Franz Beard’s Basketball Confidential

Everybody knew Erik Murphy could shoot from the outside. Everybody already knew about the silky smooth jumper whose range he has extended all the way out to the three-point line through a lot of hard work. Everybody also knew that Murph is a real hustler who runs like a gazelle up and down the floor. What we didn’t know is that he’s got a terrific inside game, that he’s almost equally good with either hand from close range and that while he might be a tad on the thin side, he’s wiry strong and isn’t afraid to stick an elbow into the solar plexus of someone trying to get a little too rough.

In the span of seven days, 2009 Florida commit Erik Murphy (6-10, 215, Southborough, MA, St. Mark’s School, #23 ESPN Top 100) stated his case for not only the nation’s most improved player on the AAU circuit but also for the player that is continuing to improve every time he’s on the floor. He played more than 20 games in seven days last week and by the time Sunday arrived, he was a zombie, just trying to put one foot in front of the other, but by then he had already let the people who rank high school basketball players for a living know that it’s time to throw out all the preconceived ideas and move him up the charts.

If stars are your thing then Murph was generally considered a four-star prior to last Monday when he had Derrick Favors (6-9, 220, Atlanta, GA South Atlanta, #1 ESPN) for lunch in Cincinnati in the consolation game of the adidas It Takes Five tournament. Saying Murphy dominated Favors might be too kind. Destroyed might be a better word. Lit him up. Left him lying in a heap wondering if anyone got the license plate of the 18-wheeler that ran him over.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.