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March 31, 2008

Loyola’s Kinnard talks UConn commitment

Loyola junior Leon Kinnard didn’t grow up hoping for a chance to play quarterback in college.

But when Connecticut offered him that opportunity last month, Kinnard reevaluated his collegiate goals.

“Well honestly ... I didn’t think anyone would give me the opportunity [to play quarterback],” Kinnard said. “But when UConn offered me, I felt great about the opportunity, so I just went ahead and pulled the trigger.”

Kinnard, 5 feet 9, committed to UConn last Thursday over Maryland, which offered him as a defensive back. Boston College and West Virginia also expressed interest in Kinnard as a slot receiver.

Should things not pan at quarterback for Kinnard at Connecticut, slot is an acceptable alternative.

“They said, ‘We’re bringing you in to let you play quarterback. The only way you won’t play quarterback is if you prove to us that you can’t -- then we’ll let you play on the offensive side of the ball.’ Some of the schools wanted me on defense, but I didn’t want to play defense.”

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Kinnard picked up the Huskies offer in February, before ever setting foot on campus. When he did make the trip up to Storrs, Conn., he was immediately impressed.

“When I went up there, I really fell in love with the school," Kinnard said. "My mom and I thought it would be a good opportunity because they were giving me the opportunity to play quarterback. Them offering early -- it showed me I’m high on their board and they’re really interested, unlike some other schools.”

Still, Kinnard held off from committing immediately. Some encouraged him to hit the summer camp circuit in hopes of attracting additional offers. One of Kinnard’s mentors was told he’d be the kind of player to attract up to 20 scholarship offers if he waited until the summer.

But instead of earning offers just for the sake of earning offers, Kinnard decided to end the recruiting process and pick UConn last week on an unofficial visit to a Huskies practice. According to Kinnard, the UConn coaches had trouble hiding their excitement when he committed.

“[UConn head] coach [Randy] Edsall had this big smile on his face,” Kinnard said. “... Coach [Rob] Ambrose, he gave me a big kiss on the cheek and said ‘welcome to the family.’”

Kinnard, who plans to major in either kinesiology or business, said it’s a relief to have ended the recruiting process early. And he’s excited to have found a school that he thinks has a bright future.

“They’ve only been DI for six years and they’ve already won a Big East championship and they have some of best facilities in the nation,” Kinnard said. “I just think the program is up-and-coming and I want to be a part of history in the making.”

Sun photo of Leon Kinnard by Lloyd Fox

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:15 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 29, 2008

Weekly basketball recruiting roundup

For any Terps basketball fans looking for optimism for next year, TurtleSportsReport.com’s Jeff Ermann offers this feature on Bobby Maze, who gives his take on a number of topics, including how he’ll fit in at College Park.

”The thing that will help me next year is I’ll be playing with better players, with guys like Vasquez and Hayes, who can hit shots when you get them the ball,” he said. “I think they fought hard and I know they’re a little disappointed in what happened this year, but they’re competitors, like Vasquez. I can’t wait to play with him. He plays with a lot of heart and he just wants to win. All I can do is picture myself out there playing with him.”

• Another week, another set of honors for Sean Mosley. The Maryland guard commitment was named The Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year.

Mosley, a 6-foot-4 senior swing player, joins former Calvert Hall star Duane Ferrell (1980-84) as the only four-time All-Metro players. Headed to the University of Maryland, Mosley was recruited by Keith Booth, the former Dunbar and Terps standout to whom many observers compare Mosley.

Over at Press Box, Keith Mills breaks down Mosley and the rest of the roster for the Charm City Challenge, which will tip off April 6.

• Here’s an interesting development in the Ken Bowman recruitment. The Topeka (Kan.) Journal-Capital spoke with the head coach at Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C., and he had this to say about Bowman’s status.

Hutchinson coach Ryan Swanson said K-State remains in the mix for Bowman, even though the 6-foot-8 forward gave a verbal commitment to Maryland.

"He had verbally committed," Swanson said. "He said it, but he still wanted to visit K-State, so I’m not sure how solid of a commitment it was."

• Barring completely unforeseen circumstances, Sudan native and Australia resident Ater Majok won’t become a Terp. But that doesn’t make his recruitment any less interesting. The Australian paper The Daily Telegraph has the latest, including his coach Edward Smith explaining why Majok hasn’t committed anywhere yet.

"Ater has taken the decision to wait this long (the NCAA late-signing period runs from April 15 to May 15) to see which coaches will stay with the program and which players will stay, rather than transfer to another school or leave for the NBA Draft."

• Terps women’s commitment Lynetta Kizer didn’t light up the stat sheet at the McDonald’s All American game in Milwaukee this week, but according to this article from The Washington Post, her experience went beyond the court.

The smile the senior center from Potomac (Va.) wore as she spoke of the little girl in the hotel lobby who exchanged a stuffed bunny for an autographed ball and some attention told you her 0-for-3 shooting performance and three turnovers Wednesday night wouldn't cause her to lose much sleep.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:38 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 28, 2008

Weekly football recruiting roundup

Quarterback is a definite position of need for Maryland in its 2009 recruiting class, and this past week saw a bit of movement on that front.

On Wednesday, West Springfield (Va.) signal-caller Bryn Renner committed to North Carolina over offers from Maryland, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Ohio and Delaware, according to the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal.

Bill Renner, Bryn’s father and coach, said that his son is confident that he will develop as a player under Coach Butch Davis and offensive coordinator John Shoop, who is also the quarterbacks coach.

“He also really thinks that the program is headed in a great direction,” Bill Renner said.

• Yesterday Loyola quarterback Leon Kinnard, who Maryland had offered as a defensive back, committed to Connecticut, which promised him a shot at quarterback.

Kinnard, who was at UConn's practice Thursday, threw for 1,489 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior last season, leading Loyola (9-1) to a state title. Kinnard also had an offer from Maryland. Kinnard is the second oral commitment of the 2009 signing class, joining Seymour linebacker Mike Osiecki, who committed March 1.

• Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt quarterback Everett Proctor picked up an ‘athlete’ offer from N.C. State earlier this month. But according to Proctor’s high school coach, a Terps offer at quarterback could bring a quick end to his recruitment.

But while Proctor has an early favorite in Maryland, according to [Jack Britt coach Richard] Bailey, [offensive lineman Xavier] Nixon is still sorting through the options.

“With other kids I’ve had here, you could kind of tell who they liked,’’ Bailey said. “With (linebacker) Wesley (Flagg), he liked (North) Carolina. I know if my quarterback gets an offer from Maryland, he’s probably going to commit on the spot.

WashingtonPost.com continues its Recruiting Spotlight video series with a profile of Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins. Jenkins, who has more than 25 scholarship offers, just turned 16, and has over a 3.8 grade point average. Click here to watch the video.

• A Maryland/D.C. contingent of football players represented the area well last weekend at the Badger Sport/New Level Skills Pass Camp in Akron, Ohio. Thanks to the team speed of local players like Dunbar’s Tavon Austin and River Hill’s Michael Campanaro, the Maryland/DC squad topped Pennsylvania’s team in the final.

