With the 2015 scholarships all allotted, the University of Minnesota basketball staff has turned its focus to the 2016 class.
Near the top of the list is Rochester wing Michael Hurt, who is ticking up in the national ranks (he currently sits at No. 146 for the 2016 class, according to rivals.com) as he heads into his junior year at John Marshall.
I caught up with his prep coach, Kirk Thompson, to talk about Minnesota's recent offer -- which was extended during an unofficial visit to the Dinkytown campus this summer -- and the road ahead.
How did Michael react to the offer from coach Richard Pitino?
I think it's very exciting for him that they're showing interest. He was impressed that they're thinking about getting a new practice facility ... he likes the idea of things they're presenting for him, how they see him as a player and I think everything has been positive.
His recruitment really took a jump over the summer. How is he handling all the new attention?
He's got a lot of college coaches calling on him. The great thing about Michael is he's a great kid with a level head. So he is garnering a lot of attention, but he's very down home. He's a gym rat, he works hard, he just works on improving his game.
How have you seen him improve since last year?
He's obviously gotten stronger although he still obviously needs to get stronger -- he has put on some weight, about 10-15 pounds. What makes him tough is he's always been a pretty good scorer, but now he's gotten where he can score inside, he can score outside and that's what makes him a dual threat. He's a very good three-point shooter, but he's also a very good post-up threat. He's one of the better post-up players I've had in that he's very patient when he gets the ball inside.
What would you like to see him work on this school year?
The three things I'm looking at are strength, speed and for a guy his size he can really handle the ball well, but to continue development of his mid-range game.
Do you think he'll grow any more?
He might grow one more inch. 6-foot-8 now. People seem to be listing him at 6-6 and 6-7 but he's 6-8. He was 6-3 or 4 as a freshman.
His brother, Matthew (also 6-foot-8) is going to be an eighth grader next year. You had him on your team in some capacity last year. What do you expect from him and do you see similarities between he and Michael's games?
Yes, he dressed varsity last year, and I expect him to play a huge role on the varsity team this year. Matthew likes to hang around outside a little bit more, but with time he'll develop that inside play. He has a very unbelievable shooting touch and soft touch around the basket for a kid that age.
Who else is talking to Michael regularly right now?
On my phone today, there has been: Xavier, Stanford, Notre Dame. He's getting letters from Wisconsin, Northwestern is very interested, and he has offers from: Davidson, Bucknell, UNI, Drake and San Jose St. also.
Any other unofficials coming up?
He went to the UNI (University of Northern Iowa) team camp and he's talked about to going out to Bucknell, but he oesn't have anything anytime soon.