Big weekend for KU gets even bigger with 5-star forward Matt Hurt coming to town
In case you needed more of a reason to label the upcoming couple of days a monster weekend for Kansas basketball, here’s a reminder that Top 10 2019 prospect Matt Hurt is coming to town for an official visit.
And he’ll be treated to a doozy, with the 11th-ranked Jayhawks, losers of 2 straight and 5 of their last 11 games, playing host to No. 16 Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse, in a game that figures to have a massive impact on the Big 12 race and KU’s hopes of extending its consecutive title streak to 15 later this season.
Both teams enter the game at 5-3 in the Big 12, a half game behind Kansas State and Baylor at 5-2.
That alone makes Saturday’s 3 p.m. game bigger than most. But add to it the fact that KU will be hosting one of its most important recruiting targets in some time and it turns a nice little Saturday into a huge weekend.
Ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 7 overall player in the 2019 class, Hurt will be back in Allen Fieldhouse with a completely different perspective than he had during his previous trips.
Unlike those visits, which came when he was much younger and were of the unofficial variety, this one is the real deal. Not only will the KU coaching staff get the entire 2 days to devote their time to hosting Hurt and his family, but Hurt will arrive with the idea that, one way or the other, he’s going to have to make a college decision in the next couple of months.
For the most part, Hurt’s recruitment has been kept pretty quiet. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound versatile forward from John Marshall High in Rochester, Minn., has long been one of the top prospects in the class — and at the very top of KU’s wish list for big men in the 2019 crop — but he has not been that loud about his process.
No weekly updates. No must-see videos on Twitter or Instagram. Hardly even any updates of any kind, for that matter.
Last week, Hurt was named to the 2019 McDonald’s All-American team and, in December, Hurt scored the 3,000th point of his prep career. Not much, outside of Minnesota, was made about either achievement and that appears to be just the way Hurt likes it.
Still, you can’t say too much about how important Hurt is for Kansas’ 2019 recruiting class.
With solid backcourt pieces Christian Braun and Mackey McBride already signed, the Jayhawks need to add a big man and Hurt is the perfect option. In addition to bringing good size and athleticism, he is known as a lights-out shooter and that trait alone would go a long way toward making an immediate impact on the offensively challenged Jayhawks.
“Matt Hurt is one of those players in a recruiting class that can instantly make a class great,” said KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott. “The ultra-skilled wing from Minnesota can simply do it all on the offensive end of the court. He can score at all levels and is a matchup nightmare for opponents because he can play multiple positions.”
But landing Hurt would have a much greater impact on this program than elevating its final ranking in the 2019 class into the Top 10 or Top 20.
It would be a sign that there all is well in Lawrence despite a rougher than expected 2018-19 season and Kansas missing out on a few other top prospects, most notably Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who chose Villanova earlier this winter.
“For Kansas, Hurt is exactly the player the program needs,” Scott added. “He can play with bigs or play small ball. He can play in transition or in the half court. He simply is a player that defense have to pay attention to, which can create opportunities for his teammates.”
The Jayhawks remain in the running for a few other Top 40 prospects in the 2019 class, including No. 16 prospect Precious Achiuwa (6-9, 215, Montverde, Fla.), No. 33 prospect Cassius Stanley (6-5, 185, Chatsworth, Calif.) and others.
But there’s no doubt that, given the time and resources the Kansas coaches have spent on recruiting him and the enormous talent he possesses, Hurt is the marquee name still available on KU’s wish list in the 2019 class.
“This kid is the most important official visitor in some time for the KU program,” Scott said. “Why? Because he’s a perfect fit for the Jayhawks.”