Jalen Hurts Shouts Out Dawn Staley During Championship Game

April 11, 2024

Athlete Studio

Jalen Hurts experienced disappointment as his Alabama team bowed out of the men's Final Four on Saturday night. However, his allegiance shifted to another team dear to him, which was contending for a championship on Sunday.

In Cleveland, Hurts showed his unwavering support for Dawn Staley's South Carolina squad as they faced off against Iowa in the women's national title game. Amidst the excitement of the event, Hurts made a stop at the set of WNBA icons Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi's alternate broadcast. There, he shared insights into his connection with Staley, a revered coach with two national championships under her belt. Staley, a North Philly native who made waves at Dobbins Tech and once led Temple University's program, shares a special bond with Hurts, forged during his early days in Philadelphia. He fondly recalled their relationship, nurtured in the city where his relative Duce Staley served on the Eagles' coaching staff. Additionally, Hurts highlighted his involvement in community initiatives at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center, illustrating his deep roots in Philadelphia.

Expressing his admiration for Staley's coaching prowess, Hurts commended her leadership, competitiveness, and ability to connect with players. He remarked, "There are definitely deep ties there, but I love great coaching," underscoring Staley's remarkable qualities.

During the game, Hurts was spotted alongside Duce Staley, whom he initially believed to be Dawn's cousin, though they are not related.

Hurts also extended appreciation to Geno Auriemma, the esteemed coach from Norristown, who mentored Taurasi and Bird during their time at UConn. Auriemma's remarkable record of 11 national championships earned recognition from Hurts, who acknowledged the heightened attention surrounding women's basketball. Noting the record-breaking TV viewership for the national semifinals, particularly the Iowa-UConn matchup which drew 14.2 million viewers on ESPN, Hurts emphasized the importance of celebrating the exceptional talent and entertainment value that women's basketball offers.

As South Carolina led 49-46 at halftime, Hurts appeared on the broadcast, reflecting on the significance of winning championships and how the loss in Super Bowl LVII fueled his determination. He emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards and perseverance in pursuit of success.

As the second half commenced, Hurts praised the performance of young Gamecocks players like freshman standout MiLaysia Fulwiley, affirming, "She's got game." He also offered advice on maintaining focus amidst external distractions, urging players to prioritize their goals.

Following South Carolina's victory and Dawn Staley's third national title, accolades poured in from various quarters. Notably, Kahleah Copper, a basketball star from North Philly, expressed her support on social media. Even Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown joined in, showcasing solidarity with Staley's squad.

Staley, in her moment of triumph, expressed gratitude to Iowa's Caitlin Clark, recognizing her contributions to the sport and predicting a bright future for her in the WNBA. Clark's stellar achievements, including being the all-time leading scorer in Division I history, garnered praise from Staley, affirming her status as one of the game's greatest of all time.

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