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November 18, 2011

Moving day for Recruiting Report

After four-plus years and 1,484 posts, Recruiting Report is on the move.

We're switching blog formats here at The Sun, which means this blog will have a new URL. Starting Monday, you can find Recruiting Report at this URL: baltimoresun.com/sports/recruiting-blog.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions on the move.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:03 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

While his future teammates prepared for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Shaquille Cleare was making things official with Maryland.

Video surfaced this week of Cleare, a four-star center, signing his letter of intent with the Terps last week at the Village School in Houston. Check it out below.

Continue reading "Weekly recruiting roundup" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

November 17, 2011

Sweet 16: Here comes the champ

The inaugural Sweet 16 championship match pitted one DePaul sophomore from Baltimore against another DePaul sophomore from Baltimore.

Forward Cleveland Melvin, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, and guard Brandon Young, a Big East All-Rookie Team selection, battled in the fan voting for the title of Baltimore's best college basketball player.

After one week of voting, a winner has emerged. Melvin, a former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro player out of Lake Clifton, is your champion. Melvin finished with 85 votes, while Young checked in with 66.

On the season, the Blue Demons are 3-0. Melvin is the team's second-leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, and the top rebounder with seven per game. Young is DePaul's third-leading scorer at 15.5 points per game and the top assist man with four per game.

Congrats go out to Melvin, Young and the rest of the Sweet 16 selections.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Towson's hoops class earns rave reviews

The first time Timajh Parker-Rivera heard of Towson was the day that Luke Murray was hired as a Tigers assistant and promptly offered the 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward a scholarship.

Up to that point, Parker-Rivera, a three-star prospect according to Scout.com, was hearing mostly from Charlotte, Seton Hall, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s and Temple. Parker-Rivera was certainly happy to add a scholarship offer to his already lengthy list, but ESPN.com’s No. 2 prospect in Connecticut didn’t give much thought to Towson. Enter first-year Tigers coach Pat Skerry, who changed that line of thinking in a hurry.

“Coach Skerry was recruiting me at Pitt and Providence before he came down,” to Towson, Parker-Rivera said. “But then I had to talk to the other schools recruiting me. Coach Skerry, he was consistent, really consistent. We had good conversations. He just kept fighting for me no matter where I was leaning. I was leaning toward Temple, but he kept fighting and got me down on campus. I liked it there and I chose Towson.”

Parker-Rivera’s story is a familiar one for Towson in compiling its 2012 class. Step one was identifying well-regarded East Coast prospects and offering those players scholarships. After getting past the inevitable “What’s Towson?” moment, Skerry, Murray, Kevin Clark and Kenny Johnson put on the metaphorical full-court press. What resulted in the Tigers staff’s efforts was one of the most surprisingly impressive classes of the fall signing period. Towson’s four-man group was rated by CBSSports.com as the No. 6 Non-BCS Conference recruiting class in the country. The Tigers finished behind just Memphis, Houston, Xavier, UNLV and UTEP. The writers at CBSSports.com were far from the only analysts impressed with Towson's class.

Continue reading "Towson's hoops class earns rave reviews" »

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November 16, 2011

InsideMDSports: Britt moving toward decision?

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Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


When his phone began to blow up with text messages a few days ago, Nate Britt Sr. didn’t know what was going on. He quickly learned the barrage was set off by a Tweet by his son, Gonzaga junior point guard Nate Britt Jr., who’d stated that he may be ready to make a college decision earlier than previously expected.

“I had no idea about it,” Britt Sr. said. “But he’s seen pretty much everybody and I think he put that out there because he’s probably ready to make a decision sooner rather than later.”

Still, there’s no specific timetable for a commitment. It could come this month, or it could be sometime in the spring. Britt, a left-handed floor general ranked the No. 12 prospect in the Class of 2013, visited Maryland this weekend to watch the Terps in their season-opener against UNC-Wilmington.

“Everything went well. He enjoyed the game. We had a good time. We didn’t get to talk to coach [Mark] Turgeon, but I called Dalonte [Hill] this morning because I know they’re getting ready to take this road trip,” Britt Sr. said.

Continue reading "InsideMDSports: Britt moving toward decision? " »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:36 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

November 15, 2011

Overview of Baltimore's 2012 hoops class

Twenty-one Baltimore-area basketball players were freshmen at Division I programs during the 2010-11 season. This fall, 20 local players from the 2011 class have joined those DI hoops ranks. Will the 2012 class come close to approaching those numbers? I'll take a closer look at the area's best seniors below this chart of Baltimore's DI freshmen.

