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April 30, 2008

Meet Tyree Evans

After bouncing around from high school to prep school to junior college, Tyree Evans was looking for a place where he could start fresh and not be continually reminded of his well-documented past.

Enter Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College head coach Bobby Steinburg, who welcomed Evans to spend his sophomore year of junior college with the Bucks.

“Oh man, he was very important in my life,” Evans said of Steinburg. “He scooped me up like an ice cream cone. I turned down (an opportunity to play at Chipola (Fla.) College) for coach Steinburg. [Motlow] wasn’t a major school and they weren’t that great, so I came in, tried to put stuff together, put the puzzle together and we came up with a great year, 28-5. He was a great guy. ... He just inspired my life. He just showed me what was out there.”

Evans, who signed with Maryland two weeks ago, will enroll at College Park this summer, four years after finishing high school in Richmond, Va. Needless to say, it’s been a long wait for Evans.

“I can’t even wait. I think about it all the time,” Evans said. “I’m a very patient guy, but it’s just like my grandma, my family, everybody in Richmond has just been waiting for this day. You have some people wanting to bring you down and a lot of people wanting to see you do right and roll with your dream.”

Here's an introduction to Evans.

Name: Tyree Evans
Birthdate: 1/18/85
Birthplace: Richmond, Va.
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Nicknames: Ree
Height: 6’3
Weight: 205
Position: Shooting guard
Junior College: Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College
High School: George Wythe High School in Richmond, Va.
Sophomore statistics: 21.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.0 assists
Runner-up: Arizona
Other schools considered: Tennessee, Kansas State, Mississippi State, West Virginia
Favorite NBA player: Gilbert Arenas
Favorite NBA team: Washington Wizards
Favorite all-time Terp: Len Bias, Steve Francis
Favorite music: Gucci Mane, Lil Boosie
Favorite book: Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson by Larry Platt
Favorite movie: Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
Favorite TV show: The Wayans Bros, The Boondocks
Favorite food: Soul food
Favorite junior college class: Business
Favorite thing about College Park: “Just the people out there. I went out there and fell in love with all the people. I met some of the fans, the staff at the University of Maryland -- it just felt like a second home.”
Other high school sports: Football (wide receiver, cornerback)
Hobbies: “I like to build stuff ... I made this TV stand. We didn’t have a TV stand in our apartment, so I made one out of a couple of wooden legs from an old table and used the top from a table.”
Intended major: “Business and marketing. I want to get into real estate.”
Something that not many people know about you: “I’m an animal lover. I don’t really like cats though, but like reptiles and stuff like that -- exotic animals.”
Best basketball moment: “When I played my cousin (Boston College guard) Tyrese Rice in the opening game of the districts (in high school). I had 51 points. I went like 25 out of 29 and had 31 points the first half.”
Role model: “I look at Allen Iverson as a role model because he came from my same circumstances. He got in trouble, kept on fighting and following his dreams. He never gave up. A lot of people that have a lot of good talent, they just give up as soon as they get out of high school. He’s a fighter. He kept fighting for it like I kept fighting for mine.”
Why Maryland? “Home away from home. It’s like me and (Terps assistant) Chuck Driesell -- there’s a trust thing. We have a great relationship. I’ve known him for at least two years. He always believed in me. And coach [Gary] Williams, he’s a great guy. He believed in me as well, just as the Maryland family did in offering me a scholarship, and I’m going to make them not regret giving me the scholarship because I’m going to bring them something they’ve been missing for a long time.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:47 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

April 25, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

The second installment of the Sun series, Recruiting Tavon Austin, ran in today's paper. In this edition, the Dunbar running back recounts a recent visit to Penn State.

The coaching staff talked to me and introduced themselves to my mother. I talked to coach Joe Paterno, and he always shows me love when I go there. He talks about grades and stresses that I keep them up. They also said that no spots on the team are guaranteed, so if I show up to practice and perform well, I could play early.

Rivals.com updated its 2009 rankings this week, and Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins saw his ranking rise significantly.

Jenkins, a 6-foot, 203-pound linebacker with offers from nearly every major program in the country, was previously No. 79. Jenkins, who also runs track, has tremendous speed, plays downhill and loves to hit. While he plays running back on offense as well, his future is clearly as a game-changing linebacker. Jenkins recently took an unofficial visit to Penn State, and the Nittany Lions, Boston College, Maryland, Virginia and many others are high on his list.

• This news is a little dated, but Norcross, Ga. athlete D.J. Adams had good things to say about Maryland in an interview with Scout.com last week.

Adams already attended junior days at Maryland and Clemson. "I liked the location of Maryland a lot," he said. "It's close to DC and that's the farthest north I've ever been. I see their program being on the rise and the coaches are great. They have a lot going for them. The weather there is also pretty good and I just had a good experience there."

• According to this update from The [Charleston, S.C.] Post and Courier, Maryland has offered several South Carolina prospects. The above-linked article has updates on offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, defensive end Tariq Edwards and defensive end Sam Montgomery. The article also has tidbits on North Carolina linebacker Hawatha Bell and Delaware wide receiver Justin Brown.

• Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge defensive end Zach Thompson claimed early offers from Maryland, Boston College, N.C. State, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia. Earlier this week, Thompson ended his recruitment, committing to the Demon Deacons.

"We kept going back and forth between Virginia and Wake," Mickey Thompson said. "And he just felt a little more comfortable with the smaller campus and all that kind of stuff.

"He was adamant that he liked both places, but he definitely wanted to go to Wake."

The Washington Post’s latest installment of Recruiting Spotlight takes a look at Roosevelt (D.C.) defensive end/tight end Darin Drakeford. The Post reports that Maryland and Illinois have offered Drakeford. Click here to see the video.

Programming note: I’ll be out of town until Tuesday, so updates until then will either be spotty or non-existent.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:34 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 24, 2008

Bobby Maze

I’ve received more than a few e-mails and comments recently from readers wondering where former Terps commitment Bobby Maze will end up.

I spoke with a source at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College yesterday, and he said that Maze is scheduled to visit St. John’s this weekend. Kentucky and Wichita State have also shown interest. This link from the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle also mentions Cincinnati and Southern Cal as programs that have expressed interest in Maze. Hutchinson coach Ryan Swanson’s phone has “been ringing off the hook,” so it’s safe to say that Maze will find a home.

As for Maryland’s parting of ways with Maze, the source said Maze was disappointed, but not critical of UM’s handling of the situation. Maze is still expected to qualify academically, but he will have to take a few credit hours this summer before his associate’s degree is complete.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:33 AM | | Comments (9)
        

April 23, 2008

Season recap: Tyree Evans

Bobby Steinburg knew exactly what he was getting when he recruited Tyree Evans to Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College.

Evans, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound shooting guard, had just parted ways with Butler (Kan.) Community College after a season in which he averaged 19 points per game. Thanks to Evans’ well-documented troubled past, more than a few eyebrows were probably raised at Steinburg’s new addition to the Bucks’ roster.

But Steinburg, who had just completed his first season as Motlow’s head coach, was confident that Evans’ troubles were behind him.

“I think that he was confident that all that stuff was behind him and he came in and acted like a grown man,” Steinburg said. “I didn't have any worries about him when I brought him in. ... It wasn't like he was trying to brown-nose to make me believe that he was going to be a good kid.”

Steinburg was also positive that Evans would make a major impact on the court.

“I knew what I was getting and that's exactly what I got -- a guy that can score the ball and lead his team to victory,” Steinburg said. “I knew how good he was so it wasn't like he came in and exceeded expectations.”

Evans, who signed with Maryland last week, averaged 21.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists for Motlow, which finished 28-5. He also shot 45 percent from the field, and 44 percent from three-point range.

