Trey Murphy III Scouting Report
By: Alex Brown @AhbAnalytics
with insight courtesy of InStat Basketball
Age – DOB: 20 Years – June 18, 2000
Measurements: 6’9, 206 pounds, Wingspan N/A
Class – School: Junior – Virginia
Position: Wing – Forward (Referred to throughout as a 4 Wing, similar to the position Cam Johnson has been playing)
Background: Trey Murphy III was originally a 2-star prospect as a 6’4, 165lb guard. Trey even stated that he grew 4 inches between his HS junior and senior year, and the growth did not stop there. At the time, he held offers from 4 schools, including Rice (where he eventually committed & played 2 years) and Yale. He went on to grow to 6’7, 190lbs by his sophomore year, and now is up to 6’9, 206lbs. Trey described the Rice to Virginia transfer as a leap of faith, essentially betting on himself. He wanted to go somewhere where character, winning, & work ethic are heavily valued, and Virginia was that dream fit of a school. Now, his remarkable shooting, insane growth spurt, humble beginnings, new start with Virginia, and high character have catapulted him into the NBA draft conversation.
It is important to note that he has not been a 3 or 4 wing his whole life, and that he has a lot of upside on both ends for a junior prospect. While age naturally mitigates upside, he should be treated as a late bloomer, because he is. 4-5 inches and 40 pounds of growth in a few years is a huge change, and it gave him tools he had not had for his whole life. He is still learning to use them.
Off the court, Trey is a psychology major with solid family ties. His father (Kenneth) also played college basketball at East Carolina from ’86 to ’88. Trey describes his father as a major motivator and critic, which he credited to helping his mental toughness and work ethic.
Injury Report: No significant injury information publicly available.
Personality: Trey really seems to have a great head on his shoulders. Coach Bennett really loves his character, and believes he has the right mentality to maximize his potential. In order to do that, Trey understands that he will need to be a two-way player. He buys in, works hard, stays humble, remains unselfish, and is very coachable. Otherwise, he consistently hypes up his teammates when they make plays and really seems to have their respect and friendship. From all accounts, he is a kid to root for and a positive locker room presence that coaches will enjoy developing.
“I know I’d love to touch something like that, touch greatness. That’s like the ultimate goal and that’s why I came here, I knew we have the chance to win a national championship. It’s something you dream about as a kid.”
Athleticism: Trey moves quickly when given a chance to run the floor, and shows flashes of decent burst worth tapping into as well. He is not a notable vertical threat right now, but can finish strongly above the rim when he has room to load off two feet. He is not great in traffic, and his coordination around the rim is average. However, there could be some untapped athletic ability here, as he is quite a worker and could benefit by adding more and more muscle since his burst doesn’t create many advantages anyway. Due to the late blooming growth he experienced, there is room for him to fill out and get stronger and quicker. That would certainly help him own his space, and I would recommend it.
Projected Roles: Wing Shooter, Perimeter Play Finisher, P&R Wing, Switchable Wing & Forward Defender (serviceable, not a lockdown).
Projected Draft Landing: Late Lottery – Mid First Round (Projecting a significant mainstream rise, especially considering he is not even listed in many mocks for whatever reason).
Statistical Profile (as of 1/9/2021)
So far at Virginia
All college games
Major Swing Factors: OTD Creation (Drive and Jumpshot), Defensive Development (how long will his improvements continue to accrue?), Strength, Off Ball Creation, Shot Assertiveness.
- High: Starter – Supporting 3&D 4-Wing – Lower Option Creator – Plus Perimeter Defender
- I consider myself quite high on Trey, and this is where I think he would land if he really hits on his upside. He does not have the tools or skillset to be a creating piece, but will still stretch the floor at a high level (with increased rate) and check multiple positions when needed. He has room to add 1-2 dribble creation with his decent handle and beautiful pull-up mechanics (see Patrick Williams), but I don’t see him as anything more than a tertiary scoring option that operates really effectively off the breakdowns others create. Alongside a volume creator or initiator that commands attention, Trey would thrive as a kickout wing that can attack off the catch or keep the ball moving. This also allows him to continue to emphasize defensive presence and development, as that will be the key to coaches not wanting to take him off the floor. Defensively, he should add value as a 3/4 defender that can switch onto multiple positions in a pinch with room to get stronger (which I would emphasize with his style). Using his work ethic, drive, and mental presence to drive improvement, he will become a valuable 3&D wing that you won’t want to take off the floor. Also, he buys in and coaches will love developing him.
