On Thursday, the University of Texas-El Paso announced the signings of a pair of junior college freshmen who will have three years of eligibility at the WAC school.
The Miners added finesse 6-8, 225 pound power/combo forward Brent Murphy from Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Tex., and bouncy 6-5, 205 pound forward Jason Williams of Kilgore College in Kilgore, Tex.
Both players visited El Paso this spring, as have top Miner targets Filiberto Rivera and Omar Thomas. Rivera could announce as early as today, according to Southeastern Iowa Head Coach Joe O'Brien.
A native of Pflugerville, Tex., Murphy was a pleasant surprise at Lon Morris this past season. Playing along a front line with two high Division I signees in C.J. Pigford (Charlotte) and Diego Romero (Florida State), Murphy averaged 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.
A skilled big man who moves well and has range beyond the three point arc, Murphy shot 54 percent from the floor and an eye-popping 56 percent on his 50 three point attempts. He appeared in 24 games for the Bearcats in 2002-2003.
Williams signing came as a complete surprise because most people assumed he was a non-qualifier out of high school.
JUCO Junction caught up with Kilgore Head Coach Scott Schumacher on Thursday afternoon, and he informed us that Williams posted a very late qualifying test score as a high school senior. As a result, few people knew that the active athlete was available this spring, except of course for UTEP.
Williams is a bouncy athlete whose exceptional quickness allows him to track down loose balls. He can play both the three and the four as he did this winter for the Rangers, but if he outside shot comes along, it's conceivable that he will swing between the three and two positions down the road.
As a freshman this past season at Kilgore, Williams averaged 13.8 points and 9.1 rebounds, shooting 51 percent from the floor. He only attempted six three pointers all season long, attesting to the fact that he does most of his damage around the tin and on the glass.
"Jason is bouncy, quick to the ball and plays extremely hard," Schumacher said. "He has a good work ethic and keeps playing regardless of the situation."
JUCO Junction had a chance to watch Williams prior to his arrival to Kilgore and with the Rangers last month at the Region 14 Tournament. There's little doubting his talents as a run jump athlete, and the fact that he consistently plays hard gives him an edge over his opponents.
"He is a mismatch guy," Schumacher noted. "When smaller guys are on him, he can post them up, and if bigger guys come out to guard him, he can get by them off the dribble."
JUCO Junction will stay on top of junior college recruiting this spring, so keep it here for the most in-depth coverage of JC hoops on the internet.