Through the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy, the team’s leading three-point shooter last season (.453), will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry here on OGGOA.
Murphy got in touch with OGGOA on Wednesday, just 24 hours prior the start of the draft, to answer fan questions and discuss his mindset heading into Thursday’s event. Murphy will check in once more next week after he settles in with his new team.
ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM FANS
Q: As someone who had gotten into trouble in the offseason a few years ago, did you speak to Scottie Wilbekin at the beginning of last season when he got in trouble before the Georgetown game? Did he come to you for any advice or how he could handle the situation and prove himself to the team?
A: “Definitely. Scottie and I are actually really close, especially when I was there. We lived together and were really close. We actually have pretty similar personalities, and we got along really well. When that happened, he actually came to me. He knew he was going to be in trouble before that trip. He told me he was going to be in trouble but said he didn’t know what to do. He told me before he told anybody else. What happened, happened. It was a minor thing. But him getting in trouble again, I haven’t talked to him much recently because I’ve been busy. I also want to give him some space. I know when I got in trouble, I didn’t want to talk to that many people right away. When things settle down for both of us, I’ll reach out to him and make sure he’s doing all right, see how he’s holding up. Coach Donovan is a caring coach; he’s there for you. He’ll get on you, let you know he’s not happy about it, but he tried to help Scottie as much as he could the first time. Now he’s probably more disappointed because of Scottie getting in trouble again. He’s already given him a second chance. But just knowing coach, knowing how much he cares about his guys, he’ll be there for Scottie and try to help him through it. Obviously Scottie will have to suffer the consequences.”
Murphy answers 10 more questions and discusses his draft day plans…
Q: Though you may not know some of the new players on the team, what do you think Florida’s starting lineup will look like next year?
A: “Obviously Scottie – I don’t know what will happen with his situation – but with him, I think he definitely starts at the one. Without him, obviously Kasey Hill coming in is a very good player and he would likely start. It’s tough to say. Really, it depends on match-ups. I do think Patric Young and Will Yeguete will both be starting, probably Casey Prather at the three and Michael Frazier at the two. I could see Scottie and Kasey playing together, and Dorian Finney-Smith could also start at the three. The truth is that Coach Donovan cares much more about match-ups than he does about the starting lineup. The starting lineup is not necessarily who plays the most in the game. The one thing I do think though is that Will should start. He will be a senior and deserves it. Starting isn’t a big deal to Coach Donovan, and it makes sense because it shouldn’t be. At the end of the game – it depends on the match-ups there, too – but that’s when you want to make sure your best five are on the court.”
Q: We’ve talked about this before. Your last game at Florida, it was one you certainly do not want to remember. How did it feel at the time to go out like that, and how long did it take to put it behind you?
A: “That’s probably the worst day I’ve ever had in my life. Getting that close to a Final Four, having another shot at it, and just not performing. I wasn’t even mad for myself. I just felt bad; I felt like I let the team down. As a senior, I didn’t want to end my career like that. I felt like I personally let the team down and it was almost all my fault because I played so poorly that game. The guys, our team was real close, we all love each other. They saw that I was struggling obviously and they picked me up. It took a little while to get over, probably a week or two. The first couple days I didn’t even want to see anybody; I just wanted to be by myself. The team is real close and the guys helped me get over it pretty quick.”
Q: What are one or two main parts of your game that you think you need to improve in order to have a long career in the NBA?
A: “Definitely my rebounding; I can definitely rebound at a higher rate. It’s something I’ve always been working at. Maybe I’m not the most gifted athlete, but there’s other ways to rebound. You’ve seen guys in the past find ways to rebound more and become better at that, and that’s what I want to do. I also want to guard better on the perimeter because I’ll probably be playing on the perimeter more on offense. If I can guard it better on defense, I won’t have as many problems matching up with guys. I think I can guard down low pretty well, but I need to learn to deal with some of the quicker guys to make sure they don’t get by me.”
Q: The fans have not really seen Dorian Finney-Smith or Damontre Harris play in a Florida uniform. You got to see both in practice. What did you think of them, how do you think they fit in with the Gators, and how good can they be next season?
A: “They’re both really, really talented. They can both be huge for us next year, especially the way coach likes to pressure. They’re both long, athletic guys. They’ll be good in the press. They’re both very talented. Even when Damontre first got here, he was really raw. How much better he got in a short period of time before practice started and he got hurt, it was very impressive. Doe-doe is kind of a jack-of-all-trades. He’s so versatile, long and big. He can shoot the ball. He can put it down. He’s really versatile and can do a lot of different things, play a lot of positions. He’s really, really good.”
Q: You have a younger brother, Tomas, who is obviously a ways away from college. He’s got plenty of time to make a decision. Alex obviously chose Duke over Florida in the end. Is Tomas excited about the Gators being a team that will be there at the end of his recruitment? Also, how much help have you been giving him even at this early stage in the process?
