Top basketball recruit Matthew Hurt talks about UK, Duke, Kansas and UNC
Win or lose, UK’s long pursuit of five-star basketball recruit Matthew Hurt will come to an end Friday afternoon.
All signs are pointing to bad news for the Wildcats, and it’s been trending that way for weeks.
Hurt — a 6-foot-9 forward from Rochester, Minn., and the No. 8 overall player in the 2019 composite rankings — is scheduled to reveal his college decision around 4:15 p.m. EDT at his high school Friday, and Duke was the overwhelming favorite on the eve of his announcement.
“I’d be surprised if it’s not Duke on Friday,” Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader. “I think Kentucky still has some optimism there. North Carolina is in there, as well. It seems like Kansas is entirely out, which is pretty crazy to me. They were the team to beat for three years, and now they’re one of the last ones out.
“But I’m going to stick with Duke. I think Duke has done enough there to show how he’ll fit — and with the personnel there; who’s leaving, who’s staying — I think it all adds up.”
Evans and Rivals.com colleagues Eric Bossi and Dan McDonald all picked Duke for Hurt in their predictions roundup this week.
The Blue Devils’ chances in this recruitment were already looking good heading into the spring, and those fortunes might have been bolstered when star point guard Tre Jones decided to return for a sophomore season. Jones is also a Minnesota native, and Hurt and his father have praised the 6-2 guard’s abilities as a playmaker — 5.3 assists to 1.5 turnovers per game this past season — saying he’d be a good fit to play with Hurt at the college level.
Hurt, who has been honing his perimeter skills in order to play more away from the basket at the college level and beyond, averaged 37.4 points and 12.4 rebounds per game as a senior this season.
Over at 247Sports, the predictions have also been heavy for the Blue Devils.
National experts Evan Daniels, Jerry Meyer, Andrew Slater and Brian Snow are among the many who have logged Crystal Ball picks in favor of Duke over the past several weeks. Daniels made his prediction back in February, long before Jones announced he was coming back and when the future rosters of Hurt’s finalists were still unclear.
“My prediction is the same as it was weeks ago. I think ultimately Matthew Hurt lands at Duke,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader on Thursday. “That’s kind of where I thought he was going for a long time, and that’s where I think he’s headed … I think Matthew Hurt made this decision regardless of Tre Jones’ decision. But when a school gets a guy like him back, it can only help them.”
Closer to home, a couple of sportswriters — Pat Ruff and Guy N. Limbeck — at The Post-Bulletin newspaper in Hurt’s hometown of Rochester broke down the Minnesota high school star’s upcoming announcement this week, taking a closer look at all of the schools on his list. Both predicted it would be Duke.
On Friday afternoon, Hurt will either confirm what the experts are thinking or pull off one of the biggest recruiting surprises of the year.
“I would be quite surprised if it’s not Duke,” Daniels said.