The glare of the stadium lights reflects on the lacquered court as the basketball pounds on hardwood. A blur of blue and white uniforms dart across the court, taking advantage of the fast break.
A guard throws the ball up near the basket, a perfect alley-oop for senior forward Max Murrell. As he slams down his fifteenth dunk of the season, the noise of the crowd echoes throughout the stadium.
On National Signing Day in November, Murrell will officially affirm his commitment to play at one of the nation’s foremost universities, Stanford University. After receiving over 10 Division 1 offers in a single weekend, the high school prospect continually narrowed down his options.
“Stanford just stood out to me because of the academics, the balance between high-level basketball and high-level academics, and the network they had. It just felt right at the end of the day,” Murrell said
Murrell’s substantial improvement statistics-wise allowed him to ultimately choose Stanford. Sophomore year he averaged 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, compared to his junior year average of 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. His extensive training and increased time in the gym the summer before facilitated this improvement.
“I’ve just always had that mindset to be the best I can be,” Murrell said. “I always want to improve myself, and I always want to score more points and get more blocks. But that just comes from wanting to be better as a team and help the team out.”
Excelling in school in addition to excelling on the court, Murrell maintains over a 4.0 GPA. His coaches recognize the multiple facets of Murrell’s abilities and support his decision to play for the Cardinals.
“Stanford is a great fit for Max because they recruit great students who have excellent basketball skills. And that is Max personified,” head basketball coach Tim Cannon said.
Stanford University is in one of the NCAA’s more competitive leagues, the Pac 12. Murrell’s club coach and co-owner of The Factory Mike Mackie reached out to Stanford associate head coach, Adam Cohen, recognizing the level of play his player had reached.
“He was looking at the Ivy leagues, but at the end of his recruiting, he was able to play basketball at a higher level than that,” Mackie said. “I think what told me that Stanford was good for Max was not just the basketball or the academics but the location and the culture of the school.”
Besides the athletic talent Murrell possesses, others around him see the inherent goodness of his attitude and personality.
“Max is willing to do whatever to win, and it’s never about him. It’s always about the people around him,” Mackie said. “Max is a special person. He doesn’t think he’s better than anyone, and that’s what makes him so great.”