- Medium: High Rotation – Supporting 3&D 4-Wing – Rare Creation – Slight Plus Perimeter Defender
- It is reasonably safe to project Trey as a high value rotation piece due to his ability to stretch the floor well at his size and check multiple positions in a pinch. In this outcome, I could see him coming off the bench as a 6th/7th man if he doesn’t make many strides as an off-ball creator regarding getting to his spots. Defensively, I still think he can be used as a serviceable defender that can guard larger wings, switch onto guards in a pinch, and deny bigs with his length.
- Low: Mid Rotation – Supporting 4-Wing Shooter – Neutral Defender
- Even wings that can just hold their own defensively are valuable, and Murphy can. Despite the lacking value as a creator, he still will make a winning impact with his valuable spot up game and unselfish play. He won’t ever be a black hole, but he could end up seeing more limited minutes if he isn’t assertive with getting to his spots. This outcome would occur if he doesn’t get much better in any of his swing factors, which I doubt with his intangibles.
- Shooting: Trey Murphy is one of the draft’s best spot up shooters. Trey shoots an effortless ball with balance, consistency, and touch. His potential off movement needs to be refined, but the base is there to build an off-screen and pull-up threat. Some of his Rice highlights below show his shooting confidence as well (NBA 3, Pull-Ups).
- Catch and Shoot: Trey gets squared up (to his preference) quite quickly with very solid shot preparation. No matter where he is on the perimeter, Trey has a knack for getting himself squared up and on balance in an instant. At 6’9, this makes him a very difficult off-ball threat to mitigate. His touch is rather solid as well, and paired with simple, repeatable mechanics, I expect Trey to be a plus spot up shooter at the NBA level. This is his greatest offensive weapon, and so far 100% of his 3pters have been assisted on (all C&S). Should he unlock more movement shooting, he could be very deadly as a tertiary scorer with elite floor spacing. He is currently scoring 1.75 points per possession on catch and shoots.
- Low Usage Pick and Pop: Virginia has given Trey minutes at the 4 spot along with the wing. Consequently, he has gotten a few opportunities to pick and pop when running on & off ball screening actions out of the 4 spot. He pops well enough to get in rhythm by doing it, and shoots a balanced, easy ball off that catch. He has not been credited with an attempt here by InStat yet, but I have seen him pop off of off-ball screens and get to his spots using this action. While not a natural screener, he will do what is necessary as a screener if it is asked of him.
- Pull-Up Shooting Mechanics: While the sample size is quite small this year, Trey has flashed a beautiful stroke off the dribble with balance and touch. I am leaning into buying this eventually becoming a part of his game at the moment, but want to see more moving forward. If he can hit these types of deep pull-ups moving forward, he could unlock another level offensively that will open up his (essential) 1-2 dribble creation package.
- Movement Shooting Potential: Virginia does not have an offense that creates many movement shooting looks, but I believe that Trey has the potential to be a movement shooter that can operate especially well off pin downs, occasional DHOs, staggers, and hammers. He has expressed his liking towards such actions (esp. pin downs) and I could see a team employing these skills more often later in his development. He enjoys the rhythm derived from such actions, so lots of repetition here will make him solid.
- Free Throw Shooting: Trey has historically executed from the line at a solid level. A career 78.6% free throw shooter up until this point, he is nothing special here but certainly not a worry. .260 Ftr is a bit low, but he capitalizes when he gets there. He is rather contact averse, likely a result of his days as a guard. This may be fixable as he adds muscle, but I seldom see that occur.
