Sun Rising in the Desert

Sun Rising in the Desert

November 2, 2015

When Bobby Hurley was named head coach at Arizona State in April, he wasn’t one of those hires that made you go, “Who?” Everybody even remotely interested in college basketball surely knew of the former Duke point guard who helped lead the Blue Devils to back-to-back National Championships as a player and then turned around a Buffalo program in just two years as head coach.

Well, maybe not everybody.

“It clicked to me when I saw the (ESPN 30 for 30 documentary) on Christian Laettner, and he was the point guard on that team,” ASU senior Gerry Blakes told Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.

In the world of recruiting, that is something that often happens. Kids who were born near the start of the 21st century are not always aware of what happened in the 20th century. So, no matter what your name, you need to work on the recruiting trail, especially in a part of the country where you did not make your name.

“When I took over Buffalo, people had similar questions about how was I going to recruit the Midwest and be successful in a conference that was based in the Midwest with a lot of East Coast ties,” Hurley told Craig Grialou of “We worked at it. I hired a great staff that helped recruit the major markets in our conference, and because of the job that we did, basically with all Midwest players, we were able to win our league.”

If the commitments already received by the ASU staff are any indication, Hurley has again met the challenge and succeeded.

ESPN ranks the Sun Devils’ 2016 recruiting class at No. 16 nationally, by far higher than any recent ASU class. Headlining the commitments are 6-6 Sam Cunliffe, a wing player from Seattle who ESPN ranks at No. 38, and 6-10 Dallas native Jethro Tshisumpa, a 6-10, 260-pound shot blocking and rebounding machine who is rated No. 83 by ESPN.

In addition, according to Adam Zagoria of, the Sun Devils are the overwhelming favorites for Thon Maker, a 7-0 shot-blocking, shot-altering center from Ontario whose physical make-up has been compared to Kevin Garnett. Should Maker sign with Arizona State, the Sun Devils will move up the ESPN team rankings.

If recruiting is the lifeblood of a basketball program, then Hurley has already pumped new life into the Sun Devils.

Arizona State joins NC State, Marquette, and LSU in the FanDuel Legends Classic, Nov. 23-24 at Barclays Center. Tickets are available at:

The Gazelle Group | 475 Wall Street | Princeton, N.J. 08540 | 609.921.1300 |

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