Cienega, Pima grad Isaiah Murphy chosen Top 5 rookie in Japanese pro league

Former Cienega High School and Pima College standout Isaiah Murphy is continuing his ascent in professional basketball by earning the honor of the Best Five Rookies selection of the Japanese B.League this weekend.

He averaged 9.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists a game for the Hiroshima Dragonflies. He also shot 39.5 percent from the field.

“I thank not only Hiroshima fans, but all of the B.League fans,” Murphy said in a statement issued by the Dragonflies. “I thank the coaching staff and my teammates to win the rookie award as the best five. The four other players selected are all really wonderful players. I will practice hard so that I can have a better season next season.”

Japanese B.League graphic

Murphy, a Class of 2016 graduate at Cienega, started in all 36 games his sophomore season (2017-18) for Brian Peabody at Pima on a team that finished 31-5 and averaged 102.4 points per game. He averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 49.6 percent from the field.

He went on to play two seasons at Eastern New Mexico before traveling to Japan to play professionally for the Dragonflies last year.

He played in Japan before as part of the country’s national team in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt. Former Gonzaga star Rui Hachimura was one of his teammates.

Japanese B.League graphic

Murphy was born in Okinawa, Japan, to father James, who was stationed there while serving in the Air Force, and his Japanese mother Susako. He would later spend several years in the Japanese city of Misawa.

He played as Shinsaku Enomoto, combining his middle name and his mother’s maiden name, during the U-19 World Cup, but has played for Hiroshima using his original name.

Concerning the strengths of his game, Murphy told the Japan Times: “I think my versatility. I’m very versatile. I can put it on the floor. I can shoot, I can play defense. I think that’s one of my biggest things playing through my career. I do it on both ends. I just score, get on a run, but I like to play defense as well.”

He also mentioned to the Japan Times that he wants to play professionally for at least another 10 years.

“I’m going to play until my legs fall off,” Murphy said with a laugh.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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