Five questions - UM men's basketball recruiting
Checking in for today’s edition of “Five questions” is Dan Painter, TerrapinTimes.com’s basketball recruiting analyst.
Painter got his start in scouting with All-Star Sports Scouting Service, balancing that gig with his full-time job with the federal government for more than 10 years. Painter’s primary scouting area was the Washington, DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia corridor.
Painter (who answered questions via e-mail) also covers UM men's and women’s basketball recruiting for Terrapin Times Magazine.
1.) What's the latest with 2008 forward prospect Ater Majok? Why did he withdraw his commitment from Baylor? Do the Terps have a good shot? What type of player is he?
Maryland looks very strong for Majok. In talking to his high school coach, he told me that Maryland has everything he is looking for, athletically, academically, and socially, and pointed out the area's cultural diversity was a factor as well.
From what I have heard, Majok told Maryland he wants to be a Terp, and only needs the blessing from his family back in Australia to make it official. That should come this week. But nothing is totally done until they give their approval.
Majok came to the U.S. and was impressed by Baylor's interest in him, liked the campus, and simply made a hasty decision. After playing extremely well in a late summer tournament, Majok realized he could play at a higher level. His coach is originally from the Maryland area; therefore, the Terps became a viable alternative. As Majok told me, "I want to play on the biggest stage I can."
Few have seen Majok, but one source described him to me as an incredibly long, skilled combo forward, who can go down low to block shots, but also has the handle and shot to play on the perimeter. His coach says he will "be a 3-man in the pros."
2.) What does Majok's emergence mean for New Jersey power forward Quintrell Thomas and the Terps? Is Georgia center Ralph Sampson no longer an option?
It appears that a Majok commitment may signal an end to 2008 recruiting for the Terps. Lots of buzz in New Jersey that Thomas may opt for Kansas, with Rutgers still pushing hard. Since Majok will likely play a lot of power forward for the Terps, that would seem to exclude Thomas from the picture here. There was some discussion of Sampson visiting Maryland last weekend, but instead he chose to go to Kentucky on an official visit, his second trip there. Seems like they are in the catbird's seat right now.
3.) What type of player is 2009 Terp commit Jin Soo Kim? What's his size? Where will he be ranked? How did he stay so under the radar?
Jin Soo Kim was measured this summer at 6 feet 8 1/2, and now weighs about 190 pounds. He is a fluid, graceful athlete with a deadly outside shot. As his strength increases, he will be able to do more things in traffic. He reportedly is fundamentally sound, and knows the game very well. He is under the radar because he played very little AAU ball, preferring to play internationally with the South Korean national team. His coach at South Kent (Conn.), Raphael Chillious, thinks he can be a big time player, and would be a top 30 type with more AAU exposure.
4.) Where does Maryland turn to fill its second 2009 scholarship? Are the Terps still hitting the in-state class hard?
My guess is that Gregory Echenique, the 6-foot-9 low post junior from St. Benedict's [in New Jersey] would be a major target in 2009, as no true low post players were brought in this year. The Terps have looked at a number of local '09 players, but with Kim committed, I can't see any other wings opting for Maryland. And keep in mind, as of now, only one scholarship remains for that class, though attrition is always a possibility. Maryland can be very selective. Already, a number of the 2009 prospects here locally seem to be looking elsewhere. Taking Kim this early is a strong indicator of what the Terps' staff thinks of him.
5.) What does Gary Williams' ability to get in good with international prospects like Majok and Kim so quickly say about his recruiting acumen? Could this be a new strategy in recruiting, in addition to still going after the top AAU guys?
You take good players wherever you can find them. In the cases of Majok and Kim, both youngsters had ties to this area. I don't see Maryland shying away from the AAU circuit. What I do see is the Terps making a concerted effort to recruit players who are fundamentally sound and well versed in the nuances of the game. Last year's class and this year's recruitment of Sean Mosley and (likely Ater Majok) seem to bear that out.