05/24/2010 1:36 PM ET
Bobby Hurley returns to coaching
Former Duke star on brother's staff at Wagner
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
Bobby Hurley won two national titles at Duke but saw a car accident cut shot his NBA career. (AP)

NEW YORK -- Naofall Folahan is a 6-foot-10 basketball player from the African nation of Benin who before last summer had never heard of Bobby Hurley.

Folahan's first introduction to Hurley, the former St. Anthony High School and Duke University point guard, came through the video game system Wii.

While in Baltimore with the Cecil Kirk AAU program, Folahan took an early-90s incarnation of Duke in the Wii game and beat Mouphtaou Yarou, his AAU teammate and now a rising sophomore at Villanova.

"I forget what year, but it was back in [Hurley's] day," Folahan recalled of his video team. "I remember I [saw] on the jersey 'Hurley.' He was on my team. He's very small, not really big. He was passing the ball and shooting 3's. He can really shoot the ball."

Flash forward to the spring of 2010 when Wagner College head coach Dan Hurley, Bobby's younger brother, began recruiting Folahan to the Staten Island school where Bobby now works as an assistant.

Upon meeting Bobby Hurley in person for the first time, Folahan had a kind of worlds-colliding experience, in which he interacted with the person behind his video game avatar.

"And then I met him and I was like, 'Whoa,'" Folahan said. "He really kind of looked like the guy. He was a little bit older. I was really happy and impressed. I was like, 'Yeah, that's what up.'"

When you hear the name Hurley: Such is life for Bobby Hurley in 2010.

Although the coaches and parents of recruits are old enough to remember when he led the Blue Devils to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1991 and '92, old enough to remember how his NBA career was cut short by a devastating accident, the recruits themselves are left with second-hand stories and video game avatars.

"They're too young," Hurley, who turns 39 next month, said. "They don't know who I am."

At this point, it may be difficult to comprehend anyone in the basketball world not knowing who the Hurley is. Bob Hurley Sr., the legendary coach at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, was recently named to the 2010 induction class for the Naismith Hall of Fame, where he will be joined by Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone and the 1992 Dream Team. He has won 24 New Jersey state championships, nine Tournament of Champions crowns and is closing in on 1,000 career victories.

During his tenure at nearby St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, Dan Hurley became the fastest coach in New Jersey high school history to win 200 games. After building the program into a national powerhouse, he left the school in April to take over at Wagner.

"When you hear the name 'Hurley,' you think of basketball," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said recently at the New York Athletic Club. "You think of toughness, you think of coaching, you think of winning."

NBA career cut short: Bobby Hurley took the brunt of his father's no-nonsense approach to coaching. As documented in Adrian Wojnarowski's book The Miracle of St. Anthony, the elder Hurley threw his oldest son out of practice at the White Eagle Gym in Jersey City on more than one occasion.

The father didn't want it to appear that he was giving preferential treatment to his own son, so he made him work that much harder than everyone else.

Still, with Hurley at point guard, the Friars won four straight Parochial B state titles between 1986-89. During Hurley's senior season, he averaged 20 points, eight assists and three steals to lead St. Anthony to a 32-0 record, the school's first Tournament of Champions title and a No. 1 national ranking.

Hurley went on to a stellar career at Duke, leading the Devils to back-to-back NCAA titles and earning Final Four most outstanding player honors in 1992. He remains the NCAA all-time assists leader with 1,076 assists and his 16 in one game are a Duke record. His No. 11 jersey was retired in 1993. In 2002, Hurley was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men's basketball team as one of the 50 greatest players in conference history.

"Bobby was as good a guard that's ever played in college basketball," Krzyzewski said.

Hurley was the No. 7 overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft, taken by the Sacramento Kings. Yet that December a painter named Daniel Wieland slammed into Hurley's pickup truck as he was returning home from a game. Hurley wasn't wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the truck. Mike Peplowski, his Kings' teammate, was driving a few minutes behind Hurley and was the first on the scene.

After the accident, as Hurley was laid up in the hospital, he wondered whether he would ever play basketball again.

"I remember getting out of bed a couple days after and they wanted me to walk to the end of the hall and I was excited," Hurley recalled. "I knew from there that I was starting from as low as you could start.

"And being patient was difficult for me because I had never gone through something like that. There's no blueprint for how to deal with it. So there were times where I was making good progress and thinking I could get back to a normal life and get to playing again but then there would be a roadblock in my recovery."

Hurley returned to the NBA for the 1994-95 season and played four more years, but he was never the same player. After averaging 7.1 points and 6.8 assists as a rookie, he never averaged more than 4.2 points and 3.3 assists after the accident.

"It short-changed a phenomenal career because it took away some of his physical abilities," Krzyzewski said. "I don't know if Bobby would've been an All-Star, but Bobby would've been a pro for 12 years or so. When you're that good in something and because of an event your ability to be that good is taken away, I think that's a tough thing."

Hurley isn't the only former Krzyzewski player to suffer a major vehicular accident. Jay Williams, another star New Jersey point guard out of St. Joseph in Metuchen, almost died after a motorcycle accident in 2003. The No. 2 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Williams never played in the NBA again and now works for ESPN as an analyst.

Finding solace in the horses: Hurley coached with his father at St. Anthony in 1999 and later worked briefly as a scout with the Philadelphia 76ers, but gradually withdrew from the basketball world.

"When things didn't turn out the way I had anticipated them turning out for my NBA career, I think I maybe ran from the game a little bit and I wish I could go back and change that," Hurley said.

Through the late Brian Doherty, a Hurley family friend who bought and raced horses in New York and New Jersey, Hurley found a second career as a horse trainer. He owned the Devil Eleven Stable in Hollywood, Fla., and at one point owned a 3-year-old named Cameron Crazies, after the site of his college basketball triumphs.

"It's exciting," Hurley told Newsobserver.com last year. "It gave me a way, when the basketball career ended, to still stay in sports competitively. With the races, I get into it when my horses are running, wherever they are. ... You get sort of those same feelings in the pit of your stomach for the races that you do for basketball. The down side is you have very little control over what's going to happen in a race. It's up to the jockey and the horse."

Return to the hardwood: Speaking at a recent dinner at St. Anthony, Bob Hurley Sr. joked that Bobby grew tired of hearing his father and brother talk about all of their coaching accomplishments while he had none of his own.

"He would talk about the youth league team he was coaching, and we really didn't listen to him," Bob joked.

During Hurley Sr.'s news conference after the Hall of Fame announcement last month in Indianapolis, the father spilled the beans that Bobby would be joining the Wagner staff as Dan attempts to turn around a program that finished 5-26 last season.

"We'll see how this plays out," the elder Hurley cracked then. "Mrs. Hurley will have to step in and treat it like any bad Monopoly game at home."

Now that he's on staff at Wagner, Hurley may be poised for a long career in the coaching ranks.

And although Hurley likely won't be playing any Monopoly with his brother or the Wagner players, Folahan, who signed a letter of intent to play at the school, does plan on challenging his former avatar to a game of Wii.

"Definitely," he said.

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AdamZagoria.
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