He could either get a job or look into obtaining his GED. Before going in either route, however, a friend suggested he give PSAL alternative school Marcy Avenue a look. There, he could earn a high school diploma and play basketball – which he never did at Grady because of academic problems. It was the best of both worlds.
“It was the best decision of my life,” the 21-year-old Coney Island native said.
Four years later, that’s stating the obvious.
South Plains College
Coney Island native Tymell Murphy has signed with Florida International.
After a solid two-year career at Marcy and one year apiece at JUCOs South Plains College (Tx.) and Mohawk Valley Community College (N.Y.), Murphy made himself into a Division I prospect. On Tuesday he signed with Florida International and new coach Richard Pitino, son of Hall-of-Famer Rick Pitino.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “It’s one of the goals I set for myself when I started playing basketball. I wanted to go to the highest level of basketball. … I feel very humble about this experience and very excited. I know I’m going to be in a great place in Florida.”
The 6-foot-5 guard chose the Panthers over Bradley, Central Michigan, Wichita State, Fordham and Iona in part because of Richard Pitino, who coached under his father at Louisville, for Billy Donovan at Florida and also at Duquesne and Northeastern.
“Coach Richard Pitino being a first-year coach and me being new, I’m really excited,” he said of his new coach, who took over for Isiah Thomas two weeks ago. “I think it’s a great opportunity for me. He explained what he was trying to do at FIU. I feel it’s a great place for me.”
Murphy was a big part of South Plains’ success, as one of its top rebounders, defenders and playmakers. He averaged 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds for a team that went a perfect 36-0 and won the NJCAA championship, the first JUCO team to go undefeated since 1998.
"We are fired up about the addition of Tymell Murphy," Richard Pitino said in a statement. "Anytime you have an opportunity to bring a student-athlete in from a national championship program, you are fortunate. Tymell can play multiple positions and will be able to provide necessary leadership.”
At the season’s outset, assistant coach Hank Plona said Murphy was a starter because of his versatility, namely his elite rebounding ability and defensive prowess, but as the year went on and his shot improved, he became a focal part of the offense. The FIU staff told Plona they think Murphy can help the moment he steps on campus.
“I don’t think he’s anywhere close to his ceiling,” Plona said. “He can go to FIU and be a starter right away. He can absolutely be a big impact guy.”
That’s music to Murphy’s ears. From a young age, he always loved the sport but while at Grady he could never get on the court because of academic issues. He didn’t have his priorities in order, he said. When his grandmother Alice Gilyard and good friend Vincent Carmona passed away, he woke up. Neither would be happy with his current plight. He landed at Marcy and began taking academics seriously and putting in even more work on the basketball court.
“I told myself I’m going to do everything in my power to play the game of basketball and do something positive,” he recalled.
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