Boys basketball

Hurt leads 21st Century with a southern flair

2014-01-02T20:00:00Z 2014-06-24T21:20:31Z Hurt leads 21st Century with a southern flairSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com
January 02, 2014 8:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | He'd heard the sounds of piping hot blues floating above the asphalt on Beale Street.

He'd driven by Graceland and observed the strangeness there.

With a solemn soul he took in the tragic history at the National Civil Rights Museum.

Then, with a snap of a finger, Dantrell Hurt was gone from Memphis, walking around his new home in downtown Gary, a block from the Genesis Center.

There was no catfish on the table, and Reverend Green was many hours south.

"I miss Memphis, but I like it here a lot better," Hurt said on Wednesday after competing in The Times Region Roundball Rumble 3-point contest. "They had real good food down there, and the jazz was good, too. But I had to move here."

His grandmother fell ill, so Dantrell followed his parents -- James and Danielle -- back to their hometown with the steel mills on the north shore.

Hurt never played basketball in Tennessee. He was a track man. So in eighth grade at West Side, he tried a little hoops. The now 5-foot-10 point guard at 21st Century played the post in middle school.

His grades kept him out of basketball his freshman and sophomore years at West Side, so he transferred to 21st Century and found his game.

The Cougars are 4-1, and Hurt is averaging 19.8 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals for the defending Class A sectional champions.

"Dantrell has God-given talent," Cougars coach Rodney Williams said. "He plays with a lot of poise. He's very strong for a guard. He finishes very well, but most importantly, he's mild-mannered, a very good kid."

When he first arrived at the charter school, someone told Williams that Hurt could dunk. The old-time coach didn't believe the stocky southerner could throw down.

He was wrong.

"He can dunk, let me tell you that," Williams said with a laugh. "He went up with two hands and almost tore the rim down."

When Hurt first arrived in the Steel City, the cold, tough environs got to him a bit.

"It was way different than Memphis," he said. "When I started playing basketball (at West Side), I couldn't do nothing. I was bad. Real bad. But when this opportunity came up, I started working, and I haven't stopped working.

"I want to be the best I can be, and I want my team to be the best we can be."

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