LOS ANGELES — With the second session of the recruiting calendar under way, college basketball coaches are back watching AAU basketball, and over the last couple days John Calipari has been camped out with Joel Justus in Los Angeles. Between Adidas and Under Armour events, there are no shortage of prospects to see, from the Cats’ top priority James Wiseman (playing with an Adidas sponsored team this weekend) to teammates Josh Green and Nico Mannion on the Under Armour circuit. Green has interest from UK, and Mannion could as well after reclassifying to the 2019 class on Friday.
However, it seems like in addition to all those other guys, Calipari’s interest in Minnesota forward Matthew Hurt has picked up exponentially over the last couple weeks. After arriving Thursday afternoon, Coach Cal has bounced all over LA to watch Hurt at every stop, as Hurt played at the Under Armour event Thursday night and returned to the court at the Adidas event Friday afternoon.
After also watching Hurt last weekend in New York it’s clear Hurt is a priority for Coach Cal. Although Hurt is taking it in stride seeing all these coaches courtside to watch him.
“I’m trying to focus on the game, and helping my teammates,” Hurt said on Wednesday night, when asked if it was fun to play in front of so many big-name coaches. “That’s what’s important.”
Calipari wasn’t in the stands Wednesday (he was in Milwaukee) but Hurt did leave a memorable impression for the coaches who were there, including Justus, as well as a handful of big-name head coaches such as Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Penny Hardaway. The 6’10 forward showed a diverse offensive skill-set, which included an array of nice moves towards the basket, as well as a deep three-point shot, and also hit a buzzer beater to clinch his team’s first win. Following that game he admitted he was rusty after traveling cross-country, and backed that up with a more impressive 19-point effort Thursday.
In terms of his recruitment, there has been strong buzz for a while that Kansas is the perceived leader, but Hurt remained steadfast when speaking with KSR that his recruitment remains wide-open (for the record, KSR’s T.J. Walker has said that he believes the Wildcats are in good shape in the Hurt recruitment).
According to Hurt, nothing has changed in his recruitment. No teams have gained or lost ground, and he will set up visits once AAU season wraps in a couple weeks.
“I’m trying to cut it down after AAU,” he said. “No visits set up yet.”