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August 29, 2008

Weekly basketball recruiting roundup

While former Maryland recruit Gus Gilchrist awaits an NCAA ruling on his eligibility status for the upcoming season at South Florida, his longtime trainer/advisor Terrelle Woody is getting started on a new job at the Tampa university.

According to the Tampa Tribune, USF hired Woody this week as the men’s basketball team’s video and conditioning assistant.

Woody, who does not have a college degree, will be paid $30,000 and will not receive benefits from the school, USF coach Stan Heath said.

His job duties include recording games of upcoming opponents, making sure the televisions in the coaches' offices are connected to DirectTV and assisting a certified strength and conditioning coach with the players.

• The Terps are still in the running for power forward James Padgett, a 2009 prospect from Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Right now the schools that are still in it are West Virginia, Pitt, Maryland, South Carolina, Providence and St. John’s,” the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Padgett said by phone.

Padgett has already visited St. John’s unofficially and said he will visit South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia and Pitt unofficially next week.

• Dix Hills, N.Y., power forward Tobias Harris continued his college tour this week with a stop in College Park. Harris’ father, Torrel, said his son “came away very impressed with Coach [Gary] Williams,” and was particularly moved by a speech on campus by Len Bias’ mother, Lonise.

“Mrs. Bias touched on several important issues that are important to young people,” Torrel said. “Len’s mother talked about being a leader in this world and knowing who you are as a person. She also said friends are important in anyone’s life. She also said it’s important knowing yourself as a person as opposed to trying to please your so called friends.”

Rivals.com updated its class of 2010 prospect rankings this week, and numerous Terps targets cracked the top 150. Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith (11), Plainfield, N.J., point guard Isiah Epps (40), Albany, N.Y., guard Taran Buie (53) and Calvert Hall power forward Jonathan Graham (77) are just a few UM prospects on the list.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 28, 2008

Meet Steve Goins

Steve Goins has already gotten a taste of life in College Park.

The Maryland power forward recruit spent four weeks on campus earlier this summer as part of the university’s Scholastic Transitions Educational Program (S.T.E.P.).

Goins took courses in English, math and study skills, while also learning the ins and outs of campus living.

“It was like a [pre-college program to] get you acclimated to how life is going to be,” Goins said. “I met a lot of other athletes, not just basketball, but from lacrosse, baseball, football, every other sport. I think it was [very beneficial]. It helped out a lot.”

Goins will be back in College Park before the end of the month. He’s still waiting to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Once that approval comes, the once-improbable scenario of Goins as a Terp will finally come to fruition.

“I would’ve never thought I could be playing for Maryland a few years ago when I first started playing basketball,” Goins said. “I wasn’t forced into [playing] -- I always liked basketball, but never actually played. But then I started loving to play and got a scholarship offer from Maryland. ... So I’m just enjoying it and taking everything in.”

Here’s an introduction to Goins.

Name: Steve Goins
Birthdate: 7/29/90
Birthplace: Chicago
Hometown: Chicago
Height: 6’9
Weight: 245
Position: Power forward
High School: Curie High School (senior year), Leo Catholic High School (freshman-junior year)
Senior statistics: 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks
Runner-up: South Florida or Illinois-Chicago
Favorite pro basketball player: Carmelo Anthony
Favorite pro basketball team: None
Favorite music: Lil Wayne
Favorite book: The Outsiders by Susan E. Hinton
Favorite movie: Friday
Favorite TV show: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite high school class: Art
Favorite thing about College Park: “When I visited, it was just big, and there’s all types of people there.”
Hobbies: Drawing
Intended major: Computer graphics
Something that not many people know about you: “Last year, my senior year, was my first full year of playing basketball. I actually started playing basketball my freshman year of high school. Sophomore year I didn’t play much, got hurt in the summer and junior year I played a little bit. So senior year was my first full year.”
Best basketball moment: “My first game [as a senior at Curie] I guess. I almost had a triple-double, like one block off of a triple-double.”
Role model: “My mother and my father because they’re always there for me and always hard working, so I just try to work hard at everything I do.”
Why Maryland? “The town and everything was just great. With all the other schools I was looking in to -- Maryland was at the top being in the ACC. It’s a big school and I’ve got a real good opportunity to get a lot of playing time. Once I looked into the academic side, they were pretty good, too.”