- Unselfish Playmaker: Some may argue he can be too unselfish, but Trey really moves the ball well and shows a team first mentality offensively. He hits the open man when he sees it, does not demand the ball, makes the extra pass, and doesn’t hang his head when the ball doesn’t come his way. Even when he has buried a couple 3’s in a row, he does not force his own offense and lets the game come to him. For example, against Towson, Virginia went up by double digits with Trey getting hot early. Despite the perceived lower stakes and rhythm he was in, he did not push himself outside of his role and continued moving the ball when forcing the issue for more points would have been the other option. He finished an incredibly efficient 6/8 from deep. He keeps himself in check mentally, and it shows on the court. I wish he was more assertive with his touches at times, but his floor as an unselfish wing that can bury 3’s at a high rate and play solid defense is still pretty enticing.
- Limiting Turnovers: Trey has been very secure with the ball in his hands, partially due to his role and partially due to his decision-making. His role in the offense pushes him to finish plays from deep and move the ball when his shot is not there. Naturally, this means that he is not throwing a lot of home run passes or generating OTD breakdowns often. Even though he is not a player who will create a lot of breakdowns for others, his 3.25:1 AST:TO ratio speaks to his careful decision making as a passer. Other notable numbers thus far include a 5.3% TO% and a 10.4% AST%.
- Diversification & Unlocking Creation: With catch and shoot offense making up a staggering 51% of his offensive production so far, is Trey too much of a one trick pony on offense? This is not a shocking new sample either, as his previous years showed he used in C&S for a significantly large portion of his offense as well. So far, almost every bucket that Trey has was assisted on. Of his 25 made field goals through his first 7 games, only 3 were not assisted on. As previously mentioned, an extremely large percent of his offense is in catch and shoot situations. No player can truly thrive exclusively as an off-ball threat, and Trey can be no different. He has to find a way to generate offense either on or off the ball as a lower volume creator. Luckily, there is definitely some potential to work with here.
- Perimeter Shot Creation
- On Ball: While his handle is not very advanced, Trey WAS a guard throughout his high school days and had to handle the ball far more than he does now. While he was always more of a shooter, perhaps there is more to tap into here. Regardless, all I would be asking of Trey regarding on ball creation is that he would be able to operate off 1-2 dribbles to get to an open pull-up. When you have the shooting threat that he brings, leveraging it for open mid range looks should be an avenue worth exploring. Patrick Williams and De’Andre Hunter are 4-wings who have shown that this can be a staple in a young wing’s offensive package, as they have effectively implemented this after establishing that they are legit deep threats. I would pursue similar looks for Trey, and hopefully this can open up his rim attacks as well.
- Off–Ball: Despite the rather stagnant play we see so often with him, Trey actually has flashed pretty good instincts for finding his spots off breakdowns. The flashes of smart relocations with a notable degree of foresight along with his decisive cutting are a plus for his evaluation. I know at first glance, unless he is one pass away, there is not much to see regarding off-ball creation from Trey. It doesn’t take a scout to see that he is often standing upright in the corner when not involved in Virginia’s slow paced, stagnant offense. However, the flashes I have seen of intelligent cuts and quick relocations suggest a better feel than anticipated, and room to grow here in a modern offense. An offense that emphasizes ball & player movement would be ideal for Trey’s development, as the guy can make the reads he needs to make as an off-ball creator. While the awareness is still developing overall, I just want to see these flashes more often. I think it is definitely possible to mold him into a great off-ball threat.
- Drive Creation Frequency: Trey is not asked to create much as a slasher for Virginia. He has shown that he can attack off the catch due to his shooting gravity, and when he gets into triple threat he can actually move really well off his initial step. The issue is more frequency based. He seldom attacks, and I think he maximizes his value when he is more continuously pressuring defenders. Too often he catches upright when I would love to see him rip and move.
- Owning Space Through Contact: Trey has not excelled when faced with contact on the interior. He is rather contact averse when anticipating it instead of being strong with the ball. He also really slows down as a result of contact, and consequently loses his advantage when playing downhill. He does not own his space often as a slasher or finisher, which should be one of the major corrections he will need to make.
