It is believed by many that Matthew Hurt will be chosen late in the first round or somewhere in the second round of Thursday’s NBA Draft.
If that happens, Hurt will be the first person ever from Rochester to be an NBA draft pick.
Following this past season at Duke University, the former Rochester John Marshall standout opted to leave college and turn pro. Hurt was a sophomore at Duke this year where the 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward averaged 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, shot a sizzling 56% from the field and 44% from 3-point distance. He was named first-team All-ACC, was the ACC’s leading scorer and voted its Most Improved Player.
Hurt seemed destined for basketball greatness beginning in the seventh grade when he was already 6-6 and starting for the John Marshall B squad and junior varsity teams. He lived out that speculated greatness by becoming a McDonald’s All-American, playing for USA Basketball, and then recruited heavily by the bluest of Blue Bloods — Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Below are perspectives from three people who have played primary roles in Hurt’s development, his JM coach, Jim Daly; Hurt’s father, Richard Hurt; and Hurt’s older brother and former University of Minnesota player, Michael Hurt.
Each reflect on what struck them about Matthew’s basketball development and what had them believing he’d be a special talent and likely an NBA player one day.
Jim Daly, JM coach
(Note: Daly was the Rochester Lourdes coach from 2004 until the spring of 2017, before landing at John Marshall)
When did you first get a look at Matthew?
Daly: He came to my Lourdes camps starting in about fourth or fifth grade. I saw a kid who was a year or two more skilled than all of his peers. His dribbling, passing and shooting were just different than the other kids.
At what age did you figure he was going to be more than a high school star, but a college one and a potential pro?
Daly: I felt something special was coming when I coached him the summer going into his junior year. That came from some of the scrimmages we had and then the Mayo game his junior year. We were down by like 10 points at halftime and he came up to me and said, ‘We got this, coach.’ He went on to score the first 11 points of the second half and before I knew it our lead had gone to 30 points. He’d been so matter of fact about it.
What skills did he have as a high school player that set him apart?
Daly: He just had this ability to score. We didn’t have to run a play for him to get his shot off. He could just get to wherever he wanted on the court, especially if someone was trying to guard him one on one. And if you double-teamed him, he had an ability to make shots over people that was so impressive.
There are NBA mock drafts that don’t have Matthew getting picked at all in the first two rounds, most of them citing what they see as a lack of lateral quickness and defensive ability. What are your thoughts on those detractions?
Daly: I think like any (NBA) rookie, defense could be a challenge for him. But in terms of lateral quickness, that comes back to strength, and jumping and having a good second jump. All of those things are things he can improve on and get better at. But I am very impressed with his work ethic, and I’ve worked him out a bunch. He really gets after it.
In what areas does Matthew seem NBA ready?
Daly: I am so impressed with his shooting, and his ability — at 6-9 — to get shots off. He can create space for himself, and even if (defenders) have a hand up, his shots still go in. He’s always been a really good shooter, but even that’s improved.
What’s something you’d want an NBA scout to know about him?
Daly: That Matthew loves to play basketball and loves to learn the game. He’s always trying to get that edge, trying to get better, trying to find ways to improve his craft.
Michael Hurt, brother and former JM teammate
What was it like growing up with a guy who emerged as a superstar?
Michael Hurt: Matthew was always playing two grades up and it was just continuous improvement from him. There was never any slowdown, but instead exponential growth. It was cool to see how much he cared about it and cared about getting better. He was always finding ways to improve. My favorite experiences with him were the two seasons we got to start together at (John Marshall). He was my favorite person ever to play with.
What made Matthew different from other players you grew up playing alongside?
Michael Hurt: People think about his size (6-9) and shooting (able to score from all areas of the court). But what I think of is his mentality and how very even-keeled he is. The moment was never too big for him. And even when he was doing well, he always stayed very calm. He kept that throughout all the situations at Duke, and he is doing it now with NBA workouts (doing drills and scrimmaging for NBA teams considering drafting him). It is amazing to me how he’s always been able to keep it that way. It’s always just basketball to him, which gives him that demeanor on the court and that confidence in himself. He’s put in the time and effort. So, he’s earned that confidence.
When did you begin thinking he might eventually have a shot at reaching the NBA?
Michael Hurt: I think it was in the eighth grade, when he got his first Division I offer, from Iowa State. Iowa State was good at the time and Fred Hoiberg was the coach then. I knew then that some other bigger programs would also come in at some point. I never wavered in my confidence that he could eventually play in the NBA.
What’s it been like for you these last number of months to see him on the cusp of his professional dream?
Michael Hurt: I’m just really proud of him. I’m proud of the time he put in last summer (following a somewhat frustrating freshman season for him at Duke). I think he showed that the resilience he had over last summer paid off (leading the ACC in scoring as a sophomore and becoming one of the top statistical shooters in the country).
What are the things that make Matthew NBA ready?
Michael Hurt: People say that he is a great spot-up shooter. But he is much more than that. He can get his shot off in a lot of different ways. And with more spacing in the NBA, and playing with stars, he is going to get some easy matchups. Nobody can affect his shot. The other thing is that he is even-keeled. That will serve him well in the NBA.
Richard Hurt, father
Matthew has been flying from coast to coast the last month, working out for NBA teams in advance of Thursday’s NBA Draft. Have you had much time to be with him along the way?
Richard Hurt: This past weekend (July 17-18), I met up with him because there was a little gap in his schedule. I met him in Philadelphia and we were able to do some history things, seeing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
By the time next week ends, he’ll have been to 13 or 14 cities, working out for teams. Is he weary?
Richard Hurt: He has enjoyed it, but I think he’s about ready to have the process over with. But he understands that this is all a part of it.
When did you get the sense that Matthew could be really special in basketball and even a potential NBA player?
Richard Hurt: I knew when he was playing B squad (and junior varsity) as a seventh-grader that he had something that not a lot of other people have. At the end of that season, we played in a traveling tournament in Owatonna, Matthew playing up a year. He ended up having 28 points against Owatonna in the title game, pulling up from 25 feet and hitting 3’s and doing things that you just don’t see seventh-graders doing. Then, not too long after that, he got his first Division I offer, from Iowa State the spring of his eighth-grade year. And then (four years later), when his final list of schools was Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina, that was pretty good. He also played on the 18-under USA Basketball team and was a McDonald’s All-American. There aren’t many players who have those kinds of high school careers and also go on to play at places like Duke who aren’t considered NBA prospects or players.
Where do you guess Matthew will be selected in the NBA Draft?
Richard Hurt: I think it will be anywhere from 25 to 40. There is nothing in the feedback we’ve been getting from NBA teams that suggests anything different than that. We feel like he has a stable of teams that are really interested in him. The feedback he’s been getting has been great. Matthew has proven that he is a player who can mature and grow when they look at where he was as a freshman at Duke to where he is now (averaged 9.7 points and 3.7 rebounds as freshman, 18.3 points and 6.2 rebounds as a sophomore, and also gained 25 pounds).
How will Matthew and the Hurt family be as you get closer to draft night? Nervous?
Richard Hurt: I'm sure there will be a little bit of nerves for Matthew, but he won’t be as nervous as Jenny (his mother, Richard’s wife) and I will be. Matthew is resolute in that he believes in his ability so much.