Click here for AAU coach Nick Irvin's take on Goins.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:16 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

August 27, 2008

Bozeman talks Morgan State's 2008 recruiting class

Todd Bozeman has a lot returning from Morgan State’s 2007-08 team.

But he’s also adding several talented newcomers to the Bears -- the reigning regular-season MEAC champions.

Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College center Buford Foote, Hagerstown Community College forward John Long, Northeastern (Colo.) Junior College guard Troy Smith and Gwynn Park guard Sean Thomas are the new additions to MSU’s roster. Philadelphia forward Ameer Ali, former Walbrook center Kevin Thompson and ex-St. Frances point guard Desmond Thomas all redshirted for Morgan last season and will be eligible this fall.

Bozeman spoke with Recruiting Report recently about the Bears’ 2008 recruiting class.
toddbozeman.jpg
Give us an overview of your class of newcomers.

Well there’s only one freshman that we actually signed, the rest are junior college players. The freshman is Sean Thomas. He’s a guard. I think he can play both spots but he’s really a point guard. He’s a tough, physical player, aggressive. I think that he is, physically, probably more prepared as a freshman just because he’s physically strong and I think he’ll bring a lot to the program. He comes from a good basketball program. He’s been well coached. He’s [a Washington Post] All-Met player and I think he’s the first All-Met from the D.C. area to attend Morgan since probably Garcia Hopkins back in the 70s, so I’m sure it was the first one since then. ... But to get an All-Met player was significant for us, not that I recruited him because he was All-Met. But I’m excited for Sean to be a part of the program.

The junior college guys, one is Buford Foote from Pensacola Junior College. At 6’10", he gives us a shot-blocking [presence] and rebounder, especially losing Boubacar [Coly]. Having some size will be important. We can’t replace Boo, but he’ll bring a lot to us in terms of experience. Being a junior college player, he’s already played against talent. He probably comes from one of the best JUCO leagues in the country down in the Panhandle. He’s from Atlanta, Georgia. His length will be a big asset to us and he can shoot the jumper from the elbow and from the free-throw line.

The other one is John Long. John is probably the best athlete we have on the team. He’s 6’7", really long arms and a really strong athlete. He was second in the country in rebounding [in] junior college, so again, that was important for us to try to replace the rebounding that Boubacar gave us. Boubacar was in the top ten in the country, but collectively by committee, that’s how we’ll try to replace that. But John is a rebounder and defender and that’s what he’ll bring to the table.

Troy Smith, he’s a wing player that can score in transition. He can defend anyone, really. He comes from Northeastern Junior College in Colorado, but he’s from Baltimore and came back home. Baltimore players have a certain grittiness that he certainly has, so it’s been a big part of what we’ve been able to do, what we’ve built these last two years. But he can really finish in transition.

And I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to coach the other incoming guys. Those guys were already there. Desmond Thomas was the first high school player who signed after my first year. He was at St. Frances for high school and sat out last year as a non-qualifier. He’s a real steady point guard, a real heady point guard. He has a lot of poise for a young player. And the other kid, Kevin Thompson, was a highly-touted 6’8" forward from Walbrook. He redshirted last year only because he didn’t get through the [NCAA] Clearinghouse until halfway through the season, so we decided not to play him even though he would’ve been a big help to us. He’s a very efficient low-post scorer. He will hopefully help fill the void of Boubacar in terms of scoring in the low post. And Ameer Ali is a tough, rugged wing player who also sat out last year. He’ll bring a certain amount of toughness and high basketball IQ. So I feel good about the class. [Thomas, Thompson and Ali] weren’t actually in the class, but they’re newcomers just the same.

Has it been a strategy of yours to target junior college players?