“He could've scored 40 (points per game) if he wanted to,” Steinburg said. “We had other guys on this team. We had a lot of double-digit scorers. ... Tyree was obviously our primary scorer, but it wasn't like he had to score 40 points a night. We had other options.”

According to Steinburg, Maryland initially expressed interest in Evans during his freshman season at Butler. When Evans moved on to Motlow, the Terps already had an in -- when Steinburg was an assistant at UC Davis, UM assistant Robert Ehsan was one of his players. Steinburg also had a good relationship with Terps assistant Chuck Driesell.

Steinburg said choosing Maryland wasn’t a tough decision for Evans. With two years of junior college experience and available playing time, Evans is expected to contribute immediately as a junior in College Park. Steinburg thinks he’s ready to “be a scoring threat in the ACC.”

“He’s just a scorer, a big-time shooter with unlimited range,” Steinburg said. “He’s strong, understands the game. He understands how to get to the basket. He’s got a good first step. He just has a unique ability to put the ball in the basket. He’s a good on ball defender as well.”

While Steinburg was confident that Evans’ off-the-court problems were behind him once he enrolled at Motlow, he’s aware that some Maryland fans might have some reservations. Steinburg said he thinks Evans will quickly alleviate those concerns.

“You can't believe everything you read and he's a good kid,” Steinburg said. “He’s got a big heart and I think that the people in the community and administration will enjoy having him there. I know they will.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:01 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Season recaps
        

April 22, 2008

C.J. Brown discusses his UM commitment

Maryland quarterback commitment C.J. Brown grew up in a college football-loving household. The Saturday routine in the fall for Brown and his father Clark, a former Michigan State quarterback, would be to park in front of the television at their Cranberry Township, Pa. home and watch the Spartans and other college football action around the country.

Brown hoped that one day he’d be a starting quarterback in high school. Later on, he’d possibly follow his father’s footsteps and take his game to the Division I level.

But when his number was called on the varsity near the end of his sophomore season, things didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned for Brown.

“It was a big change going into my first varsity game as sophomore at age 15,” Brown said. “There were guys flying around ... it was crazy. I just got hit and landed on [my collarbone] wrong. I wasn’t in any pain, but I couldn’t move the arm. The doctor put his hands under my pads, he just pushed down on the collarbone, and it moved, which was a bad sign.”

The diagnosis was a broken collarbone. The injury ended Brown’s varsity football stint that year, and claimed a small chunk of his basketball season as well.

“I was disappointed, but it was the end of the season -- I think we only had one more game left and we weren’t going to the playoffs,” Brown said. “It was kind of a sigh of relief in a bad way, but it was definitely something to boost my confidence to getting bigger and stronger.”

Brown quickly nursed himself back to full strength, even making it back to return in time for the latter parts of his basketball season. When that season was complete, Brown hit the weight room. Before two-a-days started that summer, Brown had added 15 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame.

With Brown under center for the entirety of the 2007 season, Seneca Valley went 6-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Brown threw for 1,567 yards and 11 touchdowns, and rushed for 586 yards and five touchdowns.

During that junior season, the first stages of Brown’s recruitment began. He didn’t give it much thought during the year, but after Seneca Valley bowed out of the playoffs, he began to pay recruiting more attention.

Maryland extended an invitation to one of its Junior Day events last month, so Brown and his parents made the three-and-a-half hour drive from Western Pennsylvania to College Park.

“It was my first time down at College Park,” Brown said. “They wanted me to come down, see the campus, take a tour. I came down a day early -- I wanted to get a grasp of the campus. They offered me that night.”

Beyond enjoying the campus atmosphere, Brown said he liked the looks of Maryland's quarterback depth chart. Chris Turner and Josh Portis will be the veterans on the UM roster during Brown’s freshman season. In 2010, Brown would potentially compete with Jamarr Robinson and Tyler Bass for the starting job. Brown said he looks forward to learning from Turner and Portis before getting serious playing time.

“Since these guys are older, I will be able to learn from them and take their experience in becoming a better college quarterback.”

As for style of play, Brown says his 4.65 speed allows him to be versatile. That versatility could lend itself to Brown playing in a number of different offensive schemes.

“I can be a pocket quarterback,” Brown said. “I can sit back there and take hits, and when I need to, I can scramble and run. I guess I’m a typical dual-threat quarterback. I’m not a Vince Young -- I look to pass first -- but if I need to take off and run, then I can do that.”

With his commitment made, there’s little incentive for Brown to embark on the typical summer combine/camp circuit that many uncommitted prospects tend to go through. Brown said that while he hasn’t entirely decided what his summer plans are, they’ll primarily focus on getting prepared for his senior season and working out with his teammates.

While his last season of varsity football is at the forefront of his mind, Brown said it’s good to know that his plans for everything after high school are all set.

“I feel great,” Brown said. “I’m really excited about my commitment and going to Maryland.”

Click here for Seneca Valley coach Ron Butschle's take on Brown.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:14 AM | | Comments (2)
        

April 21, 2008

Weekend wrap

River Hill running back Michael Campanaro ended his recruitment over the weekend. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder verbally committed to Wake Forest on Saturday, choosing the Demon Deacons over offers from Akron, North Carolina and Northwestern.

Campanaro told DigitalSports.com that Wake’s academics, and Jim Grobe’s offense, were two major factors in his decision.

"With their academics, it's a no-brainer. They're up there with some of the Ivy League Schools. When I went down there, the feel was right, the campus, and the coaching staff, definitely," Campanaro said.

"What really attracted me was that Spread Offense, that's big for me. And that slot, you know, running back. I talked to a lot of their coaches, and they have a lot of big plans for me," Campanaro said. "I just feel like this is the right fit for me, and the right school, and I can't wait to start at that school."

Here’s Campanaro’s YouTube highlight reel.


• The final commitment to the UM women’s 2008 class, Jackie Nared, signed her Letter of Intent to attend Maryland late last week. The Oregonian spoke with Nared about her decision.

"I'm hopefully going to go there and try to work hard and maybe get some playing time my freshman year," said Nared, a 6-foot-1 senior. "But I have to fight for it. I have to work really hard because I'm going where a lot of girls are way stronger and just as good and better than me. It'll be a lot different."

• Lackey cornerback Darrell Givens told Scout.com earlier this month that he would like to leave Maryland for college. This weekend, Givens made that official, committing to Ohio State during a visit to the Buckeyes’ spring game. Givens chose OSU over reported offers from Maryland, Florida, Penn State, Illinois, Miami and a host of others.

"I told all the coaches today that I wanted to be a Buckeye," Givens said. "I spoke to Jim Tressel and also to coach [Taver] Johnson, coach [Luke] Fickell and coach [Darrell] Hazell. I'm very happy to be a Buckeye."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:36 AM | | Comments (0)
        

April 18, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

On Wednesday, The Sun’s Stefen Lovelace began a series chronicling the recruitment of Dunbar running back Tavon Austin, in Austin’s words. For the first installment, Austin updated readers on his recruitment up until this point.

So far, I've taken Junior Day visits to Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers and West Virginia. Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith said that those schools and Michigan, South Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois, Syracuse, Boston College, Virginia and Wake Forest have all made scholarship offers.

Click here for a selection of YouTube highlights of Austin.

• Hoboken (N.J.) offensive guard/defensive tackle Isaac Holmes spoke glowingly of Maryland earlier this week. Holmes, who claims 10 scholarship offers, told Scout.com that Rutgers and the Terps are his two favorites.

"I love the vibe at Maryland and the coaches really show you lots of love," he said. "They seem very interested in me and I like how down-to-earth they are. Also, the campus is really nice and I like how everything is within walking distance and that the campus isn't too big."

• The Terps got an early jump on DeMatha offensive tackle Pete deSouza. According to this article from Yahoo! Sports, deSouza “kind of grew up an Oregon fan,” but Maryland’s proximity has helped him develop solid relationships with the UM staff.

“I’ve got offers from Maryland, Syracuse and Delaware,” he said. “Actually I like all of the coaches at those schools, but I’ve only visited one of them. I am planning to go to the other two. I’ve been to Maryland and their coaches treated me very well.”

• Maryland is one of eight programs to offer Verona (N.J.) linebacker Carlo Calabrese, but according to this article from Scout.com, the Terps might have some catching up to do.

Although he denies a leader, he said he favors Notre Dame, Penn State, Rutgers, Florida and Boston College. All of his favorites have offered except the Nittany Lions. He attended junior days at Notre Dame and Penn State already.

• Good Counsel running back Caleb Porzel, a one-time Virginia commitment, is back on the market, and Maryland is involved. Porzel is featured in the latest edition of The Washington Post’s Recruiting Spotlight. Click here to watch the video..

Basketball links

• In the wake of Motlow (Tenn.) Community College shooting guard Tyree Evanssigning this week, Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times wrote an interesting take on Maryland’s history with junior college players. According to Stevens’ research, the Terps have now signed six JUCO players since 2001-02, the most of any ACC school other than Florida State, which has also signed six.

Make no mistake: The Terps have done about as well as could be expected with their JUCOs, especially their big men.

But it certainly makes you wonder why a program like Maryland --- which did, as coach Gary Williams will point out, win a national championship this decade --- needs to go this route and find quick fixes rather than reel in an extra guy each year from high school.

Parade recently released its All-American teams for girls basketball, and one future Terp and one UM target made appearances on the list.

This season’s Parade teams include five players from Virginia. T.C. Williams’ Tierra Ruffin-Pratt was named to the first team, Potomac’s Lynetta Kizer to the second team and Notre Dame Academy’s Azania Stewart and Brooke Point’s Chay Shegog joined White on the third team.

• The aforementioned UM target, Alexandria (Va.) T.C. Williams guard
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, was featured by the [Newport News, Va.] Daily Press earlier this week. Ruffin-Pratt had this to say about her recruitment.

Maryland, North Carolina, Duke, Rutgers, Tennessee, Connecticut and Texas are just a few of the schools that have offered Ruffin-Pratt a scholarship.

When asked about her supposed North Carolina lean, Ruffin-Pratt laughed.

"I've heard that before," she said. "I'm open. I'll probably narrow it down by the end of July."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:04 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 17, 2008

Meet Dee Liles

Ending up at Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College instead of Maryland as a freshman in college became the ultimate blessing in disguise for Dee Liles.

The Terps signee led Gulf Coast to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship, she earned MVP honors at the NJCAA tournament and she was named Junior College Player of the Year.

In addition to the individual and team honors, Liles said her junior college stint will help make her transition to College Park much easier than it would have been two years ago.

"I just feel like I’m way more mature than if I had come [to Maryland] out of high school," Liles said. "I really don’t think I would’ve been ready to step in and fill in the spot as a freshman like I will as a junior."

Here's an introduction to Liles.

Name: Demauria Lilesliles.jpg
Birthdate: 1/13/88
Birthplace: Woodbury, N.J.
Hometown: Suitland
Nickname: Dee
Height: 6’1
Weight: 165
Position: Power forward or center
High School: Riverdale Baptist
Sophomore statistics: 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds
Runner-up: LSU
Other schools considered: Louisville, South Florida, Georgetown
Favorite pro basketball player: Tamika Catchings
Favorite pro basketball teams: Indiana Fever, Washington Mystics
Favorite music: Cassidy, Jim Jones, Santana
Favorite book: Anything by Zane
Favorite movie: Love and Basketball, The Wood
Favorite TV show: "CSI and all those investigating shows. BET."
Favorite food: “All food ... I like to eat.”
Favorite junior college class: All computer classes
Favorite thing about College Park: “Just the environment. They make me feel very welcome.”
Other high school sports: Volleyball
Hobbies: “I just like to chill with my friends and family and have fun.”
Intended major: Computer programming
Something that not many people know about you: “I’m very, very shy. Once I get to know you then I open up, but when I first meet someone, I tense up.”
Best basketball moment: “I’d have to say summer going into my junior year at AAU nationals (with the Maryland Mystics). That’s when I can say I really started focusing on basketball and I really started to understand that I could really play the sport.”
Role model: “My mother. She’s a single parent and she doesn’t ask nobody for anything. She’s just a strong lady and I want to be just like her when I grow up.”
Why Maryland? “Me and my sister – she runs track -- ever since I was in 8th grade, we’ve been talking about going to Maryland. We’re momma’s girls, so we wanted to stay home."

Bonus quotes

On how difficult it's been being away from home: "Yeah it has been tough. I call my mother every day. Probably every five minutes if I could."

On completing a 36-1 season at Gulf Coast: "It would’ve been a perfect season if we didn’t lose that one game. We know we could’ve been undefeated, but we just had a little down period and lost the game. We knew we could win a national championship and that’s all that matters."

On whether she's bothered by the loss: "No, I’m not bothered. Maybe that game was a learning process, because we were thinking we were unstoppable. But once we lost that game, we bounced back and refused to lose anymore."


Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:15 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

April 16, 2008

Quick tidbits

1.) A signed National Letter of Intent from Motlow (Tenn.) State Community College shooting guard Tyree Evans found its way to the Maryland men's basketball offices today. Click here to read the school's official news release on Evans' signing, and here to read Sun reporter Don Markus' story on Evans' commitment to the Terps.

2.) Jeff Ermann of TurtleSportsReport.com passes along this little nugget -- Gus Gilchrist's appeal to become eligible for the first semester next season instead of sitting out until the second semester was denied by the ACC schools in an 11-1 vote.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:14 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Terps reel in QB commitment

Maryland’s search for a quarterback in the 2009 class took the Terps to Western Pennsylvania, where earlier this week they received a commitment from Seneca Valley dual-threat C.J. Brown.

Brown, 6 feet 3, 180 pounds, threw for 1,567 yards and 11 touchdowns, and rushed for 586 yards and five touchdowns during his junior season at Seneca Valley. He runs somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4.6 40.

Seneca Valley head coach Ron Butschle said Brown’s arm strength and speed allow him to fit in almost any offensive system.

“Well he’s extremely athletic -- he’s a quarterback who’s athletic,” Butschle said. “He’s not like some of these athletes that are quarterbacks. He kind of fits in any style of offense. We run the spread offense where we run a lot of quick passes. He’s involved in the running game. He’s probably one of the fastest, if not the fastest, guy on the team. Plus, he’s a very athletic, strong player who’s got a great arm and has tremendous football sense. He does a lot of things that you can’t coach.”

Butschle said one of those uncoachable traits that’s a strength of Brown’s game is his decision-making. Brown has developed a heightened awareness of when the time is right to tuck and run.

“He just has a knack for escaping at the right time,” Butschle said. “Timing-wise he’s very smooth. He’s got great lateral movement and he’s also got a great burst. He’s definitely got football game speed.”

Butschle has had Brown on the varsity for two seasons, but the first was kind of a wash. The Raiders had a senior quarterback, but Brown was brought up to compete and play in spots. In his first start during that sophomore season, Brown broke his collarbone, sidelining him for the rest of the year. But Butschle said Brown rebounded from the injury as well as you could expect.