CollegePlayerPositionHigh SchoolHometownPrep School
BrownJon Schmidt forwardFriendsBaltimore
Central Connecticut StateMalcolm McMillan guardJohn CarrollBel Air
DePaulMontray Clemons forwardPolyBaltimoreMack Academy (N.C.)
DrexelDamion Lee guardCalvert HallBaltimoreSt. Thomas More (Conn.)
Florida Gulf CoastDante Holmes guardSt. FrancesBaltimoreOldsmar Christian (Fla.)
GeorgetownGreg WhittingtonforwardOakland MillsColumbia
High PointTre Duncan guardSevernMillersvillePrinceton Day Academy
High PointDevante Wallace guardDunbarBaltimore
IPFWIsaiah McCray guardMilford MillBaltimore
LoyolaR.J. Williams guardSt. FrancesBaltimore
MarylandNick Faust guardCityBaltimore
Mississippi Valley StateBrent Arrington guardLansdowneBaltimoreSouthern Sports Academy (Miss.)
MontanaKeron DeShields guardPallottiBaltimoreVermont Academy
Morgan StateJames HamiltonguardMilford MillBaltimore
NavyWes Clark guardGovernor's Academy (Mass.)Annapolis
NavyDonya Jackson guardCalvert HallBaltimoreMercersburg Academy (Pa.)
PittsburghDurand JohnsonforwardLake CliftonBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
PresbyterianRyan McTavishguardSouth CarrollMount Airy
RutgersGreg Lewis forwardSt. FrancesRandallstown
UtahKareem Storey guardTowson CatholicBaltimorePrinceton Day Academy

Continue reading "Overview of Baltimore's 2012 hoops class" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:13 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

November 14, 2011

The Next Level: Perry powers UAB comeback

The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

Trailing 35-17 in Saturday’s game against Memphis, UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) engineered the largest fourth-quarter comeback in program history.

Perry led three fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 69 or more yards to cap the improbable comeback, as the Blazers scored 24 unanswered points. The sophomore tossed a career-high 410 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, and added 47 on the ground.

With the 41-35 win, the Blazers claimed the “Battle for the Bones” trophy for the third straight year.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the play of Perry, whose 457 total yards ranks third in UAB history for a single game. He completed 28 of his 48 passes, without an interception.

This season, Perry has thrown for 1,616 yards and seven touchdowns (seven interceptions) and rushed for 238 yards and a score. For his role in the Blazers’ record-breaking comeback, Perry is your Next Level Player of the Week. He earns the honor for the second time this season.

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Continue reading "The Next Level: Perry powers UAB comeback" »

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Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Petty's season ends

What proved to be the last game of Shawn Petty's high school career was a forgettable one.

The Terps linebacker commitment and Eleanor Roosevelt quarterback rushed for 73 yards on 14 carries, but went just 3-for-11 for 28 yards and two interceptions in the Raiders' 13-8 loss to C.H. Flowers in a Class 4A South Region semifinal.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Petty, who has verbally committed to play college football at the University of Maryland. “We’ve been working hard for this season trying to get the state championship. We came out here and didn’t play too well. Flowers is a great team. They got the win.”

Continue reading "Weekend wrap – Petty's season ends" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:01 AM | | Comments (0)
        

November 11, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The first recruiting class of the Mark Turgeon era at Maryland was unveiled to high acclaim Wednesday.

Most recruiting analysts were impressed by the Terps' three-man group of center Shaquille Cleare, small forward Jake Layman and combo guard Seth Allen.

Scout.com gave the Terps a No. 12 ranking for their 2012 class. Right behind was CBSSports.com, which handed out the No. 13 ranking. Next came MaxPreps.com, which put Maryland at No. 14 nationally, followed by ESPN.com's No. 17 ranking. Maryland didn't crack Rivals.com's Top 25.

"We're very pleased with our class for 2012 so far," Turgeon said in a news release. "We've added three quality players with great character who will fit in with our Maryland Basketball family."

The first-year coach said he expects to add others to Maryland's 2012 class.

