NBA champion head coach endorses Lakers target Dan Hurley for NBA transition

Can Dan Hurley thrive with the Los Angeles Lakers? An NBA champion head coach believes Hurley has everyting required to make the transition.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament   - National Championship
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - National Championship / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Despite being a sudden introduction to the Los Angeles Lakers coaching rumor mill, Dan Hurley is no stranger to the spotlight. The son of legendary high school basketball coach Bob Hurley Sr. and brother of Duke Blue Devils legend Bobby Hurley, the Lakers' new frontrunner comes from basketball royalty.

While some are understandably concerned about whether or not Hurley can make the transition to the NBA, an accomplished peer has no such concerns.

Hurley is the arguable best coach in men's college basketball, having led the UConn Huskies to back-to-back National Championships. He's won 292 games since getting his first NCAA gig in 2010, earning the Naismith Coach of the Year award in 2023-24.

In an interview with Adam Zagoria of, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone described Hurley as tough and demanding, but genuine in how he cares about his players.

"For me being emotional-Irish, Pop being emotional-Serbian, Danny being him, you can only get away with that if you’re players know that you care about them. His players at UConn know that he cares about them. Is he tough, is he demanding? Yes, he is, but he wants the best for them. And it’s helped them win at a high level"

Malone continued by making a definitive statement about his belief in Hurley as a potentially successful head coach in the NBA:

"I have no doubt that Danny Hurley could step into the NBA and find a way to connect to his group and do a good job because Danny is a coach. He’s a teacher of the game, he’s a coach of the game and he’s had a tremendous amount of success."

There are few active coaches whose name carries as much weight as Malone's in the NBA, which makes this a powerful endorsement—even if he is a Lakers rival.

Hurley has been coaching since 1996, earning his first head coaching gig at St. Benedict's Prep in 2001. After helping to turn St. Benedict's into one of the powerhouses of high school basketball, he went on to thrive at the NCAA level with Wagner and Rhode Island.

After leading Wagner to its best-ever record at 25-6 in 2011-12 and guiding Rhode Island to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, he took the reins at UConn in 2018.

At each of those stops, Hurley has earned the reputation of a coach who holds his players to a high standard. He's demonstrative on the sidelines in his emotional responses to the ebbs and flows of games, and is often hard on the athletes who he's trying to bring the best out of.

As Malone has stated, however, Hurley has also built strong connections with his players on a personal level that enable him to be hard but fair in his coaching style.

It's worth noting that the Lakers have been searching for a coach who can hold players accountable and meticulously plan for each opponent. An elite offensive mastermind whose defensive tactics are equally as remarkable, Hurley has gotten this far because he epitomizes those traits.

A successful coach at the high school and collegiate levels, Hurley has the potential to continue what's well on its way to being a Hall of Fame career in the NBA.