Panther-lair - Pitt lands a JUCO guard
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Pitt lands a JUCO guard

Jeff Capel added another piece to the 2019 roster on Wednesday morning with the commitment of JUCO guard Ryan Murphy.

The commitment comes a week after Pitt offered the 6'2" guard and two weeks before he is scheduled to visit the Panthers.

"The Pitt coaches recruit very well," Murphy told "Coach (Jeff) Capel is a winner. He also played the game at an extremely high level.

"They see me coming in as a guard who can make shots. Shoot the three ball and make shots from deep. They also think I can add some maturity to the team, being a junior and adding another ball handler and and guard to the back court they have."

A native of Calabasas (Calif.), Murphy will come to Pitt directly from New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs (N.M.), but his path has been more wayward than that.

Murphy started his college career at UNC-Charlotte, where he averaged 6.7 points per game on 41% shooting from the floor in his freshman season. The strength of his game has always been shooting the ball, and he converted 41% from three.

After Mark Price was let go, Murphy decided to leave the Charlotte program. He ended up in New Mexico at a junior college, and in his one season of playing there, he led the team in scoring 18.5 points per game. He went on to make a commitment to Washington State, but then backed out of that and decided to open up his recruitment after dealing with some minor injuries.

As Murphy looked for a new home, a unique connection came into play.

Last summer, after leaving Charlotte, Murphy spent a few months working out with NBA guard Stephen Curry. The Golden State Warrior played with Pitt director of student-athlete development Jason Richards at Davidson, and the two have remained close friends. After Murphy spent time with Curry last year, the NBA All-Star shared his thoughts on Murphy with Richards, who tipped off the Panthers' coaching staff.

Not long after, Pitt assistant Jason Capel made the trip to Calabasas to visit Murphy at his home. That made a big impact on Murphy, and the visit moved Pitt to the top of his mind immediately. He is scheduled to visit Oakland in the end of May, but felt that there was no need to wait.

"The Capel brothers gave me a family type vibe when recruiting me as well," he said. "I have watched some film of the team and how they played last year. I think if I am on the floor with Xavier (Johnson) and Trey (McGowens), it is going to be tough to stop because they are both great athletes and can really get downhill. With myself on the opposite side, it is going to be hard for teams to help off of me to stop them and vice versa."

Gonzaga, TCU, California, LSU and New Mexico State all showed strong interest in the long-range shooter. Currently at 178 pounds, one of the main concerns is durability, as Murphy has dealt with several nagging injuries. It seems as though he has gotten through that stretch.

"I'm 100% healthy," he said. "I have been working out playing pick-up with some great talent, and lifting since I got home from JUCO. My body fat is down to 4.8% right now and I think I have gotten a lot better since this past season. I pride myself on being a gym rat and outworking everyone."

"I am really excited to play for Coach Capel. I can't wait to get there in June and just get started."