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Hurlburt, Smith, To Join Buffs In 2022

Nov 10, 2021
Joe Hurlburt (left) and RJ Smith will join the Buffaloes for the 2022-23 season.

BOULDER - Joe Hurlburt and RJ Smith have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball and continue their education at the University of Colorado in 2022-23.

The duo of Hurlburt and Smith will fill a front-and-back court need heading into next season. Hurlburt is a 6-10, 225-pound forward/center from Enderlin, N.D. Smith is a 6-4, 184-pound shooting guard from Chino, Calif.

"This is not a big recruiting class like last year's was, but it's a very, very important one and a quality one," Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. "We got two players who I think are going to be great Buffs and have great careers."

Hurlburt, entering his senior season at Enderlin Area High School, was the 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of North Dakota. He averaged 22.6 points, 14.3 rebounds and just under five assists per game as a junior for the Eagles who finished 18-4, advancing to the Class B, Region 1 semifinals.

"As we look to the front court of the future for Colorado basketball, Joe Hurlburt is going to be a big piece of that," Boyle said. "He's a very, very good shooter for a guy that's 6-10 – and maybe an inch or so taller. His skill level for a big is going to mesh well with (current CU freshman) Lawson Lovering – we see the ability to play those guys together."

A four-star prospect, Hurlburt is a two-time member of the Class B All-State Team and a three-time All-Region 1 pick. Rivals lists him as the 113th ranked player in the nation while 247Sports tabs him at 121 and the top recruit in North Dakota. He is already Enderlin's career leader in points (1,607), rebounds, 1,133, assists (259) and blocked shots (180).

"It's a huge blessing," Hurlburt said. "I always wanted to play in the Pac-12 when I was little, so it's a dream come true."
Hurlburt is no stranger to the state of Colorado; his family regularly vacations in the Vail area. He's also a Colorado Basketball Camp veteran, attending the Elite Camp as a freshman.

"When I went to the camp, I really liked the campus, I thought Boulder was a beautiful town," Hurlburt said. "The coaches were all really good and I really liked the players too.

Smith is entering his senior season at Damien High School, one of the elite programs in Southern California. As a junior, Smith was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Open Division Team as he helped the Spartans to a 29-4 record and a spot in the CIF State Open Division regional semifinals.

"RJ Smith is a multi-faceted guard who can play with the ball in his hands and also without the ball in his hands," Boyle said. "He's a very good shooter and can impact the game in many different ways. Like many of our previous signees, we love his versatility and he's going to be a very, very good player for us."

Smith is a two-time, first team All-Area selection by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. He was named Junior Class All-State First Team by Smith played his club basketball for Prodigy Athletic out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

"Coach Boyle saw me in the summer and we've been building a connection ever since," Smith said. "Coach Boyle believes in me and I know this is the right place to be. On my visit I connected with the guys really well. It's a beautiful place out there and I'm just happy to be a part of Buff nation."

Despite his resume and playing for an elite program in Southern California, Smith's rankings haven't registered on the recruiting sites. That's just fine for a program known for taking the under recruited and developing them into high-level NCAA Division I players.

"There's two kinds of players: those that are under-recruited and those that are over-recruited, and RJ in my opinion was under-recruited for the kind of player he is and can be," Boyle said. "What our staff has done a good job of through the years is identifying those guys that are a little bit under the radar.

"Even though he plays for a great high school coach and great high school program. He played on an AAU team with a lot of talented guards and didn't always get the chance to show the things that I think he's capable of doing. I definitely feel like we got a steal with RJ."