After a breakout July, Kamari Murphy’s stock went through the roof as big-time schools like Connecticut, Missouri, Florida, Miami and Florida State were all over the 6-foot-8 forward from Lincoln HS.
Murphy liked the attention, but he also remembered the one school — Oklahoma State — that didn’t need to see him perform at Amateur Athletic Union tournaments.
So shortly after taking an unofficial visit to the Big 12 school, the high school standout who is doing a postgraduate year at sports-polishing IMG Academies in Fla., committed to head coach Travis Ford and the Cowboys.
“When you have a lot of coaches coming at you at the same time, it’s hard to think about who really wants you,” he said. “But off the bat, I knew Oklahoma State really wanted me from the longevity of them recruiting me, Coach Ford showing me love, coming to my home. I knew it was right.”
“I planned to commit late, but I did a lot of thinking,” he added. “I wanted to come to IMG and workout and not deal with the stresses of recruiting. I made that decision and I think it’s the right choice.”
Shortly after Murphy left Bishop Ford for Lincoln early in his junior year, Oklahoma State took notice of the lanky forward with shot-blocking prowess and an improving back-to-the-basket arsenal. Murphy bonded with Assistant coach Steve Middleton, a Brooklyn native and Tilden graduate, who was integral in Murphy’s recruitment.
“Oklahoma State did a good job, they’ve been on Kamari for a while,” Lincoln coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton said. “That’s how you recruit someone if you really want them.”
One Division I assistant coach familiar with Murphy described him as “a coach’s dream. Great energy. Never takes a play off.”
Murphy said he was sold by the Oklahoma State coaching staff, the school’s enormous campus, the opportunity to play almost immediately and the state-of-the-art facilities the school has. He also is a fan of the Cowboys’ up-tempo offense, which he feels takes advantage of his ability to run the floor and score in the paint and the perimeter.
“I will prosper in their offense,” Murphy predicted. “The whole offense itself fits me.”
Murphy excelled at Lincoln, helping lead the Railsplitters to the PSAL Class AA city title game as a senior, the Brooklyn AA regular-season crown and the borough title. He continued to progress this summer with the Long Island Lightning as the AAU program reached the final four at the Hall of Fame Invitational in Springfield, Mass.; the quarterfinals at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando; won the Northeast Hoops Festival in Fairfield, Conn.; and finished second in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Raleigh, N.C., in addition to winning several local tournaments.
“His athleticism and his motor skills increased as he got older,” said Lightning coach Dana Dingle, who has coached Murphy for a decade. “That made people see this kid can play on any level. He can run and jump with anybody. The sky’s the limit because he has the other stuff you can’t teach – size, speed, athleticism.”
There was also motivation. Murphy felt he was unfairly criticized for leaving Bishop Ford and, as a result, underrated. He used that anger on the court, and now he has a top scholarship waiting.
“Now I can relax and work on my game,” he said. “I’m happy; it’s a big sigh of relief. I don’t have any more recruiters and scouts telling me what I’m doing wrong on the AAU circuit. From here, it’s just IMG and college.”