The last time the Gophers had two former players in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas was in 2015, but Austin Hollins and Ralph Sampson III were both at least a year removed from the program.
It’s been different this summer with Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy both chasing their NBA dreams just five months removed from playing with the Gophers in the NCAA tournament.
Coffey and Murphy have already had their moments to shine in Vegas with the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively.
In his Clippers debut Saturday, Coffey turned heads with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers. One of the featured highlights of the game was a theft from the Hopkins product just at the top of the key that led to a wide-open two-hand slam in transition, which mimicked his athletic finishes in the open court in three seasons at the U.
It was a performance that made Clippers summer league coach Brian Adams gush about the 6-foot-8 Coffey’s potential to media in Saturday’s post-game interview session.
“You know his shot’s going to develop," said Adams, who also is the head coach of the Agua Caliente/Clippers G League team. "He’s a relentless worker ... I think right now he’s an NBA player on a stop just pushing it up. I mean I think he showed tonight that he’s really capable. It’s definitely something that will be fun to watch going forward.”
In another starting role, Coffey had 10 points, three rebounds and an assist in 27 minutes in his second game Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies. A day later, Murphy had his best game in Vegas with all 10 of his points and four rebounds in the third quarter of the Wolves win against the Phoenix Suns.
�� THE GOLDEN GOPHER pic.twitter.com/vdNRV1r86k— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 9, 2019
At 6-7, Murphy’s undersized in the paint, so he’s been playing a lot more away from the basket than he did with the Gophers. The U’s all-time leading rebounder has put the ball on the floor and relied on his re-worked jumper at times in summer league.
The only other former Gophers player in NBA summer league action so far this year has been Hollins with the Utah Jazz. The son of current Lakers assistant and former NBA head coach Lionel Hollins played for Minnesota from 2010-2014.
The 27-year-old Memphis native was a starting guard for Rasta Vechta in German’s top professional league during the 2018-19 season. Hollins had one game with the Jazz in Vegas going scoreless in 15 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Utah’s summer league event in Salt Lake City, Hollins had 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and three rebounds in 19 minutes in a win against the San Antonio Spurs.
Other NBA summer league players with Minnesota ties are former DeLaSalle and Kentucky forward Reid Travis (Atlanta Hawks), former Cooper and UNLV guard Rashad Vaughn (Houston Rockets), former Columbia Heights and New Mexico State guard Zach Lofton and former Apple Valley and Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. (Portland Trailblazers). Current Gopher point guard Marcus Carr's older brother, Duane Notice, is also on the Toronto Raptors roster.