Continue reading "Weekly recruiting roundup" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

InsideMDSports: A class of Turgeon's own

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Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


When he was hired in May to succeed Gary Williams, Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon’s first priority was to upgrade the level of talent in the program. He put together a crew of assistants known for their recruiting prowess and he hit the recruiting trail hard, bouncing from one AAU event to the next, eventually securing his No. 1 prospects at three different positions.

All three recruits – Houston big man Shaquille Cleare, Massachusetts forward Jake Layman and Virginia combo guard Seth Allen -- faxed Maryland their signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's early signing period. Thus, on the six-month anniversary of his hiring at Maryland, Turgeon was able to speak publicly about them for the first time.

“We’re really excited about the three guys we signed,” said Turgeon, whose class ranks 16th-best in the nation according to 247Sports.

“It’s huge. Players help you win games. It’s obvious. Our best teams [at Texas A&M] were when we had our best players.”

Continue reading "InsideMDSports: A class of Turgeon's own " »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

November 10, 2011

Sweet 16: Championship

The inaugural Sweet 16 championship has come down to teammates.

DePaul point guard Brandon Young (133 votes) defeated Missouri guard Kim English (29 votes) in one semifinal, setting up a title match with DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin (138 votes), who bested Syracuse forward C.J. Fair (20 votes).

So who gets your vote for Baltimore's best basketball player? Blue Demons fans, vote away!

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Stanton Kidd signs with North Carolina Central

stanton-kidd-north-carolina.jpg Ever since high school, Stanton Kidd has played with a "huge chip" on his shoulder.

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward was lightly recruited out of Edmondson, overlooked in favor of some of his more highly ranked Baltimore City classmates, and largely forgotten when he left town for junior college in the summer of 2010.

“Coming from Baltimore, with all the talent we’ve got -- Josh Selby, Will Barton, Roscoe Smith, C.J. Fair -- it’s hard coming out of that world because they were the big focus,” Kidd said. “I had my fame there, too. Guys knew I could ball. But I kind of got overlooked from the spotlight.”

At JUCO powerhouse South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, Kidd got his chance to shine. While he hasn’t been the centerpiece of the Texans like he was with the Red Storm, Kidd has received ample opportunities to prove to Division I programs that he could play at that level.

On Wednesday, Kidd’s persistence with the game paid off. The former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro player signed a letter of intent to attend North Carolina Central.

“It feels good to know that you’ve got somewhere to go after junior college,” Kidd said. “I just fell in love with [North Carolina Central on] the visit. I went home, thought about it for awhile. I had a couple other schools that wanted me. But I had to go [someplace where I wouldn’t] play in nobody’s shadow. With me going to N.C. Central now, I’m going to be in the spotlight. It’s going to be a real experience for me. Now I can take the game-winning shot, get my teammates involved and make plays.”

Continue reading "Stanton Kidd signs with North Carolina Central" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

November 9, 2011

Recapping the Sweet 16

While voting continues to crown Baltimore's best college basketball player, here's a chance to revisit the inaugural Sweet 16.

As part of our college basketball preview this week, I condensed all 16 profiles into 16 vignettes for Friday's print edition of The Baltimore Sun.

If you've already read each of the 16 articles in the series, there's no need to check out the rest of this blog post. But if you want a (relatively) quick summary of Baltimore's top DI players, this blog is for you. Check out each vignette after the jump.

Continue reading "Recapping the Sweet 16" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Marcellous Bell talks Binghamton pledge

Over the past few years Crusader Nation has been one of Baltimore's top producers of Division I basketball talent. But the local summer-league program isn't limited to having players just from the Charm City area. Marcellous Bell is an example of that.

Bell, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior from DeMatha, was Crusader Nation’s primary ball-handler over the summer. Thanks to his play on the circuit, the Bowie resident received interest from Binghamton, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris and Stony Brook, before ultimately committing to the Bearcats earlier this month.

“The thing about Binghamton getting him is that they got an extremely smart guard,” said Crusader Nation coach Fred McCathorine. “Basketball-wise, school-wise, it’s the whole nine yards. Marcellous understands when to push the ball. He’s one kid on our team who I’ve said will someday down the line be a coach, because he’s just that smart about the game.”

Continue reading "Marcellous Bell talks Binghamton pledge" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

November 8, 2011

Analysts weigh in on Terps' 2012 hoops class

Mark Turgeon is still five days away from his first regular-season game at Maryland, but the Terps' first-year coach has already delivered on one important promise he made six months ago.