“He was fine,” Butschle said. “He missed, I think, three weeks of our season and a few weeks of basketball. He’s also the point guard on the basketball team. He’s a very good basketball player. If he played baseball, he’d probably be the shortstop. He could probably pick up a tennis racket and be good at that, too. He worked really hard [to get back from the injury], and he’s really working hard now. He’s a tough kid.”

Programming note: I’ll have more from Brown this week or next.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:51 AM | | Comments (3)
        

April 15, 2008

Checking in with Alec Lemon

It’s been a busy few months for Arundel wide receiver Alec Lemon.

After a season in which the 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior reeled in 70 passes for 969 yards and 13 touchdowns for the 4A runner-up Wildcats, Lemon has been sending highlight film to colleges, sorting through mail, chatting with coaches and taking visits to several interested schools -- including Connecticut, Louisville, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

While it’s been crazy and at times stressful, Lemon’s had the help of two teammates that just recently finished the recruiting process themselves -- quarterback Nick Elko, who signed with Delaware State, and wide receiver Brandon Johnson-Farrell, who inked with Rhode Island.

“When they see me walking around with all these letters ... they’ll tell me, ‘Oh, this is a good one,’ or ‘Oh, this is the one they send to everyone,’” Lemon said.

Lemon, who’s waiting on his first DI scholarship offer, spoke with Recruiting Report recently about his recruitment.

What were your impressions of UConn?

Their program is on the rise, and they’ve been good the past couple of years. All of the athletic facilities are brand new. Their weight room is 18,000 square feet. Everything there is brand new and real nice. ... The coaches are real nice. When I first went to UConn, they let me sit in the position meeting with the wide receivers to see what they do.

What did you like best about Louisville?

Well I liked their offense, the spread offense, which is what we run at my school. It’s a high-powered offense. Every play looks like they can score at will. Their facilities are big, their weight room is big, too. They have an indoor practice facility and two outdoor facilities. The stadium is really big.

Do you have any favorites at this point?

Right now I’m open to anyone, but UConn, I feel like they’re high on my list. That’s who I like right now, but I’m still open to all colleges.

What do you have planned for the summer?

I’ll be going to some camps in the summer, hitting up some combines. I’m going to the Nike combine (at M&T Bank Stadium) this Saturday. I’ll hopefully take some more visits, go to some spring games and practices.

What camps do you plan on attending?

I’m signed up for Clemson, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Maryland and UConn. Those are all day camps.

How do you feel about having such a busy summer?

My whole summer is pretty much gone with all the football camps I’m going to. ... At some times I feel like I’m missing a lot with my summer, but I also see it’ll benefit me in going to college with all these camps. It seems like [colleges] want to see me at camp first and see what I can do. Then hopefully the scholarships will come ... But it should be fun this summer.

Click on the video player below for Lemon’s junior highlights.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Checking in with ...
        

April 14, 2008

Weekend hoops wrap

St. Frances guard and Maryland signee Sean Mosley teamed with Mount St. Joseph center and Georgetown commitment Henry Sims last night to lead the U.S. All-Stars to a 123-85 win over the Capital All-Stars at the Capital Classic at Comcast Center.

Sims scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Mosley scored 16 points and dished out six assists. Mosley told The Sun that last night was his first game at Comcast Center.

"I just came out and tried to put on a show," Mosley said. "I want to play at the college level and play in front of big crowds. It was a wonderful experience to finally get on the court here."

Click here for the U.S. vs. Capital box score and here for the Suburban vs. District box score.

• A new name for Maryland’s 2008 class emerged late last week. According to TerrapinTimes.com, Motlow (Tenn.) State Community College shooting guard Tyree Evans took an official visit to College Park over the weekend.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Arizona is also interested in Evans.

Arizona is trying to arrange a recruiting visit for Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College guard Tyree Evans, who is the third-highest scoring guard in Virginia prep history, according to his coach.

Evans' coach, Bobby Steinburg, said Friday that Evans is visiting Maryland this weekend and is being pursued by Arizona, Kansas State, Florida State and others. Steinburg said Evans has interest in Arizona.

The Star's story also touches a little on Evans' past, so you'll want to click on the above link.

• The Boo Williams Invitational AAU tournament took place this weekend in Hampton, Va., and plenty of Terps targets and Maryland players were on hand.

In the 16-and-under division, the Baltimore Stars fell just short of the title, dropping the title game to Florida-based Team STAT.

The Baltimore Stars were led by Antonio Barton's 16 points. Tobias Harris scored 14 while C.J. Fair pitched in with 10 points in the defeat.

TurtleSportsReport.com’s Seth Hoffman ranked the top 10 UM targets at Boo Williams. The whole report is definitely worth the read, but here’s some of what Hoffman had to say about National Christian Academy junior power forward Dante Taylor, who suited up for Team Melo this weekend.

... He did most of his damage at the free throw line, where he went 16 of 23 in the three pool-play games. Maryland and Pitt appear to be the frontrunners at this point, with the Terps having a solid shot provided the staff makes a concerted effort to show him he's the top priority. ...

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:42 AM | | Comments (15)
        

April 12, 2008

Weekly football recruiting roundup

Believe it or not, Terps running back signee Gary Douglas wasn’t the only athlete drawing recruiters to Durham (N.C.) Hillside football games last fall. Meet fellow running back Desmond Scott, who sports offers from Alabama, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, according to The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer.

Despite the presence of Douglas, Scott still “managed’’ to log 140 carries for 905 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also contributed 38 receptions for 625 yards and three scores.

[Hillside coach Ray] Harrison said Scott runs with better power and is more elusive than Douglas, but may not be quite as fast. Scott has been timed at 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

The Gazette took a look this week at Maryland’s first verbal commitment for the 2009 class, Clarksburg defensive back Avery Graham. In the article, Graham touches on, among other things, growing up in Baltimore.

Graham knows exactly where his drive comes from: Baltimore. His freakish athletic talent was a way out of the inner city, where he grew up impoverished and fatherless. When he could so easily have used that as an excuse to do wrong, he did everything right.

‘‘I was fortunate; my mom [Janice] is a special lady,” Graham said. ‘‘But I never had a father there. I didn’t really know how to be a man. I wanted to explore more. I didn’t know what to expect; I didn’t know what happened if you did good in school. I was kind of just experimenting.”

The Diamondback was on hand for a recent Maryland football spring practice. So was Woodbridge (Va.) Thomas Edison linebacker Stephon Robertson, who spoke to Maryland’s student newspaper.

"I'm basically just observing, watching the different various types of styles for defense," Robertson said. "I really do like the practice. I want to see some hits, but I like what I see."

In the same article, The Diamondback caught up with ’08 Terps wide receiver signee Kenny Tate.

"I'm just seeing what I'm in store for coming into the summer, just ready to see what I can help bring to the team," Tate said. "I'm looking at tendencies and their coaching style … so I know what to do when I get here. I wish I could practice right now. It looks like it's going to be real fun next year."

• Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe athlete Stephon Gilmore should have his pick of colleges. According to this article from The Herald, Maryland is one of those potential choices.

Others were scattered about the table -- Rutgers, Connecticut, Southern Cal, Miami and Illinois. Those schools are inquiring and have yet to make offers. The list of those who have is impressive -- Alabama, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, N.C. State, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina.

• It’s still early in the process, but it looks like Lackey cornerback Darrell Givens might be a long-shot for Maryland, at least according to this article from Scout.com.

Givens also already attended junior days at Penn State, Rutgers, Boston College and local favorite Maryland, but he says he would prefer to leave the state. "I'd like to leave home and get away," he said.

• Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins continues to see his recruitment take off. According to Yahoo! Sports, Michigan and Tennessee were the latest schools to extend offers, but Hawkins says he’s not counting anyone out.

