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Calipari’s pitch to Hurt is another example he’s trying something new

Don’t sleep on UK’s chances with Matthew Hurt

Hurt is a five-star forward from Rochester, Minn., and while UK has been recruiting Hurt for nearly a year there’s never been much buzz surrounding Hurt and UK. It may be time for that to change.

John Calipari met with the Hurt family on Friday and per Rivals’ David Sisk, the Hurt family liked what Calipari had to sell. Sisk spoke with Hurt’s father, Richard Hurt, about the visit and where the Cats stand in Hurt’s recruitment.

“Coach Calipari asked about Matthew’s goals. He told coach his goals were to win a National Championship, and then go to the NBA. He put them in the appropriate order, and his dreams don’t compete with each other. He wants to win first. If you asked him what his goals are until he gets to college, he would tell you to win the Adidas Gauntlet and the State High School Championship. His main priority is go to a school and help them win.”

That’s all fine and dandy. If the 6-foot-9, 200-pound offensively gifted forward wants to win a title and go to the NBA it would seem like UK would have a good chance, but what was more interesting is Calipari’s narrative on the recruiting trail that he wants to surround his teams with shooters.

“We sat and listened to his presentation,” Mr. Hurt continued. “One of the messages that was specifically good was the premium he is putting on shooting. He told us he is not going to recruit a non-shooter.”

Let’s take a brief look at UK’s offers in the class of 2019 and I’ll detail on their shooting prowess:

G, Bryan Antoine- He can shoot.

G, Tyrese Maxey- He can shoot.

G, Scottie Lewis- He can shoot.

SF, Keoin Brooks- Not an amazing shooter but not bad.

PF, Matthew Hurt- Obviously he can shoot.

PF, James Wiseman- He can shoot.

C, Vernon Carey- Not an amazing shooter but solid from the elbow and he’s also a center. You don’t need your five raining threes.

So, Calipari’s pitch checks out. All of UK’s main targets in the class of 2019 can shoot with a minor exception with Brooks, which isn’t very fair because he’s not a bad shooter.

It would be fun to be able to get an honest quote from Calipari about why he’s putting such an emphasis on shooting. If you remember a similar point was made from Calipari and staff after the 2010 season when UK’s abysmal three-point shooting cost the Cats a chance at the Final Four and national championship. The Cats added Doron Lamb for the next two seasons, and several others shooters were added for future seasons.

But Calipari’s done a decent job always at least having two really good shooters on his roster over the last few seasons. 2017-2018 saw the end of the three-point streak (I’m still devastated) but it wasn’t a terrible shooting team. Most likely Calipari is emulating the NBA and wants to have at least four guys on the floor at any given time that can knockdown outside shots.

And you don’t even need to look at the NBA. Look at the four teams in last season’s Final Four. Loyola may be an exception (although they were filled with shooters, too) but Michigan, Kansas and Villanova all featured versatile shooters.

Hurt would fit that mold moving forward and there’s no denying the Cats are in a solid position with the Minnesota native. He has an impressive list that features offers from Duke, Kansas, UNC, Arizona and Florida (plus dozens more) but many have been focusing on Minnesota, Duke and Kansas in his recruitment.

It’s time to make some room for UK and Calipari. The UK head coach seems to be in a great early position for the class of 2019, especially in the frontcourt.

Article written by TJ Walker

34 responses to “Calipari’s pitch to Hurt is another example he’s trying something new”

  1. footblue

    I am on record many times saying I would rather have a team full of 4 star basketball players than a team of 5 star athletes. Now if they are 5 star basketball players thats even better. Cal teams typically only have a couple skilled basketball players.

  2. Duuuuuude

    Lets be honest here. This years team was a poor shooting team. Our shooting guard could not shoot. You had Knox, Quade and Wenyen. Wenyen had the one freak game of his career this year but besides that it was probably the poorest shooting team since Cal was here. In fairness, Baker was to be a three point threat but he could not play.

    1. m4ff3w

      IIRC, this was Cal’s 4th best 3 point shooting team.

  3. Mathlete

    It’s almost like scoring points is important to winning basketball games or something?

