Sean Murphy is the latest Kiwi to be offered a basketball scholarship in the USA.
The 18-year old Rosmini College and North Harbour representative will join close to a hundred other Kiwis showcasing their talents in the US college system when he attends the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) to play under Head Coach Kevin Lofton.
After talking at length with Coach Lofton, Murphy developed a rapport with the long time UNK mentor.
“I really liked him a lot from the first time we spoke. Coach has been with UNK for 25 years and the past five as Head Coach, so I felt he had a pretty good apprenticeship with the University and he must be doing a lot right and have a true passion and respect for the school and his players. We talk a lot and I felt the fit was good for me and my goals.
“The second thing is playing in a high level Division 2 Conference. When Coach told me it was ‘dog eat dog’ out there every game, I knew this would be a great challenge for me to expand on my skillset and help me develop even further.
“The third thing is the actual University. Nebraska at Kearney is a very respected academic school in the Mid-West and the major that I am leaning towards ranks very highly at UNK from right across America. So, with a great academic programme also on tap for me this made the decision easier also.”
The UNK basketball team are known as ‘The Lopers’ and are an NCAA Division II university
which play in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Naturally, Murphy is looking forward to linking up with the Lopers.
“I’m looking forward to meeting my new coaches and team-mates and finally get down to training and playing the game I love in the States.
“It will be fun to feel the energy and vibe of a great university and meet new people.”
Murphy spent four years in the Rosmini Premier team during a period of unprecedented success at the college.
He began the 2020 season in good form as Rosmini were attempting to contest a fourth consecutive Secondary Schools National Grand Final. The 198cm swingman scored 39 points against Rangitoto College and was averaging 26ppg over the first five games before COVID-19 restrictions brought a premature end to the Auckland Premier Basketball season.
Murphy had played in the previous three finals, collecting a winners medal in 2017 and 2018.
“Sean has been an integral part of our success at Rosmini over the past four years, rising up from the juniors into playing a pivotal role for our senior premiers over recent seasons.
“His opportunity in the States is a reward for the tremendous amount of work and dedication he has put into his own game,” said Rosmini Head Coach Matt Lacey.
Those successes certainly rank highly when Murphy assesses his career highlights to date.
“I have been blessed to be a part of a great basketball programme at Rosmini College. I’ve had great coaches and amazing teammates over the years, so I would probably say winning two High School National Championships made me very proud and very happy, plus the opportunity to play for my country and making the Junior Tall Blacks.”
Murphy admits there have been countless good moments when he recalls his playing career at Rosmini.
“There are many and I will miss it. Apart from the winning of Nationals and Junior Prems, our trip to Greece for the World High School Championships last year was also memorable.”
As mentioned, Murphy was named to the 2020 Junior Tall Blacks who were scheduled to play at a Four Nations International Tournament in China and the Albert Schweitzer International Tournament in Germany but unfortunately both events were cancelled.
When announcing the team Junior Tall Blacks Head Coach Aaron Fearne described Murphy as a wing with great international size.
“He’s very good at stretching the floor and knocking down the three ball. He understands our system well and can guard multiple positions,” added Fearne.
Having played for New Zealand at the 2019 FIBA Oceania Championships in New Caledonia in 2019, averaging 10 points and 3 rebounds per game, Murphy would relish the opportunity wear the black singlet again in the future – hopefully one day for the Tall Blacks.
“That would be another dream come true, so I will never give up on that ambition and will continue to work hard to make it!”
Murphy is grateful to all who have contributed to his basketball journey and had a major impact on him as a player and a person.
“There have been many people that have helped me so much from the time I started to play basketball just over 10 years ago now.
“Like I said, I am blessed to have had great coaching over the years from day one, but the most influential I would probably say would be my parents [Tracy and Rob].
“They have always believed in me, lifted me up when I have been down, told me how it is when I have had bad games and supported me whole heartedly in my basketball journey.
“The other person who believed in me the most is my mentor the late Fata Letoa, whom I held the upmost respect for.
“Finally, I just want to say thanks to Basketball New Zealand, Rosmini College, North Harbour Basketball, my team-mates over the years and all the people that have supported my journey to help me achieve where I am today.
“Also, a big shout out and thanks to Chris at Lead Scholarships NZ who put my profile forward to the coaches at UNK. I appreciate it all.”
That journey will commence at the beginning of the Fall Semester in August 2021 when Murphy will head to UNK.