Currently Hawkins claims no early leaders at this time.

“I grew up watching Maryland, but I’ve really started getting into football the last couple years and I’ve watched everyone.”

The Washington Post presents another edition of its Recruiting Spotlight video feature. This week, the Post looks at Stone Bridge (Va.) twins, Zach Thompson, a defensive end who claims a UM offer, and Patrick Thompson, a quarterback. Click here to watch the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 11, 2008

Weekly basketball recruiting roundup

Bobby Maze picked up another nice honor this week. The 2008 Maryland point guard commitment from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College earned first-team NJCAA All-America laurels.

Maze became the first Blue Dragon since “Pooh” Hairston in 1994 to average 20 or more points for a season and is only the 10th HCC player to do so since 1968. Maze averaged 20.7 points per game, shooting 50.5 percent from the field overall and 72.9 percent from the free-throw line.

• Today, The Sun's Don Markus looked at the potential impact of the additions of Maze and Sean Mosley to Maryland's roster next season.

Their anticipated arrival in College Park later this year should help a Maryland team that struggled with scoring and ball-handling down the stretch of what turned into a 19-15 season and ended with a second-round loss to Syracuse in the National Invitation Tournament.

The Sun’s Milton Kent caught up with former (and perhaps current) ’08 Maryland shooting guard target Chris Turner at Sunday’s Charm City Challenge. Turner recounted to Kent how his recruitment with Maryland played out last summer.

Mosley, this year's Sun Player of the Year, apparently accepted the offer before Turner did, which "really threw off my recruitment because I was really set on Maryland. Now I'm back on the market."

"I lost a lot of interest in [Maryland]," said Turner, who committed to Oregon State in December but changed his mind. "But I still like them because I would like to play in the [Atlantic Coast Conference]."

• Speaking of the Charm City Challenge, I shot a Mosley video, which you can view here. For better video and a more comprehensive package, check out DigitalSports.com’s event recap and video. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a highlight reel, and also a one-on-one interview with Mosley.

• National Christian Academy power forward Dante Taylor looks like Maryland’s top target for 2009, but Norfolk, Va. power forward Deshawn Painter, who’s headed to Hargrave Military next year, could be another to watch, according to this article from the Newport News, Va. Daily Press.

Florida, Clemson, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina State, Kentucky, Ohio State and Duke are courting Painter.

That type of attention lends itself to a certain degree of pressure, but perhaps even more pressure-packed is the mere fact that Painter is suiting up for BWSL, a program with a rich history of producing quality big men, like Alonzo Mourning, J.R. Reid, Patrick Patterson, Vernon Macklin and Duke Crews.

• St. Benedict Prep (N.J.) guard Tamir Jackson reportedly expressed some interest in Maryland earlier in the process, but the Terps did not extend an offer. Jackson made a verbal commitment this week to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Tamir Jackson, a combo guard from one of the best high school programs in the nation, said on Monday that he would sign with UAB. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior from St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., said a partial list of scholarship offers included Harvard, Miami, Houston and Virginia Tech.

• Maryland women’s signee Lynetta Kizer was limited by the flu in the McDonald’s All-American game last month, but the ’08 center prospect was back to full health at last weekend’s WBCA High School All-America game at South Florida.

Stanford recruit Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Maryland prospect Lynetta Kizer each had 17 for the white squad.

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:48 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 10, 2008

Checking in with Emmanuel Yeager

After a sophomore season in which Emmanuel Yeager threw for 1,930 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed for 350 yards and six scores, the Ballou (D.C.) quarterback measured in at 6 feet, 176 pounds during an offseason combine.

But between then and now, Yeager sprouted two inches, and added nearly 20 pounds to his frame, thanks to late nights in the weight room, eating four times a day, and following Ballou coach Moses Ware’s advice to just “lift, lift, lift.”

Yeager’s current 6-foot-2, 195-pound size, in addition to a successful junior season and a couple of standout combine performances this spring have elevated his recruiting profile. Yeager, who sports offers from Pittsburgh and Richmond, spoke with Recruiting Report recently about his recruitment.

What are your impressions of Pittsburgh?

[Former Terps wide receivers] coach [Bryan] Bossard is now at Pitt and I’m pretty familiar with him. [Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks] coach [Matt] Cavanaugh, is a great position coach. His offense is pretty similar to what we do at Ballou. They do a lot of things from play-action, have a strong running game that sets up the pass. They have a great running back in LeSean McCoy.

What other schools are recruiting you?

Tennessee, they were recruiting me since my 10th-grade year. Their interest has escalated along with Alabama, Syracuse and also Illinois, UVa. ... I’m pretty much just keeping my options open. Also Nebraska, I called and tried to touch base with [offensive coordinator and quarterbacks] coach Shawn Watson. They’ve been showing a lot of interest as of late. Actually, they’ve shown more interest than Tennessee. It’s probably Pittsburgh, Richmond, UVa, Nebraska and Syracuse.

Where does Maryland factor in to your recruitment?

Coach [James] Franklin told me that being a scholarship player for the University of Maryland, your film has to be evaluated at a 35. He told me they had me at a 38. Maryland’s pretty high on my list, but I’m sort of in limbo because I don’t know where I stand. I like their campus, it’s not really far away from home at all, but I don’t really know where I stand. ... My film was evaluated very high and I’m just waiting to see, to tell you the truth.

How would you describe your game?

We run a spread offense, a lot of run-and-gun. It’s a no-huddle offense. I have a strong knowledge for the game; a lot of poise to throw the ball under duress. I would label myself as a dual threat. If the play breaks down, I can make a play with my legs as well as my arm.

What do you have on tap for the rest of the spring?

On May 8 I’m attending the Elite Combine in New Jersey, and I’m going to be attending the Nike Combine at Penn State, and I will be making some trips to Maryland to get a more in-depth experience with Coach Franklin and observe his coaching style. I’ll also be going to Syracuse, North Carolina and Illinois for summer camps.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Checking in with ...
        

April 9, 2008

Video: Sean Mosley at the Charm City Challenge

Sprained wrist and all, Sean Mosley turned in a solid performance at the Charm City Challenge this past weekend at the Towson Center.

The Terps signee and St. Frances guard had 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in Baltimore’s 107-82 win over the U.S. All-Stars.

Here’s my YouTube-ish offering of a Mosley video package. These highlights were shot during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:14 AM | | Comments (1)
        

April 8, 2008

Season recap: Bobby Maze

Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College point guard Bobby Maze started his lone season at the junior college level with a fairly prominent target on his back.

Having left Oklahoma after his freshman season and resurfacing at Hutch as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Suitland native was well-known among JuCo players, coaches and fans before he ever suited up for the Blue Dragons.

But according to Hutchinson head coach Ryan Swanson, Maze not only embraced that spotlight -- he thrived in it.

“Bobby started the year at an extremely high level,” Swanson said. “He had some 30-point games for us early, he had some 12- and 13-assist games early, and he never got tired. He never fell off. I would say he might’ve gotten a little bit better at deciding when he needed to score and when he needed to get his teammates more involved. Bobby is a pass-first guy, but he knew we needed him to score.

“By the end of the year he got really good at reading what the defense was giving him. Some teams would box-and-one him, or do anything they could to not let him get 30 points, but then he’d get a bunch of assists. So he was a very good teammate in that regard.”

When Maze verbally committed to Maryland in December, his already high profile was elevated to another degree.

“Oh yeah, a lot was made of [Maze’s commitment to Maryland], especially when he had so many good games early,” Swanson said. “After we started out of conference after Christmas -- and that was about the time he committed to Maryland -- that was another bit of bulletin board material for another team. Hutch is one of only three junior colleges in the country with 1,500 wins. There’s a lot of tradition here and a lot of championships. As a team, we’re used to getting everybody’s best shot anyway, just like Bobby was individually getting everybody’s best shot.”

