set and a very good feel for the game.” They went on to praise him for his scoring ability and defensive awareness, however, they were not so high on his outside touch, not an issue with Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry in the house next season.

Singler came to Duke as a 5-star recruit; Murphy is a 4-star but may be a little more athletic, here he is dunking over a player reported to be seven feet tall.  It's high school basketball, but you can judge for yourself how athletic the incoming small forward is.

This is what recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger from ACCSports.com told the Fayetteville Observer;

"Alex Murphy's a good athlete but not a great athlete. But he's very skilled and a smart player who takes advantages of your weaknesses. And if you give him open shots, he knocks them in. There are some guys who do everything pretty well but nothing great.

“And almost automatically we say, well, they're not in the top 50 (among recruits nationally), because to earn that you have to do at least one thing especially well. But with Murphy, like Singler, he does virtually everything especially well. So wherever he is on the court, he's going to be a tough matchup."

Singler may not do any one thing exceptionally well, whether it be dribbling, passing or shooting, however, his true grit was his real value. As a freshman, he was asked to play power forward for a vertically challenged Duke team and he responded by averaging 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game.

In losing Singler, Duke just lost its heart. Can Murphy be a replacement? Only time will tell, but he does have a good start.

“Basketball is sort of in my blood. My father played in the NBA and my brother is a freshman (Erick Murphy just completed his sophomore season with the Gators) at Florida." Alex told Coxsports last year,  "My mum played professionally in Europe, she is from Finland. My little brother plays so it is in our blood, family tradition. We were never forced to do it; it’s just what we do.”

His father, Jay Murphy, is a 6-foot-9 forward drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1984; he was the 31st pick after averaging 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds his senior year at Boston College (Way before it joined the ACC).  The senior Murphy only lasted four years in the NBA and scored a total of 160 points. He then spent seven years plying his trade in Europe.

Fun Fact: 1984 was one of the best drafts in NBA history (if you ignore those that trumpet 1996 and 2003) as the first pick was Hakeem Olajuwon and the second pick was Sam Bowie. Can you guess the third? It made Sam Bowie famous but being able to say your father was in the ’84 draft does sound really cool.

"I got to give my wife a lot of credit on the gene pool too," said Jay Murphy to ESPN. "She was a  basketball player. She played on the Finnish national team and professionally in Sweden. Her dad was 6-foot-8 and her brothers are tall. The family has height on its side."

Indeed, his older son Erick is 6-foot-10 and is an elite post player who has yet to make a serious dent in Florida’s rotation. He was expected to get some more minutes with the graduation of Alex Tyrus; however, due to an off-court incident in which Erick, another teammate and a manager were accused of breaking into a car, hence, he might be looking to transfer. Duke, anyone?

Just like the Plumlees and the Zellers, Alex is from a three-son family. He has a younger brother, Thomas, who is 6-foot-2 at 12 and wears size 15. However, his journey to basketball will be at his leisure, as his father has no intentions of forcing the game on him.

“He's just starting to get interested. To me, it's about not forcing the game on them. He's interested and we'll take it from there."

Marshall Plumlee will be a senior in four years time, and maybe this could possibly be a replacement?

If Alex wants to replace Singler, he has an uphill battle. Duke is loaded on the wings, and a three-guard lineup is highly likely at this point. Andre Dawkins also left high school as a junior (though both Alex and Dawkins had repeated their freshman year), and is due a bigger role now that Nolan Smith has left. He could start with Curry and Austin Rivers.

Alex does have the size to match up with PJ Hairston and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, which has already been picked to dominate the ACC next season.