by ARMANDO HARMON
With the 2017-2018 men’s basketball season already on its way, the Aztecs are in good shape to redeem their loss last season in the National Junior College Athletic Association Tourney quarterfinals.
Isaiah Murphy is a returning guard, already averaging 24 points a game with a field goal percentage of 72.
Murphy is looking to lead the Aztecs with his athleticism and his experience playing on Japan’s national team.
Murphy was born in Okinawa, Japan. His father was in the military when he met Murphy’s mother, of Japanese descent.
Because of his father’s career, he spent the majority of his childhood living in Japan and Alaska. Murphy didn’t move to Tucson until his sophomore year of high school, where Murphy played basketball for Cienega. In his senior year, he averaged 17 points per game and 5.2 rebounds.
With these numbers, he was named All-Section First Team in Cienega division and All-State Second Team. The team made it to the state tournament but fell in the first round.
Basketball wasn’t the only sport.
He also played volleyball his junior and senior year, racking up 174 kills his senior year with a .349 hitting percentage.
Originally, Murphy planned to join the military after high school to follow in his father’s footsteps.
After a long talk with his father, who pointed out that the military would always be there, where the opportunity to play basketball was fleeting, he decided to commit to Pima first.
Murphy had already built a good relationship with the men’s head coach Brian Peabody, who began recruiting Murphy early, starting during his time playing club ball with the Tucson Spartans.
This summer, Murphy was invited to play for the under-19 Japan national team. The International Basketball Federation, known as FIBA, had its yearly tournament and Murphy was able to travel to Frankfort, Germany, and later on to Cairo, Egypt during his time with the team.
Thanks to his mom knowing the right people, Murphy sent his highlight tape to the Japan Basketball Association. They were impressed with what they saw.
“We get to travel a little bit,” Murphy said. “I got to see a lot of experiences, a lot of competition from a lot of countries.”
By developing his skills overseas, Murphy is hoping to take his experiences and bring them to another successful season at Pima.
“The FIBA game is different,” Murphy said. “They let a lot of things go; in college basketball they call a lot of fouls.”
Murphy said the Aztecs are looking to redeem themselves this year.
“We felt like we could have have won that game,” Murphy said. “We are looking to do more things this year. A region championship and to win nationals are our goals.”
Murphy hopes to win All-Conference First Team and lead his team to the postseason.
Outside of playing for Aztecs basketball, the liberal arts major enjoys staying close to anything basketball related.
With plans on transferring to any Division I school that offers him a free education, Murphy eventually hopes to either coach or to be a skills trainer in the sport he loves.
“He’s a great athlete”, head coach Brian Peabody said. “Hopefully, this season can be good for him and the team.”