Bobby Hurley: NIL cost Arizona State basketball up to 3 transfers

Jan 9, 2024, 4:30 PM

Bobby Hurley...

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches his team warm up before their game against the Creighton Bluejays during the Jack Jones Hoopfest basketball tournament at Michelob ULTRA Arena on December 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Arizona State enjoyed success and stability last season with a veteran men’s basketball roster mostly patched together via the transfer portal.

The Sun Devils gained connectivity quickly with an 11-1 start to the year, got past the First Four and hung with No. 6 seed TCU before losing 72-70 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head coach Bobby Hurley could have kept a big chunk of that roster together, save for Desmond Cambridge, who was out of eligibility.

Instead, the Sun Devils lost starters Warren Washington (Texas Tech), Devan Cambridge (Texas Tech) and D.J. Horne (North Carolina State), not to mention reserve forward Duke Brennan (Grand Canyon) and guard Austin Nunez (Ole Miss).

It’s been reported and assumed that name, image and likeness woes at ASU, which is currently without an athletic director, had something to do with that inability to retain players. Head football coach Kenny Dillingham has not been shy about Arizona State working with a hand tied behind its back and needing more support in that area.

To what degree has it impacted the hoops team?

“I’m willing to talk to anybody, sit down with anybody to stress the importance of committing to this and donating to the collective for football and men’s basketball,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “It’s critical really. We’re on the lower end right now based on … the data I’ve been able to accumulate from other programs and what they have to operate with going into this year.

“The reality is there might be a guy or two or maybe three that left the program that may not have left if we had a better NIL structure in place.”

Arizona State’s defensive press creates defensive ID

Tied atop the Pac-12 with Oregon at 4-0, the Sun Devils have found a formula for success. It starts on the defensive end, where a second-half press has been used to reel in teams ahead of them or hit the gas to put opponents away.

ASU did more of the latter with a sweep of Colorado and Utah last week.

“Winning close games, there’s a lot of things that factor into that. Just having tough-minded players, guys that can make plays down the stretch,” Hurley said. “Relying on a defense that can get stops. Coach (Jermaine Kimbrough), my associate head coach, has done a fantastic job over the last couple years with kind of being the architect of our defense and I think the guys believe in it, the concepts. They’re also really tough down the stretch and determined to get stops on that end of the floor.”

After an 82-70 win against the Utes Thursday, the Sun Devils held a 44-38 first-half lead on the Buffaloes with the most deflection-filled first half of the year, by ASU’s tally.

That disruption bled into the second half as ASU held on.

“We’re not the tallest team in the country,” Hurley said. “We faced the tallest team in the country in Utah. We have to be scrappy, we have to use our speed.

“We recruit some really high-level athletes, that have that ability, that length, the instincts to get those deflections.”

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