After contract extension, ASU’s Bobby Hurley wasting no time building toward future

Mar 28, 2023, 9:05 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2023, 12:06 pm

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right, and guard Frankie Collins pause near the team bench during...

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right, and guard Frankie Collins pause near the team bench during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Southern California in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE — Arizona State men’s basketball head coach Bobby Hurley has had very little time to celebrate his two-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

That’s because after ASU’s heartbreaking loss to TCU in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64, the Sun Devils have already seen four players enter the transfer portal before the Final Four has even tipped off.

Those four are guards DJ Horne, Jamiya Neal and Austin Nunez, as well as center Enoch Boakye, which doesn’t include the fact that guards Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Luther Muhammad have both run out of eligibility.

“Usually in past seasons you go through a long year and there’s a lot of tough games and just so much stress and pressure and the finality of it hurts so bad that you just want to escape and go away and let your mind relax a little bit, but not anymore in this world,” Hurley said.

“The transfer portal — we’ve been very aggressive and exploring multiple ways that we’re going to surround the core of this coming team with players that will put us in a position to take further steps than we did this year.”

The Sun Devils already know they will have two returning starters in point guard Frankie Collins and wing Devan Cambridge, with the former also playing recruiter for guys in the portal looking for a new home. Seven-foot center Warren Washington, who is the most athletic big man Hurley has ever had, also has the ability to return as he still has eligibility remaining.

Hurley had individual meetings with the entire team to discuss their future with the program on March 20, three days after ASU was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament.

“I told everybody, I want all you guys back because I think you guys have elevated Arizona State basketball,” he said. “But you’ve also elevated Arizona State basketball, so thank you if this isn’t the place.

“I will try to keep you here and convince you to stay here, but if it’s not in your heart to be here and somewhere else is better, then I’m just going to thank you for helping us reestablish our program. That’s how I feel about the guys in the locker room and we’ll continue to have discussions with all those guys about what their future looks like.”

This isn’t Hurley’s first rodeo in the transfer portal either, as the head coach has proven he can bring guys in who have the ability to both play right away and win basketball games.

Just look at last year’s starting lineup, which featured four transfers in Collins (Michigan), Cambridge Jr. (Nevada), Cambridge (Auburn) and Washington (Nevada).

“That’s just how the transfer portal is built and the ways that you could instantly change a roster and put yourself in a position to win,” Hurley said. “So I think every year there’s going to be change, there’s going to be guys that are going to explore their options for a variety of reasons and then there are going to be guys knocking down the door to want to come here.

“So we’ll do the best we can do 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.”

The eight-year head coach has taken Arizona State to the NCAA Tournament three times in his tenure, which would have been four had COVID-19 not canceled the 2020 edition.

And with his younger brother Dan Hurley leading UConn to the Final Four this season, Bobby Hurley pointed to the “great interior players” and “great shooting” on an overall “deep team” for the Huskies. The ASU head coach added that building a team is like a puzzle, with a chance to win a Pac-12 championship and play in March Madness being one of them.

“When you’re involved in games like that, the profile of your program goes up a notch,” he said. “Kids want to know that yeah, you’re going to get better, I’m going to have a good role, but winning is in that equation too and an opportunity to play on the biggest stage like the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re hopeful that will translate to what we’re doing with roster improvement.”

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