- Burst: Murphy does not have blow-by burst, and will need to rely on craft, length, size, strength, and/or handle to create downhill advantages. It can be serviceable when attacking closeouts off rips, but that is pretty much it. I recommend bulking him up so that he can create more advantages by owning his space using his body, as he won’t own much with his burst.
- Establishing a Threat: As previously mentioned, one area I would like to see Trey improve on is establishing himself as a consistent threat to pass, attack, or shoot off the catch. Defenses know he can shoot, but if he is standing too upright without being (at least) close to squared up, the threat is mitigated. Triple threat improvements would be great for him, as he needs to be that constant PDS threat to unlock his highest potential. If that doesn’t happen, he is likely hitting the low outcome of just being a plus (lower volume) spot up shooter that can defend.
- Effort & Engagement: If you want to play for Virginia, you better give your all on defense. Trey puts in the effort. He gets in a stance consistently, makes the effort to close on shooters, keeps active hands, actively fights & navigates screens, and is not afraid to take contact. While his technique is still developing, he really tries. I am willing to bet he gets much better defensively throughout the year as a result, especially in their Pack Line defensive scheme. I really like the improved mental presence and consistent effort, as it shows that he has bought in and wants to do what it takes to win.
- Following a Scheme – Fostering Development: The Pack Line defense that Virginia runs will give Trey the freedom to improve on heavily pressuring ball handlers due to the nature of the dribble penetration mitigation scheme. The help scheme should give him the confidence to get out and make those on-ball plays while understanding the help scheme will mitigate the advantage created if his man gets a step on him. It also is a wonderful system to learn team defense in as well, mainly due to its relatively simple overarching concept & design thinking structure for calculated risk. Overall, what I expect this year at Virginia to do for Trey will be improving his all around technique and confidence on the defensive end. Being in a system like this is quite perfect for his defensive development.
- Consistent Improvement: Every time I watch Virginia’s latest game, it seems that Trey has better and better flashes on the defensive end. Whether this comes in the form of a fundamentally strong closeout, better sliding footwork, or just making the right reads, Trey continues to get better defensively. He seems to be soaking in as much as possible from coach & the culture.
- Defensive Versatility: Undoubtedly a major point of emphasis for Murphy’s development, his versatility on the defensive end will be tested constantly this year with UVA. Thus far, it looks rather promising for a serviceable wing or 4-wing defender. Both on and off the ball, Trey has bought into the pack line system and plays within it rather effectively as a switchable wing. While he is not a lockdown, he does not present an easily exploitable advantage after a switch. He is moving his feet better and better each game thus far.
- POA: Serviceable Switchability: Virginia has him switching onto 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, hard & soft hedging, blitzing, anything. He can play the 4 or 3 spot defensively as he has the length to battle some 4’s and the mobility to serviceably hedge or switch in a pinch onto the other positions. He is by no means a multi-position lockdown, but the fact that he has the ability to stick with multiple positions and move his feet is still valuable schematically. He looks far more switchable than other wing shooters like RHJr. and Marcus Bagley. His defensive slides seem to be improving as the season continues. Comparatively, ASU has been using Bagley as a drop defender at 6’7. No thanks.
- Off-Ball Defense: Trey pressures passing lanes when he is supposed to, shows solid flashes of instinctual rotations (though rim protection is a WIP), and recovers effectively enough to be valuable in P&R defense. He does not fall asleep on D or take plays off, and he tends to stay engaged throughout the possession. His length and coordination allow Trey to be quite disruptive at times as well. Furthermore, he has the length & mental presence needed to be disruptive on digs and play the nail effectively, though he will need a lot more reps to get to a plus level. While his block and steal rate are both below 2% right now, this is not as alarming due to a Virginia scheme that does not encourage much event generation. His engagement is quite an obvious contributor to his improving off-ball play, and though it is not Keon Johnson level, he tries hard enough & keeps his head in the game.