Maryland/DC was led by (Dunbar) running back Tavon Austin who may be the most dangerous player in the country when he gets in the open field. Austin looks like a bigger version of Noel Devine. Michael Campanaro (River Hill) who is always the model of consistency caught touchdown passes in every game his team played. (Anne Arundel) wide receiver Alec Lemon performed quite well for his team. Campanaro’s teammate Malek Redd came up big a few times for his squad including two circus catches in the championship game that he so kindly dedicated in his post game speech.

• Maryland offensive line coach Tom Brattan has made his mark on the recruiting trail in Virginia. But according to Doug Doughty of the Roanoke (Va.) Times, a new assistant at West Virginia could make things in Virginia more difficult for any team trying to pull players from the state.

Chris Beatty’s return to Tidewater should not be taken lightly by his fellow football recruiters.

Beatty, hired by new West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart, was the point man for the Mountaineers’ successful recruitment of Phoebus quarterback Tahj Boyd and Great Bridge wide receiver Logan Heastie.

Doughty also has a note on Sherando (Va.) quarterback Ross Metheny. Metheny has reportedly received some Maryland interest, but he picked up an offer from Virginia this week.

Programming note: I’ll post a basketball recruiting roundup at some point tomorrow.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:33 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 27, 2008

Busy spring for Dunbar football recruits

Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith knew this was coming.

After leading the Poets to the 1A state championship last fall, Smith knew the college recruiters would come calling for his players. But did he know it would be this crazy?

“My phone bill’s been off the hook with these coaches calling,” Smith said.

Of course the main attraction to Dunbar has been running back Tavon Austin, The Sun’s All-Metro offensive player of the year.

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Dunbar football coach and police officer Lawrence Smith sifts through recruiting mail with Tavon Austin last October / Sun photo by Lloyd Fox

According to Smith, Austin has picked up scholarship offers from Maryland, Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia, Syracuse, Penn State, Illinois and South Carolina.

Austin’s been to Junior Day events at Maryland, Penn State and West Virginia, but Smith says he’s not close to making a decision.

“Not ‘till next year,” Smith said of Austin’s timeline for picking a school. “His mom’s looking at every school closely and they’ll go from there.”

Handling the recruiting process has been a new experience for Smith, who replaced legendary Poets coach Ben Eaton after his untimely death last August. For Smith, two things have made coordinating recruiting for his players easier.

“Tavon’s really been opening up the doors for a lot of the other guys,” Smith said. “I’ve also been consulting Bob Wade a lot. He’s really helped me out a lot with this process. He’s really helped me out. But Tavon is an All-American, and like I said, Tavon’s opening doors to see other guys. Coaches, they look at his film and are like, ‘Whoa, who are these other guys?’”

Some of the other guys include wide receiver Sean Farr, quarterback Jonathan Perry, linebacker Tevin Brown and linebacker Gary Onuekwusi. All are juniors, each receiving DI interest.

Farr could be the next Poet to receive an offer.

“He hasn’t received an official offer yet, but he’s getting highly recruited by Virginia, Maryland and Syracuse,” Smith said.

There had been some talk that Perry could be brought in as an ‘athlete’ recruit, but Smith said all the talk from college coaches has been for the quarterback position.

“He’s had high recruiting interest from West Virginia,” Smith said. “He visited them for their Junior Day. Maryland has high interest in Jonathan, and also Syracuse.”

As for the two linebackers, Brown has visited West Virginia and Maryland and has been receiving interest from Syracuse, while Onuekwusi is hearing from Maryland, Syracuse and James Madison.

“There’s been really close interest in all these guys,” Smith said. “[Coaches have] told me after spring ball that a lot of these guys will probably be receiving offers.”

Until then, Smith will keep sending out film to schools, prepping for next season in hopes of defending Dunbar’s crown, and undoubtedly watching his phone bill continue to rise.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:35 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 26, 2008

Season recap: Jin Soo Kim

Jin Soo Kim’s junior season at South Kent (Conn.) School was a pretty eventful one.

In October, the 6-foot-8 small forward committed to Maryland, becoming the Terps’ first commitment of the 2009 class.

Then in mid-January, South Kent head coach Raphael Chillious took a job with Nike’s grassroots basketball division. Chillious left South Kent, handing the reigns to the Cardinals program to longtime assistant and school athletic director Owen Finberg.

Those events were two pretty substantial moments for Kim, a native of Korea who came to the United States for school about four years ago. But according to Finberg, Kim handled this year of transition well.

“Jin Soo really took a big step forward this year,” Finberg said. “In the past, he’s had trouble adjusting to the strength and the speed of the game and he caught up with all that this year. He was ready to play on a nightly basis -- he really came in with an attitude that he was going to make a mark on this team every game out. I think the areas that he improved in the most were his rebounding, certainly. That was probably his biggest improvement. And he improved defensively as well. On the defensive side, he still has a long way to go and a lot of that is due to his lack of strength at this point.”

Kim averaged 12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and one block per game for South Kent, which finished 17-17.

On a team that featured multiple future Division I players, including Washington-bound point guard Isaiah Thomas and Virginia signee Assane Sene, Kim more than held his own.

“He stepped into the role where he’s more of an impact player, starting 80 or 90 percent of our games,” Finberg said. “He handles that pretty well. Obviously, he’d like to get more shots. Isaiah kind of dominated the offense this year, being our point guard and best offensive player. But [Kim] adjusted well.”

Whether Kim was starting or coming off the bench, Finberg could always count on the future Terp to showcase his shooting ability.

“That’s what he does best. His stroke is pure,” Finberg said. “He shot the ball very well. He can really flat-out shoot. One of the other things he improved upon was his confidence -- being ready to go in and make an impact in the game. When he came with that mindset, he really did a nice job shooting the ball for us.”

Right now Kim’s plans for the summer are “a little bit up in the air,” according to Finberg. While South Kent has just resumed its semester following spring break, Kim remains in Korea, where he’s enrolled in a SAT prep class. He'll be back in Connecticut soon, but according to Finberg, Kim’s exploring his options for next year.

“He’s considering the option of being at Maryland next year if that’s possible to do,” Finberg said. “It’s kind of a long shot, but he’s one of the players that’s had the most trouble with the [coaching] transition [at South Kent]. Coach Chillious brought him in, and I think [Jin Soo] really kind of felt left hanging by the whole deal, even though he didn’t express it that way. So he’s looking at that option to really see what he can do.”

Finberg acknowledged that Maryland’s scholarship situation makes Kim enrolling early at College Park an especially unlikely scenario, but it’s not completely out of the question. Finberg ultimately expects Kim to suit up for the Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks AAU team this summer, and be back for his senior year at South Kent in the fall. In the past, Kim has returned to Korea during the summer, but Finberg expects he’ll stay in Connecticut, play AAU ball and participate in a few camps.

Between now and senior year, Finberg expects Kim to continue putting in long hours at the South Kent weight room and in the gym. But as far as Kim’s development is concerned, Finberg says he’s on the right track.

“Most of all, I’m just happy he’s continued his improvement and maturation,” Finberg said. “If he continues on that pace, he’s certainly got a very good chance to be a pro. I just look for him to continue to improve, and I think Maryland’s going to be a great place for him to do that.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:44 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 25, 2008

Terps target Echenique off the board

I don’t think I’m alone when I admit that I didn’t see this coming.

