football

NC State tracking junior college center

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NC State signed three post players in the class of 2013, and remain active in trying to bring in additional help for next year.
Niceville (Fla.) Northwest Florida College sophomore center Stephen Hurt is easily the biggest of the options at a listed 6-foot-10 and 285 pounds. The Wolfpack reached out to the former Lipscomb standout about two week ago.
NC State assistant coach Rob Moxley told Hurt the Wolfpack want to be a "big player" in his recruitment. Moxley spent a year at Middle Tennessee State, which is in Hurt's hometown of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
"I saw them play in a couple of games and I know about how they used C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell," Hurt said. "They were real good in the post. It helps that he knows [my background].
"Coming out of Lipscomb, I want to play at a high, high level. Obviously, the ACC is going to be one of the best conferences in the country. That's appealing to me and every game will be a challenge. You have to bring your 'A' game to win."
Hurt averaged 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a redshirt freshman at Lipscomb, and shot an impressive 53.5 percent from the field, plus 68.6 percent at the free-throw line. Because he used his redshirt year, his best chance to transfer to a power conference college was to make a one-year move to the junior college ranks. The redshirt year also helped him improve as a player in 2011-2012.
"It helped me to expand my game and get my body into better shape," Hurt said. "A year of sitting and watching helped me learn a lot, and get that coaches' standpoint. It helped me understand different things on the court that helped me play."
The decision to leave Lipscomb, which was the only college to offer him a scholarship out of high school, wasn't an easy one. Hurt will play for coach Steve Forbes at Northwest Florida College, who is a former Tennessee assistant. The Volunteers watched him a little bit when in high school.
"It was a hard decision nor a quick decision," Hurt said. "I talked to a lot of people on what I should do. Overall, I think I made a pretty good decision."
NC State is joined by a host of other colleges recruiting Hurt. Indiana, Oklahoma State, Miami, Tennessee, Arizona, Ole Miss, Alabama, New Mexico, and VCU, are some of the colleges that have contacted Hurt in recent weeks. He'll likely get a recruiting boost at the Mullens junior college camp in St. Louis this July.
"This is completely different than the first time," said Hurt, who figures he has four or five scholarship offers from his list. "I only had one offer and this time around, I have a lot of big schools coming at me, so it's the complete opposite."
Indiana was able to get him on campus last week and he came away impressed with the Hoosiers and coach Tom Crean. Getting wooed by all these new schools is a new experience for him and he's unsure on whether he wants to sign this November or wait until the spring.
"That was a great trip and I really enjoyed it," Hurt said. "Coach Crean is a real good dude, does his homework and studies a lot of things. Knowing what five official trips I want to make will be a hard decision."
Hurt was able to play road games at Kentucky, Memphis and Ole Miss this past season, recording double-doubles in two of the three games. He had 23 points and 18 boards in a 87-84 win at Austin Peay on Dec. 18, and had 30 points and 11 boards in a 85-71 loss at Jacksonville on Jan. 2. Hurt followed with 20 points and nine rebounds in the rematch vs. Jacksonville in a 77-73 win Feb. 28.
"I just felt like I needed to step up my game to help the team win," said Hurt, who finished with eight double-doubles for the season. "I just wanted to get the win rather than shine. I consider the Austin Peay game my best game of the season because of the win."
Hurt called playing at UK's Rupp Arena a once in a lifetime experience. He had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while tonight's potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Nerlens Noel had seven points, nine rebounds and seven blocks in 22 minutes for the Wildcats. UK was led by sophomore power forward Kyle Wiltjer, who had seven three-pointers en route to 23 points and 12 rebounds. Wiltjer announced this past week that he is looking to transfer to a new college too.
"Playing in front of all those people, even though we lost (88-50), it was still a great experience," Hurt said. "Not many people can say they have played at Rupp Arena in front of all those fans."
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