January 21, 2005
Quickly. Who are the best high school basketball players in the Valley? The first couple of names are easy. There is Lawrence Westbrook — the Chandler High junior certainly can score.
There is Joey Shaw of Glendale Deer Valley — Indiana University appears to really like him.
Both of those players have gotten plenty of publicity, but there is a player that belongs on the list whom you probably don’t know a lot about. He quietly goes about his business, content to pass or rebound or play defense as well as score, so he gets little fanfare.
Pinnacle’s Ray Murdock, though, can play.
"Not many players like him dive on the floor when two guys are going for the ball, saves it and turns around and passes it," said Pioneers coach Charlie Wilde of his star 6-foot-4 senior guard/ forward, whom he calls a complete player.
"He’s just a very unselfish, versatile player where he could be selfish. He’s trying to make his teammates better, and he’s doing it on the defensive end and the offensive end. It is nice to have a player like him."
Make that very nice. In only its fourth year in 4A, Pinnacle is 17-3 and ranked No. 1. Murdock has been a key force in the growth of the program at the school which has been open for five years.
"We won 11 games when he was a freshman," Wilde said. "We went 20 and 22 (victories) the next two years and now we already have 17. He has been just a huge part of our program."
Murdock does whatever is asked of him and still is averaging 22 points and six rebounds.
"Whatever is needed, I will play," said Murdock, who really doesn’t enjoy being interviewed. "I can play the four (spot), three, two, one or even the five. I like guarding a guard, but it really doesn’t matter."
That versatility and attitude certainly impressed Brad Holland, the coach at the University of San Diego, a Division I school. Holland offered Murdock a scholarship over the summer. He readily agreed to attend the top-notch academic school.
"Over the summer I went to a camp of theirs, and they offered me (a scholarship) when I was in camp," said Murdock, expected to be a shooting guard/small forward at San Diego. "I like the coach a lot. I like his style. And we talked, and he said when I come in, I should get a lot of minutes. And it is a good conference, the West Coast Conference.
"It’s a small school, but they play really good competition."
Murdock is not bothered that he doesn’t get as much hype as Westbrook and Shaw.
"I’m not concerned about it," he said. "I do what I need to do. I wasn’t always like really, really good. I had to work on my game to get there. I was always a good defender, but you never hear about a good defender."
Wilde is just fine having Murdock as his star.
"He tries to be the leader and do what we say as coaches," Wilde said. "There are always outside people telling him, ‘You could be scoring as much as Westbrook.’
"He’s doing what he needs to do for our team."
There is one thing Murdock wants to accomplish before heading to San Diego — winning a state title.
"I just want to win the championship. We shouldn’t lose another game," Murdock said confidently but not brashly. "It’s us beating ourselves if we lose."