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Hurt's so good
Conyers resident goes from Salem to stardom on the court
Courtney Hurt holding ball IMG 0719
Courtney Hurt - photo by Anthony Banks/The News

Alone, Courtney Hurt sits atop the Virginia Commonwealth record books.

It's fitting then that her life in basketball has come full circle, back to being alone.

As a little girl Hurt entered the Conyers Boys and Girls Club, and alone headed for its gym. That's where it started, the journey that brought her back to the Metro Atlanta area Thursday night as one of the best players in women's college basketball.

Shiroleen Hurt would drop her daughter off at 1015 O'Kelly Street before going to work, and Courtney would start her day playing basketball with no one else bothering her, playing her heart out at the Boys and Girls Club, just having fun.

"I'd go in the gym and the lights were off," Courtney said. "I'd go get me a ball and be in there all by myself."

It was so much fun she kept playing. She went out for her middle school team and then became a star at Salem High School. Her parents, Shiroleen and John, even built a half of a basketball court and a hoop in the backyard of Courtney's childhood home in Wellington Creek where she could do what she loved.

The future college basketball star would work on her dribbling, her jump shot and free throws. She would practice turn-around jumpers, high-powered rebounding and her shot blocking while battling against younger brother Jonathan.

"Me and my brother would be out there till it got dark, till mom told me to come in for dinner," Courtney said. "I'd always wanted to win. It was frustrating, and there were some nights where I wouldn't say much at the dinner table."

When she played for the Seminoles, more often than not, it was her opponents who would end up quiet at the dinner table. Courtney owns most of the Lady Seminoles' records and finished her high school career as Georgia's player of the year, averaging 27.3 points, 12.5 rebounds and three blocks a game.

Fast forward to her college career and the former Salem High standout is doing what she loves at a higher level than just about every other college basketball player in the United States.

Courtney, a 6-foot-1 forward for the ages at VCU, practically owns her school's record book. She is the Rams career leader in points (1,935), rebounds (1,143), free throws (474) and games played (124). Courtney is also tops in her conference, among both men and women. She needs just 19 more points to pass Eric Maynor, of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, as the Colonial Athletic Association's highest scorer.

In her junior season Courtney also set VCU's single season scoring record with 720 points, a blistering 202 more than the Rams' previous record.

She was back to within 30 miles of where it all started Thursday night, showing Georgia State what she can do in front of her home crowd. In attendance were her parents, brother, nephew, cousins, other family members, and former Salem assistant coach Thomas Nash.

The Rams fell behind 33-25 at halftime with Courtney having a ho-hum nine points and a paltry three rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

The second half was a different story.

The nation's leading rebounder (12.9 rebounds per game) and ninth-leading scorer (22.2 points per game) poured it on, scoring the Rams first six points of the half, en route to 23 points in the final 20 minutes. VCU defeated Georgia State 71-61.

"She just hustles," John said. "She plays hard and has a lot of heart."

The superstar effort by Courtney, who got a standing ovation when she left the game with 25 seconds left, was the last in her home state as her collegiate career comes to an end.

The Rams play their final regular season game Wednesday, and play for the last time in front of the home crowd Sunday. Her family is once again making the trip to Richmond, Va., where there are sure to be emotional moments.

"I can't believe it's coming to an end so quickly," Shiroleen said.

For Courtney her time playing in the Rams' uniform is coming to an end but her time playing basketball will not. There's always her parents' backyard.

But, depending on what happens in the upcoming WNBA Draft, Courtney could find herself continuing to play basketball at a much bigger venue, which would be a dream-come-true.

"I would love to continue to play basketball," Courtney said. "I'll take two three hour practices a day before a work day."

If Courtney isn't a professional basketball player in 2013, she is sure to find her way back to Georgia, where an offer has been made to stay in basketball by way of a graduate assistant position. But for her, it's the chance to be near family and back in her hometown that's equally as great as being alone with a basketball.

"I love it in Conyers," Courtney said. "I really miss it. Being in the city (Richmond) took a little bit of adjustment. I love Conyers. I grew up here, where I have a lot of family and fans."