A: “With Alex, his final two were Florida and Duke. That was my final two as well. We had the same final two, he just thought he would be more comfortable there. He liked Florida a lot; he was very close to coming, actually. I don’t know if a lot of people know that. Tomas just got done with eighth grade and is going to high school next year, he’s got a long way to go. I’ll obviously help him in any way I can when it comes to choosing a school. It’s going to be his decision in the long run, I’ll help him, and I’ll definitely try to sell Florida. I think right now, at this very moment in time, if he had to choose, I think he’d be a Gator.”
Q: Do you think it’s harder or easier to date another student-athlete compared to just a normal girl at Florida?
A: “There’s some aspects that are harder and some that are easier…but I wouldn’t say either one. It’s harder in terms of you don’t really have much free time at all. A lot of people in college have class and then the rest of their day. With us, it’s not really like that. You have class, you have practice, you have study hall, you have treatment, and all sorts of other stuff. When you get back, you just want to go to sleep. So you multiply that times two people and the opportunities to spend time with each other are reduced.”
Q: Speaking of Lauren Embree, who is better at the other’s sport – you at tennis or her at basketball?
A: “Definitely me at tennis, no question. Well, maybe not ‘no question.’ I get out there and play a little tennis myself. My mom plays and Alex is also good; he played in high school. I got her at tennis more than she has me at basketball though, for sure.”
Q: What current or former player in the NBA do you model your game after or try to emulate a bit?
A: “I obviously get a lot of comparisons Matt Bonner with that question – a big, unathletic white guy from Florida that can shoot. There’s some similarities there. Maybe a little Ryan Anderson, Steve Novak, those kinds of guys. I’ve never really emulated my game after anybody but those are definitely guys in the league now that I have some similarities to.”
Q: When you played at Florida over the summer, a lot of the former players who were coached by Donovan returned from Europe or whatever NBA city they were playing in to train and play pick-up games with the current guys. What is it like to have that opportunity to play against professionals and match up your game with theirs?
A: “It’s definitely huge in terms of being able to see how good they are and how hard they work. It’s nice that they come back. They’re all down-to-earth guys, nice guys. You spend time with them, hang out with them, learn a lot from them. That’s a nice luxury to have for sure. To have guys that play in the league and overseas come back and give advice or even just hang out, I think it says a lot about the program.”
Q: What’s the first thing you want to buy when you get your first NBA check for a substantial amount of money?
A: “I actually haven’t thought about it much, just a little bit. There’s nothing I really want that much, but I’ll definitely need a car. I don’t have one right now. My brothers share one at home, but Alex is taking that down to Duke. I’ll need to get a car. I don’t even know what kind of car I want yet, honestly. I’ll probably get something simple, nothing outlandish or crazy. I don’t really like to spend my money that much. We’ll see. I’ll definitely get a bigger car…just one that I can fit in comfortably. I’ll look around and find something. I haven’t really set my mind on it. That will be my biggest purchase for sure. Other than that, I don’t really need anything. I’m pretty simple.”
I returned home [South Kingstown, RI] last Friday and have been relaxing and unwinding but still keeping up with my workouts at the gym. It has been nice to catch up with my friends and family, but it is tough to pass so much time when you’re just waiting for one day and one big moment. It’s finally here.
I’ve been speaking to the Gators coaching staff a bit. I talked to Coach [Matt] McCall today [Wednesday] on the phone. I’m texting with Coach Donovan every couple of days, seeing how Team USA is going and making sure Michael Frazier is doing well. I’ve been talking to Frazier a little bit, too, texting him. I also speak with Coach [John] Pelphrey on the phone every week or two. Everybody is busy, on the road recruiting or at school running practice, but it’s nice that they’re checking up on me.
For the draft, there will be a bunch of us at my house watching it. My family – my brothers, mom and dad – and a couple close friends will also be there. [Rising junior walk-on guard] Jacob Kurtz, [former team manager] Josh Adel and our assistant video coordinator at Florida right now will all be there watching at my house.
Hopefully I get my name called. After that, we have plans at a restaurant in town. We’ll go there and have a little get-together with some more friends – not a party or anything – just a get-together, low key. That’s about it. I have to fly out the next morning, if I get picked, for media day and stuff like that. I won’t be out too late or anything.
If I don’t get called – something I’m prepared for because things are still up in the air – I’ll stay home with my family and friends and see what happens the next couple of days.
I’ve been speaking with my agent, Andy Miller, on a daily basis. He thinks that I’m going to get drafted, but he doesn’t know exactly where right now. He has cautioned me that it could not happen because things are very fluid.
He’ll probably have a better feeling for it closer to the draft starting. Everything is kind of up in the air, and I’m definitely anxious but still excited.
I’m not overly concerned with finding out too much information before the draft. Whatever happens, happens. Getting drafted would be the best, but I’ll make it work no matter what goes down. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, it will play out somehow. I’ll either sign with a team or go play overseas. I just want to keep playing. It has been a great experience so far, and I’m sure it will be going forward.
With my dad [five-year NBA veteran Jay Murphy, who also spent seven years in Europe] and his experiences, his advice has really helped keep me level. I hope to have a long career wherever I wind up, and I’m just excited to get started.