Dejounte Murray had little trouble getting to the rim as a star guard at Rainier Beach High School, navigating the floor the way a quick, skilled, long-armed 6-foot-4 1/2 player should.
But his coaches at Rainier Beach suggested that he add something else to his basketball arsenal in college.
If you watched Washington’s 99-95 overtime victory over Washington State last week, you saw it. On his way to 25 points and seven assists, Murray effectively mixed in a right-handed floater that proved difficult to defend.
Once, he spun and put up a baseline floater over his defender. He pulled it out on a fastbreak, too, and can use it to score whenever an opponent blocks his path to the basket.
He seems fairly comfortable with the shot despite scoring in more traditional ways in high school. The past summer, he said, was spent refining it.
“My coaches at Rainier Beach High School always would tell me, ‘Get you a floater. A floater will take you a long way,’ ” Murray said Tuesday, two days before UW’s 6 p.m. Thursday game at No. 18 Arizona. “So when I got to college in the summer, that’s all I used to work on, besides my shooting and other stuff. I would just work on a lot of floaters, and it’s starting to pay off.”
Through the first 15 games of his freshman season, Murray leads all Pac-12 freshmen in scoring with 15.2 points per game — to go along with 5.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists — and is averaging 21.7 points through the Huskies’ first three Pac-12 games. LSU star Ben Simmons is the only freshman in the country averaging more in conference play.
“To evaluate a freshman after six, seven games, I just think is crazy,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “You can’t do that. It’s an entirely different level. You’ve got to let them play some games. And some (players), they’ve got to play half the season before they really start to get it to where they’re more functional.
“He obviously stands above. I think, right now, he’s playing as good as any freshman in the conference and playing better than most in the country.”
No Trier for Arizona
No Trier for Arizona
The Huskies will catch Arizona at less than full strength on Thursday — the Wildcats announced on Sunday that freshman guard Allonzo Trier, the team’s leading scorer, will miss four to six weeks after breaking his hand in UA’s 103-101 quadruple-overtime loss to USC on Saturday.
Trier lists his hometown as Seattle but moved from the area prior to high school, during which time he moved around a bit before attending Findlay Prep near Las Vegas.
Romar recalled Trier visiting UW’s basketball camps when he was in fourth grade.
“You’d have to play him up a lot of times,” Romar said, “because the kids his age, he was so much better than them, so he’d have to play a few levels up.”
Trier, listed at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, is averaging 14.8 points per game this season.
“He had become a guy they were really depending on for offense,” Romar said, “so obviously there are some other guys who are going to have to really step up for their team.”
The surest thing for the Huskies right now, besides Andrew Andrews scoring in double-figures, is freshman forward Noah Dickerson being hit in the face at some point during each game.
Against WSU, he actually took an elbow from teammate Malik Dime, which resulted in a swollen lip. Dickerson, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound freshman, has also been knocked in the dome by several other opponents this season.
“I like to stick my nose where it shouldn’t go,” said Dickerson, who scored a career-best 16 points against WSU. “And I’m playing against a lot of bigger guys now, so that’s just kind of where my face is, where the elbows are. I happen to get hit in my face a lot. I don’t like it. I want it to stop. But I keep playing, (and) it happens.”
His face, he said, is important.
“I want it to be somewhere else,” Dickerson said. “Not my face. I need my face.”
Christian Caple: @ChristianCaple