(Photo: ASU Athletics)
On the court, he thinks about his family; his mom, his dad, his three younger brothers. All of them provide him with a drive and a passion to play the game he already loves.
He’s only 17 years old and should be a senior walking the halls of high school, but he isn’t.
Freshmen guard Chance Murray comes to Arizona State from tradition-rich Price High School, whose products include NBA player Allen Crabbe, Cal’s six-foot-ten big man Richard Solomon and crafty sophomore guard Askia Booker, who is at Colorado.
Cal State Fullerton head coach Dedrique Taylor, formerly the Arizona State associate men’s basketball coach and the man who recruited Murray, saw a bright future for this young man during the early recruiting stages.
“At his high school, we watched a couple guys older than Chance, but when watching, we took a liking to Chance during his sophomore year in high school,” Taylor said. “His junior year he demonstrated a character that Coach (Herb) Sendek appreciated. In the middle of his junior year we made him a priority.”
Taylor describes Murray as an intellect and student of the game.
“He’s a unique kid, probably only have to tell him something once and he’s got it and he will then take what you give him and make it his own,” Taylor said.
Sun Devils head coach Herb Sendek echoed Taylor’s praises, commenting on Murray’s versatility and all the assets he can bring to an Arizona State team that went 22-13 last year and was tied for sixth in the Pac-12.
“He can play multiple positions,” Sendek said. “He has good ball skills and he’s one of those guys, especially as he develops physically, he’ll be able to guard maybe up to four positions on the court the way that we play. He really, I think, has the capacity to become an excellent defense player. He also has a really good basketball I.Q. He has a good feel for the game. He’s a smart young man.”
Despite his young age and playing with sophomore point guard and Pac-12 co-freshman of the year Jahii Carson, Murray doesn’t feel the stress.
“Not really at all,” Murray said. “Not pressure like that. Just going out to compete against those guys is always fun. Me being 17, that just makes me better and helps me out for the future.”
The Decision: From Los Angeles to Tempe
Growing up in Los Angeles, Murray was a huge Lakers fan and idolized Kobe Bryant, that is, until LeBron James came into the league.
Murray saw LeBron’s unique all-around game and tried to model his own game around it. Trying to mimic LeBron’s style of play, he emphasized his attitude and character.
“To prepare myself before the game, I’ll listen to music,” Murray said. “I try to get myself into a mental zone while I’m playing my game, which is like my mom. She’s a big influence. I want to do so good for her, my three younger brothers; I want to show them the right path and how to play and just my family overall. I know my dad, he’s been on me a lot and I just want to prove him wrong sometimes and make him happy at times so I just try to think of my family most and play hard for them.”
For Murray, basketball has always been his main sport. His parents tried to get him involved with football and baseball, but neither matched his love for the game of basketball.
Murray fielded other offers from Cal, UCLA, Washington State and other Pac-12 schools, but in the end, Murray chose ASU.
“Coach Sendek is main the reason why I came here,” Murray said. “He’s one of the coaches that I felt like had the most belief in me. He was at all my AAU games at eight in the morning. He was definitely the main reason why I decided to come here.”
Another contributing factor to Murray’s decision was the addition of freshman forward Egor Koulechov who committed to ASU in May of 2012.
When Murray visited ASU back in September of 2012, he got a chance to talk with Koulechov. Murray committed to ASU while on his official visit to the school.
“It was really cool getting to meet him for the first time,” Murray said. “Coming into my visit I already had an idea that I was going to commit here, but meeting Egor and just envisioning a plan with him in the future just made my decision even better.”
With family being such a huge factor in Murray’s life, it was crucial that his family agreed with his decision.
“They were behind ASU full throttle,” Murray said. “They love Coach Sendek. We came up here twice and they love the facilities. They love everything about this school. I talk to them like everyday and tell them what I’m up to and how everything has been going.”
Murray has three younger brothers, one only two years old, and two already immersed in the game of basketball.
His 16-year old brother plays for Price High School and is one who Murray pictures could be joining him as a Sun Devil in the coming years.
“I think about that all the time,” Murray said. “I pray that he comes here with me. That would be a great experience. I would love for him to come to ASU.”
Transitioning on and off the court
In order to make the move from high school to college easier, Murray has gotten a chance to really bond with his teammates, especially during the team’s recent trip to China.
“Honestly, since I first got here in June it was kind of tough with the workouts and playing against the older guys, but going to the trip in China kind of transitioned easier because I got a chance to gel with the team and everything like that. So now I feel like I’m accustomed to everything; the workouts the weight rooms schedule and everything. I’m loving it so far,” Murray said.
Murray added that the China trip really was great for comparing his game against that of professional players who get paid for doing what they do on the court.
Going on their fourth week back from China, Murray really stressed the point of how cohesive the team is.
“I hang out with (redshirt freshman) Calaen Robinson a lot and Egor (Koulechov), the other freshman, the walk-on freshman. I pretty much hang out with everyone on the team, we all have such a close bond so we all hang out, eat together, things like that,” Murray said.
Being a student-athlete, Murray is learning how to balance his schedule.
“Right now it’s kind of conservative,” Murray said. “People made it seem like it was going to be crazy and people would be flocking towards you and things like that but it’s not like that at all. I have a lot of friends outside of basketball, even including other sports like the women’s basketball team, football team and soccer.”
Earning his nickname ‘Biz’ from coaches because of his business-like approach to everything he does, his calmness and seriousness translates on and off the basketball court. This is especially true in school, where Murray looks to major in business management.
“He’s not the one who’s out there goofing around. He’s out there, he takes things seriously and he’s the same way in school,” Sendek said. “He’s a great student. He just has that trait, where when it comes time to get down to business, he does. And also from that standpoint, he’s really mature beyond his years.”
This year, coaches are putting a lot of focus on Murray’s defensive game, especially with the loss of defensive leader Carrick Felix to the NBA.
“I really try to work hard on defense so like in practice I’ll guard Jahii (Carson) or someone who is really good offensively and try to stop them so when it comes to the game it will be an easier transition,” Murray said. “So in the game I try to work on defense really hard. If my coaches want me to score and get my teammates involved, I can do that, it’s basically whatever the coaches want me to do.”
Murray acknowledges both his strengths and weaknesses, but sees defense and ball handling as his main focuses.
“I think the coaches just want me to focus on playing defense at the point guard position and knocking down shots,” Murray said. “Just being consistent with knocking down shots and staying in front of people and stopping people is what they want me to focus on most. And that’s how I get most of my minutes.”
As described by Taylor: as a student of the game, Murray knows not only how to take instructions from the coaches, but also spin them and make plays even better.
“Sometimes I might find different holes or different shortcuts for a certain play that would be more effective so I just try to use that in the game and help our team out,” Murray said.
Thinking about the first game against Maryland-Baltimore County on Nov. 8th, Murray knows to stay motivated on just improving his skills.
“Right now I’m just focusing on working out, but of course I always think about the first game, how nervous I’m going to be, how I’m going to perform, things like that,” Murray said. “I try not to think about it too much, I’ll just let things happen.”
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