By Tom Robinson
Drexel University was early in showing interest in Moriah Murray.
In turn, Murray wound up being early in her commitment to the Philadelphia school.
The NEPA Elite Clark 17U guard and Dunmore High School junior gave her verbal commitment to accept a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I women’s basketball scholarship to Drexel this week.
Murray announced her decision this afternoon.
“I think one of the big reasons was that they were my first offer,” said Murray, who had four scholarship offers and interest from other schools, but said she was happy to bring a conclusion to the sometimes stressful process with two high school seasons still ahead. “Right after the state championship my freshman year, I went down and visited the first time. They put an offer right on the table and they were one of the first schools that really saw me play.
“I like the city. I like Philly a lot and it’s not far for my family to go and see.
“I really like the coaches there. I feel like I made a connection and I feel like I will fit in best at Drexel.”
Amy Mallon, who had just finished the 15th of her 16 seasons as associate head coach when Drexel first made an offer to Murray, took over as head coach in March.
Drexel is coming off a 23-7 season in which it went 16-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dragons are 96-35 in the last four seasons and 319-193 during Mallon’s time there. They won the women’s NIT title in 2013, four years after their only NCAA Tournament appearance.
Murray becomes the second NEPA Elite Clark team member to commit to Drexel, finalizing her decision just days after Riverside junior Kylie Lavelle.
NEPA Elite went 25-4 and won the Hoop Group Showcase League title with Murray leading the team in 3-pointers made (52) and assists (85) while sharing the lead in steals (37) and ranking third in blocked shots (13). She averaged 7.4 points while hitting 42.3 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent on 3-pointers and 85.7 percent from the line.
“One of the first things that sticks out about her is her competitiveness and the way she hates to lose,” said Kevin Clark, Murray’s AAU coach and the NEPA Elite founder. “Her jump shot and her tenacity on defense and trying to make sure to hold their best player and limit them is extremely important.”
During the AAU season, Murray sought out the defensive assignment on Azzi Fudd, the Washington, D.C. standout, widely regarded as the nation’s number-one recruit in the Class of 2021. Fudd signed this week with the University of Connecticut.
Murray credits Clark, who began working with her at Riverfront Sports in Scranton during junior high, with letting her know the level to which she could raise her game.
“When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to play college basketball,” Murray said, “but I didn’t know if Division I was possible.”
The 5-foot-9 guard made an immediate impact on the high school level as the only freshman first-team, all-state selection in Pennsylvania in 2018-19 when the Lady Bucks were unbeaten into the state final.
Dunmore lost just once again during the 2019-20 season when Murray was runner-up for state Class 3A Player of the Year to Diamond Johnson of Neumann-Goretti, who she helped beat in the state playoffs. The Lackawanna League Division 3 and District 2 Class 3A champions were in the state quarterfinals when the season was halted by the coronavirus.
Murray, who averaged 16.7 points and more than two 3-pointers per game at Dunmore, chose Drexel over existing offers from St. Joseph’s, Northeastern and Binghamton.
NEPA Elite’s championship team now has four players committed to Division I basketball and a fifth, Dunmore’s Ciera Toomey, who has three college scholarship offers in hand as a sophomore.
Scranton Prep’s Cecelia Collins (Bucknell University) and Rachael Rose (University of South Carolina Upstate) made their college commitments official this week by signing their National Letters of Intent.