Texas Southern gambles on talented but well-traveled big man Aaric Murray

When West Virginia dismissed Aaric Murray after a series of undisclosed rules violations earlier this summer, there was little doubt another school would offer the well-traveled big man a final chance to tap into his potential.

Sure enough, that school has now emerged.

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Murray told USA Today on Thursday he will transfer to Texas Southern for his final year of college eligibility. The 6-foot-11 big man graduated from West Virginia already and is expected to be able to play right away at his new school.

Texas Southern figures to be the final stop for Murray during a tumultuous college career that began with NBA aspirations but has fizzled as a result of his inability to stay out of trouble.

La Salle cut Murray loose following his sophomore season even though he averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds, a decision many around the Explorers program say improved team chemistry and paved the way for last year's Sweet 16 run. Murray transferred to West Virginia but endured a spate of trouble from an arrest for marijuana possession in Dec. 2011, to a suspension last year for a disciplinary violation, to his dismissal earlier this summer.

Despite Murray's history, the gamble Texas Southern is taking is not necessarily a bad one. There's no question a big man with Murray's size and athleticism can make an impact in the SWAC, especially at the defensive end. All coach Mike Davis needs for the decision to be validated is for Murray to block shots, rebound and stay out of the police blotter for the next five months.

To his credit, Murray sounds motivated to finish his college career on a high note. He told USA Today that part of the reason he chose Texas Southern was so he could work with John Lucas, the Houston-based former NBA guard who has helped rehabilitate numerous athletes after enduring substance abuse problems of his own throughout his career.

"I am very fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to be mentored by Coach John Lucas, while I attend Texas Southern University," Murray told USA Today. "Although, this is not the road I expected to take, this journey will undoubtedly support my goals long term."

Murray, who averaged 8.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks at West Virginia last year, has the chance to be one of the centerpieces of a Texas Southern team with SWAC title aspirations. The Tigers lost two of their three leading scorers from a team that went 16-2 in the SWAC last season, but they bring back standout fifth-year seniors Ray Penn and Lawrence Johnson-Danner.

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