Dejounte Murray is considered the crown jewel of UW’s 2015 recruiting class and it’s becoming apparent that when Andrew Andrews, UW’s captain and point guard this coming season, is not around, Murray is poised to guide the young Huskies.
The Huskies need one more person to start a pickup game.
Their three veterans — Andrew Andrews, Quevyn Winters and Donaven Dorsey — aren’t required to attend players-only scrimmages during the offseason, and today they’ve stayed at home.
Coach Lorenzo Romar was in Colorado with the USA men’s national basketball team last week, and UW assistants were off recruiting.
UW men’s basketball
A closer look at a program in transition
Monday: There’s a sense of urgency for Lorenzo Romar to forge a collective identity with a team that features nine newcomers.
Tuesday: Andrew Andrews is one of the few returning players and figures to play a key role this coming season.
Today: Dejounte Murray leads a class of heralded freshmen expected to contribute right away.
This is an opportunity for Washington’s nine newcomers who are enrolled in summer classes to figure things out for themselves and begin to put their stamp on a once-proud program that’s fallen into mediocrity the past three years.
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Dejounte Murray is getting anxious. He checks the clock, which says 3:40 p.m. and starts recruiting to find someone so the Huskies can start playing.
NBA veteran Jamal Crawford saunters into the gym and the young Huskies smile, thinking they’ve found their 10th player. But he’s wearing flip-flops, exchanges a few hugs and handshakes before taking a seat in a far corner.
Most weeks, the UW pickup games attract NBA players such as Spencer Hawes and Isaiah Thomas, but today Crawford is a spectator.
Finally, former University of Portland Pilot Luke Sikma, who played in Europe last season, arrives and he makes 10.
Players pick sides. Murray and fellow freshman David Crisp, Marquese Chriss, Devenir Duruisseau team with Sikma against Matisse Thybulle, Dominic Green, Malik Dime, Noah Dickerson and former Husky Abdul Gaddy.
Once the game begins, Murray does most of the talking on the court and it becomes apparent that when Andrews, UW’s captain and point guard this coming season, is not around, Murray is poised to guide the young Huskies.
“What I try to do is lead and talk a lot,” Murray said. “I try to coach while I’m playing. Not being the coach, but telling my players what I know and seeing what they’re doing bad and I’d like them to tell me what I’m doing bad and what they see.”
Murray, a four-star recruit from Rainier Beach, is considered the jewel of Washington’s 2015 recruiting class that’s ranked sixth nationally by Scout.com. The highlight-making freshman once scored 52 points as a high-school senior and had a 30-point, 33-rebound performance as a junior.
Without coaches to choreograph their movements, Murray’s talents are unmistakable. His jumper is a little inconsistent, but it’s almost impossible to keep the lanky 6-foot-5, 170-pound combo guard away from the rim when he has the ball.
When Murray doesn’t blow past defenders for layups, he scores on alley-oop dunks and putbacks.
“He is such a complete guard,” Romar said. “Very unselfish, but yet can go out and get buckets. Even though he has a slender frame, he’s a very good rebounder.
“He just has a knack for finding that ball. He’s fun to play with, and he is an excellent teammate.”
There’s a lot of Crawford in Murray’s game. They met eight years ago, when Murray was in the fifth grade, and began a relationship that goes beyond basketball. The Husky freshman patterned his offensive moves after the 35-year-old he calls his best friend, big brother and mentor.
“I don’t like comparing myself to a lot of people because there will never be another Jamal Crawford,” Murray said. “I have to make my own name.”
The same can be said about Washington’s touted freshman class that includes six four-star recruits, according to Scout.com. It’s the type of lofty ranking that can be something to aspire to or a burden.
“We know that once you step on a college floor, it doesn’t matter what you’re ranked or anything,” Murray said. “It’s just whoever is going to bring it that day.”
As the game continues, former Washington standout Bobby Jones, sitting along the baseline, sees the start of the alpha-dog struggles.
“During these games, that’s when roles are defined, relationships are strengthened and guys’ identities start to emerge.
“Chemistry is a funny thing. My first year here (in 2002-03), it took us almost a full year until we developed what you would consider good chemistry. Maybe these guys can get there quicker, but I don’t know.”
|The Huskies will have several new faces on the roster this coming season, including seven freshmen who were part of a recruiting class that was ranked sixth nationally by Scout.com.|
|Player||Ht., Wt.||Hometown (High School)|
|Marquese Chriss||6-9, 225||Sacramento, Calif. (Pleasant Grove)|
|David Crisp||6-0, 185||Tacoma (Brewster Academy, N.H.)|
|Noah Dickerson||6-8, 225||Atlanta (Montverde Academy, Fla.)|
|Devenir Duruisseau||6-8, 240||Palmdale, Calif. (Fisburne Military Academy)|
|Dominic Green||6-6, 185||Seattle (Hazen)|
|Dejounte Murray||6-5, 170||Seattle (Rainier Beach)|
|Matisse Thybulle||6-5, 190||Issaquah (Eastside Catholic)|