The middle of June marks a flurry of phone contact between college basketball coaches and recruits. On the 15th, coaches can begin to contact players preparing to enter their junior year of high school, making it a day full of texts and direct communication with an entirely new recruiting class.
This year, that meant Ohio State’s coaching staff reached out to dozens of members of the class of 2022 (The Dispatch confirmed 47 of them) at the midpoint of June, as it does every year. But included among them marked something Joe Hurlburt said Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon told him was a first.
"He said it’s the first time he’s ever recruited a player from North Dakota," Hurlburt told The Dispatch.
A four-star prospect according to 247Sports.com, Hurlburt plays for Enderlin Area, located about an hour southwest of Fargo, North Dakota. A member of the D1 Minnesota AAU team, the 6-10, 220-pound power forward has spent his summer taking advantage of the atypical AAU schedule and adding a number of new scholarship offers.
After Colorado offered Hurlburt a scholarship on June 16, eight more schools including Ohio State are known to have followed suit. Hurlburt said Pedon texted him at midnight on the 15th.
"Ohio State said they just need a versatile big man who can do a lot of things, rebound, shoot, pass, good instincts and stuff like that," Hurlburt said. "They need a big man like that in my class and they’re going to prioritize me as one of the top guys they’re recruiting at the position I’m in."
Among his other offers, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska from the Big Ten have also offered Hurlburt.
"It’s been crazy to get the interest and the offers I’ve gotten so far," he said. "You always hope to play at the highest level as a kid, so to be getting these offers is crazy. With playing for D1 Minnesota, a lot of college coaches are going to be watching. I think just a lot of people have been watching me and I’ve been blessed to be getting some of the looks I’ve been getting."
Hurlburt is the top recruit from his state, the No. 7 center prospect in the nation and the overall No. 47 national prospect.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t had much of an impact on Hurlburt’s daily life in North Dakota, he said. His high school is open for workouts, and he’s able to travel to Fargo to work out as well. The state lifted most quarantine restrictions June 1, he said, allowing him to enjoy a full summer of working on his game.
Although he’s only halfway through high school, the pandemic figures to impact Hurlburt’s recruitment. Before in-person recruiting visits were shut down, he was able to tour Iowa’s campus last August and attend a Minnesota football game last fall. It is unclear when recruits will be allowed to visit campuses again, which will make picking a school obviously more difficult.
As a result, Hurlburt said he’s not planning on picking a school for at least a year.
"I don’t know if we’ll have visits this fall, so it’ll probably be next summer or fall," he said. "It would be worse if you were a class of 2021 recruit. (Guys in the class of) 2022, we’re still in a good position but it would be unfortunate for some of the 2021s who can’t even get on some of the campuses.
"I want to be really comfortable with the coaches and I want to make sure I would fit into their system well, basketball-wise and as a person as well."