The Virginia Cavaliers made the cut for an interesting international prospect as New Zealand native Taine Murray included the Hoos in his final three. Murray, a 6-5 shooting guard, listed Maryland and Stanford as his two other finalists.
Murray is projected to be a four-star recruit according to 247Sports, but won’t receive his official ranking from the service until making his commitment.
“They are one of the most recent schools that came on board. It is amazing to be recruited by such a high level coach in coach [Tony] Bennet,” Murray told 247Sports in an August 9 interview. “I have a connection there with coach Kirk Penney who has been over there the past year working with coach Bennett, I think that’s how the relationship started, which I am very grateful for. There’s not many bad things to say about a school that won a National Championship in the past few years and I think the way they play is very unique and it’s been awesome to build a relationship with the school.”
He has played with the Auckland Huskies in the New Zealand NBL, but did not accept payment so that he could maintain eligibility to play in college. “I’m going to keep my amateur status, so I won’t receive any money, keeping the amateur status to keep the college pathway open at this stage,” Murray told New Zealand’s 1 NEWS back in June.
August 12, Murray announced that he would be joining the New Zealand Breakers as a Development Player for the 2020-21 season, which likely puts to rest the rumors about early enrollment. This could be a point in favor of Virginia, as HoozGotNext points out for Locker Room Access.
Huge kiwi talent that can't be missed and can't be STOPPED Taine Murray locked in as a Development Player for NBL21 #UNBREAKABLE @NBL #NBL21 pic.twitter.com/ycOmYpZhrI— Sky Sport Breakers NZ (@NZBreakers) August 12, 2020
There are some solid connections between Murray and the Cavaliers, despite Bennett and Virginia getting involved after Stanford and Maryland. Penney, the current director of player development for Virginia, is also from Auckland, New Zealand and played for both the Tall Blacks and Breakers. Another Auckland native that was a Breakers Development Player and eventual Cavalier? That, of course, is National Champion Jack Salt.
A decision date is not yet set for Murray, who Olgun Uluc of ESPN Australia & New Zealand called, “the best junior prospect in NZL.” With the coronavirus pandemic still raging in the United States, it could be a bit before he makes an announcement.
Check out some of Murray’s highlights from his junior year at Rosmini College: