Dan Hurley turns down the Lakers, shifting some focus back on UConn’s recruiting class

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With back-to-back NCAA Men’s Basketball championships and four straight March Madness appearances, Dan Hurley set UConn up for continued success by recruiting one of the best incoming freshman classes in the nation. It is currently ranked No. 10 in the class of 2024 recruiting cycle, with three top-100 players, one of whom is a five-star prospect.

There was just one flaw in the three-peat process: A colossal, celebrated franchise at the highest level of the game with one of the greatest players on the other end of the line, offering Hurley tens of millions of dollars to move away from the Huskies and go to Los Angeles.

After days of consideration and speculation, ESPN reported on Monday afternoon that Hurley turned down the offer from the LA Lakers. He will officially return to UConn, taking charge of the unit competing for its third championship in a row.

If the last few days of speculation were intense for fans of basketball and the individual teams, it may have been more so for the No. 10-ranked UConn recruiting class who joined to play under Hurley.

Huskies’ incoming Class of 2024 (so far)

Liam McNeeley is a five-star, 6-foot-7 small forward who played a crucial role in Montverde Academy’s (Fla.) undefeated Super 25 championship season. Ranked No. 17 on the 247Sports Composite, McNeeley had 22 offers.

He was previously committed to Indiana but decommitted in March. Over the next month and a half, McNeeley debated before choosing UConn in late April. In an interview with ESPN, he explained his rationale, citing the coaching staff and style of play:

“It felt like a perfect fit,” McNeeley said. “Coach Hurley is a hard-nosed coach. That’s the kind of coach I thrive under. The offensive system they run is perfect for my game. The culture of the team. The sets they run. They are going to help me get better on both sides of the ball. The whole coaching staff are good people.”

McNeeley was one of the best shooters in high school, stretching the floor and providing size that gives him legit NBA potential.

Four-star combo guard Ahmad Nowell has been a long-time commit of UConn. The 6-foot-0, 180-pound player announced his plans in July 2023 and has not faltered since, watching his school of choice run to a second straight title.

There’s no need to falter now, with Hurley staying. Nowell is known as an aggressive defender, and averaged 21.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game last season as he was named Pennsylvania’s MaxPreps Player of the Year. He can be a lead guard and hassle the best guard on the opposing team on the other end of the court.

The first commit of the 2024 class will also be remaining until the very end. Isaiah Abraham, a four-star power forward, was the first commit of UConn’s class, choosing the program a little over a week before Nowell. He had 19 offers; his finalists were Virginia Tech, Marquette, and Providence, in addition to the Huskies program.

Like McNeeley at Montverde and Nowell at Imhotep (Philadelphia, Pa.), Abraham has experience playing for a dynamic team with a schedule full of national opponents. Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) is consistently among the best in the nation, and Abraham’s role helped the Panthers go 35-3 last season. He said to Zags Blog after committing that he chose the team in part due to his connection with the staff:

“I feel like the whole coaching staff and the program is a winning organization, not just because they won but because of their mentality,” Abraham said. “They just talk a lot about winning and how much they care about winning. I like winning.”

With Hurley staying, any thoughts of departure among these three players sail away along with the Lakers’ hopes of luring the head coach. With Hurley remaining at UConn as the key cog of the franchise, the Huskies have a chance to do something special with the help of this new class.

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