West Virginia University basketball Coach Bob Huggins and his basketball program received good news on a couple fronts last weekend. On Saturday, West Virginia received word Aaric Murray will transfer from LaSalle to West Virginia. On Sunday, three year starting forward Kevin Jones announced he would return to WVU for his senior season and forego the upcoming NBA draft. It was thought initially that Murray was going to decide between West Virginia and Kansas. During the last few days Oklahoma State emerged as a suitor, but the Mountaineers have their big man.
Murray is a 6-10 center from Philadelphia that has played two years at LaSalle and will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming 2011-2012 season. Murray was a top 50 prospect coming out of high school at Glen Mills Prep and was seriously considering signing his letter of intent with the Mountaineers then. “I felt as though I made the wrong decision going to La Salle,” he said. “I wanted to go (to WVU) out of high school. Now I have a second chance, why not take it.”
Murray ultimately decided to stay in Philadelphia and play at LaSalle despite having offers from dozens of other schools. He says now of the decision, “I had the wrong people in my corner,” though he does not elaborate on that particular subject. Nor does he elaborate on the falling out he had with his coach at LaSalle, John Giannini. Murray was the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year as a freshman, but his relationship with his coach deteriorated during his sophomore season to the point that Giannini even benched his star for a game.
While it isn’t clear how Murray’s career at LaSalle was sidetracked, it is clear that his desire to play in the NBA is the reason he is transferring. “I think naturally I got better, but as far as learning the game more, getting better, getting to the (NBA), nah,” he said. “I’m going to use this second chance with West Virginia and Coach Huggins to do that.”
So, Huggins’ reputation for developing players and getting them to the NBA has delivered a top prospect to Morgantown, and a big man that will be interesting to watch develop.
One player who won’t be in the NBA next season is Kevin Jones. Mountaineer fans were somewhat surprised when Jones announced several weeks ago he was going to make himself available for the upcoming NBA draft. Without over critiquing KJ’s game, there was little reason to think Jones would be a draft worthy prospect this spring. He’s a kid that has worked hard to develop into a very good college basketball player, but just
doesn’t look to have that NBA athleticism in his repertoire.
The announcement was a head scratcher initially, but upon further review, Jones’ decision made sense. By not hiring an agent, Jones was simply “testing the waters” to see where he stood with NBA general managers. The process is said to provide players an honest evaluation of their current status and what they need to do to get to the next level. From that perspective, it would seem to be a smart move for Jones.
Jones has a chance to become WVU’s all time leader in offensive rebounds, and he will play an important leadership role next season with seven new faces entering the program. Sounds like a win-win.