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South's Murphy relishing experience in the Big Apple

NEW YORK — In 35 years of coaching, Dennis Murphy has led his teams to two state basketball championships.

In 19 seasons at South Medford, he's enjoyed 11 conference titles.

But what Murphy has experienced this week stands in a class by itself.

Murphy and his prized pupil — South Medford senior Kyle Singler — will take part in the Jordan Brand All-American Classic game tonight at Madison Square Garden.

Both Singler, a 6-foot-9 senior who will play at Duke next year, and Murphy will be with the Yellow Jerseys squad when they face the Royal Jerseys for the sixth annual event.

The game will air at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

Murphy will assist head coach Kevin Boyle of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J.

Murphy's has more than 500 coaching victories and state titles at South Medford in March and at St. Mary's in 1979. But the 56-year-old was amazed at what he has seen this week.

"Oh, it's been great," Murphy said on Friday after the two teams featuring some of the best talent in the nation finished practice with a scrimmage. "You remember the games you play in, but a trip like this ... I've never been involved in something like this. Everything is first class."

Murphy arrived in New York — his first-ever trip to the city — on Wednesday and was taken aback by skill level of the players.

"That first day, we had a 90-minute practice," said Murphy, "and you watch these kids and go, 'Whew!' There's some pretty good ones out there."

Singler has plenty of experience against many of the competitors at the event. He previously played in the McDonald's All-American game and was a member of the USA Junior National Select squad that defeated the International team in the Nike Hoops Summit in Memphis, Tenn.

"Kyle is truly one of the best players here, and that's recognized by everyone," said Murphy. "Both Kevin Boyle and Steve Smith (Royal Jerseys' coach) have nothing but nice things to say about him."

The Jordan Classic has a long list of current and future NBA players that have participated in the exhibition game, including Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, Cleveland Cavalier standout LeBron James and recent collegiate All-Americans Kevin Durant and Greg Oden.

This year's event also has its share of future stars.

Besides Singler, the Yellow Jerseys boast other future Division I collegiate players Derrick Rose, who will play for Memphis, Corey Fisher (Villanova) and DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M), among others.

The Royal Jerseys feature players such as Jerryd Bayless (Arizona), Nick Calathes (Florida), Kosta Koufos (Ohio State) and Jeffrey Jordan, the 6-foot son of Michael Jordan.

"I've never been in a situation where that much talent will be on the floor at the same time," said Murphy. "It makes it that much more special."

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail kgoff@mailtribune.com