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Luke Murray rejoins Hurley as UConn men's basketball assistant

Luke Murray can’t remember the exact age he began hanging out at AAU tournaments, summer basketball camps and high school games. But it was before he got his driver’s license.

He relied on public transportation or family members to give him a ride to different gyms in the New York-New Jersey area.

He knew then that he wanted to get into the coaching business.

As a teenager, Murray was already acting like a coach, scouting and evaluating players. He was a regular at ABCD Basketball camp, a prestigious summer event in New Jersey that drew the best high school talent in the country.

“I was playing in AAU tournaments throughout high school and I would stay and watch the older guys,” said Murray, who joined a Zoom session with the media Friday to talk about joining coach Dan Hurley’s men’s basketball staff at UConn. “If I was playing in a 15-and-under event, I would stay and watch the 16s and 17s play. I had the Bob Gibbons Report sent to my house. I was really dialed in on all the different high school guys across the country.

“That was the advent of recruiting information becoming available on the Internet, so I was scouring the country for as much info as I could get. I spent a lot of time in Manhattan and New York City watching different high school players play, Catholic League championships and PSAL championships and different grassroots organizations.

“It’s been a love of mine. I’m blessed that I’m able to do it as a profession.”

The 36-year-old Murray’s love for the game has served him well in his 13 years in the college coaching business. He’s considered one of the top assistant coaches under 40 years old in the country.

He’s hit the ground running since UConn announced his hiring on Monday. He’s either texted or talked to every player on the team. His role on the staff has yet to be fully defined.

No introductions are necessary with the coaching staff. He spent time as Hurley’s assistant at Rhode Island and Wagner, served as director of basketball operations at Quinnipiac when assistant Tom Moore led that program and has ties with associate head coach Kimani Young.

When Murray saw assistant coach Kevin Freeman left the UConn staff, he expressed his interest in the job to Hurley. He loves the way Hurley coaches and inspires and invests in his players.

“It was a very easy decision for me,” Murray said. “Really excited about being here at UConn. My relationship with coach Hurley means a ton to me. He’s a real mentor of mine, somebody that I hold in incredibly high regard. Tom and Kimani, the same way. I’ve known each of those guys for close to two decades. So really exciting to be part of this staff and to be around those guys on a daily basis.”

Murray is no stranger to Connecticut.

He attended St. Luke’s in New Canaan, spent a semester at UConn before finishing college at Fairfield, graduating in 2007.

During that brief period in Storrs, Murray formed a casual relationship with Moore and assistant Andre LaFleur.

“Every now and then, coach Moore or Andre LaFleur, they’d have me by the office and we’d just talk,” Murray said. “I had a real good sense for the high school basketball scene and recruiting, so we would kick names around in the office, but it wasn’t anything in an official capacity.”

Moore ended up being Murray’s “first boss” in the coaching business, a position as director of basketball operations at Quinnipiac.

Since then, Murray’s coaching journey has covered a lot of territory. Most recently, he served as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Louisville for three years before being let go.

“Honestly, it was a surprise,” Murray said. “... I’m really focused on the future and doing great things at UConn.”

Murray is ready to do his part in helping the UConn program take another step forward. He’s impressed with what Hurley’s done so far. He knows all about Hurley’s reputation as a master program builder after working with him at Rhode Island and Wagner.

“I have a real appreciation for how he’s been building the program, certainly the players that he’s brought in, the intensity with which he coaches, the effort level and the commitment level that his teams play with,” Murray said. “It’s been awesome to watch from year one to now, the growth of the team, the real identity and culture that you can see being established.

“I’m excited about the future, to build on that even more.”

Expect Murray’s famous father, actor Bill Murray, to be at some UConn home games. Bill is a huge fan of Hurley’s and Moore’s.

While proud of his father’s accomplishments, Murray is out to forge his own path in life.

“That really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me or what I’m about on a daily basis. I’d be lying to you if I said those questions (about my father) aren’t somewhat tiresome. I’m sure everybody, for the most part, knows the story. I’m just focused on being the best basketball coach that I can be at Connecticut and hope that I can help coach Hurley and the program continue to ascend.”

g.keefe@theday.com

 

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