St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) center Greg Echenique had been weighing scholarship offers from Maryland, Duke, Villanova, Creighton, Notre Dame, Miami and Penn, among others.

But yesterday, the Venezuela native and Newark, N.J. resident committed to the in-state Rutgers Scarlet Knights, according to the Herald (N.J.) News’ Adam Zagoria. Here’s Echenique on his decision, courtesy of Zags Blog:

"By going to St. Benedict's Prep, New Jersey has become a second home to me. I want other players to believe in Rutgers the way I do. What has always impressed me about the RAC and the Rutgers fans is that they love the basketball team and are supportive whatever the circumstances. Coach Hill and his staff and have convinced me and my family that the balance of academics and athletics is a perfect fit for me. In the long run, what convinced me most was not the fact that they play in the Big East or the facilities, but it was the people who make up the program."

Echenique was thought to be a pretty serious Maryland target. He visited College Park and was in the Comcast Center crowd during the Terps’ loss to Clemson earlier this month. Echenique took in a Duke game the next week. So if there’s a silver lining to this recruiting loss, it’s that the Terps won’t be facing Echenique two or three times a year on an opposing ACC roster.

With Echenique gone, all UM eyes can probably turn to National Christian Academy power forward Dante Taylor, who, according to Scout.com, sports offers from Maryland, Pittsburgh, South Florida and USC.

Here’s what Scarlet Knights fans are getting in Echenique:


Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:13 AM | | Comments (23)
        

March 24, 2008

Dee Liles = national champion

This time next year, Dee Liles will probably have just played in her first NCAA women’s tournament game for Maryland.

But this weekend, Liles capped off her junior college career in the best way possible.

The 2008 Terps women’s commitment led her Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College squad to a 62-61 win over Central Arizona in the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship game.

Liles had 11 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, two blocks and two assists in the Commodores’ win.

After earning Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Junior College/Community College (JC/CC) Player of the Year honors last week, Liles was named MVP of the NJCAA tournament. Liles averaged 12.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals during the four-game tournament.

Gulf Coast finished its season 36-1. The NJCAA title was the program’s first since 2003.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:47 AM | | Comments (0)
        

March 21, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

For any Terps masochists out there, earlier this week The Sun’s Jeff Barker recapped some of Maryland’s notable local recruiting misses for basketball.

The experts said most programs have "down" periods and Williams - like all coaches - is simply better at some tasks than others. The coach is better known for developing moderate talent than attracting marquee high school recruits to College Park. Some supporters have been frustrated that top players in the talent-rich Baltimore-Washington corridor - notably current NBA stars Carmelo Anthony (Towson Catholic) and Rudy Gay (Archbishop Spalding) - have left the region to attend other schools.

Another local star that left the state faced Maryland last night in the NIT. Towson Catholic alumnus and Syracuse freshman Donte Greene scored 16 points in last night’s win for the Orange. According to Syracuse.com, Greene was recruited early on by Maryland, but eventually chose the Orange.

"Maryland recruited me when I was a sophomore, before anybody was recruiting me," Greene said. "I was waiting for them to call and they called. (Maryland assistant) Keith Booth came up to me and was talking to me and I was on my way to Maryland."

Click into the link above for Greene’s explanation on why he ultimately spurned the Terps.

Football recruiting

• Here’s a promising quote from Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy. Milloy told The Washington Post’s Josh Barr that GC linebacker Jelani Jenkins is a national recruit, but could very well stay local for college.

First, Jenkins, who recently picked up offers from USC, UCLA, Ohio State and Michigan, Milloy says. "We all know it doesn't get that much better than USC, whether you want to go that far or not," Milloy said. "But he's a different guy. He's not too impressed with all that stuff. I don't know what he's going to do. Probably he'll go to Maryland or Virginia."

One thing to keep in mind here -- Jenkins’ teammate, running back Caleb Porzel, is a Cavaliers commitment.

• Another instate Terps target whose recruitment is taking off is Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins. Look no further than this Yahoo! Sports article for evidence.

“I’ve been offered recently from Syracuse, Connecticut, Illinois, Oklahoma, Michigan State and yesterday, Florida,” [Hawkins] said. “Getting an offer from Florida, that shocked me. It was crazy. I was about to go up to football workouts and my coach pulled me aside and said Florida wants to talk to me. I called them up and talked to Coach Gonzales and Meyer on the phone.

“He told me they usually don’t go out of state unless they find a guy that can make a big impact on the team. That stuck out in my head. He also said they want me down there for a visit, hopefully I’ll be able to go soon.”

• Hawkins’ Quince Orchard teammate, defensive tackle Terrence Stephens, has a crowded recruiting picture as well. This profile from The Gazette looks at Stephens’ recruiting, and his success in football and wrestling.

In football, he was a dominant two-way lineman for the Class 4A state champion Cougars, so dominant in fact that he has already earned full-scholarship offers from NCAA Division I programs such as Nebraska, North Carolina State, West Virginia, Connecticut, Stanford and Maryland (where fellow QO lineman Zach Kerr has signed).

• Dunbar running back Tavon Austin told Yahoo! Sports this week that he plans on “going to Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Penn State for spring games.” Austin also told Yahoo! his criteria for choosing a school.

“Really, I’m looking for a good education in case I don’t make it to the next level,” he said. “Then, I’m looking to see what college is telling me the truth. Is it about my athletic ability or do they really care about me? If I get hurt, do they still want me to come to their school? I’d also like a school in the region within three or four hours.”

• Maryland’s 2008 recruiting class had an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver, but that hasn’t stopped the Terps from targeting several highly-regarded wideouts in the class of ’09. One example of this is Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook receiver Jheranie Boyd, who, according to Yahoo! Sports, is developing into a big-time recruit.

He’s picked up eight offers thus far – North Carolina State, Maryland, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida and Alabama – and schools like Ohio State, Michigan and many others are starting to take notice. Pete Carroll from USC called his coach the other day. Things are about to blow up for the talented wideout.

• One of Maryland’s long-shot quarterback targets removed himself from the Terps’ wish list last weekend. Hampton (Va.) Phoebus dual-threat quarterback Tahj Boyd committed to West Virginia. According to Boyd, Mountaineers head coach Bill Stewart had a little trouble containing his excitement when Boyd informed him of his decision.

“I just left, but I told Coach Stewart. He was ecstatic. He got up and all the coaches came in. I told them I’m committed and he gave me a kiss on the forehead, he was hyped. It was crazy.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:35 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 20, 2008

Liles, Gulf Coast still alive

Terps women's commitment and Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College forward Dee Liles is still gunning for a National Junior College Athletic Association championship.

No. 3 Gulf Coast (34-1) edged No. 6 Jefferson (Mo.) College 64-62 in a NJCAA quarterfinal last night. The win moves Gulf Coast to the Final Four.

Gulf Coast produced another balanced scoring attack, led by NJCAA player of the year Dee Liles’ 16 points and nine rebounds. Janae’ Stokes scored 15, Alexis Givands 14 and Jackie Sanders 10.

The Lady Commodores are set to face No. 2 Arkansas-Fort Smith on Friday at 6 p.m. in a semifinal matchup.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:50 AM | | Comments (0)
        

March 19, 2008

Terps blog endorsements

It’s going to be a slow week at Recruiting Report, thanks to the fact that my voice is completely gone, thus preventing me from doing any interviews.

