Severe Storm Inbound: Catching Up With Virginia Tech's Newest Star
The Virginia Tech Hokies men’s basketball team received a significant boost when Wofford guard Storm Murphy announced his intentions to transfer for the 2021-22 season.
“The guys that are there are hoopers, they’re ballers," said the Hokies' newest addition. "I think that’s just going to be really fun to play [there].”
This move reunites Murphy with the coach that recruited him out of high school, Mike Young, who departed for Blacksburg after the 2018-19 season.
Murphy comes with an impressive resume: a career 41.7% shooter from three and experienced starter, the 6-foot stud averaged 17.8 points and 4.3 assists per game in the Southern Conference last season. This would have ranked him third in scoring and fifth in assisting in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The former Terrier is also 2-2 against ACC opponents in his career despite playing for a smaller program, falling to Duke but claiming a 2-1 record against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
“I love playing great competition, and I love playing in a situation where I am undersized or underrated," Murphy stated. "I can play against great teams, and I am definitely excited and ready for it.”
The current senior competed in 68 of a possible 70 games during his two years with Mike Young and started in 62 of them, including an NCAA Tournament victory over 10th-seeded Seton Hall.
For the Hokie commit, this bond with his former coach was a substantial reason for coming to Blacksburg for his final year.
“[Mike Young] is definitely one of the biggest reasons for me [coming to Virginia Tech]: he called me and said he wanted me there and it brought back a ton of memories from the past," Murphy relayed. "It was great to hear from him and got me really excited.”
With this guard's prowess from long range, the Hokies have opened the door to the possibility of a “death lineup,” popularized by small-ball teams in the NBA that features three-point shooters at every position.
Hunter Cattoor led the ACC this season with a 45% conversion rate from beyond the arc; Nahiem Alleyne tallied threes at a 40.8% clip; Justyn Mutts shot 46.2% from long range over the final two months; Jalen Cone averaged 45.7% in a non-injury-riddled freshman season; and All-Conference second-team member Keve Aluma was one of only two ACC players to go 5-5 from deep in a game this year.
While Wabissa Bede's playing status next year has not been determined, Murphy said that he is excited about the prospect of playing as a shooter and facilitator for next year’s team.
“I’m used to playing with really good players, players who can shoot, so I think it’ll be really fun to be added to that mix," Murphy shared. "I think we’ll be a very dangerous offensive team, for sure.”
This season, Virginia Tech overachieved, to say the least, with the Hokies projected to finish 11th out of 15 teams in the ACC in what many sportswriters deemed a rebuilding year.
Instead, the Mike Young-led outfit carved out a 4-0 record against Top 25 opponents, finished third in the conference and made an appearance in March Madness. Coach Young earned ACC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts, while forward Keve Aluma and guard Tyrece Radford were announced in the regular season conference team of the year.
With the elevation in play from a couple of transfers in Aluma and Justyn Mutts and continued development from the familiar faces in the rotation, Murphy’s arrival pushes expectations for next year even higher.
“I think a lot of these guys coming back are really hungry and want to go to the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight next year," Murphy stated with excitement in his voice. "We’re going to handle those [expectations] the right way by coming to work every day and building a winning culture, just like they’ve already done.”
Looking beyond the general anticipation of joining a team that saw different forms of success this season, Virginia Tech's new acquisition also has high standards for himself.
Two of the five first-team All-ACC members this year were new in the league and this future Hokie hopes to continue the trend.
“I want to aim to be the best, and I think every individual should want to do that" Murphy asserted. "I know there’s going to be challenges and it’s going to be very different, but I’m really looking forward to being that same player that I’m used to being— no matter how it shapes up statistically.”
Transferring from Wofford College to Virginia Tech comes with an enormous change in size and exposure. Whereas Wofford only has a student population of around 1,700, the Hokies’ Cassell Coliseum can hold up to 9,275 spectators.
Despite that, Murphy does not feel any increase in pressure. Old clips have circulated of him discussing working out with current Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro and dealing with the decision to leave his home state of Wisconsin to hit the East Coast.
As far as transitioning to a larger campus and performing in front of more sets of eyes, the star guard expressed excitement rather than nervousness.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure: I would call it fun. [That’s] definitely a reason I chose VT," Murphy quipped. "I’ve played in really intense situations and crowd environments and have thrived.”
Next, the conversation shifted to a much different subject.
“Have you ever seen a human consume as much popcorn as Mike Young?”
“Absolutely not: he is mister popcorn, and it’s awesome. The tradition has lived on for years, and it’s awesome to see. I love it. He definitely has eaten the most I’ve ever seen.”
“Do you think that you have the coolest name in college sports?”
“It’s definitely up there; I think so.”
“Have you ever considered asking the person in charge of the public address system to play a thunderclap after you make a three?”
“I have not, but that’s a really good idea. Maybe we should do that!”
“I have four words; you tell me what they mean to you: beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes [referencing a viral video on social media featuring Murphy dancing with his family].”
“A memory I’ll never forget— I think it describes and shows my family very well, a part of who I am and my personality. I love to be free and love life and have fun with people.”
“Will you be doing the Benny’s Challenge?”
“I’m going to have to try that; I love to eat. I love pizza; I’ve got to keep my weight up. I’ll probably be trying that challenge.”
Setting the silliness aside, Murphy has the potential to be a tremendous addition to Virginia Tech’s roster.
He brings intelligence at the point of attack, familiarity with coach Young's motion-based system, has the ability to create his own shot at all three levels of the court, has been reliable in clutch moments and is a willing passer. It is hard to imagine a better fit in the current rotation.
“I already know what I’m walking into; I’m excited to meet new people and have a blast while I’m there," Murphy volunteered. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Hokie fans can get used to hearing the name Storm Murphy and seeing his picture in the news as Virginia Tech gears up to improve upon their already impressive third place ACC finish this year.
In fact, the talented addition made his thoughts about next year as clear as he could with a message to Hokie fans.
“Next year is going to be a great year. We have a team that is returning a lot of firepower, and I’m really excited to add to that and win the ACC," Murphy shared. "I’m really excited to get all of the support that I’ve heard so much about and have Hokie Nation behind us, so that we can do some incredible things in return.”
A stellar coach, a hungry cast of players and a brand-new star added to the fold: this sets the stage for a lethal Hokie squad to hit the court in the 2021-22 season.