Find out why Wofford transfer Storm Murphy is the perfect fit for Virginia Tech basketball this season.
It only took five days for former Wofford guard Storm Murphy to enter the transfer portal and choose his next destination this offseason. The opportunity for “one last run” with head coach Mike Young was too much to pass up, as he announced that he would finish his career with Virginia Tech basketball.
Already known as a knockdown shooter and reliable playmaker, Murphy took a huge leap as a senior in 2020-21. He became an All-SoCon performer for the first time in his career while posting 17.8 points and 4.3 assists per game on excellent shooting splits (.470/.400/.843). The Terriers finished 15-9 but his sights can be set higher as a Hokie.
Not only is this Murphy’s chance to play at the high-major level but he can also be the solution for Virginia Tech at point guard.
The Hokies were solid last season, posting a 15-7 record and reaching the NCAA Tournament as a No. 10 seed. Despite losing in the first round, it was a successful season; they ranked 52nd on KenPom.
Perhaps what they lacked most, though, was a guard who can both shoot and create. Wabissa Bede was decent but averaged only 3.9 points and 3.1 assists per game on 24.5 percent from three. Bede is yet to decide if he will return for another season, but the Hokies need more offensive versatility at the guard spot.
Enter Storm Murphy. Though a tad undersized, he has improved with each season while proving doubters wrong throughout his career. Now, he arrives in Blacksburg poised to fill the starting point guard spot while surrounded by a number of key returners from VT’s 2020-21 roster.
But what can Murphy bring to the table and how can he be the missing piece? Let’s dive in.
Understanding the system
Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young is a brilliant offensive mind. His analytically focused system prioritizes the most valuable spots on the floor: the 3-point line and the paint. Nearly three-fourths of Virginia Tech’s total shots last season were from these two spots. The Hokies also greatly increased the rate at which they attempted “close twos” from 2020 (29.6 percent of total shots) to 2021 (38.4 percent).
Learning a new offense can be a challenge, particularly for someone being tasked with starting at the point guard spot. This is where Storm Murphy’s two years of experience under Young can pay dividends. They paired together nicely at Wofford.
Murphy is no stranger to the offense and should gel quickly with the rest of the roster. He is also not the first Wofford-to-VT transfer since Young’s relocation. Keve Aluma also made the switch, proving more than capable of being a high-major player last season. Aluma posted career-highs en route to an All-ACC selection.
Murphy and Aluma started alongside each other with Wofford in 2018-19. They are familiar with one another and should form a strong connection in their reunion. There are few relationships in basketball as underrated as that between a point guard and his big man.
A vet guard for a vet team
Virginia Tech is set to enter this season with one of the most experienced starting lineups in the country. Three of the projected starters are seniors with 250 combined starts. That goes without mentioning juniors Hunter Cattoor and Nahiem Alleyne, both of whom have played their fair share of minutes as well.
Murphy, the projected starting point guard, fits right in. He is a savvy lead guard who has developed steadily throughout his career. Murphy was once a pass-first catalyst on a Wofford team headlined by Fletcher Magee. This past season, though, he redefined his game to be a go-to scorer.
Murphy is moldable, having been used in different roles throughout his career. He will most likely be tasked with being a pass-first guard with the Hokies this season. This is a role he thrived in as an underclassman with Wofford. He exhibited a 20.0 percent assist rate and a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore.
With his experience and free-throw shooting (career 84.9 percent), Murphy could often have the ball late in games for Virginia Tech.
Storm makes it rain
The 3-point shot is a staple of Mike Young’s offense. The Hokies ranked 79th nationally in 3-point attempt rate a season ago, a continuation of Coach Young’s long-standing fascination with floor-spacing. His best teams have shot the three at volume and with efficiency.
That was most evident during his final years at Wofford when Magee was setting 3-point records. Many of those teams ranked in the upper tier of college basketball in 3-point percentage. This culminated in a team ranking 18th on KenPom.
While Virginia Tech has finished near the middle of the country in 3P% under Young thus far, that could easily change in 2021-22. With Murphy, Cattoor, and Alleyne, VT might boast the nation’s best shooting backcourt.
