Duke basketball: Cassius Stanley labels one fellow freshman ‘brilliant’

Cassius Stanley, Duke basketball (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Cassius Stanley, Duke basketball (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

One fresh Duke basketball face has noticed the rare style of another — as well as the tight bonds the 2019-20 Blue Devils are forming under the guidance of their legendary coach.

Only a few months since arriving on campus, Cassius Stanley already fully appreciates the uniquely calm, confident demeanor of a fellow Duke basketball freshman.

"“The player that has impressed me the most this summer is Matthew Hurt,” the 6-foot-6, 195-pound shooting guard out of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) wrote on Thursday in what he expects to be his final blog for USA Today High School Sports."

Stanley explained:

"“He’s just a brilliant basketball player. He lets the game come to him and he gets the same results that he would get if he were trying to force the action or pressing it. I’m a big fan of his.”"

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Hurt, who ranks No. 12 on the recently updated 247Sports Composite, began attracting fans from in and around Rochester, Minn., as an eighth-grader playing for John Marshall High School’s varsity squad. After posting 36.8 points per game as a senior, he finished his career with a state big-school record of 3,819 points.

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So it’s no wonder the 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward looks poised to be a starter when Duke opens against Kansas at the Champions Classic on Nov. 5 in Madison Square Garden (Stanley, who ranks No. 37, as well as center Vernon Carey Jr., who ranks No. 6, and small forward Wendell Moore, who ranks No. 29, are all strong candidates for starting jobs as freshmen).

Though there are concerns about Hurt’s slim frame and limited athleticism, the 19-year-old’s mastery at finding open shots — paired with his quick, effortless release and ability to catch fire — should prove too valuable to park on the bench. After all, Duke needs to find as many reliable weapons on offense as possible after losing 73 percent of its scoring from last season (67 percent of the points came from the lottery-pick trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish).


But Hurt’s top skills — which also include extraordinary passes and handles for a guy his size — aren’t the only cause of Stanley’s multiplying goosebumps.

"“We’re gonna be really good this season,” Stanley added in his blog. “I know everyone says that, but after spending the summer with these guys I’m confident.“We’re really a family already. We’ll be really deep and we’ve all bought in. We know the goal is to win a national title and we’re all focused on that.”"

As for Stanley’s game, the lightning high-flyer who turns 20 on Sunday has reportedly put on about 20 pounds since his senior season ended. Based on his blog, he feels his time in the weight room this summer will serve the Blue Devils well once the season starts.

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Equally important, Stanley appears to trust the benefits that will come from lacing ’em up for the all-time winningest coach in Mike Krzyzewski.

"“I think by the time everyone sees me play in November the part of my game that they’ll see has grown the most is my strength,” Stanley predicted. “That and just being under the greatest coach of all time has taken me to another level mentally too.“It’s crazy because Coach K just simplifies everything and breaks it down to a level you never thought about. He amazes me every day.”"

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more updates, analyses, opinions, and predictions concerning the 2019-20 Duke basketball team.