Maze responded to ‘everybody’s best shot’ by averaging 20.7 points, 6.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He also shot 50.5 percent from the field, leading Hutchinson to a 23-9 record. For his efforts, Maze was named Most Valuable Player for the Jayhawk Conference Western Division.

Swanson said Maze’s play probably helped him immediately ascend to the role of team leader. But beyond that, Maze’s attitude and work ethic was embraced by his teammates and the coaching staff.

“Bobby was clearly our best player, but I think the guys also respected Bobby because he was also our hardest worker,” Swanson said. “He always stayed after practice to work on his game and encouraged others to do the same. So it was an easy transition for him. The thing that I appreciated about Bobby was that he didn’t come in thinking that junior college was beneath him like a lot of guys who transfer from Division I do.”

Swanson thinks Maze’s experience at Oklahoma and Hutchinson will help make his transition to Maryland rather seamless.

“I would think that he would have a lot easier time than most junior college players for two reasons; one is because he’s extremely talented, and two because he’s already been at the high-major level and been productive at that level,” Swanson said. “The talent level of the opponents, even though it’s going to go up drastically, is not something he’s never seen before. This is a kid who guarded [Kansas point guard] Sherron Collins and people like that. By no means will he be intimidated.”

Maze is currently finishing up his associate’s degree requirements. After that task is complete, Maze will enroll at College Park, completing a circuitous path which took him from Suitland to Patterson Prep (N.C.) to Oklahoma to Hutchinson. Swanson thinks Maze is finally ready to return to his home state.

“Right now he’s just focusing on trying to finish up academically strong,” Swanson said. “And he’s excited. It’s a chance to go back to playing in one of the best conferences in the country and a chance to go home to play. I think he’s extremely excited to go home and play.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps
        

April 7, 2008

News and notes from the Charm City Challenge

Mount Carmel point guard Troy Franklin made himself right at home yesterday during the Charm City Challenge at the Towson Center.

Playing on his future home court, Franklin earned MVP honors in the Baltimore All-Stars’ 107-82 win over the U.S. All-Stars. The Towson signee scored 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and also dished out four assists in just 14 minutes of play.

“It feels good,” Franklin said. “I’m just getting used to it. ... I come up here all the time during the school year just to work out. ... It’s going to be a big change [playing for Towson next season] when you’ve got bigger, stronger and faster guards playing against you, but I’ll adapt.”

For more on the event, click here for Sun reporter Stefen Lovelace’s game story.

Click here for the City vs. County box score and here for the U.S. vs. Baltimore box score.

Sean Mosley drew more than a few Maryland fans out to the Towson Center. Mosley has been slowed a bit by a sprained wrist, but Terps fans were still treated to 15-point, six-assist, five-rebound performance by the St. Frances guard. “I noticed a lot of red shirts and a lot of people calling my name,” Mosley said.

After next Sunday’s Capital Classic at Comcast Center, Mosley said he’ll get his wrist X-rayed -- just to be certain everything’s fine -- and then continue his preparation for next season in College Park. “[I’ll] just constantly keep working on my ball handling some more, get a lot of reps up with shooting, and [do] speed work, and that’s pretty much it.”

For more on Mosley’s play and the reaction from several Maryland fans in attendance, check out this story from TurtleSportsReport.com’s Seth Hoffman.

• Towson Catholic point guard Larry Bastfield received some surprising news last month upon hearing that Toledo head coach Stan Joplin was fired. Bastfield, who inked with the Rockets during the fall signing period, has kept a close eye on the coaching search. “Right now the word is there were a lot of people that put in for the job, like 50 people, and now it’s down to like four or five people,” Bastfield said. “An assistant coach from Notre Dame, assistant coach from Wisconsin, a guy named Buzz Peterson and a couple other people right now. They’re starting to narrow it down right now. They’re just doing interviews.”

Bastfield said Toledo’s decision to fire Joplin came as a shock to him, but he committed to the Rockets for more than just the coaching staff. Still, he’s anxious to see who gets the job. “It was more than just the coach; I went there because I really liked it and everything.” Bastfield said. “But at the same time, when there’s a coaching change, you still want to look at your options. Right now I’m just sitting and waiting to see who they’re going to hire and then I’ll go from there. When they hire the guy, I’ll want to meet the guy.”

• Cardinal Gibbons point guard Jamar Briscoe said he will sign a letter of intent next week to attend North Carolina Central, a DI independent in Durham, N.C. “I’ve been talking to them ... since basically the beginning of the school season. I verbally committed during the season but I’m going to sign a letter of intent April 14,” Briscoe said. “There were a lot of schools on me, but I wasn’t really caught up in the big school thing. Plus, I want to go someplace where I can play and hit the court running.”

Another selling point for Briscoe was North Carolina Central’s conference plans for the future, and the team’s challenging non-conference schedule. “Right now they’re independent, but by my sophomore year they’re going to be in the MEAC. ... Last year they had Duke, NC State, Davidson, schools like that. My freshman year I know we play Duke, Wake Forest, [and] we’ve got Davidson.”

• The sight of 6-foot-7, 330-pound City center James Carmon grabbing rebounds, running the floor and defending the post drew some ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the crowd yesterday. But the defensive line prospect is completely focused on playing football at the next level. “Next year, I’ll be attending Mississippi Gulf Coast for junior college for a year-and-a-half, then I’m going to transfer to an SEC school.” Carmon, who reportedly received some interest from Maryland in football, is eyeing Tennessee as a possible destination after his stint at community college. “The area, the people, coaches, the whole staff -- they showed me love, and I think that’s probably where I’ll be attending.”

Carmon gave some thought to attending prep school, but said he thinks community college will be more beneficial for him down the road. “Prep school actually [wouldn’t] get me prepared; it [would] only get me prepared for my testing. I want to be prepared all around for just going to school so I can fit in when I go to a university.”

• Towson Catholic forward Brandon Greene was one of the more prominent uncommitted local players throughout the high school season. Greene, who averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the MIAA A champion Owls, received recruiting interest from Akron, Duquesne and Loyola among others. But last week, Greene offered his verbal commitment to Robert Morris University, a Northeast Conference school located in Moon Township, Pa., near Pittsburgh. “They showed more interest in me than the other schools,” Greene said. “It was an easy decision.”

• St. Frances swingman Anthony Oquendo’s play during the Panthers’ run to the Baltimore Catholic League championship has piqued the interest of a couple nearby schools. “I got an offer to Loyola College, and I’m trying to see if I can get into George Mason," Oquendo said. "George Mason’s looking for a guard right now, so they’re trying to see if they can develop me as a guard.” Oquendo said he’ll work out for the George Mason staff, and then they’ll make a determination on the offer. No matter what happens with George Mason, Oquendo said Loyola, which was his first DI offer, could “be the place” for him.

The Sun’s Howard County Player of the Year, Long Reach forward Obi Ukwuoma, is still narrowing things down in his recruitment. Ukwuoma has visits scheduled at Barton College, a DII power in Wilson, N.C., High Point University, a DI school in North Carolina, Wheeling Jesuit University, a DII program in West Virginia, Davis & Elkins College, a DII school in West Virginia, and Philadelphia University, also a DII school. “Hopefully I can get signed as soon as possible,” Ukwuoma said. “After they work me out and I take official visits, hopefully somebody sees that I’m good enough to play and they sign me.” Ukwuoma’s still waiting for his first offer.

