University of Tulsa shooting guard Justin Hurtt's senior season didn't end the way he hoped. A loss to UTEP in the second round of the Conference USA Tournament eliminated any possibility of reaching the NCAA tournament.
"We've always thought about that but it's in the past now," said Hurtt before Tuesday evening's D-League game at the Spirit Bank Event Center in Bixby. The Tulsa 66ers were hosting Hurtt and the Iowa Energy.
The University of Tulsa men's basketball team never reached the NCAA Tournament in the seven seasons under head coach Doug Wojcik. But some of his former players continue to show flashes of NBA potential. Point guard Ben Uzoh and center Jerome Jordan are the most recent. Both played with Hurtt for three seasons at TU.
For Uzoh, he appeared in the final 16 games of last season with the Toronto Raptors, including 8 starts. But the amazing part -- in the last game of the regular season, Uzoh recorded Toronto's first triple-double since 2001. (12 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists)
It's also the last time Uzoh has appeared in an NBA regular season game. He currently plays for the D-League team in Springfield, Missouri.
Jerome Jordan was extremely limited as well last season with the New York Knicks but is doing great in the D-League; at least good enough to be in the league's all-star game. According to the NBA D-League's official website, Jordan, who currently plays for the L. A. D-Fenders, is ranked as the league's overall second best NBA prospect.
Hurtt hasn't made it that far up to this point. Last season was his first out of college and despite averaging a conference-best 20 points per game in his final season with Tulsa, Hurtt went undrafted. Coupled with the NBA's lockout, Justin immediately opted to play outside of the U.S. He spent a total of 10 months playing in Europe; six with a team in Italy and four with another in Belgium.
It was Hurtt's first time outside of North America. "I had never been to Europe," Hurtt said. "[TU] went to Canada for a foreign trip for basketball but that's it. It was definitely an experience."
Unlike his former Tulsa teammates, Hurtt has never played in an NBA regular season game. Now in his first season in the D-League, Justin hopes to make it that far in his professional career. "I talk to Ben [Uzoh] a lot about different things because, you know, he played in the NBA. He gives me a lot of different advice so it's good to have somebody like that," Hurtt explained.
"I just want to be able to play basketball for as long as possible. That's everybody's goal. Nobody wants to have to go get a 'regular' job anytime soon if they don't have to. If I can make it to the NBA, or just go overseas, if I'm making good money and able to provide for my family, then that's good for me."