When international student-athletes seek to play basketball in the United States, navigating the myriad of rules and regulations can be “overwhelming.” This according to Chaminade University alumnus Rhys Murphy (Accounting ’14), a two-year starter for the Silversword men’s team.
Sensing a business opportunity, Murphy returned to his hometown of Sydney, Australia, where he founded and serves as president of AUSA Hoops. This basketball camp organization helps Aussie boys and girls pursue their academic and athletic goals at high schools, colleges and universities across America.
“In terms of successes, we are at just over 70 players who are in college now,” said Murphy, who placed student-athletes at prominent schools in the Pac-12, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Big East conferences. These players earned more than $5 million in scholarships.
Murphy and his staff accomplished this feat by conducting training and development programs for young hoopsters and bringing them to America for a series of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournaments where college coaches recruit players.
These trips don’t include sightseeing excursions to Disneyland. They’re focused on proving that Australians have what it takes to play top-tier basketball in the U.S.
As for Murphy’s basketball career, the six-foot-seven-inch forward “stumbled into an opportunity to play AAU basketball in Chicago” and received over 50 scholarship offers. Murphy opted for Oregon State, where he competed in 18 games for the Beavers during 2011-12.
After transferring to Chaminade for his junior and senior years, Murphy started the final 12 games of the 2013-14 season and was twice-named to the All-Pacific West Conference Academic Team.
Murphy got the idea for AUSA Hoops as a junior during spring break when a summer internship with a Chicago hedge fund failed to materialize.
“I pretty much just sat down and thought about what I could do myself,” Murphy recalled, “because I had no work experience and realized I would need to get a job the following year.”
By turning his basketball camp concept into a bigger project, Murphy “ticked the ‘work-experience’ box” on his resume.
“The most challenging part is always right after the inspiration and excitement of the initial idea begins to fade and the reality of the amount of work that needs to be completed starts to become more and more clear,” Murphy said.
“I started with the thought that I had a pretty good idea about the industry, and then very quickly realized I knew next to nothing about the intricacies of how it worked. So for the first couple years I was almost flying blind trying to figure it out as I went.
“I don’t believe starting your own business is as hard as people perceive it to be,” Murphy added. “Yes, you need to be resilient, consistent with your work and have a desire to constantly learn and improve. But so much of it is just about having the confidence – or delusion – to get started and then keep rolling with the punches. It’s a wild rollercoaster!”
One Chaminade instructor who particularly influenced Murphy is Richard Kido, an Associate Professor of Accounting. Kido praised Murphy’s work ethic in the classroom and on the basketball court.
“Despite the demands of being a scholar-athlete, Rhys was outstanding in all his classes,” Kido said. “His positive attitude was infectious and carried over to his classmates.”
Another instructor making an impression on Murphy was Business Professor Wayne Tanna, who emphasized the importance of community service. Murphy continues that commitment to giving back by uplifting Australia’s South Sudanese basketball community through AUSA Hoops.
“I think Professor Tanna did a great job of opening my eyes to the tremendous need for help out there,” Murphy said. “And he opened my eyes to my own privileges by putting me in new environments where people were not as well off.”
That’s why community service is a slam dunk for Murphy and his team at AUSA Hoops.
Chaminade University’s School of Business and Communication offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Accounting. Community service activities for students include tax clinics and the FAFSA project, which helps low-income and immigrant families fill out college financial aid forms.