I can communicate about as effectively as Kramer in the Seinfeld episode where he takes dog medicine to treat a cough (sadly, no You Tube clip is available to demonstrate this).

So, since I’m limited, this seems like as good a time as any to stray from recruiting for a second, and highlight a few of my favorite Maryland sports blogs, something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.

I’m sure I’ll miss several good ones, so feel free to post your favorite Terps blogs below. I’ll add them to my blog roll on the right rail. Without further ado, here’s a list of five UM sports blogs that I enjoy:

Terps Nation by Greg Abel

Full disclosure -- I do occasional appearances on Abel’s weekend sports talk show on ESPN 1300. That’s how I found the blog, but it’s a good one nonetheless, mixing humor and Terps basketball. Abel hasn’t posted in a few days -- I’m guessing he’s still depressed about the Terps’ late-season collapse. His most recent post is a pre-Boston College, American Idol-style breakdown of the Maryland basketball team. I’m not an Idol watcher, so I’ll defer to those that do watch the show on that entry.

The best part about Terps Nation right now, however, has nothing to do with the Terps at all. Scrolling down past the Idol post, you’ll find a three-part video interview Abel did on his radio show with Jermaine Crawford, better known as ‘Dukie’ from The Wire. Fantastic stuff (although I still haven’t gotten over Dukie becoming the next Bubbles ... Heartbreaking).

Turtle Soup by Jeremy Gold and Gregg Kanner

More full disclosure here -- About three-and-a-half years ago, I interned at WJBK TV in Detroit after my junior year at Michigan. My boss at this internship was Kanner, a sports producer for the FOX affiliate. I’d log Tigers games, while he flipped on MASN to watch the Orioles, wrote the night’s sportscast, and intermittently cursed out Sidney Ponson. Good times. Anyway, my former boss actually didn’t even mention he had a Terps blog when I took this job -- I stumbled upon it randomly a few months back.

Regardless of my connections to one of the co-authors, Turtle Soup is easily the most dependable and interactive Terps blog out there. You’ll routinely find 50 or more comments on a particular post. That sort of reader interactivity is tough to come by, and it says a lot about the voices of Gold and Kanner. Their writing styles consistently fire up the Maryland fan base.

It Never Rains in College Park by Kyle Goon

One of the more prolific Terps bloggers out there, Goon brings a student’s perspective to the Maryland blogosphere. Since I’m not a Maryland alumnus, there’s a ton I really can’t relate to about the Terps. I’m not sure this is Goon’s intent, but it feels like he’s the voice of the gung-ho Maryland student fan. It definitely brings a viewpoint that I wouldn’t ordinarily be familiar with. It Never Rains in College Park is still in its infancy, but it’s been really strong so far.

Turtle Waxing by Esquire

This blog’s been around since March 2005, and shows no signs of slowing down. Some of Esquire’s best material are his pregame previews -- he had a great one courtesy of Gopher Nation before last night’s Minnesota game. Overall, Turtle Waxing is just a no-frills, always well-written, enjoyable blog.

DC BasketCases by Eileen and Judith

This is probably the best source for Maryland women’s basketball discussion (and Washington Mystics talk, if WNBA is your cup of tea). Eileen and Judith are ultra-passionate about women’s hoops, which shines through in each post. Much of the photography on the site comes from Eileen and Judith, exemplified by an excellent photo feature they did at the ACC tournament in Greensboro.

Those are my picks for some of the best Maryland blogs. What are yours?

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:52 AM | | Comments (5)
        

March 18, 2008

Liles named Junior College Player of the Year

An already big week for Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College forward Dee Liles just got a little bit bigger.

liles.jpg

Today, Liles, a 2008 Terps commitment, is playing in the first round of the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.

But yesterday, Liles received the news that she’d been named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Junior College/Community College (JC/CC) Player of the Year.

Liles, a sophomore, adds the State Farm/WBCA JC/CC Player of the Year honor to an already impress list of awards that includes 2008 Florida Community College Activities Association Player of the Year and All-Region 8 accolades. A year ago, she was a finalist for the United States U19 World Championship team.

Liles averaged 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for GCCC, which earned the No. 3 seed in the NJCAA tournament.

Liles, one of four Lady Commodores that inked with a DI program last fall, averaged seven points and five rebounds as a freshman.

Click here to read an October interview with Gulf Coast coach Roonie Scovel on Liles’ potential, and her expectations for the season. While the season’s not over, it’s probably safe to say that Liles met those goals set by Scovel.

Thanks to Eileen of DC BasketCases for the link.

Photo: Liles tries to control a loose ball during her senior year of high school at Riverdale Baptist / Sun photo by David Hobby

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:53 AM | | Comments (0)
        

March 17, 2008

Terps basketball commitment game recaps

Sean Mosley wrapped up his St. Frances career over the weekend at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State with a three-game, 89-point outburst.

Mosley scored 35 in the Panthers’ first-round win over Roman Catholic and 32 in their semifinal loss to Gonzaga (D.C.).

In the ACIT third-place game on Saturday, Mosley and SFA dropped a 64-58 game to Richmond (Va.) Benedictine, which was led by North Carolina-bound big man Ed Davis.

Mosley, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, contributed 22 points in St. Frances’ loss to Benedictine.

Mosley, who has signed with the University of Maryland, entered the ACIT tied for second on the Maryland career list with former Cardinals Gibbons great Quintin Dailey at 2,844. Rodney Monroe, of St. Maria Goretti, is the state’s all-time scoring leader with 3,047 points. Karcher is the fourth leading scorer in state history with 2,770 points.

Dee Liles and her Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College squad traveled to Salina, Kan. on Saturday in anticipation of the Commodores’ opening round National Junior College Athletic Association tournament game on Tuesday.

No. 3 Gulf Coast faces No. 14 Western Nebraska Community College at 10 a.m. tomorrow. All Gulf Coast games will be broadcast for free by WKGC-FM.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:45 AM | | Comments (4)
        

March 15, 2008

Weekly football recruiting roundup

New Terps tight ends and special teams coach Danny Pearman is already earning his paycheck on the recruiting trail.

Pearman, who spent the last two years coaching at North Carolina and then Duke, is putting his Tar Heel State ties to use, starting with Durham (N.C.) Hillside running back Desmond Scott. The four-star prospect took a recent visit to College Park.

“It was a good trip to Maryland,” he said. “I went up with my quarterback and 2008 commit Gary Douglas. I had a good time. I went to some meetings, watched a few highlight tapes and talked to my recruiting coach, Coach Pearman. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Coach Friedgen, but Coach Pearman did a good job selling the program.”

Pearman’s also taken a role in the early stages of Raleigh (N.C.) Broughton quarterback Chandler Browning’s recruitment, according to Yahoo! Sports.

“Danny Pearman at Maryland got his highlight tape the week before last and personally called him. They’ve sent him personal letters.

• Verona (N.J.) linebacker Carlo Calabrese picked up a Terps offer recently, but according to his father, Carlo Calabrese Sr., his son has a lengthy list of schools on his list.

