Former UConn star: Dan Hurley told me to ‘get the hell out of here’ and join NBA


Donovan Clingan wanted to contend for a three-peat, but Dan Hurley was having none of it.

The former UConn star helped the Huskies to a second straight national championship earlier this year.

For a second straight year, the Huskies won every tournament game by double-digits and won their sixth title in school history.


Dan Hurley walks off the court

UConn head coach Dan Hurley celebrates with center Donovan Clingan, left, after defeating Illinois in an Elite 8 game in the NCAA Tournament March 30, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The big man cemented himself as not just a lottery pick, but a top-10 selection in the draft with his performance in the tournament, averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Clingan spent two seasons at UConn, and he was looking for a third title.

But Hurley knocked some sense into him.

“I went into Coach Hurley’s office, and I was like, ‘Yo coach, I’ll come back. I’ll go for another one.’ He’s like ‘You’re out of your mind, bro. Get the hell out of here.’ And I guess I had to go,” Clingan told the “Knuckleheads Podcast,” hosted by ex-NBA players Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.

Donovan Clingan reacts on court

Donovan Clingan of the Connecticut Huskies reacts in the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers during the national championship game at State Farm Stadium April 8, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

“It was probably like four days after we had won the title, but you know I was sad. I didn’t want to leave that place. I love UConn, Coach Hurley, the staff, the people around me and my teammates. Every time I walk in that building, it’s home. I went back twice last week, and I still feel like I’m part of the team.”

Clingan went seventh to the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night. The 7-foot-2 shot-altering stud averaged 13 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game last season for the Huskies, expanding his offensive skills to complement his dominant defense.

He will now share a frontcourt with Deandre Ayton and Jerami Grant, along with last year’s second overall pick, Scoot Henderson.

Clingan at draft

Donovan Clingan smiles after being drafted seventh overall by the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2024 NBA Draft June 26, 2024, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.  (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)


Portland finished last in the Western Conference last year at 21-61 after parting ways with Damian Lillard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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