Well when we first got out there that was a strategy because I didn’t want to just rely on high school players because I knew that in order to build a program, we had to have some guys who had some experience playing and would physically be more mature. And that’s the reason why the junior college guys were the ones of choice. But you do want to bring in some high school kids because you want to continue building the program. For high school players, it normally takes them a while because they need to understand how hard you have to play. Junior college guys, they’re used to maybe playing against one player that’s very good or a couple games before they come upon a really good player or team. High school guys, it’s almost the same thing. When you get to college basketball, you have to bring it every day in practice and games. So it’s not necessarily a strategy, but when you’re looking for maturity, a lot of times you have to go the junior college route.

Smith is a Douglass High School grad, but he played his junior-college ball in Colorado. How did he end up there?

It’s a ways away, but he’s very close to Carmelo Anthony so that’s why he ended up there. That was by his choice, so we didn’t have anything to do with that. We recruited him out of high school, but he wasn’t a qualifier, so that’s why he went to junior college. So he chose that junior college, but he’s friends with Carmelo, and his brother might be one of Carmelo’s best friends. There’s not a story behind it, but he did very well.

How important is it for you to keep local talent at home?

Well I just think that anytime you’re in an area that produces an abundance of talent, you want to keep as many home as possible. We’re definitely not unique to that approach. Baltimore always has had a tremendous amount of talent. You just think of Juan Dixon ... Donte Greene, Malcolm Delaney at Virginia Tech, Carmelo Anthony, as I said. The [David] Wingates, Reggie Williams, Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Lewis. There’s always a ton of players in Baltimore. Just to have those kinds of players around, it only makes sense [to recruit the area]. You don’t have to go that far to get good players. That was the focus when I got here, so fortunately [we’ve been able] to keep some of the guys home.

Will your JUCO recruits be ready to play immediately?

That remains to be seen because for most junior college players, it takes a minute to get adjusted. Even Jamar Smith, who was the [MEAC] Player of the Year, it took him time to get adjusted. But that doesn’t mean these guys can’t have an impact. I don’t predict -- you just don’t know because it matters how soon they have to adjust to the consistent level of play that you have to get ready for in Division I, even in practice within your own team.

Do you expect any of the newcomers to make an immediate impact? Which guys are you counting on this year?

Not necessarily for the newcomers, but Marquise Kately will be one of the top players in the league. He was an all-league player last year. He has a very high basketball IQ. He’ll dictate a lot of what happens with us this year, as will Reggie Holmes, who could end up being the leading scorer in the history of the school because he’s been in double figures every year. Kevin Thompson in the post and Jermaine Bolden [at point guard], those guys will probably play significant roles, but everybody will play a part because we’ll be a deeper team than we were last year. We were eight deep last year, but [this year] we’ll probably have 10 or 11 guys that will possibly play every game.

What was the timeline for your recruits in terms of when they signed?

Buford Foote was the first guy this year. He was an early signing-period guy. The rest of the guys were late signing period. Sean Thomas went all the way down to the end of the season. He probably was the last guy.

Has your recent success made recruiting easier?

I don’t know if recruiting is ever easy, so I would never say that. But in terms of the program, I think the fact that we’ve been invited to participate in the Bracket Buster, the first MEAC team ever to do that ... I think that speaks volumes to what the guys we had last year [accomplished], and even the year before that with the foundation they were able to lay. ... It’s definitely a sign of growth at going in the right direction for the program. I think that just adds to the bricks being laid to build the program.

Baltimore Sun photo of Todd Bozeman by David Hobby / Nov. 25, 2006

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:56 AM | | Comments (4)
        

August 26, 2008

Chicago AAU coach has high hopes for Goins

Nick Irvin is starting to get excited.

In a few months, the Chicago-based AAU basketball coach plans on watching one of his all-time favorite players -- Steve Goins -- suit up for Maryland.

It’s been an improbable journey for Goins, who didn’t start playing basketball until his freshman year of high school. Irvin’s been by the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder’s side for most of the way. The latest hurdle has been navigating the NCAA’s eligibility standards. Goins has been admitted to Maryland and took three classes in College Park earlier this summer. But he still has to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Irvin is confident everything will work out.

