MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Terry Henderson claimed the news of Aaric Murray’s departure from the WVU basketball team “came out of the blue” Monday. Fellow sophomore Eron Harris said the Mountaineers need “to move on and go with the players we’ve got.”
The guard tandem, speaking with MetroNews after a late-night game at the Pittsburgh Pro-Am summer league, said Murray had been working out this summer and participating in open-gym scrimmages. But as of Monday morning the 6-foot-10 senior was gone, becoming the fifth underclassmen to exit in the wake of WVU’s 13-19 finish.
Though Bob Huggins described Murray’s departure as a “mutual agreement” in a school-issued news release, it wasn’t hard to decode the WVU coach’s context when he was asked about Murray during the MetroNews “Sportsline” on Monday night.
“I really like Aaric, I really do,” Huggins said. “I just think it will best for Aaric to start again, start fresh.”
Of course Murray had already tried the starting-fresh notion at WVU after two seasons at LaSalle. As unfair as it seems to link a team’s won-loss record to a single player, the Explorers went 26-34 with Murray and 44-21 in the two seasons since he left.
“As we all know, he’s got a world of talent,” Huggins said. “He’s just got to bottle that talent and put it on the floor on a consistent basis.”
At his best, Murray was a hungry rebounder and shot-blocker who possessed 3-point shooting range. At his worst, Murray was a brooding, foul-plagued underachiever. You could argue his best contribution to the program these past 24 months was graduating—an accomplishment that guarantees his exit won’t hurt the Mountaineers’ APR.
It’s unlikely at this late date WVU could attract a worthy candidate for the scholarship Murray vacated. Moreso, WVU is concerned with enrolling three signees who have yet to qualify: prep school signee Elijah Macon and junior college recruits Remi Dibo and Jonathan Holton.
“We’re in the process of sorting some things out,” Huggins said. “They’re going to be here—I have no doubt they’re going to be here, and they’re going to be productive.”
Nor was Huggins lamenting the Murray-sized hole left in the middle.
“We signed six guys 6-7 or bigger, so time on the frontline’s not going to be a problem,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that potentially can be very good.”