Duke Basketball: Tre Jones’ return likely reels in 2019 PF Matthew Hurt

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

As soon as Tre Jones all but announced on Saturday night his plan to return next season, the Duke basketball program’s slight lead in the race for Matthew Hurt may have turned into a runaway.

Playing alongside a point guard who complements his game is a priority for 2019 power forward Matthew Hurt in choosing his college destination. The father of the five-star Duke basketball target confirmed that.

“If you’re a guy that doesn’t have the ball in your hands a lot, you want to know who’s going to be facilitating for you,” Richard Hurt said, as reported by Kentucky.com’s Ben Roberts, the week of the McDonald’s All-American Game, in which his son started and scored eight points, well below his 37-per-game clip as a senior on his way to becoming Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer (3,819) among big-school players.

Expanding on his comment, the elder Hurt specifically mentioned that the return of Tre Jones — as a freshman, the floor general averaged 5.3 assists as he unselfishly and smoothly conducted Duke’s star-studded offense — would enhance the Blue Devils’ chances.

And then came Matthew’s two-word remark under Jones’ strong-tease-at-a-return question of “Year 2?” to his Instagram account on Saturday night:

“My guy.”

ALSO READ: Tre Jones hints at return to Durham for sophomore year

Yes, those two words from Hurt are all this Duke fan needed to see to finalize Ball Durham’s prediction:

Hurt to Duke.

That’s the news that fellow fans of the most attractive of the four blue-bloods comprising what seems to be Hurt’s final four — Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and UNC — should expect to hear when the 6-foot-9, 215-pound elite playmaker, who ranks No. 8 on the 247Sports Composite, makes his announcement from his John Marshall High School’s auditorium on April 19.

At the time of this article’s publishing, 58 percent of the experts at the 247Sports Crystal Ball agree that Hurt will show off his array of beyond-his-year abilities — highlighted by his quick release from all distances that requires only a flick of the wrist, his crafty handles, and his 20/20 court vision —  while wearing Blue Devil gear next season.

Up until Feb. 25, no Crystal Ball experts had picked Duke to win the battle for Hurt; on that day, though, lead expert Evan Daniels sparked a flurry of Duke picks with his own Duke pick (bear in mind Daniels’ record at picking landing spots for 2019 recruits sits at 92-3).

Assuming Hurt’s desire to team up with Jones, a fellow Minnesota native, is as ardent as it appears, and Jones does not cruelly crush fans by answering “No” to his own should-he-stay question, he will team up with three commits to date — all of whom he follows on Instagram, along with a slew of former and current Blue Devils — to form what would likely wind up as the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class (that would mark Duke’s fourth consecutive top class and fifth of the past six years; currently, the class ranks No. 9, per 247Sports).

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Those three commits are five-star center Vernon Carey Jr. (ranks No. 3), five-star small forward Wendell Moore (ranks No. 22), and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis (ranks No. 34).

Hurt is the only 2019 recruit who holds an outstanding offer from the Blue Devil staff.

That being said, fellow five-star power forward Trendon Watford (ranks No. 27) included Duke in his final five and has implied that an official visit and offer should materialize before his April 20 announcement date; however, if the Duke coaches are as confident as this writer that Hurt is headed to Durham, it’s possible the Watford-to-Duke talk may quiet.

ALSO READ: Trendon Watford puts the ball in Coach K’s court

Meanwhile, five-star 2020 combo guard R.J. Hampton (ranks No. 5 in his class) is still considering reclassifying. Despite his labeled position, though, he has expressed a desire to have the ball in his hands operating an offense for a powerhouse program, meaning his becoming a Blue Devil next season is not likely to happen if Jones stays.

ALSO READ: R.J. Hampton still has eyes on Tre Jones’ decision

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analysis, opinions, and predictions.