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Boardroom Q&A With Pelicans First-round Pick Trey Murphy III

The Virginia Cavalier and No. 17 overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft takes Boardroom through his path to realizing his professional dreams.

Trey Murphy III seemed more than okay by being snubbed from receiving an invite to the NBA Draft green room at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the place where the brings what it thinks are the 20 best prospects on-site.

Instead, the 6-foot-9 Virginia Cavaliers forward spent it with dozens of family and friends at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in Raleigh, NC, next to his hometown of Durham.

Just minutes after the Excel Sports client was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 17th overall pick, the 21-year-old Murphy — wearing a fresh navy blue Pels hat — spoke with Boardroom about being drafted, his journey to NBA dreams, and the chance to play alongside Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

The following is Boardroom’s conversation with the newly-minted rookie lightly edited for clarity.

SHLOMO SPRUNG: Take us through the moment you found out you were going to be drafted.

TREY MURPHY III: My agent called me, and I knew once he called me I knew it was time. He said New Orleans is looking really good at the 15th pick or so. He was saying New Orleans was looking really good.

I just stayed calm, but like it was crazy. I started getting text messages and stuff like that before I saw it on ESPN. So I just tried to keep my composure at that time, and then when I heard my name called, I had a lot of emotion.

It’s just a really great feeling. I’m so excited to be a Pelican.

SS: Did you have all the hats ready to go for every team that might have picked you?

TM: Actually, no, we did not. But the New Orleans Pelicans, they were really heavy on me, really strong. They showed a lot of interest from the beginning, so we had a good feeling about them. It’s great that I can wear the hat right now. That’s crazy that we really got one.

SS: What was the pre-draft process like with New Orleans, and why did you think that you had a chance to go there?

TM: Really, it was just that they showed me the most love and I fit with their team. They need shooting, and I definitely bring that to the floor. I’m just so excited right now. It’s crazy.

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SS: What’s the significance of you being able to spend this great moment in your life with friends and family?

TM: It was really special. These are people that brought me up, who are my support system. At the green room, you can only have four people, and my family is so big that it’s almost like disrespecting somebody. So I was super happy I was able to share this with my family and friends.

SS: How many people did you have over there?

TM: 100.

SS: That’s a lot more than four.

TM: Yes, definitely.

SS: You had a long road just to get to this point, starting at Rice, transferring to Virginia. How much did that college experience shape you into who you are today?

TM: Super important. When I got to college, I was the 13th man on my team. I had another freshman playing over me. I had dealt with a little bit of basketball adversity that I felt made me a lot tougher. And I was super grateful for it.

My time at Rice, I appreciate every little bit of it. I wouldn’t change it for the world. My time at Virginia really shaped me into a professional basketball player. The whole structure and program is super professional, and for my path, I appreciate it a lot.

SS: Like you said, you’re a knockdown shooter. You had a 50/40/90 season, the first ACC player to do so since Kyrie Irving 10 years ago. How did you develop into that shooter at Rice and then at UVA?

TM: Really, it’s just repetition. Having good mechanics, having a good trainer helped me a lot. My trainer, Coach Shawn Farmer, he’s a shooting expert. I’ve been working with him since I was 10 years old, so he made sure I stayed confident and kept my mechanics correct. So they sky’s the limit.

SS: When did you think you had a shot to make the NBA?

TM: Probably my sophomore year in college. I was realizing [about] the guys in that draft class, I was really similar to those guys and I felt I could be in the NBA as well.

SS: You not only get to be in the NBA, but you get to play with Zion and Brandon Ingram and all the talented Pelicans. Have you thought about what that’s going to be like yet?

TM: It’s great. Zion and BI, they have a great gravity towards them. My main thing is you’re going to have to help them.

[Murphy then receives a call he has to take from new Pelicans head coach Willie Green]

SS: Last question: What was that phone call you just took like?

TM: It was really nice. He was just saying they’re really excited to have me. The entire room was jumping for joy when it happened. It’s just a really good situation when you’re going into a place where everybody wants you there and they really believe in me. So he was just emphasizing that and they’re really excited to have me.