“I told him, ‘just take it in stride and everything will work itself out. So don’t be worried about [the Clearinghouse]. You’re in college now, so just be happy,’” Irvin said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be fine, because he did all he had to do.”

Irvin first discovered Goins as a 6-4 freshman out of Leo Catholic High School on Chicago’s South Side. Goins joined the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program, which was founded by Nick Irvin’s father, Mac.

“When I first saw Steve play, he was real smooth, finger-rolling and dunking, so he always had the skills,” Irvin said.

As a newcomer to the game, Goins didn’t play much as a freshman. Then an injury before his sophomore year derailed his progress on the court.

“Once he broke his leg, it was a setback for him,” Irvin said. “And I always knew he had the potential to be real good. When you’re a kid, you get down on yourself, so my brother and my father and his mother picked his spirits up.”

The broken leg made his sophomore season a wash. In between rehabbing the injury and a gradual growth spurt to his current 6-9 height, Goins slowly began to feel more comfortable on the court.

“It took him a while, almost this year to get it back where he could say, ‘OK, I’m going to run and jump and be OK,’” Irvin said. “But once he got rolling, he was real good. Big men sometimes develop late. You just keep staying focused. So we were running him and running him and he put his mind to it. Man, he could be good.”

After his junior year, Goins left Leo for Curie High School, where he finally put it all together, averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks per game. All of a sudden, Goins emerged as a solid Division I recruit. But there was still a lot of work to be done.

“Well I told him, ‘man, you want to go to Division I, you want to play at the highest level, you have to put in the work, take all the classes you need and don’t get discouraged about it,’” Irvin said. “So I just helped him stay focused, had him keep working hard.”

After his senior season, Goins was weighing scholarship offers from South Florida and Illinois-Chicago. Irvin said he thinks Goins’ recruitment was low-profile due to several factors -- his lack of playing time at Leo, the broken leg impeding his progress and questionable academics. It wasn’t until earlier this summer that Goins was academically qualified.

When Gus Gilchrist bolted for South Florida, the Terps suddenly had a gaping hole in their frontcourt. Once Goins took care of his academics, a scholarship was offered and accepted.

Irvin thinks Goins has the ability to contribute for UM as a freshman.

“As a freshman, probably they just want him to come in, do a little bit,” Irvin said. “They probably aren’t expecting that much -- just have a good freshman year and keep getting better. ... I don’t think any college program would be expecting [a freshman] to come in and dominate right off the bat. There’s probably a process he will go through. If they need him to play right away, oh yeah, he can play right away. He’ll be ready.

“He can score the ball, and rebound the ball. That transition will be real easy for him. Steve does everything good. He can score on the blocks, shoot the 15-footer. If his confidence is there, he’ll be fine.”

Goins is back in Chicago now, but plans on returning to College Park later his week. He’s been working on his strength and conditioning, and awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

When he finally does suit up for the Terps, Irvin will be watching intently from afar.

“I’m so proud of Steve because people were like, ‘he’s not this, he’s not that,’” Irvin said. “For me being the one watching him develop [and see him] keep working and keep working -- man, I’m so proud of him because he’s one of my favorite players. I probably got on him worse than anybody. But he’s one of my favorites. ... And I’m just so happy for him.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for a Q&A with Goins.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:07 AM | | Comments (5)
        

August 25, 2008

Weekend wrap -- Gilchrist, Adams and more

Ever wonder what went on beyond the scenes with former Maryland center recruit Gus Gilchrist? The Tampa Tribune has your answers.

The Florida newspaper investigated the relationship between Gilchrist, who is still waiting for the NCAA to rule on his eligibility status at South Florida, and his longtime trainer, Terrelle Woody. The entire story is definitely worth the read.

Throughout his dizzying basketball travels - at age 18, he already has attended two high schools and signed letters-of-intent with three universities - Gilchrist has been aligned with Terrelle Woody, 38, his personal trainer, adviser and spokesman.

