Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley met with the media via a Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a plethora of topics, including Romello White transferring, Marcus Bagley and Josh Christopher entering the program, and ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’.
Here were a few of the talking points and notes from the online meeting.
Hurley wished forward Romello White nothing but the best after the third-year junior starter entered his name in the transfer portal on Sunday night.
However, with the decision, Hurley was caught somewhat off guard, or “blindsided” as the Sun Devil head coach described it.
“I think he’s going to make a program better,” Hurley said of White leaving. “I think you tweak and change, and we have to highlight our strengths better. You have to plan for not playing exactly the way you had envisioned for. In my mind, Mello was a guy that I anticipated being back and I was a little bit blindsided by his departure, but I am equally enthusiastic about all the other guys that we have and the talent we have...I still truly believe that puts us in a position to be one of the better teams in the country next year.”
Hurley has also been exploring other options with White now out of the program. Big man Jalen Graham is returning in the frontcourt, and ASU still has two scholarship spots available.
Christopher and Bagley
Two of the most highly-coveted recruits coming into Tempe next season, Hurley understandably talked about his dynamic duo of the 2020 recruiting class in Marcus Bagley and five-star guard Josh Christopher.
The head coach noted how Bagley’s grandfather, legendary Sun Devil alum ‘jumping’ Joe Caldwell, played a role in his decision to attend ASU, as well as how Bagley’s grandfather has an open door policy to games and practices. Hurley described him as, “a member of the family.”
As for Christopher, Hurley highlighted his Easter Sunday and how the holiday is normally a peaceful day for him. But with the announcement of the five-star guard looming, Hurley was anything but comfortable.
He was similar to many other Sun Devil fans on that day, continuing to refresh his Twitter feed to find out where the high-caliber recruit was attending. After the announcement and discussions with the guard, he reiterated what went into Christopher’s decision.
“He’s not the type of guy who needed a blue-blood name or incredible tradition,” said Hurley on Christopher picking ASU over Michigan. “He wanted to blaze his own path.”
Hurley also compared Christopher to former Sun Devil guard Luguentz Dort in regards to their strength and ability to get to the basket and finish.
Remy and Verge Testing The Waters
If ASU has the return of Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge Jr., their backcourt could be in even better shape for next season.
Both players, who were one and two in scoring respectively on ASU, are testing the waters of the NBA Draft. Although they are both slated to go undrafted according to reports, Hurley understands their interest and will live with their decisions regardless of what happens.
“With both of those guys, they are going through their own individual draft process. We stay communicating and talking on a daily basis,” Hurley said. “They’re going to go through it, get their feedback, look at their options and make the best decision.”
Both guards have to sit out next season, though Hurley said there is a possibility that Muhammad could get a waiver to play.
If not, then both players are viewed to play similar roles to that of Zylan Cheatham and Rob Edwards when they transferred from their previous schools and had to sit out a year at ASU, elevating the level of practices with energy and high-intensity.
The veteran duo is expected to put pressure on both Christopher and Bagley, helping them adjust to the Division I level, according to Hurley.
The Last Dance
It’s no secret that the cultural sports entertainment of the Coronavirus quarantine period has been ESPN’s airing of ‘The Last Dance’, a series documenting Michael Jordan’s esteemed career and final season during his dynasty run with the Chicago Bulls.
Hurley of course, a star guard at Duke and former NBA player himself, had the opportunity to play against both Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe Bryant in the 90’s.
Sunday’s episode of the documentary series highlighted both Jordan’s relationship with Bryant, and Jordan’s experience on the 1992 Dream Team that took home gold at the Barcelona Olympics.
As for where Hurley fits into that picture, he was a part of one of the biggest upsets in basketball history in a story that was kept untold for many years.
During a 1992 scrimmage in San Diego, Hurley, a senior at Duke, and seven other college all-stars played against the Dream Team to help them prepare for game action before going overseas (Hurley: bottom left in photo below).
In a shocking display, the college team that featured Hurley along with future NBA stars like Grant Hill and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, defeated the U.S. Olympic team full of future Hall of Famers.
Hurley had his recollections of the game, and the group upon watching the documentary over the weekend.
“We were scared to death going into that gym,” Hurley said. “And then it was magical what was happening. We were making plays everywhere and they were having a hard time keeping up with us that day.”
After the scrimmage, Hurley and his college teammates were eating lunch back at the hotel when Charles Barkley approached them. The college team would still be training with the Dream Team for the rest of the week.
“We had a really smug look on our face and he put us on blast and let us know what the rest of the week was going to look like,” Hurley reminisced. “Sure enough, that’s what went down. They really stepped on our throat hard after that first day and let us know about it all week.”