“I’d say the top six or so are Rutgers, Notre Dame, Penn State, Florida Virginia and Boston College,” he said. “There are a lot of RU alumni and everyone around here wants him to play for the Garden State. Of course, Notre Dame is a special scholarship and Charlie Weis likes him a lot. Penn State is high on his wish list and the Gators are a unique opportunity. It’s a very special to play in the SEC. Finally Coach Groh likes him a lot and Boston College is up there too.”

• Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins is another Terps target that basically has his pick of schools. According to this Yahoo! Sports article, Jenkins picked up offers from USC and Ohio State recently. There’s another school Jenkins recently visited that piqued his interest.

“Penn State was good,” he said. “I think eventually they will wind up being one of my top choices, I’m not totally sure yet there’s a long way to go. I got to meet Joe Paterno for the first time. He’s a real humble man. My mom was talking to him about being a legend and he was like, ‘I’m no legend, I’ve just been in the game a long time.’ He was real humble and it was good.”

• Lackey High School in Indian Head sports two DI defensive back prospects. Cornerback Darrell Givens claims a Terps offer, but Maryland’s two out-of-state recruiting nemeses are both after Givens as well.

“I got offers from Illinois and Penn State,” he said. “I called Coach Locksley last night. From talking to him for 20 minutes, I can tell he’s a real serious recruiter. He likes me a lot and told me the coaching staff likes me a lot.

“He talked about how they have a lot of players from the Maryland/D.C. area and it would be like home if I go there. I know a lot of those players from camps and that could affect me.”

• Givens’ teammate at Lackey, safety Malcolm Willis has drawn some Terps interest. But according to Yahoo! Sports, the Nittany Lions were the first program to offer a scholarship.

Penn State clearly is a school in the picture for Willis, but a number of other colleges are also recruiting him including Maryland, Illinois, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Connecticut and Rutgers.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:50 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 14, 2008

Weekly basketball recruiting roundup

After the Terps’ debacle in Charlotte last night, I’m sure Maryland fans are searching for answers.

According to these baltimoresun.com poll results, 43 percent of the respondents think Maryland’s woes these past four seasons are due to subpar recruiting.

The good news for UM fans is that the 2008 recruiting class looks like it could buck that disappointing trend.

2008 UM commitments

Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College suffered an earlier than expected end to its season, but point guard Bobby Maze certainly did his part.

For his efforts this season, the Terps commitment was named Most Valuable Player in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division yesterday. He also earned Region VI first-team honors. From the HCC news release:

Maze became only the third Blue Dragon point guard to have 200 assists in a season, finishing with 218. That’s second on HCC’s single-season list and ninth on the Blue Dragon career assist list. ...

Maze averaged 20.7 points per game, shooting 50.5 percent from the field overall and 72.9 percent from the free-throw line.

Maze’s teammate, power forward Ken Bowman (who could become a Terp should a scholarship open up), was named to the Jayhawk Western Division’s first team, and earned honorable mention laurels on the Region VI squad.

Bowman entered the 2007-08 season as a second-team NJCAA Preseason All-American.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore forward from Phoenix didn’t disappoint, averaging 14.8 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. Bowman shot 53.5 percent from the field and led the team with 66 blocked shots.

• Meanwhile, Terps shooting guard commitment Sean Mosley continued his stellar play this season in St. Frances’ 95-86 overtime win over Roman Catholic in the opening round of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament. Mosley scored a game-high 35 points.

Mosley took sole possession of second place on the state's all-time scoring list and has 2,879. Rodney Monroe of St. Maria Goretti is the all-time leader with 3,047 points.

• Before yesterday’s loss, the Sun’s Terps beat writer Don Markus speculated on Maryland’s lineup combinations next year with Maze and Mosley factored in.

Williams admitted after practice Wednesday that Greivis Vasquez could be as effective at shooting guard if either Hayes, Bowie or junior college transfer Bobby Maze can be a reliable point guard next season. Bowie and Hayes have played out of position most of the time this season and while Bowie has seemingly adjusted, Hayes hasn't.

Given the lack of depth in the frontcourt next season, especially before Gus Gilchrist becomes eligible, I can also see Williams using a lot of three-guard sets with two big guards, Vasquez and freshman Sean Mosley, and either Bowie, Hayes or Maze running the point. Seems a bit crowded, especially at the point.

2009 recruiting

TurtleSportsReport.com’s Jeff Ermann has a great article on two National Christian Academy standouts that are major UM targets – junior power forward Dante Taylor and sophomore shooting guard Will Barton.

Taylor and Barton’s coach at NCA, Trevor Brown, had high praise for Gary Williams in the article.

Williams “just gets the most out of them. It’s easy when ‘X University’ gets eight McDonald’s All-Americans and half of them become pros. They might have been pros coming out of high school. Those kids that Gary has put in the NBA, none of them were top-50 players, maybe not even top-75. [Chris] Wilcox may have been top-50, but look at Juan Dixon. And Lonnie Baxter, I don’t think he was even top-75 in his class.”

• Besides Taylor, St. Benedict (N.J.) center Greg Echenique is arguably UM’s biggest target for ’09. According to Charlotte.com, Echenique is a top priority for Duke as well.

The most important recruit in the arena was St. Benedict Prep junior Greg Echenique, who's 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds and could give Duke the body it dearly needs to bang against all the big guys who have committed to North Carolina. The Blue Devils probably will continue with their wide-open style, but still will need muscle in the future.

The Washington Post’s Josh Barr checked in with Montrose Christian coach Stu Vetter this week for his take on the recruitments of the Montrose Three -- Isaiah Armwood, Tristan Spurlock and Terrell Vinson.

"Terrell was down at Duke this weekend," Vetter said. "Isaiah likes Villanova a lot, but he's also got several ACC schools. Tristan likes U-Va. a lot, but he's got several schools too. All of them like Maryland, but who knows what their scholarship situation is."

Women’s recruiting

The Fairfax (Va.) County Times has a nice feature on one of Maryland’s primary targets for the class of 2009, T.C. Williams guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. According to the Times, Ruffin-Pratt had a pretty good season for the Titans.

“I just want to go all the time, and not settle for the 'now,'” said Ruffin-Pratt, who has been chosen as the 2008 Times Player of the Year. “I need to keep working because I know there's always someone out there that's better than me.”

Nearly as humble as she is talented, Ruffin-Pratt averaged an NBA-like 26 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists per game this season, leading the Titans to a 22-1 record.

Miscellaneous hoops recruiting

• Remember itinerant shooting guard prospect Chris Turner? The Terps offered him a scholarship last summer, but Mosley beat him to the punch in accepting the offer. Turner later committed to Oregon State, but according to CSTV.com’s Van Coleman, Turner’s recruitment is open once again.

Oregon State lost one of its Class of 2008, when 6-foot-5 wing guard Chris Turner from Humble Christian Life Center (Tex.) decided to re-open his recruitment. He had originally decided to play for the Pac-10 squad when Jay John was still the Beaver coach, and felt he needed to check out his options this spring.

Also from Coleman’s column -- Frank Ben-Eze, who got a look (not an offer) from Maryland, is also back on the market.

