Maybe like me you forgot the high school basketball season began last week. Not going to lie, with so much happening in the Seattle sports world, it wasn’t on my radar.
But then the scores began to roll in from the games earlier this week.
And social media began to buzz following Rainer Beach’s 100-62 win over Franklin because Dejounte Murray scored 52 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the second game of the season. Highlights (above) are courtesy of Ballislife. And here’s a nice feature from King5-TV.
Fifty-two points is a new school record at a place that produced NBA stars such as Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Doug Christie and Terrance Williams.
Few people saw Murray’s record-setting game, but they will see the box score. And fifty-two points is a statement.
“It just shows all the hard work is paying off,” Murray said Thursday. “These last couple of nights, I just look back and I’m like dang hard work really does pay off. That’s the truth.”
Fifty-two points says Murray, who signed with Washington last month, is not only the No. 1 prospect in the state, but he’s among the elites on the West Coast as well as an early candidate to receive invitations to the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.
It says Murray, a consensus four-star prospect according to major services, may also rise in the recruiting rankings. Scout ranks him 37th nationally, ESPN 47th and Rivals 52nd.
And it says three-time defending state champion Rainier Beach should be considered one of the favorites to win it all again despite losing nine players.
“Murray last year was a perfect role player,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said. “He complimented all of those other guys. Murray this year is top 20 in the country. No doubt about it. No question.
“I just told him I know you love to get guys involved and everything, but man I need you to be that killer now. I need you to be almost like a Michael Jordan type.”
Here’s a link to the Metro League boys basketball schedule. Rainier Beach plays at Nathan Hale 8 p.m. Friday.
The Vikings will also participate in the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, Ore. The 16-team tournament begins Dec. 26 and includes national powerhouses Montverde (Fla.) Academy and Wheeler High from Marietta, GA.
And here’s an interview with Murray.
(Take me through the game.) “Before every game last year and especially this year coach Mike tells me all the time to be a leader. All the assistant coaches say be more vocal. They were basically just come out and lead us and be the leader we know you are. Before we came out for warm-ups, me and coach Mike always talk before the game and he was like you know what to do. And as soon as we got out there, as soon as I stepped on the floor for the home opener – the first game at home for my senior – I was just ready. As soon as I started warming up I felt like I was going to have a good game. My coaches kept pumping me up. I was making shots in warmups. I got a sweat going. As soon as the game started, Keith Smith gave me the ball for a three. Then I got another three after and I’m thinking it’s going to be a good night. Most people see 52 points and think he was ball hogging, but I was unselfish. Everybody got shots off. Keith Smith, Shadeed (Shabazz), the whole team. Everybody got shots off. I barely missed some shots. I was just clicking. That first quarter they said I had about 26 points, but I wasn’t worried about the points. I was just trying to get better each possession whether it was offense or defense. At halftime coach told me I had 37 and he was like don’t worry about the points, but get yours. Keep going. Don’t let up. That’s one of the sayings here at Beach, don’t let up. Coach Harold Wright always writes that on the board before every game and before we pray. I didn’t let up in the second half and I came out and destroyed again.”
(When you score 52 in your second game where do you go from there?) “That was another thing coach Mike told me. He said make a statement to everybody in the state, the world and everybody. I think I made a statement, but at the same time I’m not really worried about that now because it’s behind me. I can’t rewind in life. Nobody can. It’s in the past. It happened. I’m happy I did accomplish that, but now I’m ready to play Friday’s game against Nathan Hale and get better with the squad. Get back to practice and keep getting better. That’s what it’s all about.”
(How did you get your points?) “My points came off of dunks, threes and in transition. They didn’t zone us that much. I thought they were going to zone us, but they barely zoned us. They probably zoned us for three minutes out of the whole 32 minutes of the game. I was getting dunks. I was making shots. I went the free throw line. Coach said I was 14 of 16 on free throws. It was off the dribble. When I felt like I had my man beat it was just one dribble and I got to the basket. My teammates were trying to get me the ball. They were happy for me. None of them hated on me or had a smirk on their face. Everybody was happy for me and that’s what it’s all about, having fun and being happy for your teammates.”
(When you score 52 points in the second game it seems like it’s a testament to the work you put in during the offseason.) “Not just the offseason, but every week I workout. After practice coach tells me to rest up so sometimes I go home, chill with the family, wake up and do my school work. But then on weekends, I go to the gym either by myself or with my trainer and take a couple of my teammates if they want to come.”