Now, Woody is in line for a job in the USF athletic department, a non-coaching position that has not been advertised and for which school officials say "there is no record" of what the job might pay or what the qualifications are. Woody does not have a college degree.

• According to Zags Blog, Dix Hills, N.Y., forward Tobias Harris, a 2010 prospect, is scheduled to visit College Park today.

• A couple of Maryland football commitments had rough starts to their senior seasons. Running back D.J. Adams was stifled in Norcross’ 21-6 loss to Camden County (Ga.).

Maryland commitment D.J. Adams found few holes in the fast Wildcats defense. He gained 27 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble.

Quarterback Danny O’Brien struggled in East Forsyth’s season-opening loss to Rocky Mount (N.C.). The UM commit went 7-of-16 for 83 yards and one interception in his team’s 43-13 defeat.

• Terps linebacker commitment Bradley Johnson checked in at No. 38 on The Roanoke Times’ list of top senior prospects in Virginia.

38. Bradley Johnson, 6-1, 205 LB, Dinwiddie – Ex-Rockbridge coach Billy Mills is building a power at Dinwiddie, with Maryland-bound Johnson leading the way.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:29 AM | | Comments (8)
        

August 22, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Back in June, East Forsyth (N.C.) quarterback Danny O’Brien committed to Maryland over offers from Duke and East Carolina.

In a Winston-Salem Journal profile of O’Brien, East Forsyth head coach Todd Willert said being slightly overlooked serves as motivation for O’Brien.

"I think he feels like he gets slighted quite a bit," Willert said of O'Brien. "He is not all about that though; he wants to win. But deep down, he hears people talking about other quarterbacks, and I have told him the more you win, the more they talk about you. The big thing is he got his offers and now he can relax and enjoy playing football and not worry about trying to earn a scholarship. The biggest pressure he has is he wants to win.

"That's what you need in a quarterback. The colleges that sat down and talked to him realized his leadership and knowledge of the game."

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette singles out two UM commitments in its preview of the PG North.

Maryland recruit C.J. Brown, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound quarterback [for Seneca Valley], passed for 1,567 yards last season as a junior. His top target last season, Matt Plautz, returns after catching 51 passes for 659 yards and also earning all-conference honors. …

Maryland recruit Ryan Schlieper (6-5, 278) and Mike Vuono (6-3, 280), both seniors, will anchor the [North Allegheny] offensive line and linebacker Jackson Boyd and defensive end Wes Henderson should do so for the defense. Senior Brian Austin, a the WPIAL 100-meter champion in track, led the team in receiving yards last season.

The Post-Gazette also conducted a Q&A with Brown.

• Florida is chasing three serious Maryland targets: Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins, Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins and St. John's (D.C.) offensive lineman Pete White. GatorCountry.com analyzed Florida’s chances with each prospect.

TRAVIS HAWKINS, CB (5-11, 190, Gaithersburg, MD Quince Orchard): Haven’t been able to get in touch with Hawkins, who performed very well during Friday Night Light’s. I think there is some mutual interest but, I really don’t see him ending up at Florida.

• Chesapeake, Va., linebacker Jerod Askew, who previously listed UM in his final five, was named the top college prospect in the Hampton Roads area by The Virginian-Pilot.

1. Jerod Askew, Oscar Smith linebacker: His stock keeps going up, up, up. Coaches see him and his game film, and say he’s a beast, which is exactly what they want.

• According to The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, Windsor, N.C., offensive tackle Travis Bond is still considering Maryland for an official visit.

The 6-foot-8, 330-pounder has set an Oct. 25 date to make an official visit to Michigan. He’s also considering visits with East Carolina, Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina and UCLA.

• The recruitment of Good Counsel cornerback Louis Young, a 2010 prospect, is far from over, but Young told Yahoo! Sports that the Terps are in good shape.

“I don’t have a list yet but I really like Boston College and Maryland right now,” he said.

“I like Boston College because of the coaches there and the atmosphere. I work out with Coach Haden and his son goes there, so we have a connection. That helps a lot.

