Kearney, Neb. – Nebraska-Kearney head men’s basketball coach Kevin Lofton announced today that New Zealand native Sean Murphy will hit the courts for the Lopers next season.
The 6-6, 200-pound wing and Auckland native is UNK’s first recruit of the year and will have four years of eligibility. He becomes the Lopers third international player, following fellow Kiwi Matt Brien and Australian Patrick Fraser.
UNK’s current roster features four seniors in guards Sam Morris, RJ Pair and Jake Walker and post Austin Luger. The NCAA Division II Presidents Council has granted an eligibility waiver (i.e. a “free year”) for winter sport student-athletes this year due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.
“We found Sean by having Matt on our team. People know Matt is here and that helped the process. Once we found out that he was a pretty good player we started doing a lot more research,” Lofton said. “We called coaches that have been around, coaches that worked with him on the National team … we really liked what we heard.”
Starring for Rosmini College, Murphy began the 2020 season in style by averaging 26 points per game thanks to a season-high effort of 39 points. Rosmini and Murphy were attempting to reach a fourth consecutive Secondary Schools National Grand Final before the season was halted due to the COVID pandemic.
“I really liked (Coach Lofton) a lot from the first time we spoke. Coach has been with UNK for 25 years and the past five as Head Coach, so I felt he had a pretty good apprenticeship with the University and he must be doing a lot right and have a true passion and respect for the school and his players,” Murphy told New Zealand Basketball earlier this fall. “We talked a lot and I felt the fit was good for me and my goals.”
Rosmini, competing in the Premier AA Division, won titles in 2017 and 2018 before finishing runner up in 2019. The team also placed sixth at the 2019 International Sports Federation World High School Basketball games in Greece.
“The second thing is playing in a high-level Division II conference. When Coach told me it was ‘dog eat dog’ out there every game, I knew this would be a great challenge for me to expand on my skill set and help me develop even further,” Murphy said.
Outside of the high school season, Murphy is a member of the North Harbour Club program that placed first at the 2019 Great American Shootout in Dallas. The team won the New Zealand National title that year as well.
“You obviously can’t go watch him in person so we dove into the film. Sean is a very talented player … he’s long and very versatile. He can shoot the three, he’s really good at putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim. In New Zealand he’s able to work out with the NBL which is their professional league. He’s on their training squad so he gets to go against bigger, stronger, and tougher players and has held his own.”
Murphy also has had a chance to represent his country as a two-time member of the New Zealand Under 17 men’s team and as a two-time member of the Junior Tall Blacks. More recently, Murphy got a chance to compete in the New Zealand National Men’s NBL 3×3 Tournament, finishing third as a member of the Auckland Huskies.
“I’m looking forward to meeting my new coaches and teammates and finally get down to training and playing the game I love in the States. It will be fun to feel the energy and vibe of a great university and meet new people,” Murphy said.
UNK (0-1) hosts the Washburn Ichabods (1-0) Saturday at 5 p.m. in the Health & Sports Center.