(Where do you go?) “I go to Washington. I work out every weekend. Three times a week. I haven’t missed one since this summer. It depends on whatever court is open. And if there’s none open, then coach Mike is willing to open the gym for me here. So I’m getting my work in. It’s not just the offseason. The offseason was hard work, but it was also a lot of traveling and playing a lot of ball. I barely got to work out by myself.”
(Where do you get your work ethic?) “Honestly I didn’t get my work ethic from nobody. It just came to me because time waits for no man and I’m not waiting for no man or nobody. I always want to motivate myself and always want to get better.”
(Saw you Sunday sitting behind the bench at Washington’s game against San Diego State. What do you get from going to the games?) “I can see the future. I imagine myself on that court. Before I go to the games, me and Jamal (Crawford) will talk and he be like can you imagine yourself on that court? And I’m like yeah. Out there getting buckets and bringing UW back. Just having fun.”
(So you’re going to be a regular then?) “It’s a great feeling. I told coach (Lorenzo Romar) I won’t miss any home games. I’m going to come to every home game they got and just show my support. I texted a couple of teammates and on social media talked to some of them on there. I just want to support them. That’s about it.”
(Have you felt a little buzz after scoring 52 points?) “A little bit. But I just want people to know I’m not done. I’m still striving for greatness. I’m not done. That was just the beginning.”
(What does it feel like to own a scoring record at this school with a legacy of NBA players?) “It just shows all the hard work is paying off. These last couple of nights, I just look back and I’m like dang hard work really does pay off. That’s the truth.”
(What was your previous scoring high?) “Probably last year. The 30 for 30. When I had 30 points and 30 rebounds.”
(So you get 52 points in your second game, which begs the question how many more can you score in a game? Is 60 possible?) “It’s possible. Anything is possible.”
And here’s an interview with Bethea.
(Has anybody every scored 52 points at Rainier Beach?) “That’s it. That’s the high here. Rosell Ellis had 49. He had 49 and Lodrick Stewart had 47. His 52 was incredible because he did it so easy.”
(When did Ellis and Stewart get their highs?) “Lodrick Stewart did his in 2003 and Rosell Ellis did his in ’93.)
(What did Murray’s 52-point performance look like?) “What he basically did was he got offensive rebounds. Out of the 50-something points, he probably shot 70 percent from the field. It was all over. He had three four-point plays. He was just in a zone. He was in that zone where the basket keeps (getting wider).”
(I don’t know if anyone could have scored 52 points for your teams last year because they were so deep. So do you like it when one guy goes off like that or do you need a few more to get going?) “Lost in all of this was the fact that Keith played 2 1/2 quarters and dropped 23 points. Shadeed Shabazz was under the weather and he led us in scoring the first game with 24. The beauty of all of this was when we needed big buckets he (Murray) was going to get them. It wasn’t like he was isolating and going, he was getting offensive rebounds and putbacks. The one thing I like about this team is we’re still balanced like last year. We don’t have the big names, but we’re still balanced. Because if you break it down Baby Boy last year was good and Baby Boy this year is incredible. last year. Last year we had Shaqquan Aaron and this year we have Keith. The jury is still out, but basically Keith can do everything he needs to do. Last year David Crisp and this year Shadeed Shabazz. Again the jury is still out, but Shadeed Shabazz is a kid that I think can step in and do more than what he (Crisp) did.”
(What’s the difference between Murray from last year to this year?) “Oh my goodness. Murray last year was a perfect role player. He complimented all of those other guys. Murray this year is top 20 in the country. No doubt about it. No question. I watched him play in the Nike Global Game. His team won the championship. He made the all-tournament team and should have gotten the MVP. He can go. I don’t know if you got to see him play in Jamal’s Pro-Am.”
(I did. And I’m guessing that now that he’s playing against his peers and kids his age he’s probably dominating. At least that’s what 52 points would seem to suggest. It says he’s a killer.) “That’s the emphasis I put on him a lot and he’s accepted that challenge. I just told him I know you love to get guys involved and everything, but man I need you to be that killer now. I need you to be almost like a Michael Jordan type.”
(Which may be hard for Murray because he’s really a nice kid.) “Yeah he is. He’s a good kid, but on that court you need to be something else. So Lorenzo (Romar) and I have talked a lot. He knows he’s getting a special one. This kid here, he’s a winner above everything else.”