“With Maryland, it’s close to home and I go up there a lot. I have a good relationship with the coaches.”

Basketball recruiting

• The stock of Torrington, Conn., power forward Jordan Williams continues to rise. The Maryland target made his first appearance on the Rivals 150 this week, checking in as the No. 102 prospect in the country for the class of 2009.

The Register Citizen spoke with the 6-foot-10, 245-pounder and his family, some of whom are still getting used to Williams’ status as a top recruit.

"I got a call from (Maryland coach) Gary Williams and, for a minute, I thought it was one of my friends joking with me," said Leron [Williams, Jordan’s father], still sort of amazed that the guy he used to stuff so easily in the driveway - for his own good - is now so sought after, at least partially as a result.

• Dix Hills, N.Y. forward Tobias Harris has plans to visit College Park soon, according to the New York Daily News.

Harris said he plans to visit Maryland, Virginia and Georgetown next week, although a plethora of other schools - including Louisville, UConn, Texas and Rutgers - are still in the hunt for him. He has no timetable on a decision (he’s just a junior), but he said he might decide this year.

• According to Rivals.com, former Terps shooting guard signee Tyree Evans has finally found a home.

Rivals.com has learned that 6-foot-3 guard Tyree Evans has been accepted to Kent State. Evans, the No. 6 prospect in the 2008 junior college rankings, will join the team as a walk-on. The Golden Flashes did not have any scholarships available.

TampaBay.com reports that ex-Terp Gus Gilchrist is waiting for a ruling on his immediate future at South Florida.

Frontcourt depth is a key, and hinges on two things. First, hugely, is a hardship waiver being filed for power forward Gus Gilchrist, the transfer from Maryland. It hasn't gone out yet, but if granted, would allow Gilchrist to play this season.

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

August 21, 2008

Checking in with Sean Farr

Dunbar wide receiver Sean Farr’s big junior season has paid off on the recruiting trail.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder caught 49 passes for 1,383 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, helping the Poets to the Class 1A state title. Thanks in part to those efforts, Rivals.com rated Farr the No. 57 wide receiver in the country.

Akron and Eastern Michigan have offered Farr, while Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are showing serious interest. Farr, who camped at Maryland, Memphis, Pittsburgh and West Virginia this summer, expects additional offers to come during the season.

Farr spoke with Recruiting Report recently about his status.
seanfarr.jpg
Do you have any favorites in your recruitment?

I would say Akron is my favorite right now, because they treat me like I’m already one of their players and they were the first one to offer me a scholarship. I know some people might find it surprising it’s my favorite ... maybe because Akron’s not like a Maryland or a Virginia. But it’s a good program.

Was it a relief to get that first offer from Akron? What went through your mind when you received the offer?

Yeah. When I first got the offer it was a relief. I was happy I’d be able to go to college. Then I thought about leaving my family and going to a new city, all the way in Ohio. And I was probably going to get a lot of playing time there. Those were the three things [I thought about].

When did Eastern Michigan offer you?

They offered me three days after Akron offered me, so it was my second offer.

Do you have plans to visit EMU?

Yeah. Probably when they play Akron. I met their coaches at the Pittsburgh camp. They told me they were looking to put me at slot, and I could get a lot of playing time at slot.

What have the Maryland coaches said they’d like to see from you this season?

They want to see me put on a couple pounds and want to see my lifting. They’ll see a couple of our games, see how I’m doing.

What did you like about your visit to West Virginia?

It was a big atmosphere. There are a lot of big players on that team. I like the way their spread offense runs. And they’re on TV the most, too.

When did the Virginia coaches get involved in your recruitment?

Virginia started showing interest before football season even started last year. Because I transferred from Lake Clifton, they figured I’d probably be better going to Dunbar anyway.

Is there any reason that you and Dunbar running back Tavon Austin plan on making your decisions after the season?

We both want to do the best for our team. We want a lot of college coaches to come to see us, but we want them to come to our school and see other guys, too.

Photo of Sean Farr by Kim Hairston / December 1, 2007

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:06 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Checking in with ...
        

