Projected first-round pick Trey Murphy forgoes eligibility at Virginia, remains in NBA draft

Projected first-round pick Trey Murphy has elected to hire an agent, forgo his remaining eligibility at Virginia and keep his name in the 2021 NBA draft, he told ESPN on Monday.

"I loved my time at UVA and everyone there, but it's time for me to move on," Murphy told ESPN. "I feel like I am ready to take on this challenge. I wanted to show that I am fully committed to this opportunity, and how serious I am about this process. I've been looking forward to it my entire life. I've never been more ready to embark on this journey; I feel ready and confident."

Murphy announced in April that he was testing the NBA draft waters, but left the option open to return to school for his senior season. His stock has risen since then and he is currently ranked as the No. 30 prospect in the ESPN 100, making him a strong candidate to hear his name called in the first round with a successful pre-draft process.

"A lot of teams say they are very intrigued with me. Different teams seem to be targeting me with their first-round pick. The range is wide, so now we need to figure out which teams are the best fit for me and my development. The goal isn't just to get drafted at a certain number, but to play 15 years in the NBA. I want to make sure I set the foundation right and go to a team that can help me reach my full potential."

Murphy, a transfer from Rice, averaged 11.3 points and 3.4 assists in his lone season at Virginia, shooting 43% for 3, 62% for 2 and 93% from the free-throw line. He was named to the ACC All-Academic team.

At 6-foot-9, Murphy was considered one of the best wing shooters in college basketball, ranking as the most efficient half-court scorer in the country among likely draft picks according to Synergy Sports Technology. He made 50% of his open standstill 3-pointers this season, tops among likely draft picks, giving him a clear role in the 3-point-crazed NBA where he should be able to play up to three positions thanks to his size, length and solid athletic ability.

He's a sound decision-maker and versatile defender who was able to make an impact as a cutter and transition scorer while flashing upside operating out of dribble-handoffs and running off screens.

Murphy says he initially planned to redshirt after transferring from Rice, but that changed when practice started and the coaching staff realized he could help make an immediate impact in the ACC.

"I wasn't planning on playing, but once we started competing, I saw I was one of the best players on the floor. We thought maybe I don't need to redshirt and instead I can help this team win games. I talked with my family and the coaching staff, and they were all excited about it. It ended up worked out great for me, the decision not to redshirt."

Virginia won the ACC regular-season championship with a 13-4 record in conference play but was upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Ohio after being forced to withdraw from the ACC tournament due to a positive COVID case. The team has lost its entire starting frontcourt consisting of Jay Huff, Sam Hauser and Trey Murphy to graduation or the NBA Draft.

"We had a great season, I enjoyed it a lot. One of the most fun years of basketball I've been a part of. I grew a lot as a player, which I owe to Coach [Tony] Bennett. I wasn't a great defender when I arrived, and I improved there. I'm a good defender now and UVA helped me expand my game and become a more attractive prospect."

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.