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Dan Hurley says he’s not thinking about Pitt job ahead of NCAA tournament

Hurley: “I haven’t thought one second about any other team.”

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Pittsburgh Practice Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley, who has been floated by many as a top candidate for the Pitt head coaching vacancy, is in Pittsburgh for the first round of the NCAA tournament, as his Rams are set to face off against the Oklahoma Sooners at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Hurley met with the media and was asked about the rumored interest of schools like Pitt and UConn.

“I haven’t thought one second about any other team or program or what city I’m playing in, relative to who has a coaching vacancy,” Hurley said, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY. “We built an amazing thing at Rhode Island. So that’s really the only thing I’ve ever thought about during the course of this season, is this team and our goals and trying to reach them.

“I have been on that — coaching rumors with me is something that — it’s a great reflection for the university, our program, and these players have made it — their efforts have made me attractive to other schools, so credit to the university and what they’ve been able to build in terms of the program and these great players,” he continued.

“This isn’t the first time my name’s been connected to jobs. [The players are] used to it, I’m used to it, and it’s not a distraction at all.”

Hurley has been Rhode Island’s head coach since 2012, and he’s built the once irrelevant Atlantic 10 team into a perennial NCAA tournament contender through solid recruiting and player development. Prior to that, he had successful stints coaching Wagner in the Northeast Conference and St. Benedict’s Prep, a high school team in his home state of New Jersey.

For Pitt, Hurley makes a lot of sense, as he’s punched above his weight on both the court and the recruiting trail, assembling the 29th-ranked class for the 2018 cycle, according to 247Sports. Rhode Island is the only non-Major Seven program to crack the top 30, and Hurley’s ability to cull talent from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions would benefit Pitt.

With that said, Pitt is expected to face serious competition for him from UConn and perhaps other universities, as his work at Rhode Island has seen him become one of the nation’s most coveted coaching candidates.