Widely shared was the belief Philip Jurick, a well-traveled Tennessean, would sign with West Virginia’s basketball program during this signing period and complete a recruiting class that would grow to eight names with his inclusion.
Well, Jurick, he of stops at Tennessee and Chattanooga State, where he blocked 9.5 shots per game last season, is headed to Stillwater, Okla.
The Mountaineers still want and need someone with size and skills — the combination must exist — and would like that person to be a part of the summer tour of Europe, so sooner is better than later.
The one you’re going to hear a lot of now is one you may have heard in the past. Aaric Murray considered WVU before heading to La Salle. He’s a 6-foot-10 player with talent and an ease of movement that belies his size. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.2 rebounds as a sophomore this past season and 12.2 points and 6.6 rebounds the year before that.
Murray was the team’s best player and a legitimate NBA prospect. He was also in possession of an erratic attitude toward the game. He would come and go and sometimes had to be taken out of games, even if he’d been playing really well before that.
The Explorers lost a game in early January — the fifth in six games — and afterward Coach John Gianinni decided Murry would sit the following game. In short, Murray’s exit was hardly a surprise.
La Salle coach John Giannini had a seasonlong struggle with Murray. The megatalent was not always interested in the game. In fact, Giannini said that Murray really does not like the sport. It often showed in Murray’s performances.
Murray had moments when he was great and other moments when he disappeared, sometimes in the same game. Giannini publicly defended his player, but anyone with eyes knew the coach was having a difficult time getting through to his star player.
Murray won’t be immediately eligible wherever he goes — word is it’s WVU or Kansas and WVU, which has strong connections to Murray’s Philadelphia, feels really good about the second chance — and he wouldn’t help the Mountaineers next season.
Then again, WVU might help Murray, who, if he does indeed have maturity problems, could make the most of that season spent watching and learning and realizing what he’s got when it’s gone.
He’ll also be a physically more mature player when he’s eligible, and it’s hard to accurately estimate what that’s worth. That first year actually playing games at the new school often sees a kid reward the ones who took a chance on him. The fifth-year of experience when you’re older than everyone else and understand why that matters is often magical.
Just ask WVU’s last transfer from the Atlantic 10.