  4. Lip Man 1

    Very nice to hear. Now if he can do something about the terrible free throw shooting in important games that would be even better.

    1. Luether

      Good one Lip…

  5. TBW3011

    You don’t have to have 4-5 knock down shooters on the court. What KILLS your offense is having total non shooters on the court.

  6. Rick_S

    need 3 shooters,PG and a big C

  7. njcat54

    So glad to hear Cal finally gets that he can’t just have one or two shooters on the team. Teams with freak athleticism can sometimes have long scoring droughts, particularly when the opponent goes to a zone. If he only has one or two, what happens when they have an off night? You lose.

  8. NoMoreCheckerBoards

    Here is a petition to get rid of the checkerboards! Lets get some signatures!

    1. Luether

      Some of us like the checkerboards…

    2. unbridled

      Yeah no thanks.

  9. Han

    It’s taken him a few years but I guess Cal is starting to recognize that athleticism alone isn’t enough. You can have a couple guys who are really athletic and get by on their defense, but when you’ve got 3-5 guys on the floor at the same time who can’t shoot, it’s not hard to stop.

    We love being faster and bigger than our opponents, but without superstars (which most classes won’t have), there’s gotta be more. Players can develop into better shooters but most guys at UK don’t stay that long. I think Cal’s getting tired of getting so close and falling just short a lot of years.

    1. ibescootch

      Totally agree. I think the top players in each class that we go after are typically freak athletes in comparison to other high school/AAU competition, so on paper it seems we’d be able to murder people based on athleticism alone. We can beat most teams with that formula, but the teams we usually lose to have a few guys that are pretty athletic, and a few guys that can hit open shots. 2012 only worked with that formula because we had a few defensive dogs in Davis and MKG, and Doron was a great shooter. I honestly think this year would have looked completely different with Baker on the court. I think he’d have been that piece that spread the court a little.

    2. Luether

      I think UK fans are getting tired of getting so close and falling just short a lot of years…

    3. UK Big Board Update

      We’ve fallen short 106 years of our 114 year history.

      The good news is, we’ve kept all 8 of those banners.

      u mad…?

  10. MadScientist

    Just look what Villanova and Michigan were able to do this year. You need players that can shoot. The biggest issue with last years team was lack of shooters, teams packed the lane because they didn’t really fear any shooter.

    Players now are YouTube dunk specialist or 3 point shooters. The low post move and midrange shot are hard to find.

  11. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    I’m glad to see he’s recruiting Anthony Michael Hall.

    1. ClutchCargo

      Hasn’t aged a bit, but I can’t believe how tall he has gotten.

    2. UK Big Board Update

      Not even close.

  12. sardiscat

    Loyola wasn’t an exception, but the prototype. Not a major recruit on the team, but it had 6 players who shot 40%+ from behind the 3-point line for the season. Villanova had four plus three others who shot 35%+. Adding the primo athletes that Villanova did have to shooting of that quality = NCAA title. Cal is seeing the handwriting on the wall.

    1. UK Big Board Update

      Cal won a title in 2012.

    2. njCat

      He’s been going backward since 2015. Hopefully this new mindset gets them competitive again.

    3. Cokely53

      And went 38-1 a few years later. The man is doing ok but yes the current trend is shooting and more shooting.

    4. UK Big Board Update

      Boy, how quickly people forget we lost on a last second shot to the eventual national champions in 2017….

  13. riandri

    Been a while since I have seem “Hurt” across the back of a UK player (Charles Hurt), bring him on!

    1. Luether

      Don’t think they are related…

    2. UK Big Board Update

      Nice sources, Lueser…

  14. Irish son

    Thie look of this guy is giving me flashbacks of Wiltjer, the slowest basketball player in modern history. No thanks

  15. BlueTXHeart

    Kid looks dead on like Jimmy Chitwood. Let’s run the picket fence!

    1. dballrb


    2. Flake

      Hoosiers, the movie, not IU, reference.

  16. michaelb

    3 point blah blah , numbers this numbers that … if none of these ppl can work on getting open with out the ball … it don’t matter . Can’t just have 5 ppl camp out on 3pt line and expect to get anything positive

  17. Arch Stanton

    reminds me a bit of a young Tom Chambers.