USF's McMurray could be leader Bulls looking for

- Down three guards to injury, Orlando Antigua needed one of his youngest players to step up.

Jahmal McMurray answered the call.

"He's someone that has taken on all the responsibilities that we've put on him as a young freshman and has matured faster than I'm sure he would have liked," said Antigua. "But, it's really helped him and it helped our team."

McMurray has been forced to grow up fast. As a freshman, he's averaged just under 34 minutes per game, the most in the American Athletic Conference. He credits past struggles as the reason why he's been able to adapt to the college game so quickly.

"I may be more mentally tough than maybe some other people," said McMurray. "I mean, I've had to be that all my life. I've had to be the top dog pretty much all my life so I've always had to fight and I've always been through struggles."

And he's never done proving he belongs, to himself and to his teammates. Junior forward Chris Perry said that started when he arrived to Tampa from Topeka.

"In the summer, we'd play open gym, we'd get chippiness, arguing with a couple of guys... He would go at it with some older guys after the games and stuff, we'd be like, 'Just chill out a little bit, we know you're the little kid on the block, but we know you're bringing some talent. You don't have to do all that.' Now, we're all seeing it." 

McMurray's jersey number (0) says it all.

He knows he's nothing without his teammates.

"I can't really credit myself too much," said McMurray. "Without my teammates, I can't do any of that. They pick for me, they get me open just as much as I do myself. All the credit goes to them. It really feels good to know that I'm one of the top players in our conference, maybe trying to be one of the top players in the country someday."

Antigua believes McMurray can be a player this program can be built around -- with a little more maturation.

"I know the team needs me to step up and be a big part, so I'll just keep that in mind."

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