During his introductory news conference in College Park on May 11, the former Texas A&M coach assured those in attendance that he was “going to recruit like crazy.” On Wednesday – the first day of the week-long fall signing period – the fruits of Turgeon’s labor on the recruiting trail will be on display. Maryland is poised to sign a Top 25 class, culminating a hectic period for Turgeon and his coaching staff.

“You have to understand something about how difficult it is when you take over as a new staff,” said Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s national recruiting analyst. “It’s not like it was 10 years ago, because usually your big class is your second class. For them to have been able to string together a group like this, with two Top 100 guys – and they may not even be finished – it’s a very good sign.”

Maryland’s aforementioned Top 100 recruits are Shaquille Cleare, a 6-foot-9, 285-pound center from The Village School in Houston, and Jake Layman, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound small forward from King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass. The Terps’ third recruit is Seth Allen, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound combo guard from Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian. All three players are expected to sign their letters of intent this week.

“We have [the class] ranked No. 3 overall in the ACC, in the Top 25 as of [Tuesday],” said Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels. “Obviously, that could change in the next day or two. But that’s where we have them right now. This is a great group. This is a really strong start for Turgeon and his guys. I think pulling Cleare out of Texas is a big deal. Jake Layman is a guy who really blew up and is in the Top 50. Then with a local kid like Seth Allen, it’s a strong start. I’m sure the coaching staff is pleased.”

Continue reading "Analysts weigh in on Terps' 2012 hoops class" »

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November 7, 2011

Sweet 16: Moving on to the Final Four

And then there were four.

The voting has closed for the Elite Eight, leaving us with just four players left in the inaugural Sweet 16 bracket.

Voting for the Final Four can be found after the jump. I'll leave it open until Tuesday afternoon. Here are the results of the round-of-eight.

• In the biggest upset of this tournament, DePaul's Brandon Young (121 votes) easily defeated Memphis' Will Barton (40 votes). This is the same Will Barton that is a preseason Naismith Player of Year and Wooden Award candidate. So how did Young knock off the No. 1 seed? Credit goes to BlueDemonsNation.com, which featured one message board poster hilariously urging DePaul fans to "represent Chicago well and stuff the ballot box!" Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that this title will come down to Young vs. Cleveland Melvin?

• Missouri's Kim English (56 votes) defeated Connecticut's Roscoe Smith (38 votes).

• Syracuse's C.J. Fair (78 votes) defeated Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald (35 votes).

• DePaul's Cleveland Melvin (134 votes) defeated Maryland's Sean Mosley (33 votes).

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Continue reading "Sweet 16: Moving on to the Final Four" »

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Categories: The Sweet 16
        

The Next Level: Alec Lemon's career day

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The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

Despite his team's loss to Connecticut this past weekend, Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) found a way to continue his impressive season with a career-high 157 receiving yards on nine catches.

Lemon caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to tie the game at 7, but the Orange couldn’t hold on and fell 28-21 for the second straight week. Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) had an interception and five solo tackles (seven total) in the win.

Lemon’s performance, though, earned him a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll Monday. He leads the Orange with 531 receiving yards and 47 receptions this season. The Crofton native now has 106 career receptions, which ranks him fifth all-time at Syracuse.

For his performance against the Huskies, Lemon is your Next Level Player of the Week. He earns the honor for the second time this season.

Continue reading "The Next Level: Alec Lemon's career day" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Petty powers Raiders again

Shawn Petty's Eleanor Roosevelt squad will enter the Class 4A state playoffs on a high note.

Petty, a Maryland-bound quarterback and linebacker, directed the Raiders (10-0) to a 27-20 win over previously unbeaten Suitland on Saturday.

Shawn Petty was effective in the passing game, completing 7 of 15 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. B.J. Antoine made an acrobatic one-handed catch for a 30-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Petty rolled out of the pocket, signaled for receiver James Warren to break his route and go deep and then lofted a ball that Warren snagged and took to the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown.

Continue reading "Weekend wrap – Petty powers Raiders again" »

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November 4, 2011

Sweet 16: Moving on to the Elite Eight

The first round of voting for the inaugural Sweet 16 is complete.

Eight of Baltimore's best Division I college basketball players remain. The first-round results are listed below. Voting for the Elite Eight is after the jump. We'll keep it open until Monday afternoon.

