TEMPE – Inspired by a contract extension and the success of his brother, Bobby Hurley remains committed to the idea that Arizona State can be a men’s basketball powerhouse.
“I still believe that this place can be exceptional,” he said Tuesday. “I think COVID stunted our growth and we took a couple of steps back and now we’ve taken a step forward. I intend to keep taking steps forward here because I believe in this place and I believe that it can be done here.”
The university believes in Hurley, too, and recently announced a two-year extension that will keep the former standout Duke point guard on the sidelines at Desert Financial Arena through the 2026 season.
After his third appearance as ASU’s coach in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – and what could have been his fourth if not for the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season – the Sun Devils will look to build off a campaign that included a tenure-high 23 wins and key victories over Arizona on the road and USC in the Pac-12 tournament. It is only the fifth time since the 1980-81 season that the Devils have reached the 23-win mark.
“After further reflection and looking back on the year, you just feel super appreciative for the journey we had and the season we had,” Hurley said. “Throughout the year, with our backs against the wall and the adversity we had, there were some special moments together as a team.
“It was a real honor to coach this group and this team, and I know how the NCAA works in terms of these games. They’re a razor thin margin sometimes between winning and losing, continuing to advance. That’s the goal: to keep taking steps to keep putting ourselves in position to have the opportunities to go out there and win a Pac-12 championship and to go after NCAA Tournament appearances and where that could take you.”
Ray Anderson, the university’s athletic director, shared a similar sentiment.
“Coach Hurley has made our program relevant nationally with many significant wins and an exciting style, along with a firm commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes,” he said. “He has made it clear to us that he wants to be here and we have done likewise with him. We share a strong confidence in the present and future state of Sun Devil men’s basketball.”
With this new era of college basketball defined by constant change and roster turnover, Hurley and his staff are already back at work and attacking the transfer portal to reconstruct the roster in preparation for the 2023-2024 season.
The Sun Devils have been hit hard by the portal since the conclusion of the season with Jimaya Neal, DJ Horne, Enoch Boakye and Austin Nunez all announcing their decision to look elsewhere for the upcoming year. While Hurley noted that he is still courting those players with the hope of keeping them in Tempe, he and his staff are focused on bringing in a collection of players that fit the model of Arizona State basketball.
“There’s going to be guys that are going to explore their options for a variety of reasons. And then there’s going to be guys that are knocking down the door and want to come here,” Hurley said. “So we’ll do the best we can to retain everybody that we can. And if that’s not the case, then we’re going to bring in someone that’s going to get the job done.”
With many questions surrounding the future makeup of the Sun Devils roster, Hurley has already received a commitment from Devan Cambridge to return for another season in maroon and gold. Meanwhile, point guard Frankie Collins, who transferred to ASU from Michigan a year ago, has been actively recruiting on Twitter with the hope of attracting old friends or past teammates to ASU.
“These guys played AAU together all across the country. They built relationships with kids,” Hurley said. “Frankie and Devan want to get back to what we are doing. They got a taste of it. We were right there with TCU, they know how close we were to advancing and doing more damage and they want to get it done. So if they could help in a minor way then I’m all for it.”
Hurley’s contract extension also comes amid a Final Four run by his brother, Connecticut coach Dan Hurley. The Huskies have dominated their way through the tournament achieving double-digit victories in all four tournament games before the Final Four.
Hurley and his family were in Las Vegas to support his brother. He spoke about the life-long bond they have and the satisfaction that comes with watching his brother succeed on the biggest stage.
“I felt like I was living it with him,” he said. “He made it easy on me because he beat up on both teams. So I didn’t really have to sweat it out. But for those two games, it was like sitting back and us growing up and our whole journey together.
“My brother and I have been sounding boards for each other since we’ve been doing this. We talk to each other every day of every game and we both understand the stress, depression and how you feel before the game. We have a special connection that few people understand. That’s why it’s so satisfying to see what he’s doing because of the bond that we have.”
The Hurley family, led by their father, Bob Hurley, who won 28 state championships at St. Anthony High School in New Jersey, has continued to cement its legacy within the game of basketball. With Bobby’s position at Arizona State solidified for the foreseeable future, he hopes to build upon his family’s legacy by continuing to help the program compete for a championship every year.
“When you believe in it, then you’re going to go after it 1,000% and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “And I know I have commitment. I know I have an administration that supports me and wants me to be here and believes in me so I’m going to do my best to get the job done