Duke forward Matthew Hurt and guard DJ Steward waited to hear their names be called, but ultimately neither was selected in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Despite not being one of the 60 picks, Steward and Hurt both found their way onto rosters within 24 hours of the draft's conclusion. Steward signed a training camp deal with the Sacramento Kings, The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported, and Hurt signed a two-way deal with the Houston Rockets, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported.
After two years at Duke, Hurt can still look to join the NBA as an undrafted free agent. He was the Blue Devils’ leading scorer for the 2020-21 season in which Duke failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Averaging 18.3 points and 6.2 rebounds on 55.6% shooting, Hurt earned a spot on the All-ACC First Team as a sophomore. His improvement from year to year turned heads as the 6-foot-9, 235-pound stretch big nearly doubled his scoring and improved his 3-point shooting while taking more shots from outside the arc—his improvement also earned him the ACC’s Most Improved Player honors.
His wiry frame and below-average athleticism had professional scouts on pause on whether Hurt was a worthwhile investment, and the NBA collectively did not want to take their chances on the Rochester, Minn., native. He is not without a developed skill set, however, as his signature move for much of the 2020-21 season was a jab step into a stepback three, with an overhead shooting form that could get over top of the nearby defense. He was not the dominant paint force that other college fours or fives can be, but he could play down low and convert on Dirk Nowitzki-esque fadeaways at the 10 to 15 foot range with minimal contact.
Steward was a promising player while in college, scoring the fourth-highest number of points of a Duke freshman in their debut with 24. He made the All-ACC Freshman Team after averaging 13.0 points this past year, although many think that he could have had more success and developed his skills further if he had stayed at Duke for at least another year.
The Chicago native drew heavy criticism after his showing at the NBA Combine where he shot 4-for-17 during the two scrimmages with just four assists and seven turnovers. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that NBA teams unanimously agreed that Steward should return to Duke for another year.
This article has been updated to reflect Steward's signing with the Kings.