• Memphis' Will Barton (110 votes) defeated Loyola's Dylon Cormier (38 votes)

• DePaul's Brandon Young (193 votes) defeated Morgan State's Kevin Thompson (95 votes)

• Missouri's Kim English (77 votes) defeated Notre Dame's Eric Atkins (50 votes)

• Connecticut's Roscoe Smith (107 votes) defeated Holy Cross' Devin Brown (26 votes)

• Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald (90 votes) defeated Vermont's Brendan Bald (82 votes)

• Syracuse's C.J. Fair (87 votes) defeated Memphis' Antonio Barton (53 votes)

• DePaul's Cleveland Melvin (210 votes) defeated Charlotte's Jamar Briscoe (192 votes)

• Maryland's Sean Mosley (114 votes) defeated Delaware's Devon Saddler (34 votes)

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Continue reading "Sweet 16: Moving on to the Elite Eight" »

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Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland quarterback commitment Caleb Rowe is a finalist for South Carolina's Mr. Football award.

Blue Ridge quarterback Caleb Rowe: Rowe, a Shrine Bowler who has committed to Maryland, has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns.

• McDonogh defensive end and Terps commitment Roman Braglio was the focus of this week's Baltimore Sun Varsity Q&A.

Is it true when you committed to Maryland you had just met with the coaches, walked out, talked to your dad and then went back in and said, "I want to be a Terp"?

Yeah. [Maryland defensive line coach Greg] Gattuso told me to come down and watch practice to see if I like the way he coaches, if that would fit my style of playing. After the practice it was me, Coach Gattuso, Coach [Keith] Dudzinski and my father. We sat there and talked for two or three hours. I had been to a lot of schools, but that was the first time we had a talk like that and we talked as friends, so I could see a future relationship building right there. I just didn't know how to say it. I walked out and asked my father, "How do I say it?" He said, "What do you mean, how do you say it? Walk back in there and say you want to be a Terp." Coach Gattuso was walking out and he was like, "Roman, what's wrong?" I said, "Nothing, Coach. I want to be a Terp." He threw me over his shoulder and ran into Coach Edsall's office like, "We got him. We got him."

Continue reading "Weekly recruiting roundup" »

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Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

November 3, 2011

North County's Cliff Cornish to High Point

cliff-cornish-high-point.jpg It was difficult for Cliff Cornish to sort through all the interest he was receiving from various Division I college basketball programs.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward from North County was recruited by Boston University, Central Connecticut State, Kent State, La Salle, Morgan State and Stony Brook, among others. But one program – High Point – quickly stood out from all the rest.

“They saw him … at every tournament we played in, from West Virginia to Vegas to L.A.,” said Fred McCathorine, Cornish’s coach with the Crusader Nation basketball program. “They got to see him play a lot of games – six in West Virginia, eight in Vegas and nine in L.A. They got to see a lot of Cliff Cornish play.”

Cornish couldn’t help but notice the intensity of the Panthers staff’s pursuit. After making two trips – an unofficial and an official visit – to the North Carolina school, Cornish’s mind was made up. He committed to High Point late last week.

“I’m still happy with my decision,” Cornish said. “I knew I was going there as soon as I [visited]. It just felt right as soon as I stepped on campus after talking with the coaches and players.”

Continue reading "North County's Cliff Cornish to High Point" »

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Categories: Local recruiting
        

InsideMDSports: Hill scouting local prospects

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Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


During a decade-plus as the head coach at National Christian Academy, Trevor Brown has had his share of Division I basketball prospects. The small private school in Fort Washington was the original home of Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley, and the place where Dante Taylor (Pitt) went from little-known prospect to McDonald’s all-American.

Maryland’s previous basketball staff, though, didn’t spend much time recruiting there, the lone exception being Taylor, whom the staff didn’t begin to pursue seriously until he’d already received offers from a bevy of high-major programs.

“They never recruited the kids. Until you start to do that, local kids are going to continue to leave the area,” Brown said.

But that appears to be changing; assistant Dalonte Hill has been to the school twice this fall to see sophomore point guard John Davis.

Continue reading "InsideMDSports: Hill scouting local prospects" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:43 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

November 2, 2011

Sweet 16: Vote on Baltimore's best DI player

What started on Sept. 1 with a look at Loyola's Dylon Cormier ended Nov. 2 with a feature on Memphis' Will Barton. The 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area -- in my opinion -- have been accounted for.

