Kevin Murphy: First Interviews as a Jazzman
** Back story: I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, born and raised.
On the playground was where I spent most of my days. Same house since I was born for 22 years, lived in the same house. Went to Creekside High School, I played varsity all four years. My last two years at Creekside, I had a pretty good year. I averaged 17, 18 [points] my junior year and 25 or 26 my senior year.
I wasn’t heavily recruited by a lot of top major schools coming out of high school, but I was recruited by a lot of schools. But during my senior year, I didn’t qualify early. My grades, I wasn’t qualified to go play college ball yet. So Tennessee Tech was the only school that stayed on me through that whole process of me getting my grades together, and I had to qualify late.
A whole bunch of teams came back on me and tried to offer me scholarships, but I felt loyal to Tennessee Tech ’cause they stayed with me through the whole way. They been good to me these last four years, I can’t complain. I’m here talking with you guys now, so it’s been good.
** Making it to the NBA: I always felt like I was going to play in the NBA. I always had that in my mind. I never let anybody tell me I couldn’t do it, so I always worked hard every year trying to get better in my game. I always, always knew I was going to make it. It was my dream, and it came true, so I’m blessed.
** Nickname: I go by “Murph.” That’s my nickname. Everybody call me “Murph” except my mom and my wife. They call me “Kevin.”
** Has a baby boy due in October: It’s gonna be a junior.
** Doesn’t know anyone on the Jazz; has never been to Utah.
** Growing up, which NBA player did you want to be when you were practicing in your backyard? Kobe Bryant. I love Kobe game, I just love watching him play. I love his game. I always been a Kobe fan.
Man, what’s up with our Atlanta boys? Derrick Favors used to pretend to be Kobe too when he was growing up. Someone should check to see if there’s some water contamination/illegal dumping situation going on in the ATL.
** Best skill: I would say my mid-range shot. My mid-range game I think is my best offensive game. Most people think I’m just a pure shooter, [that] I just shoot. I think I can create my own shot.
** What he needs to work on: I want to get in the weight room, get a little bigger, put a little muscle on me. I want to play defense a little harder, work on my defense and just work on being a better shooter. I know I can shoot, but I want to be a heck of a shooter. I don't just want to be good, I want to be a great one. So, just work on that.
** Upcoming schedule: I fly out to Orlando on July 4, and we got practice…I think I’m done with them on the 13th, I just go from there.
Kevin Murphy’s tattoo, via @saltcityhoops
Tennessee Tech Head Coach Steve Payne:
** On Kevin Murphy the person: He’s a very mature guy, relationship-wise. I talked to him yesterday. I said, “What are you going to do for the draft?” He said, “I’m going to sit at the house with my family and my wife, and we’re going to watch it, and Saturday we’re going to have a cookout.” And that’s who he is. He’s not a party guy. He’s not a socialite kind of guy.
He’s a very private guy, very good with people. Once people get to know him, they’re amazed at the kind of personality he has, and the kind of character he has. He’s a loyal guy.
You know how this goes in the spring. Everybody in the world that wanted to sign him was trying to get him to drop out of school and work out every day all the time. And I sat down with him, and I said, “Hey, I need you to graduate. Tennessee Tech needs you to graduate. You need you to graduate. Your mom wants you to graduate.” He looked at me and said, “Coach, I’m going to graduate.” …
So he stayed here through the week, worked it out with his teachers…He left and worked out Thursday night and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and came back the same night. And finished his degree in four years. Just a loyal guy…he just reaches people.
** On Murphy’s game: He’s really improved in his movement without the ball in his hands, which has made him a more efficient scorer. He’s really improving in his understanding of good shot/bad shot. He’s got a scorer’s mentality; he can make a lot of shots, and he’s gotten better there. He’s still improving on his consistency defensively. He’s a good passer. He can do a lot of things well. [He can improve in] getting stronger for the NBA grind. He doesn’t have a great, wide frame, but he’s stronger than you think he is. Got a good first step. His consistency defensively will be his biggest adjustment.
** On Murphy’s NBA position(s): I think he certainly can play the two. Maybe, [with] his ball-handling ability and his passing ability if he understands the game even more, he might be able to [play] some one. I don’t know that he’s ever an NBA three, [but] people are playing smaller threes than him, so he could probably play some three as well. I think his first position’s going to be a two, and I think his second position could be as a one.