By Justin Toscano
Arizona State basketball made a statement on Wednesday morning.
According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein, the school and head coach Bobby Hurley have agreed on a five-year contract extension. The Feb. 8 Board of Regents meeting is the next step.
But in doing this, ASU said it wouldn’t be content with being a stepping stone. It didn’t want to one of college basketball’s rising coaching stars flee for more money and a blue-blood program.
Why couldn’t it be that destination?
In December, Hurley somewhat quelled fans’ concerns when he told reporters Tempe is where he wanted to be. He wanted to build something special.
But fans were worried. Rightfully so. How many coaches would turn down a big-time gig? In Hurley’s case: How would ASU keep him if Duke offered him a job to be Coach K’s successor? After all, he’s a Duke alum.
Coach K hasn’t retired yet. That scenario isn’t off the table, but Wednesday is encouraging if you’re a fan of the program.
James Harden. Eddie House. Byron Scott.
This program has had a lot of great plays, but how many true standouts have come through ASU? Ones you’d remember. Household names.
Hurley is looking to change that. So far, he’s doing a great job.
The Sun Devils have two five-star prospects committed to play for them next season — guard Luguentz Dort and forward Taeshon Cherry. Not sure they could’ve ever pulled Cherry had they not stormed out to the best start in school history, demanding the attention of recruits and everyone in the college basketball world.
Hurley has received a commitment from guard Jaelen House (Eddie’s son), a 2019 guard from local high school Shadow Mountain. In the 2020 class, he has five-star Kyree Walker.
I’d be shocked if he doesn’t further his success on the recruiting trail as early as next season. Which, for ASU fans, draws out an elongated “Fiiiinallly.”
Finally, the program you root for seems like it’ll feature a promising product each season. You might even see a future NBA player in Wells Fargo Arena, and unlike many previous years, he’ll be a Sun Devil.
On the court, Hurley’s team is fast, up-tempo and has taken on his mentality. Not only do his players shoot the heck out of the ball — a fun style — but they’ve played more defense this season. Unlike the past two years the Sun Devils finally have the manpower to compete and it’s showing.
ASU will need a solid finish to conference play and a respectable showing in the conference tournament to ensure a seed in March Madness. The Sun Devils have struggled when other teams play zone, when they slow the pace and when they crash the glass. Those are all issues, and in some ways, it feels like ASU has been somewhat exposed.
But if only for a day, forget about all of that. ASU returns to the floor on Thursday night at Washington, so all the Xs and Os talk can be put on hold.
On Wednesday, Arizona State hoops cemented its opportunity to contend in the future.