MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - To say that Aaric Murray's first season at West Virginia has been a disappointment would be an understatement.
And in more ways than one.
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound junior was supposed to be one of the missing links for the Mountaineers and coach Bob Huggins, who loves athletic centers who can play inside and out. Murray's presence, along with that of fellow transfers Juwan Staten and Matt Humphrey, was to enable West Virginia to compete well in its first season in the Big 12.
For the most part that hasn't happened, as evidenced by WVU's 9-11 overall record and 2-5 mark in league play following Monday night's 61-56 loss to No. 2 Kansas at the Coliseum.
Because it hasn't, something else that was assumed true regarding Murray now seems doubtful, as well. Had both he and the Mountaineers played to their potential, the chances seemed good that Murray's first season at WVU would also be his last. At least that was the prevailing thought before the season began - that a year of proving himself against top-level competition would be all that was required for him to begin flirting with the NBA.
Now, though, even Murray seems to have done an about-face regarding his immediate future.
"I was thinking about that just [recently],'' Murray said. "I don't want to leave like this. So I'm not leaving like this.''
That, of course, could change. Between now and the spring deadline for declaring for the NBA draft, a whole host of things could happen to change Murray's mind.
West Virginia could turn things around and finish the season strong, something that seems at least possible after a strong Monday performance against Kansas.
Murray would turn things around with his game, becoming more consistent and realizing more of his vast potential. His Monday night performance against Kansas All-America Jeff Withey was certainly a step in the right direction.
Or just the opposite could happen, at least as far as WVU's performance is concerned. Murray could become disenchanted with a team that could well finish with a losing record and decide to move on even if his draft stock is not what it could - or should - be.
But at least for now, Murray seems committed not only to doing all the right things as far as his game is concerned, but doing it at West Virginia for another year.
"I've actually fell in love with this place,'' said Murray, who is from Philadelphia and played two seasons at LaSalle before transferring. "I want to win a national championship. I want to play in those big games like [Monday's against Kansas].''
In truth, one must take what Murray says with a grain of salt most times. He can be despondent one day and hopeful and committed the next. Much of it has to do with his play and his playing time, both of which are roller coaster-like.
Murray was left at home when West Virginia played Michigan in Brooklyn, but then had a double-double off the bench the next game and played a season-high 38 minutes after that within the next week.