Now comes the interactive part of The Sweet 16. I set up a bracket below matching up all 16 players. After the jump, there are polls for each matchup. I'll keep voting on this round open until Friday morning. We'll keep the voting going until a champion is crowned. This will culminate with a recap of the series next week on the blog and in print as part of The Sun's college basketball preview. For a refresher on all 16 players, scroll down below the polls.

Let the voting begin ...

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Continue reading "Sweet 16: Vote on Baltimore's best DI player" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Sweet 16: Will Barton, Memphis

will-barton-memphis-tigers.jpg The expectations placed on Will Barton before his freshman season at Memphis were undeniably lofty.

The 2009 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year was a Top 10 recruit and Scout.com’s No. 1 shooting guard in the country. He had just finished a post-grad year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy in which he led the Bobcats to the National Prep Championship and earned MVP honors for the tournament. And some NBA Draft analysts considered the former Lake Clifton star a potential one-and-done player.

“I was very aware of,” the hype, Barton admitted. “I heard what people were saying, talking about me. I was very aware of it.”

Josh Pastner, whose first commitments as Memphis’ coach were from Will and younger brother Antonio, could sense that the 6-foot-6, 182-pound swingman might have been reading too many of his own press clippings. The second-year coach made it his priority early in the season to make Barton understand just how much development was needed in his game.

“I think with Will, there was talk of all that,” Pastner said. “But I knew when I saw Will play – and I told Will this when we signed him – ‘if you can be a one-and-done, great. But you’ve got a long way to go before then. You’ve got to get a lot better.’ I told him, [the NBA] ‘should be so far out of your mind. Anyone who’s telling you that, they’re not aware [of what it takes].’ You have to get so much stronger and better. I think early on, he was just trying to get used to the college game.”

Anything less than dominance was completely foreign to Barton. During the summer of 2008, Barton starred for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit, earning Top 10 national rankings from Scout.com, ESPN.com, MaxPreps.com and PrepStars.com. Months later, Barton’s storybook senior year at Lake Clifton ended with the Lakers capping a 32-0 season with the Class 3A state championship. Then came his prep year at Brewster in which he averaged 20.8 points and was named the 2009-10 New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A Player of the Year.

That track record of success – along with a steady stream of media hype – probably would have made any player overconfident to an extent. Barton was no different. But while the former five-star prospect couldn’t possibly live up to the unreasonable predictions that some assigned to him, Barton went out and did the best he could.

Continue reading "Sweet 16: Will Barton, Memphis" »

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Categories: The Sweet 16
        

November 1, 2011

Sweet 16: Kim English, Missouri

kim-english-mizzou.jpg Kim English wasn't surprised when Mike Anderson left Missouri for Arkansas. And while many fans were perplexed when the Tigers tabbed Miami coach Frank Haith as Anderson's replacement, English stayed "even-keeled" as always.

Part of that reaction is just the nature of English’s personality. The former Randallstown star says he never gets too high or too low. But English’s familiarity with Haith -- who recruited him heavily to play for the Hurricanes four years ago -- also played into his response to the coach’s hiring.

“[Haith] called me when he first got the job,” English recalled. “He said, ‘I told you I’d be your coach someday.’”

English, who said he “almost committed to Miami,” learned more about Haith from his former Cecil Kirk teammate Jack McClinton, an All-ACC performer for the Hurricanes. With that knowledge in mind, English made it his personal mission to help Mizzou fans come to believe what he already did – that Haith was the right man for the job.

“Fans over here were giving him a hard time,” English said. “Here in the Midwest, all they know of the ACC is Duke and Carolina. They didn’t have any clue who he was. Miami’s league record wasn’t stellar. They were kind of upset. That name kind of came out of the blue for them. The next day at the press conference, I kind of had to settle people down here and let them know. I think they all wanted [VCU’s] Shaka Smart, but we had to get someone who was a proven BCS recruiter, and he is that. He is a really, really good recruiter. He’s been a recruiter at Texas, Texas A&M and Miami. He definitely is a good man for the job.”

Throughout his three years in Columbia, English has taken pride in his ability to lead. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior is one of the most quotable Tigers, a social-media superstar, a campus leader, and one of the Big 12’s top guards. The roots of English’s development into a nationally recognized college basketball player can be traced back to Baltimore.

Continue reading "Sweet 16: Kim English, Missouri" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:04 AM | | Comments (1)
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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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