STILLWATER — Kamari Murphy is Brooklyn bred.
“Born and raised,” the Cowboy sophomore said.
Brooklyn tough, too.
“He's a real tough guy,” said Brian Williams, Murphy's Oklahoma State teammate. “I feel Brooklyn had a lot to do with that. The way he plays, real scrappy, matches that Brooklyn style of basketball.”
Murphy might need to lean on that toughness, as an undersized big man — for now OSU's lone proven big man — in the wake of Michael Cobbins' season-ending injury.
The Cowboys talk about rallying together to offset the loss of Cobbins, with a call for many players, big and small, to absorb the void. Still, the main focus falls on Murphy.
And it's a focus he welcomes.
“That day after he got hurt, I was getting so many texts,” Murphy said of friends urging him to seize the opportunity. “I was like, ‘I'm ready for it, mentally and physically ready for it.'
“I know the coaches believe in me, too. It's just something I have to pick up and go with.”
There's a sense of urgency, too. The Cowboys are coming off a loss at Kansas State in their Big 12 opener, with big and bulky Texas visiting Gallagher-Iba Arena Wednesday. Tip time is 8 p.m. to accommodate an ESPNU telecast.
The Longhorns' rotation features four players 6-foot-8 or taller, including leading scorer Jonathan Holmes and top rebounder and shot-blocker Cameron Ridley, a 285-pound bruiser who will command Murphy's attention.
“I never got to play him last year, he was pretty good, I guess,” said the 220-pound Murphy. “I've seen some highlights. Very aggressive. But nothing I've never seen before.
“Guys like that, I like to think they've got to guard me, too. I'm going to have my hands full, but so is he.”
There's some of that Brooklyn spunk.
Murphy was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the state of New York by HoopScoop in 2011, serving two seasons as the team captain for Lincoln High School, the same program that produced the likes of Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson.
Rather than enter college at the age of 17, Murphy opted instead for a year spent getting bigger and stronger at the famed IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Recruited by Cowboys assistant and fellow Brooklynite Steve Middleton, he signed with OSU, bringing him unexpectedly to the middle of the U.S.
“I never even thought about Oklahoma,” Murphy said. “I never thought about what was out here. Then I started seeing Blake Griffin on TV and stuff like that.
“And then Oklahoma State started recruiting me. And when I took the visit, it was just icing on the cake.”
Murphy credits his time at IMG as critical in developing the mental side of his game. His physical preparation, however, began much earlier.
“In order to play New York City basketball, you've got to have a toughness to you,” Murphy said. “It's not all about the most talent in New York City, but every player plays with a toughness. So that's what you've got to bring every game. And then if you have talent, that's what puts you to the next level.
“But toughness is one of the main factors you need.”
And with Cobbins down, it's something the Cowboys need from Murphy.