- Consistently Owning His Space: Perhaps the greatest area of improvement for Trey would be working to own his space when attacked. He can get pushed off his defensive spots by physical slashers, post players, or almost anyone with a lower center of gravity than him. Typically when I evaluate players that could project as high-level defenders, this is a trait that is essential (to a degree). Right now, I do not think Murphy is there. I think he is certainly passable and has some really great flashes of perimeter containment, but it will really take some time for growth to occur against slashers in this area, especially with the jump in strength & craft at the NBA level.
- Footwork – Closeouts & Slides: So far I have seen a few areas for Trey to improve upon on his closeout fundamentals. He still will occasionally overextend himself or jump to the ball (mistiming) on closeouts or cross his feet a bit awkwardly when sliding. While his fundamentals are improving every game in my eyes, he still has room to get better here (mostly associated with owning his space). When he is really locked in and moving at his best, he looks great. I want to see this tapped into more and more often. What I especially like to see is Trey avoiding getting into recovery mode off his initial defensive slide. This is a typical hindrance on POA defense, but not one that has kept NBA teams from playing these types of players as wing or 4-wing defenders. His positioning should improve with better closeout fundamentals moving forward, but he still has occasional struggles mitigating space creating or C&D moves with his lower body movement. His length assists him with getting off effective contests as well. I would hesitate to put him against top-notch wing creators or volume free throw generators, but he should be good enough to effectively defend lower option creators.
- Event Generation – Secondary Rim Protection: Playing as a guard for the majority of your life probably will not be a great start to becoming a solid rim protector. Murphy is behind regarding feel, timing, and anticipation for on-ball interior defense and rotating rim protection. The lacking vertical threat and aforementioned novelty is certainly a hindrance here. Compared with the event generation of similar archetype players, he is behind. Granted, Virginia does not allow much gambling defensively, so that should be noted here as well. So far this year, opposing players are shooting just 26% in the restricted area when Trey is directly involved (42% in last 62+ games).
- Rebounding: I’d like to see Trey finish plays on the glass more than he does. He can miss boxouts and does not always show a lot of fight on the glass unless his man crashes hard. Even when the latter occurs, he can still get pushed off his spots and struggles to own his space on the interior. Regardless, if teams do play him at that 4-wing spot, I would like to see him put up more of a fight on the glass. I think this is possible, especially considering he has played the guard spot for so long that his instincts are not honed for a newly 6’9 player. Intangibles and history suggest this is teachable.
We know Trey can shoot and play solid defense, the question is more of can he be anything more than a perimeter shooter with defensive value? Outside catch and shoot, what will he give you on the ball? There are flashes of that 1-2 dribble creation & athletic slashing moves, so can you tap into that moving forward? If it is possible (which I think it is), he could be a really valuable supporting wing. While nothing is certain, there is a great base to tap into here and a floor I would be comfortable with investing in. Worst-case scenario is that he ends up as a floor stretcher with a near neutral defensive presence. I am comfortable with that floor providing winning value.
Compared to other high profile 2-way wing prospects, I would put him below guys like Mikal Bridges & Devin Vassell that can be major positives defensively and create offense for themselves. I would also put him below Patrick Williams, as he provides value in similar ways at a higher level (which obviously looks great at the NBA level thus far). In hindsight, I certainly had Patwill too low as a mid lotto guy, but that is a topic for another day.
Trey (like Patwill) does not have that elite defensive mobility but will still be used in switches and schematically emphasized as a switchable wing defender, although he does not provide as much value as a secondary rim protector and big defender. Furthermore, Trey adds value as a high IQ floor spacer (see Patwill, Mikal) with a bit of potential creation as well. Considering that comparative value and skillset, I would certainly be comfortable taking Trey in the mid first round to knock down 3’s consistently and play serviceable wing defense. If on/off ball creation continues to improve with his defense throughout the year, I would be happy to have him rise to the lottery. There are not many wings that can shoot it like Trey and can defend.
Trey would thrive as a lethal off ball threat alongside other initiators with notable gravity, so naturally teams like the Mavericks & Nuggets would be where he fits in best.