Where does UConn turn if Dan Hurley takes Lakers head coaching job?


As Dan Hurley is in deep discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers to potentially be the organization’s next head coach, it brings up the other side of this question: 

If this move happens, where on earth does UConn go from here? 

The Connecticut job has proven to be one of the most highly sought-after positions in all of college basketball, with the Huskies claiming six national championships since 1999, the most in the past 25 years of any program. As sources told FOX Sports, Hurley making the move to Los Angeles would send off a ripple effect that is unprecedented for this time of year. If Hurley leaves, it would open a 30-day window for UConn players to enter the transfer portal if they’d like to, something that seems unfathomable for a national championship-contending program.

That could also be the reason why UConn athletic director David Benedict, if tasked with this challenge, keeps it in the family. In fact, that seems like the most logical avenue to go if the situation occurs for a couple of reasons: 

1. If you go outside the family, you could see several players leave the program, thus causing some major roster building concerns in June.

2. The coach you would love to hire is unlikely to leave for your school because they’ve built out their roster, made a commitment to their new players and have already began summer practices. 

The key debate, sources tell FOX Sports, would be whether associate head coach Kimani Young or assistant coach Luke Murray, the son of Hollywood legend Bill Murray, is given the job. Based on what I have heard, it looks like whoever wouldn’t get elevated would join Hurley in the NBA – especially if Murray is not named head coach, he would follow Hurley to LA – thus giving that person a nice concession prize and the opportunity to land a head coaching job down the road. 

Both Murray and Young have been in the running for other head coaching jobs and could have taken one by now, but their salaries at UConn and the comfort level of being on staff for a heavyweight program has kept them in Storrs. Young has been an outstanding recruiter, and his stock has elevated as each year passes, given his roster-building ability and his continual evolution in every other area. Murray has been documented as the man behind Hurley’s offensive design, with an elite-level knowledge of X’s and O’s and a tireless work ethic. 

As for options UConn could look at if the Huskies started to explore candidates, there are three names that come to mind at this moment: Auburn‘s Bruce Pearl, Rutgers‘ Steve Pikiell, who is a UConn graduate and a Jim Calhoun disciple, and Seton Hall‘s Shaheen Holloway, who led the Pirates to an NIT title this past year. But the more you look at those options, the more it seems unlikely any of those candidates would make a move in June. Sure, it’s UConn, but it’s just so late in this cycle. 

Here’s the flip side of Hurley’s debate and why he could end up staying in Storrs: the psychological aspect of uprooting the perfect life he’s built in the Northeast, taking away the shot at joining John Wooden as the only men’s college head coaches to three-peat, moving his family away from home and going across the country to put up with an NBA climate, adjusting how he coaches at the next level and having to work for egos, and not being able to put players in check like he does at Connecticut right now. 

Why mess with happiness? To perhaps take on a new challenge, the money that comes with it, pursue a world championship and understand if it ever didn’t work out, it’s not like he can’t find a proper college landing spot again. 

This is a decision that will send ripple effects across both college basketball and the NBA. 

For UConn, it would be a massive loss to see Hurley depart just as he is on the brink of an extremely rare accomplishment. For the Big East, it would be a massive coaching loss and create questions about whether the Huskies could keep up the same level of winning. And yes, for college basketball, losing this type of personality would be rough because Hurley is the coaching face of the sport right now. 

Twenty years ago, Mike Krzyzewski said no to the Lakers while he was coaching JJ Redick at Duke. Ironically, two decades later, Hurley might be the pick over Redick, saying yes to the NBA environment and saying goodbye to a state of volatility in college basketball. For now, we will wait and see. 

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.


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