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October 12, 2017

Bobby Hurley

San Francisco, California

BOBBY HURLEY: We've had a pretty good off-season, highlighted by a foreign trip we took to Rome and Barcelona first week of August. Great experience for our team.

The additional practices, I think, gave us an advantage to switch some of our new players in the program, getting adjusted to the system.

We're excited about the season. We're healthy. We're led by our senior guards that are very determined, very motivated to try to make a push this year for postseason as a long-term goal. Then we have some young guys in the program that we're excited about.

I think that we're focusing a lot on defense. It was an issue for us last year. We were certainly capable of scoring with some of the best teams in the conference, but not so much at the defensive end. I think part of it was our size, which we've improved with the addition of Romello White, who was sitting out last year, and also Kimani Lawrence, who is another 6'7" wing player that will help our size on the front court.

So we're excited. Practices have been going well, we're healthy, and we're looking forward to start the season.

Shannon Evans and Tra Holder, they're in the back. Two of the best guards in the conference, you might want to talk to them too. I can't just talk about myself or the team. I want to specifically mention that. Thanks.

Q. I was wondering if you could talk about Shannon Evans. There's a guy that played with you at Buffalo, now Arizona State. How have you seen him develop over the years, and what was that conversation like, getting him to come to Arizona State?
BOBBY HURLEY: Yeah, Shannon and I bonded immediately. He was the first guy I coached my first year. So every year I've been a head coach, Shannon has been in my program. So even the first day of practice I realized that's the last time that it will be the first practice of the season with Shannon.

So it's going to be different. But I think he's excited. He's gotten better and better over the years. He looks terrific and ready to have a great season. To have not only Shannon but Tra Holder and Kodi Justice just gives you a lot of confidence going into the season, that type of experience and high-level guard play.

Q. In what ways have you seen Shannon grow over the years?
BOBBY HURLEY: He came in as a high-level athlete with good talent. He's really harnessed that talent and fine tuned it. He's become more of a student of the game and understanding and making good decisions when he's playing. He's a super creative guard. He's got a great motor, got great energy about how he plays and interacts with his teammates. He's really refined his game more to where he's making great decisions and a better leader, like Tra and Cody have been.

Q. What was your reaction to yesterday announcing the formation of a task force, and the league doing so today? Do you think these measures can actually effect meaningful results for the issues we've seen come up?
BOBBY HURLEY: There should be plenty of dialogue in various ways of people that have had great experiences in college basketball can come together and figure out ways to adjust the system and find some long-term solutions. So the more people that are involved that are high-quality people, then I don't see why that's any type of negative.

Q. Do you think there is an obvious first step to go as far as starting to clean this up a little bit?
BOBBY HURLEY: I think that's happening right now just with the programs that have been impacted and the ongoing investigation. That's going to play itself out over time, and that's the initial steps. From there, it's trying to figure out how we got to this point and ways that our game could avoid things like this in the future.

Q. When you're recruiting, do you ever find recruits that are significantly affected by loyalty to a certain shoe company?
BOBBY HURLEY: Well, I mean, in the grassroots of basketball, there are years and years that a player might play for a Nike program or adidas program. Over those years those players may have a relationship with Nike and they want to wear Nike. So that might influence their decision in terms of what university they go to based on that.

So I wouldn't be surprised if that played some role in a kid making a decision on schools. Not all kids, but I'm sure it would with some.

Q. Having a relationship with the shoe companies, how deep do those relationships run at times?
BOBBY HURLEY: It depends when that kid would have been involved with the AAU program that was represented by a shoe company and how long they were in that program and maybe -- and, again, there's only a very small percentage of athletes who end up getting a shoe endorsement deal when they're done with college basketball.

But they look at it long term, maybe, from that perspective: You know, when I'm done playing, am I going to go with Nike or Under Armour or adidas? I'm not sure if that factors into their college decision.

Q. I'm sure you've noticed things getting worse over the last decade. What kind of things do you think exacerbated this scandal throughout the sport?
BOBBY HURLEY: It's really hard to put your finger on that, necessarily. Again, I think there's just got to be a lot of conversations about that. You do know that people get involved with kids earlier and earlier. There's a sixth grader out there probably that people think are going to be the next great thing, and you already have people in their lives.

That hasn't changed over time, but there is more access to these kids at an earlier age, but I'm not sure how you change that or stop that completely.

Q. I realize the NCAA doesn't have any control over this, but would you be in favor of allowing high school kids to go directly to the NBA? Would that help at all?
BOBBY HURLEY: I think the guys should have that right. That's something that the NBA has to decide to do. That's not up to us to decide that. But I would not stop a kid that has the ability to go and the NBA teams are interested. I think that that should be looked at, and it probably will be.

Q. Do you think the NCAA has a responsibility to help out with this situation?
BOBBY HURLEY: Again, I don't know all the politics that went into making that decision. But I could tell you, if a guy is ready to go and his intentions are to be a professional, that we shouldn't prevent that from happening.

