Continuing our look at 2012 WNBA Draft prospects, an interview with 6-foot-1 VCU forward Courtney Hurt.
Swish Appeal: How would you best describe your game?
Courtney Hurt: I have to start with "versatile" because here at VCU, Beth Cunningham, my head coach, she likes the four to bring the ball up, [not just staying] under the basket. Especially me being undersized, I step out to the three point line, do pull ups and do a lot of creating for myself; I’m not the traditional back to the basket type of player.
SA: What are your strengths, what do you feel you do the best?
CH: Everyone tells me that I’m a really good rebounder. Just reading what the defense gives me and most times they are bigger than me, so I step out and face up and try and take them off the dribble. I kind of mix in fade away shots.
SA: Talk about your junior year, did your success surprise you? (Hurt led the nation in rebounding at 12.4, double-doubles with 25 and was second in scoring at 23.2 ppg)
CH: I think everybody was a little bit surprised -- especially me, I mean I worked really hard in the off-season with my teammates. I put in a lot and going to the gym everyday, stayed up at Richmond. A lot of kids go home, me and my teammates, we stay up here and just put in the extra - extra reps, extra shots - and it just paid off. I didn’t imagine I could do those things.
SA: Coming out of high school, did you ever envision this type of success when you first came to VCU?
CH: When I first came to VCU, I came in thinking I would do good. When I first came in as a freshman, in high school I averaged 28 (points) and 12 (rebounds) so I was kind of overconfident. But my freshman year, it humbled me a lot. Just the strength and conditioning and different speed of an entirely a new game. So that really humbled me, the coaches ran me to death. I had Quanitra Hollingsworth, she plays in the WNBA (for the New York Liberty) right now, and I was playing against her and D’Andra Moss who plays professionally overseas. I didn’t play that much but everything in practice, I would just work hard and had those two great phenomenal post players to go up against and get better. So that really helped. I was a little surprised with the things I’ve done. But at the same time, I’ve put in a lot of hard work”
SA: What is your relationship like with Coach Cunningham?
CH: We have a great a great relationship
SA: What was the biggest transition for you coming from high school to your freshman year?
CH: Just the experience I’ve had at VCU, I’ve gotten better each year. Here at VCU, they help you focus in on things that expand your game.
SA: What did you learn from the experience at the University games?
CH: You had players from Stanford, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Miami and I was a little nervous at first, it was my first time, a lot of kids knew each other as they have played on previous USA teams. Luckily I knew Elena (Delle Donne), somebody that was a familiar face. It really wasn’t that bad, a little nervous at first but my mind was like I can play with these kids. It opened my eyes up. It was a motivation for me, I can play with these kids but how can I get better. I did a lot of watching, a lot of networking -- meeting new people. [The experience] was a motivating factor in my success.
SA: Some people might not have seen you as much because you're coming out of a smaller conference and might try to dismiss your scoring numbers as coming against weaker competition. Do you think that's a fair concern or is there something beyond the numbers that people who haven't seen you much might miss?
CH: The CAA is a tough conference; the RPI is number six out of 32 teams in the country. It’s not a conference to sleep on but I can see where some people may look at my stats and not giving as much credibility because I play in the CAA.
SA: What are some of the intangible things that people might miss if they just looked at your stats?
CH: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, the words hard working, relentless in the paint. To be honest, I never thought I was a great rebounder, this goes back to being a hard worker. I guess my desire to score the ball - so if a teammate missed I would get it, if the other team missed I would get it (laughing). I just want to do whatever it takes for my team to win.
SA: Are there any players you model your game after or have looked up to?
CH: I would say Candice Dupree, I’m not as smooth as her yet, she’s so smooth. She’s a little taller than me, I guess she’s a little undersized, she’s like 6’2” I think. She has a face up game, she’s a great rebounder and I just love her style of play, that’s the type of player that I would want to model my game after -- I just love Candice Dupree.
SA: What type of team or style of play do you think would be ideal for you?
CH: I like San Antonio’s style of play mainly because I feel like I’m the same type of player as Danielle Adams. Plus I believe I have her same skill set, maybe not her size but I have a little more speed. I think we’re very similar, we can bang in the paint but we also can stretch a defense and shoot the three.
SA: Have WNBA teams been showing interest in you leading up to the draft?
CH: I haven’t heard any specific details and I haven’t decided on my agent, which I need to do soon. Coach Cunningham has been talking to [WNBA] coaches.
SA: What are your thoughts leading up to the draft next Monday?
CH: A little nervous to see where I land. I’m hoping first round and if not, second round. I’m just a little nervous and at the same time excited. I’m just waiting. I don’t think I’m going to have a party or anything, I actually might have a test that night that might help distract me a little bit -- accounting test that night (laughing).
SA: What would you like to say to the VCU family, fans and Coach Cunningham?
CH: Thank you for being so supportive, I guess that’s the biggest thing. I’ve had so much support here at VCU, whether it’s the coaches, teammates, academic advisers, athletic director, director of operations. Everybody has been so supportive, whatever I need, they're there. It’s just a great environment! And I would just like to say thank you, especially to my head coach [Cunningham] for being so very patient with me and putting me in a great spot to represent VCU and the women’s program.