TEMPE, Ariz. — Bobby Hurley grew up around basketball, playing for a coaching great who just happened to be his father. He was a feisty point guard who led Duke to consecutive national championships and proved his coaching chops by leading Buffalo to the NCAA Tournament during his second season.
With a background like that, he proved to be the perfect choice to take over Arizona State’s up-and-down program.
Arizona State hired Hurley to replace Herb Sendek on Thursday, hoping the cerebral-yet-passionate former point guard can lead the Sun Devils to consistent success.
“Bobby is energetic, passionate and tough, and his contagious competitive fire will bring unmatched vigor to our men’s basketball program,” Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “A teacher, first and foremost, he is a proven winner as both a player and a coach, and understands the steps it takes to be a champion.”
Arizona State’s program could use a lift.
Though universally respected for his intellect and forthright ways, Sendek could not turn the Sun Devils into consistent winners. Arizona State reached the NCAA Tournament twice during his nine seasons, most recently in 2014, and struggled to gain a foothold in the deep Pac-12.
The Sun Devils labored this season after losing key players from the NCAA Tournament team and Sendek was fired on March 24 after going 155-133 in the desert.
Arizona State had been in serious talks with Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel, but he took his name out of the running earlier this week.
The Sun Devils quickly turned their attention toward Buffalo, where the 43-year-old Hurley turned the Bulls into a winner in a short time.
Buffalo won 19 games in Hurley’s first season and had a breakthrough in 2014, winning the program’s first Mid-American Conference title while leading the Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament berth.
Buffalo lost to West Virginia in the Round of 64, and Hurley reached an agreement on a contract extension after he became the first coach in school history to win more than 40 games (42) his first two seasons.
“In Bobby Hurley, we have found a top flight coach who will take our basketball program to the next level and a mentor who will foster academic success among all of our student-athletes,” Arizona State President Michael Crow said in a statement.
Hurley has a deep basketball history, growing up as the son of Bob Hurley Sr., a successful New Jersey high school coach and member of the Naismith Hall of Fame.
Bobby led St. Anthony High School in Jersey City to four consecutive state titles and continued his success at Duke, serving as the feisty point guard on a team that reached the Final Four three times and won national titles in 1991 and 1992.
After being named an All-American in 1993, Hurley was selected with the seventh overall pick of the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings, where he played five seasons.
Hurley nearly had his career cut short after a horrific car accident nearly took his life during his rookie season, but he returned to play four more years before retiring.
Hurley spent time as a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers before becoming an assistant coach under younger brother Dan at Wagner and later Rhode Island.
He was hired to replace Reggie Witherspoon at Buffalo in 2013 after they went 14-20 the season before.
“We conducted an exhaustive search and after numerous discussions with many of basketball’s most knowledgeable and respected individuals, one thing became clear: Bobby is the right person to lead this program to new heights,” Anderson said.
This article was written by John Marshall from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.