Duke Basketball: Matthew Hurt commits, may become target for haters

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With Matthew Hurt’s verbal commitment on Friday, the Duke basketball coaches added another five-star recruit, another No. 1 class (at least at the moment), and another target for Duke-haters to attack.

By announcing on Friday his decision to join the Duke basketball program, Matthew Hurt has put himself in prime position to be college basketball’s Public Enemy No. 1 next season.

Pale-skinned. Braces. Lanky. A bit goofy. A bucket manufacturer. A Blue Devil.

Yes, the five-star 2019 power forward — he ranks No. 8 overall and No. 2 at his position on the 247Sports Composite — now appears to own enough ingredients to provoke taunts from outsiders far and wide.

Hopefully, the 6-foot-9, 215-pound native of Rochester, Minn., who made his announcement from his John Marshall High School’s auditorium, will be fully prepared when he arrives in Durham for the hate speech sure to come his way from opposing fans.

If Hurt hurts feelings of all anti-Dukies by scoring anywhere near as often as he did as a high schooler — he averaged 37 points as a senior and set a state record for career points with 3,819 — then it should come as no surprise when his facial reactions pop up as intended-to-be-hurtful memes across social media.

And if Mike Krzyzewski believes Hurt is likely to the Blue Devils’ top scoring threat next season — certainly a possibility in what will likely be his lone college season before heading to the NBA — then Duke’s 40th-year head coach should call in the program’s all-time hate-attractors (e.g., Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, and Grayson Allen) to help the 19-year-old (as of his birthday tomorrow) understand the magnitude of the outside hate he can expect.

But maybe Hurt’s demeanor — seems quieter than that of Laettner, Redick, and Allen — will keep those who are always hunting for the next Blue Devil to spew foul language at from ever noticing him.

Fat chance of that.

After all, fans of the other blue-blood finalists for Hurt’s services — UNC, Kentucky, and Kansas — are the same fans who typically fuel much of the incessant hate for all things Duke. And many of these fans, who don’t exactly handle rejection with the utmost maturity, are likely already compiling lists of Hurt’s attributes they can most easily mock.

As for Duke fans, here’s a glimpse of the attributes they will surely love witnessing when Hurt displays them while wearing a Blue Devil jersey next season:

Sure, he could use time in the weight room. Sure, his defense is far from exceptional. Sure, his wingspan is not off the charts like most of his five-star counterparts.

More from Ball Durham

However, his jumper — includes more standing, fading, and flicking than actual jumping — is potentially a weapon unlike any Duke fans have witnessed this decade. Plus, his basketball IQ and his array of smooth moves with the ball in his hands are nothing short of magnificent.

Hurt is an ideal piece (a prototypical stretch-four) to what Duke fans hope to be a 2019-20 roster capable of winning the program’s sixth national title — despite losing three players from last season’s squad who are all likely to go in the top 10 of the 2019 NBA Draft.

He represents the program’s 78th McDonald’s All-American (most of any program).

It certainly doesn’t hurt that his first name means “Gift from God” (this writer, a lifelong Duke fan and fellow Matthew, just had to throw that in there).

Before Hurt’s announcement, the Blue Devils’ 2019 class included three recruits: 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’s commitment instantly boosted Duke’s class from No. 11 in the nation to No. 1, per 247Sports. If that ranking holds up — a commitment from four-star shooting guard Cassius Stanley on Monday would likely seal the deal — it would mark the fourth straight year, and five of the past six, that Coach K and Co. have hauled in the top class.

ALSO READ: Cassius Stanley’s two-day delay no worry for Blue Devils

Let the hate continue.

Next. Best NBA fit for Zion Williamson. dark

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