Arizona associate head coach Jack Murphy received an 81% pay boost to $335,000 to leave his position as NAU’s head coach and join Sean Miller’s staff, according to a notice of appointment obtained by the Star under a public-records request.

Murphy’s NAU contract included a $185,400 buyout if he left before the end of his deal in April 2020. An NAU official could not confirm whether Murphy or the UA paid the buyout or whether it was waived.

Dated June 14 and signed Aug. 26, UA’s notice of appointment for Murphy offered him a two-year deal for $335,000 annually. Murphy will have to pay a $25,000 buyout if he leaves the UA before April 8, 2021.

Murphy’s salary is between that of UA’s two previous lead assistant coaches. Lorenzo Romar made $400,000 in 2017-18, and Mark Phelps was making $275,000 last season before he was removed from the staff. The UA let Phelps’ contract expire at the end of June.

Murphy went 78-149 over seven seasons at NAU before leaving for the UA in June. NAU initially gave him a five-year contract that paid $180,000 annually; his deal was extended in 2014, after the Lumberjacks finished second in the Big Sky Conference. Murphy was given a raise in early 2014 from $180,000 to $185,400 as part of adjustments to salaries for NAU administrators.

In November 2016, the Arizona Board of Regents approved another extension that put Murphy under contract through 2019-20 and included the buyout.

Puff Johnson will play at Hillcrest Prep while he mulls his college choice. He plans to visit the UA and two other schools.

Recruits lined up for Sept. 27 Red-Blue GameFour-star 2020 forward Puff Johnson is scheduled to attend Arizona’s Sept. 27 Red-Blue Game, along with UA commit Dalen Terry and 2021 five-star forward Michael Foster, according to Rivals.com.

All three are playing together for Hillcrest Prep this season, according to Hillcrest co-founder Nick Weaver.

Johnson appeared likely to play for a prep school this season since he was not allowed to play anymore at his Pennsylvania high school, Moon Area, because he repeated eighth grade.

Johnson’s decision to play at Hillcrest could work in the Wildcats’ favor. So could the fact that Johnson’s brother, Cam, is a Suns rookie.

Johnson told Stockrisers he will also visit Ohio State and North Carolina, where Cam Johnson played as a grad transfer following a career at Pitt. According to 247Sports.com, Foster will first visit Georgia on Sept. 21.

Weaver told the Star that Johnson, Terry and Foster will form a Hillcrest starting five along with five-star 2021 wing Keon Edwards and top 2022 big man Sadraque Nganga.

Wildcats warming up

Arizona won’t hold its first full-length preseason practice until Sept. 25, but has taken advantage of NCAA rules allowing up to four hours a week of competition once the fall semester begins, typically by practicing for about 60-90 minutes two or three times a week.

The Wildcats are also scheduled to hold their annual preseason mile run on Friday, with guards expected to clock 5:35 or less, wings at 5:45 or less and big men at 5:55 or less.

The Wildcats will hold their first two full practices on Sept. 25 and 26 in advance of the Sept. 27 Red-Blue game, which was moved up from its previous mid-October slot in part to better aid fall recruiting efforts. Arizona is expected to play a mid-October closed scrimmage against St. Mary’s in Phoenix.

Reporter

Bruce is a veteran Star sports reporter who has also worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He graduated from Northwestern University and has an MBA from Thunderbird.