Lady Devils’ Murphy signs to play for the Griz

Sunday, July 21, 2019
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Dawson County High School senior Karsen Murphy recently signed to play for the University of Montana Lady Griz.

Her senior year at Dawson County High School is yet to begin, but unlike most of her classmates Karsen Murphy already knows what college she will attend next year and what her future there holds, and what her future holds is playing NCAA Division I basketball for the University of Montana Lady Grizzlies.

Murphy recently verbally committed to play for the Lady Griz after being offered an athletics scholarship to suit up for Montana’s “other” flagship university in Missoula. Her choice of college is decidedly “other,” as she noted that the majority of her close family attended Montana State, including her maternal grandfather, Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison, who played football for the Bobcats. But Murphy sounds like a young woman who very much wants to cut her own path rather than follow where her forebears have already trod.

“I’m kind of going against family tradition here because most of my family went to Bozeman, so when they found out I was going to Montana, they were a little shocked,” she said. “But somebody’s got to break tradition, right?”

Murphy added that she did draw interest from other colleges, but that she would end up wearing the crimson and silver seems to have been lining up for some time now.

“I had other colleges I was talking to, but the Griz and I have been in contact for a while,” she said. “I’m very happy with my decision and confident in it.”

With the basketball scholarship from Montana offered and accepted, Murphy has achieved a goal she said she set for herself when she first arrived in the halls of DCHS as a freshman three years ago.

“I had a whole goal since I started high school that I wanted to go (NCAA) D-I, so I just worked really hard and they ( the Grizz) were kind of a goal of mine,” she said.

Lady Red Devils coach Kayla Rivas said she knew from fairly early on that here was a young lady whose goals and dreams of playing bigtime collegiate basketball would not be denied.

“Karsen came to me a couple years ago before a practice and said to me, ‘I want to play Division I basketball,’” Rivas said. “I knew at that point she was not going to settle for anything less. She is the most self-motivated girl I have ever coached and when she puts her mind to something she will find a way to achieve it.”

With her college decision already made, Murphy can now focus on the upcoming DCHS basketball season, and in that regard she has some unfinished business she wants to attend to before her high school playing career is over.

“Now I have to set new goals, and one of our team goals this year is to win our conference, and I think we have a really good shot at doing that,” Murphy said.

With the talented — and remarkably tall and longlimbed — Murphy anchoring the squad, the Lady Devils may indeed have a good chance of doing just that. In addition to the skills she has spent years honing under the close tutelage of her father, DCHS boys basketball coach Wade Murphy, she is cognizant of the fact that her height and length often serve to give her an advantage over other girls, allowing her to shoot or pass right over the top of them.

But while Murphy noted her athleticism, shooting, and passing as strengths, and has already secured a NCAA D-I athletics scholarship, she is not resting on her laurels. Besides leading the Lady Devils to new heights this season, Murphy is also keen to continue to work on her game and improve on certain aspects of it — like her ballhandling and driving hard to the basket — before she arrives on the Missoula campus next fall.

“Obviously I still have a lot of growing to do, which is good, and I have my senior year to do it,” Murphy said. “I want to continue to grow and improve as a player and get ready so I’ll be good enough to play in D-I.”

Asked what aspect of her game she needs to improve the most in, Murphy pointed to her ball-handling skills in particular as something she wants to get much better at over her final high school season.

“Going to the D-I level, that’s something you really need, and I need to work on that a lot,” she said.

There would seem to be little doubt she will succeed in that goal as well. With genetics on her side — both her parents played college basketball, father Wade at Dawson Community College and mother Michaela at Montana-Western — her own work ethic and dogged determination to achieve the goals she sets for herself, Murphy’s future appears bright indeed, as her high school coach noted.

“Karsen’s work ethic paired with a competitive spirit makes her very difficult to beat. It seems everything she has participated in this past year she has succeeded,” Rivas said. “All Conference Volleyball, All State Basketball, State Champion in High Jump and Triple Jump, Miss Montana’s Outstanding Teen, UM basketball commit — these accolades don’t happen by chance; she is incredibly deserving of each and every award she has been given and I am so honored that I have been able to be a part of her journey. Karsen has hardly begun to tap her potential. The University of Montana got themselves a competitor.”

When it specifically comes to her basketball prowess, however, Murphy said there’s one person above all who deserves credit for getting her to where she is today, the person who spent countless hours on the court with her running her through drills and was in the room with her and shared that awestruck moment with her when the Griz offered her a basketball scholarship — her father, Wade.

“My dad for sure,” Murphy answered when asked who she credited most with helping her to achieve her dream of playing college basketball. “He has definitely given me a lot of tools, a lot of drills, a lot of support, and I definitely wouldn’t be the player I am today if it wasn’t for him.”

Reach Jason Stuart at dcedc@midrivers.com.

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