Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Dan Hurley would be a recruiting force at UConn or Pitt, college, high school and AAU coaches say
By ADAM ZAGORIA
On Sept. 24, 2015, then-Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon was in the gym at the Patrick School in Hillside, N.J., the famed program that had produced NBA players Kyrie Irving, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Harrington.
Dixon was there to recruit Cyril Langevine, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward who until that point had mostly been offered by a slew of Atlantic 10 Conference schools, including Rhode Island.
By mid-afternoon, Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley had pulled off a major coup by getting a verbal commitment from Langevine before Pittsburgh — or any high-major for that matter — could get seriously involved.
“For sure, for sure, I would’ve had Pittsburgh, Maryland, UConn but I felt that Rhode Island was the best fit for me,” Langevine told me a couple of years ago.
Fast forward to Langevine’s sophomore year at Rhode Island, where he had some big moments as the Rams won the A-10 regular-season title, reached the A-10 championship game and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Last Thursday, he went for 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks as Hurley and the Rams beat Trae Young and Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Now, with Hurley in discussions with both UConn and Pitt about potentially become the next head coach at one of the schools, a wide range of college, high school and AAU coaches say he would be a major recruiting force in either the AAC or ACC.
“In my opinion, Danny is very, very good,” one A-10 assistant coach told ZAGSBLOG. “I think he’d do really, really well. As an opposing team I’ll personally send a bottle of wine to get him out of the league.”
It’s not hard to see why A-10 coaches might feel that way.
Rhode Island has the top-ranked incoming recruiting class in the A-10 for 2018, and the No. 30 class nationally, according to 247Sports.com. Their four-man class ranks ahead of power-5 schools like West Virginia, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Purdue and Alabama.
“Coach [Hurley] is one of the best recruiters in the country,” said Wagner coach Bashir Mason, who played for and coached under Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep before going on to his own successful college coaching career.
“His track record proves that. Both UConn and Pitt would benefit a great deal having him at the head of the ship. With the level of talent he’s going to recruit, we are talking instant contenders for league titles and deep runs in the NCAA Tournament with him on the sideline.”
Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello concurred, saying Hurley would be especially dangerous at UConn.
“I think that he’ll do very well in that league [AAC],” Arbitello said. “He’ll be right up there with Cincinnati year in and year out.”
Arbitello, whose team won three straight New York City Catholic league titles from 2013-15, knows Hurley well from the coach’s time recruiting former CTK guard Jon Severe.
“I think that he’ll be very successful,” Arbitello added. “Everybody I speak to has great words for him.”
Hurley will need really good players to compete — and win –in the AAC or ACC, but Arbitello says he’s not obsessed with recruiting rankings.
“I think what separates him from a lot of coaches is I don’t think he goes after the ranked kids, I think he goes after the kids he wants,” he said. “The kids that fit his system and the kids that he wants to get, and then winds up going all in on the kid and he winds up getting them.”
Dave Boff, who has led New Jersey power Roselle Catholic to three Tournament of Champions titles, including Sunday’s win over Don Bosco Prep, knows Hurley from their Garden State ties and also through Hurley’s recruitment of power forward Chris Silva. Silva ultimately chose South Carolina over Rhode Island in part because South Carolina is in the SEC. So if Hurley takes over a program in a major conference, it could facilitate landing guys like Silva, who this year averaging 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds for the Gamecocks and went off for 27 points and 18 rebounds in a win over Kentucky.
“[Hurley] has done what he’s been able to do with the program and facilities that so far he’s been able to recruit to,” Boff said. “You would have to think recruiting to a place like UConn or Pitt, with what he’d have to offer, along with his coaching style and the relationships that he’s able to build, I think he’d be able to do something pretty special at one of those two spots.”
Andy Borman, who played at Duke and now runs the loaded NY Rens program in New York City, has a former player at Rhode Island in junior forward Ryan Preston.
“Coach Hurley is a winner,” Borman said. “He’s honest and his players love him. It’s very easy for recruits to see that and envision themselves playing for him.”
Patrick School coach Chris Chavannes, who coached Langevine, is all too familiar with Hurley. His father, of course, is legendary former St. Anthony’s coach Bob HurleySr. and his older brother is former St. Anthony’s and Duke legend Bobby Hurley, now the head coach at Arizona State. Dan Hurley began his coaching career at St. Benedict’s Prep, where he coached current Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, among others.
“Well, everywhere he’s been, he’s proven that he can recruit for that level,” Chavannes said. “I still think that that conference [the AAC] is a problem when I listen to my kids and the other kids talk. They’re not very complimentary about the conference, so I think that’s going to be a big stumbling block to get over. But he’s done it everywhere he’s been.”
There is also the possibility that UConn could re-join the Big East down the road, which has a been a rumor for some time now. That would obviously help whoever is the next UConn coach because he can pitch playing at Madison Square Garden and against the likes of Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s and Seton Hall locally, instead of going to places like Memphis, Tulsa, Tulane and UCF.
“I’ve heard talk for years about them getting back into the Big East and that would help tremendously,” Chavannes said. “There’s talk that that could happen in the next few years and that would obviously be a great, great thing for him.”
Chavannes saw first-hand when Hurley, assisted by former Rams assistant Jimmy Carr, beat out Pittsburgh and other high-major schools for Langevine. And he has no doubt he will continue to do so at his next stop.
“They were the first ones to recruit Cyril and Cyril’s the type of kid that it’s all about that family network for him,” Chavannes said. “So that was the reason why. He loved the campus. He loved Hurley. From day one they were the first ones in, and he stuck with that.”
**For more on Hurley’s journey from St. Benedict’s Prep to UConn, click here.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.