Going into his sophomore season, Rochester John Marshall star Matthew Hurt was the most talented player on a loaded D1 Minnesota AAU team with five Division I recruits.
Two years later, Hurt’s game continues to grow and he's surrounded by several top prospects again this spring. You could argue this team is even better than in 2016 – it has nine Division I prospects.
“It’s a good feeling to play with all of these talented guys,” Hurt, a 6-foot-9 five-star Class of 2019 forward, said. “They’re great off the court, good teammates and make the right plays. I think that’s why we’re so effective and 8-1 in the (Adidas) Gauntlet right now.”
Hurt, the younger brother of Gophers forward Michael Hurt, and his D1 Minnesota teammates will open play in the Prep Hoops Battle at the Lakes tournament 11:45 Saturday morning at Wayzata High School, but the event runs Friday through Sunday, including at Edina High.
Hurt’s 17U team features three other 2019 players with Gophers scholarship offers: Hopkins power forward forward Zeke Nnaji, DeLaSalle point guard Tyrell Terry and Lakeville North wing Tyler Wahl.
This D1 Minnesota squad compares favorably in talent to the 2016 team that featured McKinley Wright (Colorado), Jericho Sims (Texas), Nathan Reuvers (Wisconsin), Goanar Mar (George Mason) and Ishmael El-Amin (Ball State). They lost in the Adidas Finale semifinals in July that year.
Terry is similar to Wright in that he can run the team and get his teammates open shots. Nnaji isn’t as athletic as Sims, but he’s taller and just as versatile playing inside and out.
Hurt on Terry: “I think he’s similar to McKinley. He’s a pass-first point guard. He also can make the right plays and make shots, too. It’s been really fun the past couple tournaments we’ve played together.”
Hurt on Nnaji: “He fits in well with us (former Howard Pulley player). He can shoot it and go inside. He’s a mismatch nightmare. He’s a good shot blocker and good rim protector. It’s really fun to play with him by my side. If I get beat off the dribble, he’s there to block the shot.”
The X-factor for D1 Minnesota this year has been 6-8 forward Patrick McCaffery, committed to play for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, his father. Every player on the roster is a Division I prospect, including Minnesotans Robert Jones from Prior Lake and Jamison Battle from DeLaSalle.
“I definitely think this team has the potential to win the gauntlet,” Terry said. “We’ve done well so far. Sky’s the limit for us. I don’t think there are many teams that can beat us. We’ll just see where it goes.”
-- D1 Minnesota 16s team features Class of 2020 big men standouts Dawson Garcia from Prior Lake and Ben Carlson from East Ridge. They both have Gophers offers and open the Battle of the Lakes tournament at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at Edina High School.
"Playing their age is helpful," Hurt said of Garcia and Carlson. "They could play 17U and do a pretty good job at it, too. But they have a chance to be leaders there and two of the best players on the team. That’s what is going to help them."