ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

Bobby Hurley on Jose Perez leaving Arizona State: ‘I understand where Jose was coming from’

Mar 12, 2024, 9:58 AM

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley said he saw guard Jose Perez’s perspective and was in communication with him before the starter left the Sun Devils before their final regular season game to play professionally in the Dominican Republic.

That said, Hurley said he didn’t see it coming, even though he knew Perez wanted to help his family by signing a pro contract.

“It’s obviously a very, very unique circumstances,” ASU’s head coach told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “I’ve never experienced something like that before. I understand where Jose was coming from in terms of what he needed to do for his family.

“He’s an older player, he had an opportunity to make pretty good money. I know he struggled with the decision of what he should do and we had a conversation about it. I thought he’d stay the course and finish the season out. As it turned out, he ultimately made a decision in the best interest of him and his family.”

The 6-foot-5 guard from the Bronx joined the Sun Devils this season after career stops at Gardner-Webb, Marquette, Manhattan and West Virginia since his college career began in 2018. Despite arriving at Arizona State weeks before the season began, he quickly gained the trust of Hurley, starting the team’s first game of the year.

For Arizona State in 2023-24, Perez currently ranks second in scoring at 13.5 points per game, just behind fellow guard Frankie Collins’ 13.6.

Perez shot 41% from three and added 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He gave the Sun Devils a unique scoring punch from outside, as well as in the post, and was fourth on the team by averaging 31 minutes a night.

The guard made his pro debut Sunday, scoring eight points for Plaza Valerio in the Santiago Superior Basketball Tournament.

“I just think it was time-sensitive,” Hurley said of why Perez left the Sun Devils just before their postseason run began. “The contract that he had, it was predicated on him most likely getting there as soon as possible and there wasn’t any more time to put it off. There wasn’t any more information I was able to gather from that situation.”

Hurley said the Sun Devils have responded to Perez’s departure well. The head coach was pleased, aside from two specific rough patches, about a 59-47 loss to UCLA on Saturday that ended Arizona State’s regular season with a 14-17 mark.

The pressure is now on leaders like Collins, Adam Miller, Jamiya Neal and Alonzo Gaffney to pick up the slack, Hurley said.

The head coach could also use some most post touches for bigs like Shawn Phillips Jr. and Bryant Selebangue, and perhaps a wild card to step up off the bench.

What does Hurley expect to see when ASU open the Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday against the Utah Utes?

“I just think a tremendous fight. I want us to go there and compete and look at this and approach it one game at a time,” Hurley said. “We know where we stand. We know our only path to the NCAA Tournament is winning this tournament. This is March Madness, this is what these guys have been working toward since June.”

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