Duke basketball: Will the real Matthew Hurt please stand up?

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Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

With so much incoming Duke basketball talent, what happens to Matthew Hurt?

Matthew Hurt was a sensational recruit for Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The 6-foot-9 forward out of Minnesota was tagged with a five-star rating. The 2019 McDonald’s All-American averaged a double-double (36.8 points and 12.4 rebounds) as a high school senior. That spring, he elected to join The Brotherhood over North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas.

However, Hurt was nothing short of an enigma as a Duke freshman. When he was good, he was very good. Against Winthrop in November, he scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting while grabbing eight boards, three on the offensive end. When he was bad, he was just plain awful. Against Georgetown one week prior, he played only five minutes, missing all four shots and tallying just two rebounds.

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His numbers in ACC play were just as dichotomous. In 10 conference games (six of which were played in Durham), he was outstanding. His numbers in those contests would have garnered him serious consideration for ACC Freshman of the Year. In the other half of his ACC games (four of which were at home), Hurt was barely recognizable as a five-star.

Against Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech in Durham and Miami, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Wake Forest on the road, Hurt averaged 26.9 minutes. He shot 51 of 94 (54.3 percent) from the field and 24 of 51 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc. In addition to averaging 15.1 points over those 10 contests, he averaged 5.2 rebounds.

By stark contrast, Hurt’s second set of 10 ACC games is abysmal. Playing at Virginia Tech, Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina, N.C. State, and Virginia and at home against Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, N.C. State, and North Carolina, he averaged just 12.8 minutes. He took far fewer shots (36) and shot far worse (36.1 percent). Naturally, he took (20) and made (25.0 percent) far fewer 3-pointers as well. His scoring dropped by 77 percent to 3.4 points per game, and his rebounds were more than cut in half at 2.2 per contest.

A loaded Duke basketball roster awaits

An enormous amount of talent will be in Durham this fall. Six freshmen (five-star guards DJ Steward and Jeremy Roach, five-star forward Jalen Johnson, four-star forwards Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman, and five-star center Mark Williams) will compete for minutes. Add to that mix sophomore wing Wendell Moore, junior forward Joey Baker, senior guard Jordan Goldwire, and grad transfer Patrick Tape. Krzyzewski may very well have the nation's deepest bench.

All this begs the question, where will Matthew Hurt end up on the depth chart? If he performs anywhere close to his 10-game, 15-point, five-rebound average, then he will likely find himself firmly entrenched in the starting five. However, if Mr. Hyde rears his ugly shooting touch, he could find himself buried under an avalanche of talent on the bench.

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