Programming note: I’m hoping to catch up with a few more unsigned guys from the Charm City Challenge this week and next. Stay tuned for that. Also, look for a brief video of Mosley highlights later this week.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 4, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

There was more news on the quarterback recruiting front for Maryland this week, starting with a prospect that received interest, but not an offer from the Terps.

Sherando (Va.) quarterback Ross Metheny visited College Park in February, but when in-state Virginia offered him recently, Metheny promptly committed to the Cavaliers.

“All last week, my family and I, we went to Georgia, we went to BC, we went to UConn, and I have been to Maryland and these other schools, and I never really felt as comfortable at their schools as I did at UVa,” Metheny said. “It feels comfortable being there and I kinda figured that I was putting off the inevitable if I waited any longer so I just went ahead and committed [Sunday].”

• Another ’09 quarterback prospect that doesn’t sport an offer, but has expressed interest in UM, is Emmanuel Yeager of Ballou (D.C.). Yeager had a standout performance last weekend at the Under Armour/Scout.com Combine in Pittsburgh.

... Yeager impressed everyone with his remarkable velocity. Yeager’s arm strength has increased dramatically and he showed of one of the strongest arms we have seen in years. Sometimes it was as if he threw too hard, but Yeager improved his stock in the eyes of many.

• Maryland has an in with one of 2010’s best QB prospects. Philip Sims flourished in his sophomore season at Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith by, in a part, throwing to high-caliber receivers like ’08 Terps commitment Kerry Boykins. Sims is just a sophomore in high school, but he’s already thinking about recruiting.

Even though recruiting hasn’t started, already there are some early preferences for the talented Hampton Roads star.

“I’m a fan of Georgia, the Florida schools and the SEC,” he said. “I think the SEC is the best conference in the nation. You get to compete against the best every week.”

Phil Kornblut’s latest recruiting column for The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier has a couple tidbits about South Carolina players that the Terps are after. First up is linebacker Willie Ferrell.

The Gamecocks have offered LB Willie Ferrell (6-2, 223) of Tallahassee, Fla. "Coach (Shane) Beamer is trying to build a good relationship," Ferrell said of his USC recruiter. He also has offers from LSU, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, Florida International, South Florida, Central Florida, East Carolina and Florida A&M. Ferrell attended junior days at Florida State and Florida and will go to LSU for their spring game April 5. Last season, Ferrell had 183 tackles with seven sacks and three interceptions.

Kornblut also discusses offensive lineman Brandon Thomas.

Dorman OL Brandon Thomas (6-4, 280) now has offers from Clemson, USC, North Carolina, Maryland and Vanderbilt, and more should be on the way. "So far, everybody that's watched him on film has offered," said Dorman coach Dave Gutshall. Wake Forest, N.C. State and Georgia Tech also are very interested. Thomas has been to a Clemson practice this spring and plans to visit again this week for a tour of campus. He attended junior days at Clemson, USC and North Carolina. He will go to UNC's spring game this Saturday. Clemson likes him as a guard while USC sees him as a tackle.

• Returning our focus back to the Under Armour/Scout.com Combine in Pittsburgh, Emmanuel Yeager wasn’t the only potential UM target that impressed. Massachusetts tight end Arthur Fontaine, who reportedly has an offer from the Terps, turned heads with his play.

Arthur Fontaine (Dartmouth) made the trip to Pittsburgh clear from Massachusetts to compete against top talent and he did compete and then some. Fontaine is an impressive looking specimen and all-around athlete at tight end. He already holds and handful of offers and he’ll likely be picking up a few more after word gets out about his performance on Sunday.

• Quince Orchard defensive end Jason Ankrah is feeling the love from Maryland’s coaches, according to this article from Yahoo Sports.

Does he have any favorites?

“Well the two that are showing me a lot of love are West Virginia and Maryland. Those two mostly.”

Ankrah runs the 40-yard dash in 4.79 seconds and should be one of Maryland’s top prospects this fall.

• Terps offensive tackle signee R.J. Dill capped his high school basketball career last weekend with a 17-point performance in the Roundball Showcase game in Steelton, Pa. Dill even had some interaction with the fans.

Midway through the second half, a spectator even yelled out for Dill to dunk on a break away.

“I’m 280 pounds, dude,” Dill playfully shot back.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:56 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 3, 2008

New UM women’s basketball commitment a legacy

Maryland fans aren’t exactly plentiful in Beaverton, Ore., a suburb of Portland roughly 2,800 miles away from College Park.

Westview High School girls basketball player Jackie Nared was always a rare exception. Her father, Greg Nared, was a four-year letter-winner for the UM men's basketball team in the late 80s. Her mother, Reiko Williams, also graduated from Maryland. Growing up among Ducks and Beavers fans, Jackie Nared was a product of her parents’ college experiences.

“I’ve always had my little Maryland sweatshirts and sweatpants,” Nared said. “So I’ve always been a Terp fan.”

Nared never really expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps, but when presented with that chance last week, she jumped at it.

Nared, a senior, verbally committed to the Terps’ women’s basketball program on March 25, just before Maryland’s 76-64 win over Nebraska in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

While coach Brenda Frese and staff were obviously occupied by the task at hand, they took time to congratulate the newest Terp.

“They seemed pretty excited,” Nared said. “They just jumped up and said ‘welcome to the family,’ so it was really good to know that I’m going to be in an environment where I have people who accept me.”

Nared, a 6-foot-1 small forward, averaged approximately 23 points, 14 rebounds and four assists per game for Westview, which finished 14-12.

In February, The Oregonian named Nared its Athlete of the Week after she scored a season-best 39 points in an overtime win. At the time, Nared was leading “large-school Oregon girls basketball in scoring,” according to The Oregonian.

So how did a player of Nared’s caliber remain unsigned, as a senior, until the spring?

“San Diego [had offered me] and I was talking to a couple schools around here and a couple Pac -10 schools,” Nared said. “Gonzaga, Arizona, a couple more schools. But I wanted to wait for my season to be over with so I had more options because I was hoping maybe people would see me during my season.”

Nared doesn’t know how Maryland discovered her, but she’s obviously glad they did. Thanks to Frese's pregnancy and doctor’s orders, she wasn’t allowed to fly across the country to scout Nared in person. So the Terps sent assistant coach Erica Floyd to Oregon for one of Westview’s games.

Floyd liked what she saw, so the recruiting developed from there. Nared sent game tapes to Frese, the communication between the two parties increased, and Nared was eventually invited to take an official visit to College Park. Nared and her father took that opportunity last week during her spring break.

Nared, who was born in Baltimore and lived in Maryland until she was six, had visited College Park many times before. Most of her mother’s family still lives in the area, so even after moving to Oregon, she regularly returned to Maryland for visits. Nared even remembered attending a men’s basketball game several years ago at Cole Field House.

But it was a whole different experience seeing the program up close this time. Nared said meeting the players, whom she had seen so many times on ESPN, was like “meeting celebrities.” What really impressed Nared, however, was a sit-down she and her father had in Frese’s office.

“Just talking [with Frese] and seeing all the national championship trophies, I was like ‘there’s no way I can turn this down.’”

Nared committed shortly thereafter, much to the elation of her father and mother. Now she just needs to learn the fight song.

“[My dad] told me he’s going to need to teach it to me.”

Nared plans to move to College Park in July. Until then, she’s doing everything in her power to allow her to get minutes for Maryland next season.

“I’ve been lifting weights every day, trying to get stronger, get bigger, eating healthy, and just playing basketball,” Nared said. “I have an AAU team (Team Concept), so I’m just practicing with them four times a week to stay in basketball shape.”

Nared will obviously miss her parents and two younger sisters being so far away from home. But after making her commitment to Maryland, Nared feels like she’s stepping into a situation that will make the transition easier to deal with.

