Alabama's Nate Oats says he 'wouldn't be here' without Dan & Bobby Hurley | Zagsblog
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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.
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Sunday / May 26.
  • Alabama’s Nate Oats says he ‘wouldn’t be here’ without Dan & Bobby Hurley

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    By SAM LANCE

    GLENDALE, Ariz. — Nate Oats’ coaching career has come full-circle at the Final Four.

    Eleven years ago, Oats wouldn’t have dreamed of this. He was coaching high school basketball in Detroit, Michigan. But now, he’s trying to advance to a national title game against a man who helped him get here.

    “It’s ironic that my first Final Four that I make, the first one Alabama makes, coaching against Danny Hurley, [his] brother Bobby is the one that got me in this business,” Oats said. “If it wasn’t for Danny and Bobby, I wouldn’t be here. We’re playing each other in Bobby’s town down here in Phoenix. Kind of funny.”

    Oats started his career as an assistant coach in 1997 at his alma mater Maranatha Baptist, where he played college basketball for four years. He then made a short stop as an assistant at Wisconsin-Whitewater before moving onto the head coaching job at Romulus High School in 2002.

    As time passed at Romulus and Oats’ family grew, his priorities shifted towards family and stability. He had three daughters and didn’t want to have to move his family for another job. Additionally, Oats faced multiple rejections from MAC schools he interviewed at.

    All in all, Oats became content with being a high school coach forever.

    “Really the Hurley family kind of helped me come to grips in my head with I’ll be okay just being here the rest of my life,” Oats said. “We were successful at Romulus. We were winning.”

    But that all changed when Bobby Hurley offered Oats an assistant coaching job at the University of Buffalo in 2013.

    “I got to the point I was not going to go into college if I wasn’t pretty confident the guy I was going in with was going to be successful,” Oats recalled. “But I was pretty confident the Hurley family was going to be successful. Bobby Hurley being part of it, was going to be successful in his college coaching. I didn’t want to have to move getting fired year after year after year.”

    Little did Bobby Hurley know at the time that opportunity would springboard Oats to become one of the best coaches in college hoops. After Bobby Hurley left for Arizona State in 2015, Oats took over the head coaching job at Buffalo, and the rest is history.

    Since then, Oats has won four conference regular season titles and been named coach of the year in his conference three times (two MAC, one SEC). And now, he’s playing in Alabama’s first Final Four in school history.

    “I’m excited to compete against a friend in such a big spot,” Danny Hurley said. “This is like the Final Four. I think it kind of changes it a little bit for me because we’ve both done something incredible with the season. Somebody that I really care about is going to play for a national championship, preferably me. I also care about Nate, too, to a much lesser degree.”

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