It’s important to remember that freshman Matthew Hurt did average 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game while knocking down 39.3 percent of his 3-point attempts. Not too shabby. On the surface, anyway. Those numbers put him two seasons ahead of the progression of Ryan Kelly as a Duke basketball stretch-four. Of course, that doesn’t say much.
Believe it or not, though, despite seeing only 6.5 minutes per game as a college rookie for an eventual NCAA Champion squad, Kelly had landed in Durham as a 6-foot-9, 205-pound five-star with a No. 16 overall ranking on the 247Sports 2009 Composite, just shy of Hurt’s No. 12 position among the 2019 class.
Yet not until Kelly’s third year in town did he earn his horns and pitchfork. And he didn’t adorn the cape of a leading Blue Devil until after he had sprouted an inch or two, added 20 or so pounds, honed his individual moves, ignored his perceived flat-footed restrictions, and studied Mike Krzyzewski’s system inside and out.
As a senior for a squad that ended one win shy of a Final Four, Kelly put up what would be ideal, reachable stats for Hurt as a sophomore: 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 42.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc, and 81.2 percent shooting from the charity stripe across 28.9 minutes per game.
Other than the lessons on the importance of patience, dedication, and strength, Hurt could take away from Kelly’s senior highlights the North Carolina native’s no-hesitation jumper. They share similar wrist flicks, though Kelly’s stroke is less of a fadeaway. Still, one could argue Hurt already possesses a prettier deep ball than Kelly and just needs to pull the trigger without any second-guessing. Consider this: the senior Kelly doubled the freshman Hurt’s average of 3.5 3-point attempts in only eight more minutes per game.
Now, let’s try setting Hurt’s bar several notches higher…