Q. One thing the NCAA could do is make very strict penalties in terms of if a kid doesn't stay for at least two years, that the school gets penalized pretty heavily. Would you be in favor of enacting such --
BOBBY HURLEY: I just don't think restricting the rights of a student-athlete and putting that type of timeframe is something that would go through and make sense. But, again, this is going to be -- there are going to be ideas thrown around, discussions. I think there will come a time that something that makes sense will make our game better and less exposure to something like this.

Q. You mentioned the commissions that have been brought about by the NCAA and the Pac-12. Do you believe student-athletes should have representation on those panels?
BOBBY HURLEY: It's not a bad idea in terms of their experience, their journey. Having guys that have lived through the process of being recruited. Growing up through the current grassroots structure right now, living that every day, I would certainly be open to having some influence or player that could give his testimony or accounts to his experience, if he was willing to do that.

Q. With all that's going on, has this really shocked you to see?
BOBBY HURLEY: Just the F.B.I. involvement. There are always rumors and things that go on that you hear but you have no evidence of. So you just try to run your program the best way you can run it. And you don't tolerate anything that goes beyond the rules. You hope that's being executed by your entire staff every day. I know that when everything happened, our staff had a meeting and talked about making sure we're completely focused on doing that at all times.

Q. If you were asked to speak in front of such a committee, what is the one point that you would make in terms of being able to help with the issues that are plaguing college basketball?
BOBBY HURLEY: I don't even think that I've put enough time into coming up with something right now. My focus is on Tra Holder and Shannon Evans today being here, enjoying this experience. They're the student-athletes. This is their last go-around.

I'm trying to coach them at the highest possible level. I'm trying to build a program. We struggled the last two years. We're trying to put ourselves in a better position in the Pac-12, and that's kind of where all my energy has been.

But certainly I think head coaches should have a voice in this as we move forward and try to come up with better solutions.

Q. A non-shoe-related question. From the time you've arrived, your recruiting elevator speech (indiscernible)?
BOBBY HURLEY: Yeah, it was different taking over a program that had a lot of older players, seniors. It wasn't like a complete start-over situation. I think we got to that last year.

I think now we're in a stronger position just because of Shannon Evans and Tra Holder and Kodi Justice. We've addressed some of our weaknesses on defense with our rebounding and our defense in the paint. We were one of the worst teams in the country in two-point field goal defense. It just happened that better players on the front court that are defensive minded is going to make us a better team. We could score very well last year. Just we had a hard time stopping anybody.

Q. (Indiscernible) to come and join us?
BOBBY HURLEY: I think we're on the rise right now. We've made steady progress. Not a big jump, but just moving up the charts in the league. I think the program is in good shape for continued forward movement.

We're going to have a great year with our seniors, and having great guards, you know, really could win you a lot of games. We've been creative with recruiting. We've taken a number of transfers. That's been a niche that we've followed. So happened Rob Edwards, Zylan Cheatham and Carlton Bragg sitting out next year next year I think will soften the blow of losing Tra Holder and Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice.

Q. Given your background as a point guard, do you feel like you're harder on your point guards as a coach?
BOBBY HURLEY: I give them more freedom to play in the games, and I trust what they're going to do and their decision-making. I want them to play real free. In practice sometimes I can get on them because I'll see things that they're doing that I don't need them to do. That's where I could be more aggressive with how I coach them, because I expect so much out of those guys because they've done it. I even hold them to probably a higher standard than I do some other guys.

Q. (Indiscernible) how do you feel about the conference and joining it this season?
BOBBY HURLEY: Yeah, I don't put a lot of stock into the polls. I think, like everyone would say, that all gets decided on the floor throughout the year. But certainly I'm excited there is more optimism. I feel it when I'm in the gym. I feel like our practices are at a higher level. We have better athletes. We're bigger. We look like a high-major team now, whereas I couldn't always say that the last two years.

Q. (Indiscernible) Romello in the post, who has encouraged you with their development over the first couple weeks?
BOBBY HURLEY: Romello, and then Kimani Lawrence has a real maturity about his game that not all freshmen have. He's very team oriented. He's kind of one of those guys who will do whatever it takes: Whatever, Coach, whatever you need me to do, I'm going to do.

That's defending, rebounding, finishing in the open court, playing off of the guards. He fits in very well to the way Shannon, Tra, and Kodi play. So I think he's not a typical freshman.

Mickey Mitchell gives us even a little stronger backbone. He's a tough kid, transfer from Ohio State, 6'7", does a lot of things well. Just a tough-minded guy. I think we needed a little bit more of that to our team. He provides that.

Vitaliy Shibel from the Ukraine, a 6'10" kid with the ACL sitting out the year before. But he's further along, doing some better things than I thought he'd be doing right now.

Q. Is Remy good now?
BOBBY HURLEY: Yeah, Remy started. He tweaked the groin, missed a few days, but, yeah, he was in our last practice and really didn't miss a beat. Just Remy will provide that energy off the bench and ball pressure and defense and energy. I think he makes us stronger in the back court.

Q. Do you have an idea how deep you'll be able to go?
BOBBY HURLEY: I mean, we have ten scholarship guys, so most likely nine or eight, it depends on the situation. Hopefully not going to do what I did against UCLA at home. I played five guys every minute except for one. I don't want to do that again.

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