Murphy brings a lot to the table at the guard position, but his perimeter shooting is perhaps his best skill. The vet boasts outstanding career numbers and has been consistently excellent in that department across all four of his seasons. Not only is he knockdown in catch-and-shoot situations, but he can also create for himself.
Shooting over 40 percent from deep on 500+ attempts for a career is elite. Regardless of all these numbers being compiled at the mid-major level, that combination of efficiency and volume is extremely difficult to accomplish. Also, over 40 percent of his made trifectas during his career have been unassisted. Murphy does a great job creating separation and connecting with tremendous accuracy.
It’s time to set the table
While much of Coach Young’s offense revolves around the 3 ball, a high degree of playmaking goes into it as well. Five of the last six teams coached by Young have finished in the Top 75 nationally in assist rate. This includes both of his Virginia Tech teams. Leading playmaker Wabissa Bede is yet to decide if he will return to Blacksburg for another season, but Murphy will be a primary playmaker regardless.
Murphy has had a strong career as a distributor. His playmaking was particularly noticable early in his career when he was the primary ball-handler for stars Magee and Cam Jackson. While he turned into an aggresive scorer in their repsective absences, that playmaking never disappeared. He just continued to distribute in addition to filling up the scoring column:
Quality basketball teams need steady hands guiding the way. While Murphy is a newcomer to the Virginia Tech basketball program, he could become an instant leader. He is a consistent floor general who can fill a variety of offensive roles. When needed, he can step up and hit big shots, particularly from the perimeter.
In addition, he is a crafty passer with a bevy of targets to assist. Cattoor and Alleyne surround him as fellow knockdown shooters while Justyn Mutts and Aluma combine to form a versatile frontcourt. There is plenty of offensive talent on this roster and Coach Young is a great offensive orchestrator. With Murphy as the veteran creator guiding the way, the Hokies could be excellent.
Projected 2021-22 Virginia Tech Basketball Lineup
(This assumes that Wabissa Bede will not return. Still TBD.)
Storm Murphy (Sr.): An elite sharpshooting guard who has shown strong playmaking instincts throughout his career. Murphy is the brightest newcomer joining the Hokies this season and should make an instant impact during his reunion with Coach Young.
Hunter Cattoor (Jr.): Primarily a reserve during his first two seasons in Blacksburg, Cattoor is a sharpshooter. He has connected on 90-of-217 (41.5 percent) from distance thus far in his career. Cattoor will have his biggest opportunity to shine this year.
Nahiem Alleyne (Jr.): Averaged 11.1 points per game last season and has started in 48 of 54 career games with the Hokies. Another proven shooter, he is 91-for-229 (39.7 percent) from 3-point range for his career. Also a near 80 percent foul shooter.
Justyn Mutts (Sr.): One of the top glue-guys in the country, Mutts does a little bit of everything for Virginia Tech. He can stretch the floor from the frontcourt, is an excellent passer, rebounds well, and is a solid defender. Mutts averaged 9.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in his first season at VT.
Keve Aluma (Sr.): An All-ACC caliber performer at the forward spot. He is superb inside the arc, can stretch the floor to 3-point range, and is a talented rebounder. His return for his senior year raises Virginia Tech’s ceiling tremendously. Aluma averaged 15.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game last season.
Storm Murphy was the catalyst of Mike Young’s last great team (Wofford 2019) and has developed his game greatly since then. Now reuniting with his former coach at the high-major level, he should fit like a glove on a team needing more playmaking and shooting ability. Murphy/Cattoor/Alleyne is an undersized backcourt but is also arguably the best perimeter-spacing group in the country.
All three guards are potential 40-percent shooters on high volume from beyond the arc. That kind of efficiency will make the Hokies exceedingly difficult to defend, especially with a high-IQ playmaker and leader at the point guard spot. Add in the Mutts/Aluma form a frontcourt tandem oozing with playmaking ability, and shots should be consistently available on the perimeter.
Virginia Tech has the makings of a potentially elite offensive team this season. They ranked 50th in adjusted offensive efficiency last season and could be much better this time around. Aluma is a star and much of his supporting cast remains. Transfer addition Storm Murphy, though, might be the key to unlocking the team’s offensive potential. His connection with Coach Young and his ability to shoot plus create makes him an ideal fit for this Virginia Tech basketball group.
Header image courtesy of Mark Olencki/Wofford Athletics.