Hurt, Bender find success in Chicago

Former high school All-America's Carlos Hurt and Brandon Bender are finding success again on the court at Robert Morris College in Chicago.

Since joining the Robert Morris College team in the middle of December, former University of Louisville players Carlos Hurt and Brandon Bender, Coach Al Breuhl's squad hasn't looked back.

Of course, most Louisville fans are aware of the track both former high school stars have taken to land at the Chicago area school.

A former McDonald's All-American, Hurt spent his freshman season at U of L before transferring to Wabash (IL) Community College last season, where he starred in the same league as current U of L signee Donta Smith. When academics prevented a move back to the division one ranks, Hurt sought refuge at Robert Morris.

Bender's road has been much more bumpy and complicated. After leaving Rick Pitino's program midway through his freshman season, the talented 6'9 center, considered one of the nation's top 40 high schooler's coming out of Louisville Ballard three years ago, headed north to Vincennes College. After a conflict with the Vincennes coaching staff, Bender made a brief stop at Malcolm X Community College before finding a home a Cincinnati State, where he played his sophomore season.

During the summer, Bender spent considerable time at U of L and rumors swirled around town that he was looking for another chance to play in Conference USA. Memphis was also mentioned, by Bender, as a possible destination. When neither panned out, Bender ended up with his old teammate, Hurt, for a second go-round in the Windy City.

Since joining the Robert Morris team in mid-December, Hurt and Bender have led the NAIA school to 22 straight wins and with three games remaining the Eagles appear a lock to receive an invitation to the national tournament in Kansas City next month.

"They've done real well," Breuhl told "They've taken the challenges to get back on the right track and we're happy with their progress."

"I've seen a lot of maturity from them this season."

Hurt currently leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game and is second in assists with 84. He also has made 53-121 three pointers as a junior.

As for Bender, he's averaging 13.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. And according to Breuhl, Bender is receiving some looks from the NBA.

"They're been some scouts at some of our games looking at him," Breuhl said. "But I think he'd be best served by another year in college."

With one season of collegiate eligibility remaining, Breuhl said he expects Hurt to finish up next season at Robert Morris, and seemingly shut door on a transfer back to division one basketball.

"Carlos for sure will be back," Breuhl said.

Breuhl also said both Hurt and Bender are performing well in the classroom, which bodes well for both player's future's off the court.

"Carlos is doing real well with his studies and Bender has a C plus average in the classroom," Breuhl said.

And while no one could have predicted three years ago that two former high-school all-american's would wind up playing out their college days in the NAIA, it looks like both Hurt and Bender, after a long and winding journey, are finally on the track to success.

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