The prize big man in Harvard's fall recruiting class, 6-foot-10 Franklin Ben-Eze from Arlington Bishop O'Connell (Va.) has decided to re-open his recruitment. The gifted big man is a defensive stopper who has really come on this year on the offensive end of the court. He has decided to look at other schools this spring and should become a hot commodity nationally with the shortage of true post prospects (with grades) currently available. His loss will be a big one in the efforts of Tommy Amaker to rebuild Harvard into a contender in the Ivy League.

Programming note: I’ll post a ‘Weekly football recruiting roundup’ tomorrow.

Shameless plug alert: I shot video and wrote a feature about former Terps tight end Joey Haynos as part of the BaltimoreSun.com series, Eyeing the NFL.

Click here to read the story and see the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:44 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 12, 2008

Mosley, Sims highlight Capital Classic roster

The rosters have been released for the annual Capital Classic at Comcast Center, and per usual, there's all sorts of ACC representation.

First the local tie-ins for the April 13 all-star game -- future Terp and St. Frances standout Sean Mosley, as well as Georgetown-bound Mount St. Joseph big man Henry Sims, will both suit up for the U.S. All-Stars.

At least two one-time Terps targets will join Mosley and Sims on the U.S. roster. Duluth, Ga. center Ralph Sampson III, who signed with Minnesota, and Albany, Ga. point guard Andre Young, who’s headed to Clemson, both considered Maryland last summer before choosing the Golden Gophers and Tigers, respectively.

Seven players are headed to ACC schools. In addition to Mosley and Young, Olek Czyz (Duke), Deividas Dulkys (Florida State), Sylven Landesberg (Virginia), Tanner Smith (Clemson) and Ty Walker (Wake Forest) round out the future ACC players.

The U.S. team will be coached by St. Benedict (N.J.) Prep’s Danny Hurley, the high school coach of 2009 UM target Greg Echenique.

Last year's Capital Classic featured then-Virginia Tech signee Gus Gilchrist earning MVP honors with his 24-point, eight-rebound performance.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:11 AM | | Comments (1)
        

March 11, 2008

New Terps WR coach and recruiting

The Maryland football team recently lost wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn -- roughly two months into his Terps tenure -- to the NFL.

But Ralph Friedgen reacted quickly last week, replacing the former Arizona and Baylor assistant with Oregon State wide receivers coach Lee Hull, a Holy Cross graduate who spent five years in Corvallis.

Angie Machado, publisher of BeaverBlitz.com, was kind enough to answer a few questions about Hull as a recruiter and position coach.

What was Hull’s reputation as a recruiter at Oregon State?

He was one of the strongest recruiters on the Beavers’ staff. He was responsible for Orange County and San Diego, which were two of the major [OSU] recruiting areas. He’s a great coach, well-respected, and the kids loved him.

Was Hull one of OSU’s top recruiters?

Oh, definitely. I would put him probably in the top three or four [recruiters] on the staff. He’s responsible for one of the big areas. You want to put the best guns in the top area. He was recruiting his whole [OSU] career in Orange County and San Diego, which is really the doorstep of USC and UCLA.

Who are some of the more notable guys Hull was responsible for recruiting?

Currently, Sean Canfield, the quarterback. He went down with an injury and then competed in the Emerald Bowl. He was one of [Hull’s] area recruits. And Darrell Catchings -- a true freshman that started at wide receiver this year. Those are the two most recent guys.

This year, another name that popped up was Kevan Walker, a wide receiver out of Arcadia, Calif., whose dad is [UCLA defensive coordinator] DeWayne Walker. Kevan committed to UCLA, [but after the coaching change] he decided to take a visit to Corvallis and made the switch right before Signing Day with his dad’s blessing. I don’t think you can get much better than that -- getting an endorsement from his dad to a peer.

What is Hull’s demeanor like?

Very respectful. He’s not really a yeller or a screamer. It’s fun watching him coach the kids. He’s real hands-on, showing them routes. The kids really responded well to him. He’s not a guy barking orders on the sidelines at all.

How crucial was Hull in the development of former OSU receiver and Biletnikoff winner Mike Hass?

Mike Hass actually came in as a walk-on when Dennis Erickson was the coach... Coach Hull was very instrumental in [Hass’ development]. He was his position coach for four years. He developed him from a walk-on from Portland, Oregon to now, he’s with the [Chicago] Bears. ... Not only has [Hull] recruited well, but he’s also developed these kids very well.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:51 AM | | Comments (2)
        

March 10, 2008

Terps basketball commitment game recaps

Terps point guard commitment Bobby Maze scored 26 points yesterday, while Maze's teammate and potential UM power forward target Ken Bowman had 23 points and 11 rebounds.

But those performances weren’t enough to get Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College a win. The Blue Dragons fell to Coffeyville Community College, 78-74, in the quarterfinals of the Region 6 tournament.

The loss means HCC will miss its 11th straight NJCAA Tournament.

"It's a tough situation. I wasn't prepared for this," Maze told The Hutchinson News. "There aren't too many words to describe it. You have to be in this position to know what's going on, but it's definitely one of the most disappointing things I've had in my 21 years."

• Maryland women’s commitment Dee Liles’ sophomore season for Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College is still alive.

The Lady Commodores beat Central Florida Community College, 68-45, in the finals of the Region 8 Florida Community College Activities Association tournament. With the win, Gulf Coast (32-1) advances to the NJCAA tournament.

Liles, who was named FCCAA Player of the Year, had 12 points and eight rebounds in the win.

“We just knew we wanted to win this,” Liles told the [Panama City, Fla.] News Herald. “We just settled down we didn’t rush anything. We knew Central Florida was going to come out and get us.

“We had no doubt at all. We knew we was going to win that championship. We knew we had the better team.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:16 AM | | Comments (0)
        

March 7, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Terps offensive tackle commitment R.J. Dill is keeping in good shape this winter.

Dill and his Trinity High School basketball team advanced to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA round of eight with its 52-49 win over Wilkes-Barre GAR on Wednesday. Dill’s teammate Matt Donahue told The Sentinel Online that Dill’s play was crucial to Trinity’s win.

“... The offensive rebounds by (R.J.) Dill and (Christian) Kuntz were huge tonight and they gave us second chance points. Keeping Dill on the floor was big because he provides a presence and we are a different team when he is out there.”

(Click into the link above for a great photo of a Godzilla-like Dill hauling in a loose ball. The facial expression of his much smaller teammate in the lower right corner is priceless.)

• Dill wasn’t the only future Terp football player keeping busy this winter. Surrattsville running back Davin Meggett tore up the Prince George’s County indoor track scene, earning first-team All-County honors from The Gazette.

Meggett displayed his versatility this track season as he finished third in the 55 dash at the 1A state championships. But the senior didn’t stop on the track, as he took second in the shot put at the state championships and won that event at the county championships.

• Ballou (D.C.) dual-threat quarterback Emmanuel Yeager doesn't sport a Terps offer yet, but it sounds like he's hoping that changes in a hurry.

Meanwhile, the D.C. quarterback just returned from a visit recently.

“I went to Maryland on Friday and it went extremely well,” he said. “Coach Friedgen is down to earth. They run a similar offensive package to what we do here at Ballou.”

• Another Mid-Atlantic quarterback to watch is Vienna (Va.) Oakton's Chris Coyer. Coyer had nice things to say about the Terps in this Yahoo! Sports article.

