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UConn Coach Dan Hurley turned down an offer to coach the Lakers. Now, he's opening up about why.

Dan Hurley explains why he decided to stay at UConn
Dan Hurley explains why he decided to stay at UConn 01:25

STORRS, Conn. — Dan Hurley considered the opportunity to try and lead UConn to a third consecutive national title or the chance to become coach of one of the NBA's most storied franchises and asked himself one question.

"Where do you belong?" Hurley said Thursday at UConn's basketball headquarters.

The answer became clear to Hurley and his family as he turned down a six-year, $70 million offer to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.

"It was obviously tempting," Hurley said. "The Lakers organization is just incredible, once in a lifetime to be presented with the opportunity to lead one of the most storied franchises in sports. It was a good chance to get to know some amazing people, but in the end there were too many reasons to be here.

"You think about the two places you are trying to choose between. You are coaching the back-to-back champs at UConn or the LA Lakers. There aren't many coaches who had to make that choice between those two options for your career."

Hurley said when he returned to campus and met with players, he spoke to them about the chance to show their commitment to UConn. Then he let them know he was coming back to coach them.

Among those in the room was the only returning double-digit scorer for the Huskies.

"I was super excited for him to get the opportunity. He has changed my life and has changed other player's lives as well," forward Alex Karaban said. "Whether he took it or whether he came back, I was happy for him. When he did come back, I was the happiest guy in the world.

"He is the best coach in the country and I am glad to play under him again."

When Hurley goes on the recruiting trail, he can tell players what he gave up to stay at UConn.

"I think it is going to help him in high school recruiting for sure just to turn down the Lakers. I think that is special," Karaban said.

"That speaks to the type of person that he is and how much he cares about UConn. If recruits don't see that, that is their loss."

Hurley denied that his flirtation with the Lakers was used as leverage to get more money from UConn. In a radio appearance earlier Thursday on "The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz," he said he had already agreed to a deal with UConn that will make him the nation's highest-paid college coach, with only a few details still to be worked out.

Winning a third straight national title won't be easy. Even with Karaban's decision to withdraw from the NBA draft, the Huskies have lost four of their five double-digit scorers from last season.

Guard Aidan Mahaney transferred in from Saint Mary's and Michigan transfer Tarris Reed Jr. will help in the post. Freshman Liam McNeeley is a top-10 national recruit who could contribute immediately.

The Lakers fired Darvin Ham after he went 90-74 in two seasons, leading to the pursuit of Hurley. Los Angeles has yet to name a coach.

UConn became the first team since Florida in 2006 and '07 to win back-to-back NCAA titles. Billy Donovan coached those Gators teams and remained at Florida for eight more seasons before moving to the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015. He now coaches the Chicago Bulls.

The 51-year-old Hurley is 141-58 record in six seasons at UConn. The Huskies are 91-21 over the last three seasons.

Kentucky also pursued Hurley for its coaching vacancy following the departure of Hall of Famer John Calipari for Arkansas after 15 years with the Wildcats.

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