Matthew Hurt’s final summer of high school hoops ended with a bang. A gold medal and some big AAU wins sent his stock soaring.
The next bang will be Hurt’s college decision — more like a KA-BOOM! — heard around the country, especially in Minnesota.
“I’m trying to make a decision before the high school season for sure,” the Rochester John Marshall senior-to-be and top-five Class of 2019 player said. “Whatever school I go to, I’m going to try to make a big impact right away. And my ultimate goal is to win.”
Describing Hurt only as a five-star prospect doesn’t do him justice. He’s a sharpshooting, slam-dunking, shot-blocking, big shot-making 6-9 forward who can play inside and out.
Which lucky five programs will get official visits this fall? The ones recruiting him the hardest right now are Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Memphis and Iowa.
For coach Richard Pitino, Hurt is talented enough to instantly make the Gophers a 2019-20 Big Ten title contender. And that would just be the beginning. How realistic is Hurt staying home, though?
It certainly doesn’t hurt that his older brother, Michael, is enjoying his experience and making strides with the Gophers.
“Seeing him there helps out a lot,” Matthew Hurt said. “I could see myself trying to fit in that system playing with my brother. I love playing with him. How he takes care of me off the court and on the court, too. I think it would just make a big difference.”
A bad experience for one brother would have been potentially toxic for recruiting the other. But Michael stayed committed, with top local recruit Amir Coffey, after watching the Gophers’ abysmal 8-23 season in 2015-16. The reward was playing on an NCAA tournament team as a freshman in 2017.
Even a disappointing 15-17 season his sophomore year turned out to be beneficial. His 5.8 minutes a game as a freshman jumped to 19. Michael started 14 games when the Gophers were shorthanded with injuries to Dupree McBrayer and Coffey.
“I learned a lot throughout the course of the season,” Michael said. “A lot of it is getting firsthand experience out there. I think it will definitely help me going into this season, especially helping some of the younger guys.”
Turning the corner midway through the Big Ten season, Michael averaged 4.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and shot 50 percent from three the last nine games, which included a 15-point, eight-rebound effort at Wisconsin.
“Michael had some really good moments,” Pitino said. “He plays the right way. He’s just a very smart player. We always thought he would evolve into a really good player. I think he’ll play some crucial minutes for us moving forward this year.”
Richard Hurt is proud his oldest son battled through adversity and set a great example for his teammates last season. He thinks Michael’s value goes underappreciated, but Matthew’s definitely watching him make an impact.
“Michael thoroughly enjoys the University of Minnesota,” Richard Hurt said. “I don’t think people understand how hard he works. He’s driven to be successful in the classroom and on the floor. That experience all is a positive and certainly something that Matthew would look to in making a decision.”
Best decision ‘for him’
Matthew Hurt was an eighth-grader on John Marshall’s varsity squad when his brother committed to the Gophers as a high school junior, becoming the first member of the U’s 2016 class.
Not long after that, Matthew became a household name in the recruiting world.
“It’s so cool seeing his improvement from the very beginning,” Michael said. “He’s obviously gotten a lot stronger. Just seeing him growing into his body and take over as a leader is something I’m really proud of.”
This summer, the younger Hurt added to his extensive résumé with a gold medal with Team USA at the U18 FIBA Americas in Argentina in June. In July, he led D1 Minnesota to a runner-up finish at the Adidas Finale in New York and to the quarterfinals at the Adidas Summer Championships in Orange County.
Who’s who in college coaching, and Pitino of course, were courtside to watch Matthew’s stellar all-around performances this July, which included some buzzer-beaters.
Among the suitors is Hall of Famer Bill Self, who coached Hurt on the U.S. junior national team this summer. Recruiting projections online give Kansas the edge in the Hurt race. Matthew Hurt called that experience cool but said he has not made up his mind.
“He’s a great coach,” Matthew said of Self. “But I don’t think that [trip] separates Kansas.”
Whatever decision Matthew makes, Gophers faithful and college hoops fan bases across the country will be bracing for the announcement come November.
Will the chance to play with his older brother separate Minnesota?
“That was my favorite part of high school was getting to play with my brother,” Michael said. “If I could get to do that again, that would be amazing. But obviously I want what’s best for him.”