This week’s guest for ‘Five questions’ is Jide Sodipo, a fixture in the Maryland high school basketball recruiting scene for the past decade.
Sodipo was kind enough to weigh in on several questions (via e-mail) involving the in-state basketball recruiting scene.
1.) By my count, three surefire Division I kids from Maryland in 2009 have transferred schools or are considering a transfer -- center Andrew Fitzgerald from Towson Catholic to Owings Mills, shooting guard Maurice Creek from Oxon Hill to South Kent (Conn.) School and forward Wally Judge from Bladensburg to Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla. What do you make of each situation, and how does it affect each player's recruitment?
Each situation is similar but unique at the same time. The similarity is that all have to do with academic reasons. Wally Judge, Andrew Fitzgerald and Maurice Creek all are originally members of the class of 2008.
Judge was ineligible his freshman year, while Fitzgerald repeated his sophomore year. Creek is still at Oxon Hill, but is planning to attend South Kent.
These three prospects are just looking for a good fit academically to give them a better chance to qualify. This has no effect on their recruiting since all are high-major prospects -- Judge (West Virginia, Georgetown, Pitt), Creek (Maryland, Texas, Villanova) Fitzgerald (Maryland, Pitt, Clemson).
2.) Who do you think is the best player in Maryland in the 2009 class?
The best player right now in the state of Maryland from 2009 is Isaiah Armwood. Going into the summer his teammate Terrell Vinson had an edge, but Armwood, a 6-foot-8 combo forward, really raised his game and his stock. He’s being heavily recruited by Louisville, Maryland and Villanova to name a few. Louisville has a slight edge right now and Rick Pitino will be visiting the school in the upcoming week.
3.) What kind of impact has Sean Mosley's commitment to Maryland had on some of the big-time in-state players? Will Baltimore kids look more seriously at UM because of it?
Sean Mosley’s commitment to Maryland had no major impact whatsoever on some of the big-time in-state players. It will not affect or change anything on how Baltimore kids look at UM. Maryland has to do a better job with its recruitments earlier on… But at the same time, I have to give them a lot of credit for some improvement.
In the past, they have not been as visible in [Baltimore] like they should be. Keith Booth, a Baltimore native, is working hard to change that. He is much more visible, which helps a lot. And Chuck Driesell is one of the best young recruiters in the country.
4.) Which of the local DI programs have impressed you lately in recruiting?
Todd Bozeman and the Morgan State Bears have been impressing lately with their recruiting. They landed three of the top 100 prospects in the Mid-Atlantic areas from the class of 2007. He brought some respect and stability back to the program, which the program had been missing for a long time.
Towson has been solid since Pat Kennedy’s arrival, and with two solid recruiters in assistant coaches Jim Meil and Eric Skeeters, will continue to improve every year in an always tough CAA conference.
5.) Who are some of the most underrated 2008 kids from the Baltimore area?
Some of the most underrated prospects in the Baltimore area for the class of 2008 are all guards and all solid mid-major prospects.
Starting with Larry Bastfield, a 6-foot-0 point guard from Towson Catholic. He’s a unique pass-first guard that is uncommon in this Allen Iverson-era of basketball. Nothing he does wows you, but he gets it done.
Jamar Briscoe, a 5-foot-9 combo guard from Cardinal Gibbons is the complete opposite -- a scoring point guard that will need to play the lead guard position at the next level.
Troy Franklin, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Mt. Carmel is a flashy, shoot-first, Allen Iverson-type point guard.
And last but not least, Devon Branch, 6 feet 3, is a solid off-guard that is capable of playing the two at the next level.