“I went to Maryland for a junior day,” he said. “I love Maryland, it’s a good school. I like watching them on TV.”

But in the same article, Coyer named a couple of his current favorites.

“I’d say I kind of like Auburn since they recently got a new offensive coordinator,” he said. “Virginia is obviously attractive to me too. I know a lot of people there and there are former teammates at the school.”

• Tuscarora cornerback Dominic Clarke may have picked up his first offer (Pittsburgh) according to Yahoo! Sports, but the Terps have also been in touch.

College interest has peaked for the Maryland prospect since his appearance in the U.S. Army All-American combine last month where he earned first team defensive honors.

“A lot of schools are coming through, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Maryland and Connecticut are in touch,” he said. “I just went to Maryland and Pittsburgh over the weekend and the visits were good.”

• Apparently there’s a lot of overlap between Maryland, South Carolina and Clemson football recruiting. According to this article from The (Columbia, S.C.) State, the Terps are recruiting more than a few Gamecocks and Tigers targets in the 2009 class. One player mentioned, linebacker Adrian Cavanaugh, is headed to College Park this weekend.

Clemson is showing interest in linebacker Adrian Cavanaugh (5-11, 210) of Ashland, Va. He visited Clemson last season for the Virginia Tech game. He has been to Virginia for junior day and plans to go to Maryland this Saturday. Cavanaugh has an offer from Richmond and also is hearing from Syracuse, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

• Traveling back north up the East Coast, it appears that UM is putting some resources into Massachusetts for the ’09 class – in particular Dartmouth High School. Dartmouth tight end Arthur Fontaine has already been offered, while safety Sean Sylvia has interest in the Terps.

“My sister went to Boston College and if they offered that’s obviously somewhere I’d like to go,” he said. “I’m really leaning towards Connecticut and possibly doing my own thing. Jordan Todman is going there; they have great facilities and a good staff. They are also close. One other school that I’m interested in is Maryland, I’m probably going to camp there.”

• North Carolina linebacker Hawatha Bell sports an early Maryland offer, according to Rivals.com. But according to Yahoo! Sports, there are two other schools out in front for Bell’s services.

“South Carolina and Virginia Tech are the only two sticking out,” he said. “I went down to a junior day at South Carolina a couple of weekends ago and I had a great time.”

Basketball recruiting

• For those that missed the story yesterday, Terps shooting guard commitment Sean Mosley had a pretty decent Baltimore Catholic League championship game on Wednesday night. Mosley scored a season-high 35 points in leading St. Frances to a 66-61 win over Mount St. Joseph.

Mosley took Most Valuable Player honors last night, just as he did as a freshman, but the numbers showed his maturity under Wells, who won his sixth BCL title in 20 years to tie the late Ray Mullis of Cardinal Gibbons for the most in tournament history.

• Depending on how Maryland’s scholarship situation works out, here’s another potential 2009 prospect for the Terps – Norfolk, Va. power forward Deshawn Painter. According to this article from The Daily Press (Va.), the Terps have a lot of company on Painter’s list.

"Virginia is definitely in the running," said Painter, who is 6-feet-9. "All of the attention is new to me, and they were the first big time school that offered me."

The wish list for Painter is long, but it includes Florida, Maryland, Ohio State, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Louisville. He's also got some interest from Duke and North Carolina.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:41 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 6, 2008

Season recap: Lynetta Kizer

It wasn’t the ideal ending to Maryland women’s basketball commitment Lynetta Kizer’s career.

Kizer’s Potomac (Va.) squad dropped a 60-41 decision to George Washington-Danville in a Northwest Region semifinal playoff.

Kizer, who contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three assists in the effort, was ejected in the waning minutes of Potomac’s loss after receiving her second technical of the game.

According to Potomac head coach Mike Wilson, who was also ejected from the game, Kizer might have been a bit overzealous in her career finale, but the passion she exhibited was just an example of her competitive nature.

“I’m sure it was a frustrating situation on her part as well as mine,” Wilson said. “… But I think she’s the kind of girl that can get you up for a game. She’s got a lot of energy, a lot of passion for the game and that’s what makes her the player that she is. She loves basketball.”

The 6-foot-3 Kizer, ranked as HoopGurlz.com’s No. 5 player in the country for the class of 2008, averaged 20.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 2.5 assists and 2 steals per game as a senior. Her play propelled Potomac to a 15-10 record and a postseason appearance in the Virginia Group AAA Northwest Region Tournament.

In Wilson’s three years as head coach of Potomac, he’s seen the team’s play improve as Kizer has matured. The evidence of this can be found in the Panthers’ Cardinal District finishes during Kizer’s final three high school seasons.

“Each year we improved as a team,” Wilson said. “We went from last place [in Kizer’s sophomore year], to third place [her junior year] to second place [this year]. We played in the postseason [this year]. In the past two years, we really didn’t beat any good teams. This year we beat good teams and had the opportunity to play against some of the better teams in the Washington area and it was because of her. She kept us in every game by playing hard and doing the things we asked her to do.”

Potomac held its end-of-the-year banquet this week, celebrating the Panthers’ successes and Kizer’s career. For Wilson, the event was bittersweet because he was saying goodbye to his star player, but the event was an appropriate send-off/celebration that nearly choked him up.

“It’s the same girl I saw when I first entered Potomac -- just very excited,” Wilson said. “She was our most valuable player, so I mentioned all her accolades. Just when I was getting started, the crowd starting to clap. I had goose bumps because it was a situation where I was very proud of her, and just trying to give her her due as one of the top players in the nation.”

Kizer’s played most of her Potomac career with a target placed squarely on her back. Her commitment to Maryland enhanced that, as did her top-five ranking. But according to Wilson, Kizer never let the hype affect her.

“I think she’s real humble,” Wilson said. “And that’s the thing -- we know that she’s one of the top five players in the country, but that rarely comes up in conversations. And when we deal with the team, it rarely comes up. To us, she’s just Lynetta. We don’t really pay attention to all that kind of stuff.”

Wilson and Kizer have, however, paid close attention to Maryland’s on-court successes this season. Kizer has been a frequent Comcast Center visitor as a high school senior. Once Kizer adjusts to the speed of the college game, Wilson expects his star to make a significant impact in College Park.

“Well the first thing I expect her to do is get down there in the summer and work her butt off,” Wilson said. “I expect her to be a big contributor. With [Crystal] Langhorne and [Laura] Harper leaving, she can step in right away and contribute.

“I just hope she goes there and just tears things up just like she did here at Potomac. I hope she has a lot of success because she deserves it. And I hope she gets the accolades she deserves as a player and a person. She is our MVP. I was proud and happy to have her as a player and as a student-athlete at Potomac.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 5, 2008

Mosley, Maze march on; Bone talks recruiting

Another night, another big game for Terps commitment Sean Mosley.

Mosley led St. Frances with 23 points in the Panthers’ 84-65 win over Towson Catholic in last night’s Baltimore Catholic League tournament semifinals.

mosley.jpg

"It feels great to get back to the championship game," said the Maryland-bound Mosley, who has a state third-best 2,809 career points and led the Panthers to the BCL championship in his freshman year.

