Matthew Hurt, a 6-foot-9, 205-pound junior forward from Rochester (MN) John Marshall, is considered Minnesota’s top player in the Class of 2019 and is ranked fifth by ESPN, Scout and Rivals.
Hurt comes from a basketball family. His older brother, Michael, is a sophomore at Minnesota and was ranked as the number two senior in the state in 2017.
Matthew Hurt is averaging 34.2 points, 14.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.2 blocks and 2.2 steals per game this season as the Rockets are 25-2. They face Owatonna Saturday in the second round of the Section 1AAAA playoffs.
Gopher Hole caught up with Hurt after the Rockets’ win over Austin Friday night in the regular season finale to learn about the latest on his junior season and recruitment.
Gopher Hole: A big win for you guys. How pleased are you with how well you are playing down the stretch?
Matthew Hurt: I think we played defense really well. We shared the ball. We had to get the ball to the middle man. I think we did that. We broke the press. We were able to do that, so that was good.
Gopher Hole: Was it nice to get a little revenge because they beat you at their place 80-64 earlier this year?
Matthew Hurt: We had a lot of turnovers the last game. We preached that in practice not to have as many turnovers. I think it was single digits or close to that. I think that we did a good job and I think that was a key to our win.
Gopher Hole: You and Austin finished both tied at 20-2 in the Big Nine Conference. How nice is it to win at least of a share of the conference title?
Matthew Hurt: It feels good. We are not satisfied yet. We just have to take Wednesday’s game seriously. If we win, move on. It will be a good game on Wednesday.
Gopher Hole: How pleased are you about how you finished the season? You guys have won 13 straight.
Matthew Hurt: We are on a roll right now, so I think that we just have to keep playing well. Keep playing defense. I think that is a key to our success.
Gopher Hole: The 1AAAA section hasn’t always been the best, but this year is pretty good because of Lakeville North, you, Owatonna is playing very well and you have some other good teams. What would it mean to get through that section and get to the state tournament?
Matthew Hurt: We have to take it one game at a time. Whatever seed we get or whoever we play on Wednesday, if we win from there, we have to move on and take every day slowly one day at a time. I think that is a pretty big part of it.
Gopher Hole: More than likely, you are going to have play Lakeville North, which has knocked you out five straight years. What would it mean to maybe have the chance to play them again?
Matthew Hurt: We want revenge, you know. I think the last four years, we had great teams. I think this year is a little more competitive. We are a better defensive team than we were previously. Coach has been preaching that all season long. I just give a lot of credit to our coaches.
Gopher Hole: Your brother was here today. What does it mean to have him for the season finale on the bench?
Matthew Hurt: It was great. Their season didn’t turn out as they wanted to, but I am proud of him in what he did and how he stepped in. It meant a lot for him to come to our game. He didn’t have to. He could have been up with his friends or teammates, so it means a lot.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, he had a pretty good season once got a chance to get some minutes and had a couple of good games for the Gophers. How pleased about how well he played this year, especially in the second half of the season?
Matthew Hurt: He played pretty well and stepped in in a different situation. I think he did well, so I am proud of him for that.
Gopher Hole: Any summer plans in terms of USA basketball or any camps that you are planning on going to?
Matthew Hurt: I am going to Houston during the Final Four and we are going to have a little mini camp and then in late May, early June, I am going to go out to Colorado Springs for the U18 team, so I am going to tryout for that.
Gopher Hole: What does it mean to maybe have the chance to represent your country?
Matthew Hurt: It would be great. I would be outside the country for the first time, which would be pretty cool. Different foods. All that. Spending time with really good players. I think it would mean a lot.
Gopher Hole: You are getting a chance to play against some of the top players in the country as your teammates. Is that kind of fun experience to not only get to know some of those kids, but also hopefully, learn some things that are going to help your game?
Matthew Hurt: Yes. Playing them on the circuit is great. Game in and game out. It is great. It gets my competitive level way higher, so it is a great feeling really.
Gopher Hole: What about the Gophers. They had a disappointing season with the injuries. What was your impressions of their year?
Matthew Hurt: I think that they were ranked as high as 12. They had ups and downs. Some injures. A key suspension. I liked the way that they handled it, off the court and on the court. They fought every game, so I am just proud of that team and the coaching staff for what happened and what they did with that team.
Gopher Hole: What do think about next year. They have three good freshman coming in and some key players coming back like Michael. What do you think they could do next year?
Matthew Hurt: Freshman, they have three great players coming in. Dan is a really good inside presence. Gabe can shoot the ball from anywhere. Jarvis is one of the most athletic players in the country. I think the returning stars should be pretty good. That mixture is pretty special.
Gopher Hole: Anything new on your recruitment right now or is it pretty much the same?
Matthew Hurt: No, mostly the same. Just taking it one day at a time.
Gopher Hole: Is it going to be weird next year? You are going to be a senior.
Matthew Hurt: Another year is another year. It is just another year to getting into college faster. I am just taking it one day at a time and one game at a time right now.