Stampede's Murphy waiting for his shot

Kevin Murphy is Idaho’s prolific-scorer and D-League’s top NBA prospect

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comMarch 27, 2014 

Across the country and across an ocean, Kevin Murphy has had one goal in mind — get back into the NBA.

Many of his NBA Development League compatriots are seeking that first call to play among the best, but Murphy got a taste of it last season as a rookie.

A 6-foot-6 guard who joined the Idaho Stampede in January, Murphy is No. 1 on the league's "Prospect Watch" on its official website. He's averaging 26.0 points per game after scoring 20 on Wednesday night in a 96-85 loss to Bakersfield at CenturyLink Arena.

It was the third straight loss for Idaho (23-22), which fell two games out of the final playoff spot with five games remaining.

"It doesn't mean a lot — I'm glad to be on the list and all — but everyone in this league, everyone on the team, is putting in work," Murphy said. "I know I'm an NBA player, and that's what's pushing me to get back."

Murphy played 17 games with the Utah Jazz last season after being selected 47th overall in the 2012 draft out of Tennessee Tech.

He shuttled between Utah and the team's D-League affiliate, then in Reno, before being traded to Golden State in July.

After being waived by the Warriors, he opted to sign with Strasbourg IG in France in August, but left the team in December.

Murphy signed with Idaho on Jan. 4, and has led or tied for the lead in scoring in the 12 games since Pierre Jackson left the team for Turkey on Feb. 20.

"I came back to the U.S. because it was my best chance to make that push back into the NBA," Murphy said.

Two weeks ago, Murphy nearly got his wish when he had a tryout with the Philadelphia 76ers with three others, but ultimately was not signed.

"It's gone pretty well here; I have no complaints about that," Murphy said. "A call-up would've been nice, but hopefully something will come up by the end of the season or this summer."

Stampede coach Michael Peck believes another call may come soon, and is probably a little overdue whenever it does.

"He's carried us offensively since Pierre left, and he's done it in a multitude of ways — going to the rim, with midrange shots, from deep — and he does it within the offense," Peck said. "He's not a prima donna, he grinds, and that's how he's going to get back.

"At the minimum, he's earned a 10-day (contract) somewhere with those numbers, the consistency he plays with."

As Murphy has chased his dream, he's been aided by "a very supportive wife" and their 1-year-old son, Kevin Jr., back home in Atlanta. Though it's a waiting game as he tries to position himself for another NBA chance, the last three months with Idaho has helped him appreciate that potential shot even more.

"The D-League definitely humbles you, makes you mentally tough," Murphy said. "It's totally different, the pay, the luxuries, all that. It's just taught me to stay strong, be ready, because you never know when that call might come so you've got to bring it every night, and I try to do that."

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