I feel like the journey begins now. I don't feel like I've made it yet. So I feel like the work begins right now and I have to continue working. I want to help improve this team. —Kevin Murphy
ORLANDO, Fla. — The path to the NBA is different for every player.
Some players travel a route that provides them instant stardom, hefty salaries and fan admiration. Others go undrafted and are forced to work extra hard to earn their shot. Then there are the players like Kevin Murphy — talented second-round picks that fall somewhere between the stars and the journeymen. They're allowed to feel the joy of having their name called on draft night, but must immediately work harder than their more famous brethren to earn a guaranteed spot.
The circumstances, however, don't change anything for Murphy. He's in the NBA and planning on making the most of his opportunity.
"The process has been good for me; I love hoopin'," Murphy said Monday. "I feel like the journey begins now. I don't feel like I've made it yet. So I feel like the work begins right now and I have to continue working. I want to help improve this team."
The 22-year-old guard made his name as a scorer at Tennessee Tech University, amassing 2,019 points in his four-year career. He gained national attention after a 50-point outburst against SIU-Edwardsville.
His impressive numbers, however, weren't good enough for a team to select him in the first round of this year's NBA draft. Selected No. 47 in the second round by the Jazz, Murphy is one of those that will have to work extra hard to earn a spot and avoid the alternative road of the D-League or international basketball that many players drafted in the second round are forced to take before playing in the NBA.
But Murphy didn't let the number of his selection steal the joy of the moment. When the Jazz called his name, he was overcome with joy. He had achieved a dream and wouldn't waste time thinking about his draft position.
"I was so excited, more excited than I've ever been," he said. "It was probably one of the happiest days of my life; I enjoyed the moment so much. I watched it with my family and friends and was able to share the moment with them. It was a pretty good moment for me."
The process of making an NBA roster can be one of the most stressful things a player must go through. For someone like Murphy, a guy that has played well but isn't a lottery pick, the months leading up to the draft consist of a multitude of workouts and interviews in search for of a job. It's something that can break a weak-minded person down before the real grind of the NBA begins.
Murphy embraced the challenge, though, and is determined to prove that he belongs in the NBA.
"The process is crazy," Murphy said. "For that month and a half, you don't know anything. You don't know where you're going, you don't know who liked you and you honestly don't know if you're even going to be drafted.
"You have to stay grounded and keep pushing every day. I tried to get better every day and improve at every workout."
Murphy depended on his family and his faith to help him get through the process.
"My family helped me so much though this," he said. "They would encourage me every day and make sure I kept God first and kept praying. They kept my spirits up and I knew I would be OK."
Murphy's coaches have been impressed with his work and believe he has the potential to make an impact in the league if he continues to work hard and focus.
"He done well in camp," Jazz Summer League coach Sidney Lowe said. "There are things he's going to need to learn, but I think he'll get it. He pays attention quite well and he's a quick learner. So I'm sure he'll get it."