Dan Hurley turns down Lakers: UConn and Huskies forward Alex Karaban have reasons to celebrate | Sporting News Canada (2024)

This would be a hard statement to verify, in part because there are more than 330 million people in the United States and in part because happiness is difficult to quantify.

We’re going to say, anyway, there was no one in this country more delighted at 1:38 p.m. EDT than Connecticut forward Alex Karaban.

That’s the moment ESPN NBA titan Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the news that Dan Hurley had rejected a majestically lucrative offer from the Los Angeles Lakers to become their head coach for the next decade. Hurley declined the opportunity to either:

A) Succeed in the most glamorous basketball competition on the planet;

B) Struggle/fail and depart the league with a buyout that could allow him to, like his rival Rick Pitino, return to the NCAA level with exorbitant financial security.

Hurley will remain at UConn, where he is expected to join the likes of John Calipari and Bill Self among the highest-paid coaches in college basketball, which he most definitely has earned.

This was the not the expected result last week, when Wojnarowski issued the news that allowed the college sports alarmists to have a few days to fret about the future. It was the inevitable decision, though, once we were presented a definitive date for Hurley’s announcement.

It was obvious Hurley had been presented a stage for a triumphant return to the basketball program he had restored to powerhouse status.

It was a huge moment for UConn.June generally is a tough time to be in the market for a college basketball coach, and there was not an abundance of great options for the university. And replacing a legend never is easy, even if that legend's career has been a short story rather than a full-length novel.

This was essential forKaraban. He had withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft for the opportunity to play another season for Hurley, who has asserted himself as one of the top developmental coaches in the college game.

Since 2021, Hurley has had four players drafted by the NBA: two in the first round (Jordan Hawkins and James Bouknight) and two in the second (Andre Jackson and Tyrese Martin). Two more – guard Stephon Castle and center Donovan Clingan – are expected to be selected in the 2024 first round. Of those players, only Castle was rated among the top 50 prospects in his high school class.

Dan Hurley turns down Lakers: UConn and Huskies forward Alex Karaban have reasons to celebrate | Sporting News Canada (1)

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Karaban likely would not have been a first-round pick later this month if he’d remained on the NBA early entry list. That is not to say he would not have found a way to make a team. Shooters like Karaban, who has made 39 percent of his long-range attempts and a total of 147 threes in two seasons, have a great value.

With UConn in 2024-25, though, Karaban can become a featured player for the first time in his career. He redshirted as a freshman in 2021-22, then became a regular starter and major contributor for two national championship teams. He ranked fourth among the Huskies in shots as a freshman, though, and third as a sophom*ore. This can be his time, and he’s talented enough to take advantage.

And, aside from UConn fans hoping he Hurley can become the first since John Wooden to ring up three straight titles, Karaban is the biggest winner from Monday’s development.

One need not expect those who recklessly proclaimed Hurley’s impending departure for the NBA represented a calamity for the future of college sports to reverse course and declare NCAA basketball to be the sport of the decade. No one will declare, “Well, maybe the transfer portal and NIL aren’t so terribly awful, because Hurley could have escaped both and been paid more money to do it.”

That’s not how it works.

Even if Hurley had taken the job, college basketball would have continued to thrive. It managed through a decade when the likes of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard abstained from March Madness. It endured with only a single season from Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson. The Huskies would have missed Hurley, desperately. And the game would have been poorer without him. There would have been no shortage of coaches, though, willing to accept the seven-figure salary paid to whomever is in charge of men’s hoops at UConn.

No, it’s Karaban and his teammates and the fans of Huskies basketball who will benefit most substantially from Hurley’s decision. Oh, and his financial advisor, as well. Whichever direction Hurley turned, he was getting a massive raise. This will be slightly less of one than awaited in LA, but he’ll get by.

Dan Hurley turns down Lakers: UConn and Huskies forward Alex Karaban have reasons to celebrate | Sporting News Canada (2024)
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