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Transfer Profile: Caleb Murphy

Stubblefield brings another former top-100 recruit to the windy city

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Caleb Murphy

Height: 6-4

Former School: South Florida

New School: DePaul

Years Remaining: Three

Recruiting Ranking: 92nd

2021-22 Stats: 11.4 ppg/3.1 rpg/3.4 apg/31.8 mpg; 41.1%/20.0%/54.3%

A top 100 prospect and consensus four-star out of Loganville, GA, Caleb Murphy signed with Brian Gregory and the South Florida Bulls.

Murphy started the first game he played at USF and made an instant impact, tallying 7 assists. He scored in double-figures in each of his next four games and cemented himself in the starting lineup. Murphy would start 18 of USF’s 21 games in his freshman year and average 8.3 points. He was named to the AAC All-Freshman Team.

As a sophomore, Murphy’s playing time increased. He started all 31 games and played nearly 32 minutes a night while averaging 11.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.1 boards. Murphy saw the increase in playing time with the transfer of point guard Xavier Castenada to Akron, a move that shifted Murphy from combo guard to full-time point guard.

What’s His Game?

Caleb Murphy may bring the most impact as a defender. With an increase in minutes in his sophomore year, USF’s defense improved from 147th to 79th in efficiency. Murphy was a significant part of that.

Murphy is a fluid athlete with long arms and great mirroring skills. That meant he was often a nuisance for opposing point guards for whom driving into the paint was made more difficult. He’s skinny enough to get by screens, too, adding to his impact.

Murphy was a menace through much of the first half against Auburn, including this play which may be the funniest I’ve come across while reviewing transfers. Murphy looks more at home with the Bears or Blackhawks here than the Blue Demons. Perhaps he can moonlight alongside Eddie Jackson next fall.

On offense, Murphy’s game is still a work in progress. His go-to shot is the elbow jumper, and he went to it a lot. Due to his quickness and high release, he could get good looks even when covered.

This was most of Murphy’s game as a shooter, though. 242 of his 367 field goal attempts last year came in the mid-range. He did a good job finishing, hitting 53.7 percent of his looks around the rim, but he didn’t get there often enough. A sloppy dribble combined with poor sequencing of dribble moves meant Murphy was usually steered away from the basket. If Murphy can get downhill more often and take a higher percentage of his shots from close to the basket, he’ll be able to take his offensive game to the next level.

The same also goes for his 3-point shooting. Murphy shot just 6-for-30 from deep last year. His 56.0 percent career free throw shooting number does not inspire optimism that Murphy will become a prolific shooter.

Murphy is a mixed bag when he doesn’t shoot the ball. His assist rate was higher than 26 percent in both seasons at USF, but his turnover rate was also 17.6 percent last year. He creates highlight reel plays for his teammates frequently, but he loses the ball or gets stuck in the offense nearly as often.

It didn’t help that USF was the second worst shooting team in Division I last year. The Bulls finished dead last in 3-point shooting.

What’s His Role?

With the departure of Javon Freeman-Liberty, there is a wide-open position in the DePaul backcourt. Murphy will join last year’s Oregon-transfer Jalen Terry and this year’s Oklahoma-transfer Umoja Gibson in fighting for playing time.

Murphy has experience playing both the one- and two-guard positions which should get him on the floor more often. This should help him complement either guard nicely. He’s also a fantastic athlete and defensive asset, giving Tony Stubblefield a good option when he wants to push the pace.

Murphy may not be a full-time starter next year, but he will be an impact player for DePaul. That impact will be limited, though, as long as he remains an inefficient shooter and a turnover-prone guard.