St. Frances faces Mount St. Joseph, led by Georgetown-bound Henry Sims, in tonight’s BCL final. The tip is set for 7 p.m. at Loyola College.

No matter what happens tonight, Mosley’s season will continue into next week. St. Frances was invited to the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State. The tournament runs March 13-15.

"It's a good feeling for me and the team to have been invited to Alhambra, because my first year, after winning the [Baltimore Catholic League], the rule was that the BCL winner should get an invitation to Alhambra and it didn't go that way," Mosley said.

In 2005, when Mosley was a freshman, the Panthers made an unlikely run and won the BCL tournament as a fifth seed. The ACIT has the right to invite any team it wants and selected Mount St. Joseph and Towson Catholic that year, but a misprint in the BCL program stated that the winner of the tournament would get an automatic Alhambra berth.

Photo: Mosley and Towson Catholic's Terrell Bruce battle for a loose ball / Sun photo by Lloyd Fox

Click here for more photos of Mosley.

Bobby Maze led a well-balanced Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College attack in the Blue Dragons' 85-61 win over Fort Scott in the opening round of the Region VI Tournament.

Down 10, sophomore Bobby Maze helped turn the tide in Hutchinson’s favor with a personal 9-0 run over a 1 minute, 11 second stretch to pull HCC back within one. After that, other Dragons started to get into the offensive flow.

Maze and sophomore Ken Bowman led four HCC players in double figures with 17 points each.

The 2008 Maryland point guard commitment also recorded nine assists in the win. Maze and HCC will take on the winner of Coffeyville-Dodge City on Sunday at Wichita State in the Region VI quarterfinals.

• Sugar Land, Texas center Kelsey Bone is a top junior target for Maryland – and every other big-time women’s basketball program in the country. HoopGurlz.com caught up with Bone earlier this week. Bone told the site that her recruitment is far from over.

Bone also said the long list she provided HoopGurlz at the beginning of the high-school season still is in effect. That list includes Auburn, Cal, Connecticut, Duke, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Rutgers, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and Washington.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:04 PM | | Comments (0)
        

March 4, 2008

Season recap: Dara Taylor

Before this season, Caravel (Del.) Academy girls basketball coach Kristin Caldwell had multiple discussions with junior point guard Dara Taylor about her role on the team.

Caldwell wanted Taylor, who committed to Maryland in December, to take on more of a leadership role. Up until her junior year, Taylor had let her play do the talking, often deferring to her older teammates. That wasn’t the case this year.

“I think she used to be the type of kid as a freshman and a sophomore who’d get really frustrated with her own mistakes to the point where she couldn’t help other players because she was frustrated with herself,” Caldwell said. “But this year, she was perfect as a leader. Even if she made a mistake, she was mature enough to know the team needed her to be more vocal, talk to kids and explain things. Sometimes it’s better for her to explain things to the kids [on the court] rather than me taking the timeout. The kids really respond to her and they really respect her.”

Taylor, 5 feet 6, averaged 16 points, 6.5 assists and 5 steals this season for Caravel, which finished 10-11 playing an exceedingly challenging schedule that included out-of-state matchups with powerhouse programs such as Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro), Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) and St. Michael Academy (New York City).

Taylor’s junior year came to an end last Thursday with a 54-52 loss to Middletown in the second round of the Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament. Taylor led Caravel with 22 points, eight assists and five steals in the loss.

Despite the disappointing end to Caravel's season, Caldwell was extremely pleased with Taylor’s play. During those preseason sit-downs with Taylor, Caldwell asked her point guard to be more than just a vocal leader. She also asked Taylor to develop into a scoring point guard – something the pass-first Taylor wasn’t accustomed to.

“I think in AAU, her team (the Philadelphia Belles) is loaded,” Caldwell said. “So she was kind of used to being a ball distributor. They had good kids inside, great kids who can shoot it. And even in my program there were always a few other kids -- she could make plays for them. But [this year] we needed her to score … she became our No. 1 scoring option. Probably our last eight games she scored 20 or more points and really did a great job with that role. Her decision making improved a ton. It proved to her that she is a scoring point guard and that’s what she needed to be.”

For the offseason, Taylor will suit up again for the Philadelphia Belles. Last summer she worked on her offensive game and developing into more of a leader. This year, Caldwell’s got a couple more tasks on the player-development agenda.

“I would really like to see her … work really hard in the weight room,” Caldwell said. “I think, anticipating for her after next year when she gets to Maryland, I’d like to see her get stronger. I’d like to see her keep focusing on improving her three-point shot. I think she hit way more threes this year than the last two. Her pull-up game is really good. But if she improves [her outside shooting] she’ll be even more dangerous on offense.”

Taylor and Caldwell have closely followed Maryland’s season, and the future Terp has made a few visits to College Park for games. But Taylor still has her senior year at Caravel ahead of her, which brings a smile to Caldwell’s face.

“That’s the best thing,” Caldwell said. “I have her for a whole ‘nother year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:54 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 3, 2008

Terps basketball commitment game recaps

Bobby Maze and the Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College basketball team stumbled into Saturday’s game against Cloud County, having lost two in a row.

Thanks in large part to Maze, the Blue Dragons’ skid didn’t reach three. The 2008 Terps point guard commitment scored 33 points, leading HCC to a 74-68 win. From HCC Sports Information Director Steve Carpenter’s news release:

Maze posted his fifth 30-point game of the season on Saturday to propel the Dragons past a physical Cloud County team (19-11, 11-5). He was 9 of 21 shooting, but knocked down 14 of 16 free throws. Maze also had seven rebounds, four steals and seven assists to push his season total to 205, becoming the third HCC player to have 200 assists in a season.

“I came to the game today with a chip on my shoulder,” Maze said. “I told my team before the game that this game means everything to me. In a game time situation, I was going to do everything that I could do to come out with a win. I hit some shots, but I’m glad my teammates came through and we played our heart out.”

Hutchinson will face Fort Scott on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Region VI Tournament.

• Any Terps fans in the Baltimore area have a chance to see Sean Mosley make history tonight.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard needs just six points in tonight’s Baltimore Catholic League tournament date with St. Maria Goretti to become the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer.

By passing [St. Frances assistant and former Temple standout Mark] Karcher, Mosley also would move into third place on the state's all-time scoring list. Rodney Monroe (Goretti, 1983-87) tops the list with 3,047 points, followed by Quintin Dailey (Cardinal Gibbons, 1976-79) with 2,844.

Mosley has scored 750 points this season (22.7 per game) and could pass Dailey for second place if St. Frances goes deep in the BCL and Alhambra Catholic Invitational tournaments. The Panthers and Mount St. Joseph have accepted invitations to the 48th Alhambra tournament March 13-15 in Frostburg.

Dara Taylor’s junior season came to an end Thursday with Caravel’s 54-52 loss to Middletown in the second round of the Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament. Taylor, a 2009 Terps women’s point guard commitment, had 22 points in the loss.

Taylor made a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7.2 seconds left to pull Caravel within 54-52. After a Caravel timeout, Middletown inbounded the ball and avoided the Buccaneeers' attempt to foul to run out the clock.

Jin Soo Kim and his South Kent (Conn.) squad fell to Brewster Academy 95-74 on Friday in the semifinals of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council class A tournament.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:07 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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