ASU coach Bobby Hurley defends Torian Graham after obscene gesture in Tucson

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 20:18:41-05

Torian Graham made a mistake, he's learned from it, and the team is moving on.

That's the synopsis of what Arizona State men's basketball coach Bobby Hurley said about the obscene gesture made by Graham, a senior guard and the Sun Devils' leading scorer, on Thursday in Tucson.

Before the game, Graham extended both of his middle fingers toward the Arizona Wildcats' student section as he was headed for the locker room. The incident was captured on video and reported on SportsCenter and other national outlets.

After the game, Graham took to Twitter to apologize, noting he reacted to racial slurs he heard from the UA student section. He later deleted that tweet and issued an apology through ASU the next day that had no mention of racial slurs.

Hurley said Graham made an error in judgment but is confident the incident will be an isolated one.

"You’re working with young men that are prone to make some questionable judgment decisions. I know Torian regrets the entire situation," Hurley said Tuesday as the Sun Devils prepare to play at No. 3 UCLA on Thursday.

"He discussed the extent of what he felt was yelled in his direction, and that was his response. It’s a good lesson. We talked at length about the situation … we’ve got a good feeling that something like that won’t happen again."

On Friday, UA said it was investigating Graham's claim that racial slurs were yelled but have yet to find any evidence that a slur was uttered.

Even if a slur was said, Hurley is skeptical that the offender (or offenders) will be found out.

"I think it’d be very difficult to find the truth in that whole thing," he said. "I trust (Graham) and what he’s been about for me the last nine months: a great young man."

Earlier on Tuesday, Graham and the rest of the ASU men's basketball team handed out teddy bears to kids at Hope Women's Shelter, a domestic abuse shelter in Phoenix. Hurley said it's an example of how Graham has turned his life around after overcoming a number of personal hardships throughout his life.

"He’s been through a lot in his life. He’s had a hard life and he’s put together such a tremendous season. He’s changing his life for the better," Hurley said.

"But at the same time, you’re always susceptible to having a moment where you maybe should have looked the other way or do something else, and we’ve discussed that with him and we’re prepared to move on."