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Ace Cager Spends Summer on Airplanes and Among Stars : Tracy Murray Will Sharpen Talent at Camps Against Best in Country

June 30, 1988|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

Tracy Murray, basketball standout at Glendora High, has a calendar pinned to his bedroom wall to keep track of his summer activities.

Without the calendar, the 16-year-old Murray confesses it would probably be impossible remembering what is next on his agenda.

"It's not that I have such a bad memory," Murray says. "It's just that I have a lot (of dates) to remember."

Since the start of summer vacation in June, the senior-to-be has been following a whirlwind schedule of summer league games and prestigious all-star camps and tournaments.

There was the L.A. Games Tournament on June 18, followed by the Boston Shootout last week. This week it's the Westmont Invitational Tournament from Friday through Sunday in Santa Barbara, which precedes the Nike All-Star Basketball Camp from July 8 to July 15 at Princeton, N.J.

Then it's the Kentucky Invitational from July 15 to July 17 at Lexington; the American Roundball Corp. Future Stars Showdown from July 20 to July 23 at Sherman Oaks and the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament from July 24 to July 30.

In between, the 6-7, 210-pound Murray will also compete for his high school team in the Glendora Summer League and says he hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing in the Basketball Congress International Invitational in late July at Arizona State in Tempe.

The non-stop flow of games, camps and tournaments does not come to an end until he participates in Los Angeles Laker star Michael Cooper's King "D" Basketball Camp from Aug. 8 to Aug. 12 at Pasadena High.

It's a schedule that could quickly grow tiresome for some players, but not Murray.

For Murray, it is an important element of his development into one of the most sought-after college basketball prospects in the nation.

"I'll be a little tired from jet lag after some trips," he said. "But it doesn't bother me. I'm just having a lot of fun playing. I may lose a few hours of sleep here and there, but it's better than sitting around the house getting lazy."

Added his father, Robert: "He really looks forward to this. He really enjoys it. It's not a drudgery at all."

Tracy said it is all part of an even bigger dream of playing in the NBA.

"You have to love it to play as much as I do," he said. "You have to want to get better. You have to have a dream. You watch the Michael Jordans and you realize that only a small percentage of players ever make it to the pros, and you have to work hard to make it happen."

Perhaps Tracy can draw his motivation straight from the hip.

"He had a hip injury a few years ago and the doctor told him he'd never play again," his father said.

Tracy said the problem developed as a result of growing too fast.

"My bones had curved and one was dislocated in the hip area," he recalled. "The first doctor said I wouldn't (play again) and he referred me to a second doctor, and he said I'd be able to play again but he didn't know for how long."

After an operation to correct the problem in February of 1986, Tracy said he received a boost from an unexpected source.

"When he was in the hospital, Michael Cooper called him and it really picked him up," his father said.

"I was half asleep when he called but it meant a lot to me," Tracy said. "He just encouraged me and told me not to give up and was just very positive."

Tracy said the injury is no longer a problem, although he returns to his doctor each year for a checkup.

It certainly has not appeared a problem during the last two prep seasons when Tracy established a reputation as one of the top players in the San Gabriel Valley.

As a sophomore, he averaged about 24 points and 10 rebounds and was selected Baseline League most valuable player. He was even more impressive last season, averaging 31.5 points and 11 rebounds to earn his league MVP award again and a berth on the All-CIF 4-A Division squad. He was also named the top junior in California by USA Today and one of the top 14 in the nation.

That has created considerable interest in Tracy among college recruiters and his father said the summer is a good time to make a further impression on them.

"So many people have told him that the players are made over the summer and teams are made over the winter," Tracy's father said. "I think you come up to your senior year and it's the most important year for playing basketball. It's the time coaches take a hard look at the kids and see what they're made of and where they fit into their programs."

Tracy said there is a definite presence of recruiters at the all-star camps and tournaments he attends.

"They can't talk to you at all (under NCAA rules) so they just sit up there and take notes," he said. "They'll nod at you once in a while, though. You know they're there."

"High school games give a kid a certain amount of exposure, but you seem to see more coaches there in all-star situations," Tracy's father said. "We went to a camp last year in Kentucky and there were 100 to 125 coaches there every day. You can't get that kind of exposure at high school games."

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