- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Aaric Murray is a classic archetype. "Talented but troubled." So named because the alliteration is usually too much for our sportswriting brethren to resist, but also because it deftly sums up the situation. Murray, like so many before him, is a very good basketball player. When he's interested and engaged -- and sometimes even when he's not -- he's an excellent interior scorer and rebounder, an obvious asset.
The only problem is, well, everything else. In 2011, in search of more exposure and in the doghouse of the coaching staff, Murray left La Salle. His departure was greeted with dismay by some, because it seemed to rob a rebuilt La Salle team of its interior anchor just as the Explorers were cresting. But the response also included a few "good riddance" rumblings from around the team. In December 2011, Murray was sitting out his transfer year en route to West Virginia when he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession. When he became eligible, he was supposed to play a large role in Bob Huggins' transfer-heavy Mountaineers reconfiguration. Instead, Huggins suspended him for a violation of team rules in 2012, and when the season rolled around, his minutes, points and rebounds all dropped. WVU limped to a truly ugly 13-19 campaign. In July, Huggins announced he and Murray had arrived at a "mutual decision" -- the polite way to say, "I kicked him off the team" -- and that Murray would finish his final year of eligibility elsewhere.
That elsewhere, we now know, is the Island of Misfit Toys. You may know it better as Texas Southern:
"I am very fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to be mentored by Coach John Lucas, while I attend Texas Southern University. Although, this is not the road I expected to take, this journey will undoubtedly support my goals long term.
"I also feel that being mentored by Coach Lucas and Coach Mike Davis will support my mission to be the best Aaric Murray I can be. Publicly, there are tons of expectations of what I should be. This however is the best opportunity I have in efforts of reaching my full potential. In addition anything that can be done in college basketball can be done at Texas Southern."
And there's this from Texas Southern coach Mike Davis:
"Aaric Murray will be a big addition to our team and he will give us a chance to compete at the highest level of the SWAC."
Which is just ... actually, yeah, I'm not going to touch that.
Anyway, while there is some weirdness afoot here, not least of which is the notion that a player needs to be mentored by John Lucas while he is being coached by another person on a day-to-day basis, ultimately, the "Island of Misfit Toys" is meant out of love. Maybe Murray really does need to get away from things. Maybe he needs to be somewhere where basketball is the sole focus and distractions are at a minimum. Maybe he needs to be coached by someone who knows the insanity of the high-profile college basketball program, and who has refused to recede from coaching but instead been willing to go from Indiana to Texas Southern if it meant he got to keep coaching.
There's something to admire there, and maybe something Murray can learn. And if something insane happens next spring, and the Mike Davis-Aaric Murray duo wins a game in the tournament or something, I call dibs on the movie rights. That's legally binding, right?