“I’m sure [the team is] going to help me [adjust], knowing how far away [from home] I am. So I’m excited.”

Click on the You Tube player to see The Oregonian’s Athlete of the Week feature on Nared.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:50 AM | | Comments (9)
        

April 2, 2008

First Terps football commitment made quick decision

Last weekend, Clarksburg running back/linebacker Avery Graham took time from his busy track schedule to visit Maryland.

On Saturday, Graham toured the campus and was offered a football scholarship -- his first offer. On Sunday, Graham had made up his mind. He called the staff and verbally committed, becoming the Terps’ first commitment of the 2009 class.

“Avery fell in love with the whole situation at Maryland,” said Clarksburg head coach Larry Hurd. “Avery is very interested in becoming a veterinarian -- he is an animal lover. Maryland has a great program in that respect for an undergraduate degree. He was able to meet with coach [Ralph] Friedgen and see a practice. I’m a graduate of Maryland, so I was able to show him some of the campus. Avery fell in love with the situation. Maryland offered him and Avery took some time and he decided that’s what he wanted to do. ... Things happen with Maryland rather quickly.”

The past couple years have moved pretty quickly for Graham, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound Baltimore native. The future Terp defensive back, who would’ve likely suited up for Dunbar had he stayed in Baltimore, moved to Montgomery County about two years ago. He enrolled at Clarksburg in 2006, then in its first year of existence.

The school, which draws students that would have formerly attended Damascus, Seneca Valley and Watkins Mill, went 3-6 in its inaugural season of football. Clarksburg, at that point, was comprised of freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

One sophomore that didn’t suit up that year was Graham. But Hurd couldn’t help but notice Graham around school and think of his potential and the team’s possibilities for the 2007 season.

“He came late in his sophomore year so he wasn’t able to play for us two years ago,” Hurd said. “But just watching him go through gym class, play basketball, lift weights, run track -- I knew he was going to be outstanding on the football field, and he lived up to that.”

Graham was part of a running back platoon for Clarksburg this past season, and he also played the WILL linebacker position. Hurd guided the Coyotes to a 12-1 season, which ended with a loss to Eastern Tech in the 2A state semifinals.

"This is going to burn in my soul until I come back here," Graham told The Washington Post after the loss. "And we're going to take it [next year]. State championship. We're going to take that ring."

According to Hurd, Graham’s arrival and emergence in his junior season was a huge part of Clarksburg’s success last season.

“[He had a] tremendous season,” Hurd said. “He ran the ball, had 900 yards rushing on 90 attempts, he had 14 touchdowns, added four more on kickoff returns for touchdowns. His first year, he made a big difference for us."

Graham, who recorded 76 tackles as a junior, had a seemingly slow start to his recruiting. Hurd sent out Graham’s film after football season, while Graham was completely focused on indoor track, winning the 55-meter title at the 2A state meet. Before outdoor track completely grabbed his attention, Graham and Hurd took the visit to College Park, whereupon he received that first scholarship offer.

But according to Hurd, there’s a pretty simple explanation for why Graham’s recruitment was just starting to take off.

“I can tell you that it’s very simple -- he just started playing football,” Hurd said. “Not only did he play a year of football, he played football at a brand new high school. We’re on our way to making ourselves into a great program, but we’re in our second year. To be honest, I don’t think he floated under the radar. We were 12-1 with him on the field and went to the state semifinals. Everyone who’s seen film of him has been in awe of his athletic ability.”

At Maryland, that athletic ability will be on display on the football field and the track. Friedgen assured Graham that he would be allowed to run track. The potential to play both sports, proximity to home and education were ultimately among the biggest factors in Graham’s decision, according to Hurd, who thinks his star player will fit in perfectly at College Park.

“Avery is an incredible young man,” Hurd said. “The biggest thing I’d say is that he’s driven to succeed. He’s the type of student where Bs aren’t good enough. He wants As. He’s told me he’s driven to be on the national level in football and track. He’s just a very driven young man.

“I think that Avery was looking for a certain situation. I know that Maryland applied no pressure, we applied no pressure. Avery is very much his own person and he makes up his own mind. Avery makes up his mind, and when he makes up his mind, that’s what he wants to do.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:47 AM | | Comments (1)
        

April 1, 2008

Season recap: Dee Liles

Maryland women’s basketball commitment Dee Liles will suit up for the Terps next season with an already impressive resume.

During her sophomore season, Liles helped lead Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship. She earned MVP honors at the NJCAA tournament. And Liles was named Junior College Player of the Year.

Liles, a 6-foot forward, averaged 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during Gulf Coast’s regular season. But according to Commodores head coach Roonie Scovel, those numbers were a little deceiving.

“You would have to look beyond the numbers because she was one of five kids averaging double-figures,” Scovel said. “What made her so special was her presence on the court. We probably wouldn't have been as successful without her. She had to guard so many positions. Her athleticism is what separates her -- that's the bottom line. She's a phenomenal athlete and I don't know if there’s a better athlete than her on the college level.”

Liles saved her best performances of the year for the NJCAA tournament. The Suitland native averaged 12.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals during the four-game tournament. Scovel said those four games were the culmination of her two years at Gulf Coast.

“I thought she was the most consistent that I've seen her in two years -- the most consistent production and effort in two years,” Scovel said. “... She seemed to be real focused on that task at hand.”

There’s been some debate about what Liles’ best position at the next level would be. At 6-foot, maybe 6-foot-1, she’s a touch undersized for forward. But while initially Scovel thought size would be a concern, she’s now changed her tune.

“We were concerned her freshman year that she’d have to improve [her outside game] to play on the perimeter, but I've changed my thoughts on that,” Scovel said. “Even though she's undersized, her athleticism makes her play much bigger. I think she'll be able to work in the post and in the perimeter some. She hit some really nice perimeter shots. All of our [NJCAA tournament] games were close, and she hit baseline jumpers, shots from the free throw line. She's very, very quick, and has an unbelievable ability to jump.”

On the defensive end, Liles’ size shouldn’t be a concern at all, according to Scovel.

“The athleticism, the ability to get rebounds off the rim and defend -- she's such a tremendous defender,” Scovel said. “Taking charges seems to be a lost art, but she's very good at that. She can take away the lane and block shots. She’s a tremendous shot-blocker, and we’re going to miss the athleticism. You don't get players to come along that often that have that type of athleticism.”

Scovel said she’ll miss Liles’ basketball IQ and athleticism next year. But she thinks Liles is ready to take that next step.

“I think she’s going to do fine,” Scovel said. “She trained with Team USA, made it to training camp there, so she's played with the best of the best. She was one of the finalists [to make the team], so she’s obviously shown that she's a top athlete that can play at the next level. She's going to have to consistently do it on a day-to-day basis to keep with the success [Maryland’s] having.

“She's going to a place that's got tremendous basketball players, but she's coming from one well-diversified team and going to another,” Scovel said. “Of course I think they’re losing some of that, so I'm sure they'll expect her to give them quality minutes. She's not going to have to change the things she does, but she’ll step it up to play in the ACC.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:25 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Season recaps
        

First Terps football commitment

This one broke over the weekend on Rivals and Scout, but I wasn't able to confirm until late last night.

Clarksburg defensive back Avery Graham became the first verbal commitment for Maryland's 2009 recruiting class, according to Coyotes head coach Larry Hurd.

Graham doesn't have a profile on either of the recruiting service Web sites yet, but a quick Google search shows that he's a bit of a track star. One blog reader passed along this link to his MoCoRunning track bio.

I'll have more from Graham and Hurd tomorrow.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
        
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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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