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U Holds in with 5-Star Recruit Hurt


Matthew Hurt, the five-star basketball recruit from Rochester John Marshall, might be only a few months away from finalizing his college choice. The state’s most elite and sought after prep prospects in the recent past—like brothers Tyus and Tre Jones—have chosen the blueblood programs of college basketball rather than the Gophers, but Hurt’s story might have a different ending, although don’t bet your Christmas budget on it.

USAtoday.com reported last Friday Hurt plans to soon narrow his list of eight possible schools—Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Minnesota, North Carolina and UCLA. Then he intends to line up campus visits and could sign with a school as early as November 14, 2018.

Kansas might be among the schools falling off Hurt’s list if he is concerned about FBI reports connected with the Jayhawk program. The FBI has been investigating corruption in college basketball, and Kansas reportedly has released two subpoenas showing the bureau requested information about the program.

Former Gopher Richard Coffey saw his son Amir go through the recruiting process a few years ago before choosing Minnesota. Sports Headliners asked him about programs that might be under scrutiny as Kansas apparently is. “I think you would have to avoid those schools,” Richard said. “You never know how things are going to go and a school could get penalized (including no postseason play).”

Sources have told Sports Headliners for awhile KU is a Hurt favorite but with a potential cloud over the Jayhawks, Duke could be the eventual winner in the recruiting race. The school, the program’s history of success, and the reputation of legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski could be too much for Hurt to turn down.

Indiana perhaps could fall off the list because it might be too much for Hurt and family members to have Matthew competing in the Big Ten for the Hoosiers against the home state Gophers. UCLA, far away in Los Angles and a program long removed from its glory days, also looks suspect.

In a (Rochester) Postbulletin.com article Saturday, Hurt talked about the things important to him in choosing a school. “…The biggest factors for me are my relationships with the players and coaches, the campus and how the program is doing,” he said.

Hurt’s brother Michael will be a junior on the Gopher team this fall. The two brothers have a close relationship and a source said the Hurts would strongly value the experience of playing together, even if it is only for one season before Matthew moved on to the lure of the NBA .

Matthew told USAtoday.com that Michael is “loving it up there (Minneapolis).” Matthew has heard “good things about their campus,” and mentioned he is “pretty close” to incoming 2018 Gopher freshmen Gabe Kalscheur (DeLaSalle), Jarvis Omersa (Orono), and Daniel Oturu (Cretin-Derham Hall).

Although Michael won’t be in the starting lineup for Minnesota next season, he is likely to earn regular playing time off the bench. The Gophers, led by Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy, have two potential All-Big Ten front court players. They lead a Gopher team that could be back in the NCAA Tournament next spring for the second time in two years. Minnesota’s new Athletes Village, including its basketball facilities, has been described as a “game changer” for the recruiting and servicing players.

Committing to a university in advance of Hurt’s senior season at John Marshall will relieve the distraction and time commitment of the recruiting process. Presumably every program in the country would like to have the 6-9 forward who is so skilled he could play in the front court or backcourt in college. He has followed up a sensational junior season at John Marshall with impressive recent performances for USA and AAU basketball teams.

Hurt is a consensus top 10 player by recruiting evaluators for the class of 2019. He is, for example, ranked No. 6 among all players in the 2019 class by 247Sports.com and No. 3 among power forwards.

Hurt told the Post-Bulletin he takes pride in showing on a national stage the quality of high school basketball in Minnesota. He said Minnesota is “the most underrated state in the country.”

Apparently Hurt likes proving how good Minnesota talent is and he would certainly have that opportunity with the Gophers where he could play with his brother and Kalscheur, Omersa and Oturu —all natives of the state.

Worth Noting

Richard Coffey said there is no doubt Amir will be recovered from last season’s shoulder injury that caused him to miss most of the Big Ten season. “He’s healed up really well,” said Richard who predicted his son will probably be full go before school starts (first week in September).

Coffey photo courtesy of Minnesota Athletic Communications

Richard said Amir is a “legit 6-8” and has increased his weight since last season to about 215 pounds. “We talk a lot about strength and flexibility,” the older Coffey said.

Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck spoke to a record turnout at Twin Cities Dunkers yesterday as part of a busy day that included an interview with the Golf Channel and a team commitment at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. The Golf Channel segment was filmed yesterday with Morning Drive co-host Charlie Rymer and scheduled to air today. The Golf Channel is in town to cover the 3M Championship and wanted to highlight the start of Gophers football this week.

A new Row the Boat graphic was unveiled at the hospital yesterday, symbolizing a never give up attitude. Gopher players and staff held a barbeque with patients and families while enjoying lawn games and other activities.

Former Star Tribune Gopher men’s basketball writer Amelia Rayno has a passion for travel and adventure. She describes herself as a “full time nomad and freelancer” on her new blog Ameiliarayno.com.

Bloomington native Steve Rushin has a byline story in the July 31 issue of Sports Illustrated about Lindsay Whalen that refers to her as “Minnesota’s ever-agreeable favorite daughter.” Whalen, 36, said on WCCO Radio’s “Sports Huddle” show Sunday she hasn’t decided whether she will play for the Lynx next season, or solely concentrate on her new job as Gopher women’s coach.

Whalen’s husband, former Gopher golfer Ben Greve, has qualified for the August 13-19 U.S. Amateur in northern California.

St. Paul native Jack Morris, enshrined in Cooperstown last weekend, will be honored before a St. Paul Saints game September 1 at CHS Field. Morris pitched for the Saints in 1996 after his big league career.

Nita Killebrew, wife of Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, is preserving the legacy of her late husband for helping others. The inaugural Harmon’s Heart of Baseball fundraiser event and award presentation will be August 25 in conjunction with the Twins-Oakland game in Minneapolis.

Funds raised will help provide opportunities for people with disabilities through two nonprofits: Productive Alternatives and Shriners Hospitals for Children® – Twin Cities. The award recognizes a Minnesotan with disabilities who exemplifies the values and heart of Killebrew. More at Twinsbaseball.com/harmon, or call 612-210-5525.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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