August 20, 2008

A look at Team Melo's young prospects

As promising as Baltimore’s class of 2009 men’s basketball recruits could be, the city’s 2010 crop looks even better.

Carlton Carrington’s 16-and-under Mt. Royal-Team Melo squad (which will officially be known as Nike Baltimore Elite in October) did major damage on the summer AAU circuit, opening the eyes of college recruiters across the country to Baltimore’s high-level talent.

“Oh man, I would say at least seven-to-10 [local players in the class of 2010] would be mid- to high-majors down the road -- not just in my program but all around Baltimore,” Carrington said. “I think at least seven could, right now, sign big letters of intent, and I think another three if they keep on improving. We’ll have probably three kids in the top 25 and five in the top 50, when Scout and Rivals’ new rankings come out. Josh Selby, who’s the No. 1 point guard in the country, he played on the 17-and-under team. He played up with Jonathan Graham. You put them in the mix and they’re going to be real good.”

Selby, who started his high school career at John Carroll before transferring to DeMatha for his sophomore season, is ranked as Rivals.com‘s No. 5 player in the 2010 class. Carrington said Selby’s recruitment is wide open.

“Josh Selby’s going to be recruited by everybody under the sun,” Carrington said. “Memphis, Florida, Louisville. I’m surprised that Maryland hasn’t come after him. Tennessee, he visited there and Louisville. He’s going on visits to Memphis, Oklahoma, Texas. He just has a world of schools coming after him.”

Graham, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Calvert Hall, more than held his own playing a year up for Carrington’s team. Several high-major schools took notice.

“Villanova has offered,” Carrington said. “I think Maryland is involved, of course, because his father [Ernie Graham] played there. I know Syracuse has been inquiring. Those are the big schools.”

On Team Melo’s 16-and-under team, City College power forward Jordan Latham led the way.

“He’s being heavily recruited right now by Florida, Xavier University, James Madison, Richmond, which offered a scholarship, along with Xavier,” Carrington said. “Maryland and Clemson are also looking at Jordan Latham.”

Carrington cited several other standouts on Team Melo’s U-16 team this summer: St. Frances shooting guard Dante Holmes, Calvert Hall forward Damien Lee, Dunbar guard Derrell Edwards, St. Frances forward Greg Lewis, St. Frances point guard R.J. Williams and Baltimore Freedom Academy guard Kevin Smith.

According to Carrington, Holmes “could be a high-major if he keeps working hard,” Edwards is hearing from George Mason, Siena and Towson, while Lee is also receiving interest from several CAA schools.

Lewis, Williams and Smith are all 2011 recruits, but Carrington has high expectations for each -- particularly the St. Frances big man.

“Greg Lewis is really class of 2011, but he played up with the 16s,” Carrington said. “His recruitment is going to be big, too. I know Maryland is involved, Florida is going to tear the door down and I think Georgetown [will be there], but he’s still 2011.”

While the summer AAU circuit has come to a close, Carrington is having trouble containing his excitement for next summer, when Nike Baltimore Elite makes its debut.

“I’m excited about [Latham and Graham] and Josh Selby as the number one point guard in the country,” Carrington said. “I’m excited because we’ve got some bigs that can play and hang around the basket and guys that can flat out shoot it. I’m just excited about next summer with the new name, uniforms and logos.”

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

August 19, 2008

Big summer for Team Melo's '09 recruits

A decent chunk of Carlton Carrington’s summer has been spent preparing for change.

This fall, the Mt. Royal-Team Melo AAU basketball coach will see his organization change names, logos and uniforms. On Oct. 26, the program will be introduced as Nike Baltimore Elite.

But while the team has undergone transition off the court, it was business as usual for Carrington and company on it.

Team Melo’s 17-and-under team, comprised mostly of local 2009 prospects (and a couple standout 2010 recruits), was named one of Nike’s top 24 programs in the country. The squad also earned an invite to the Nike Peach Jam AAU tourney in North Augusta, S.C. And, per usual, several of Team Melo’s players improved their stock in the eyes of college coaches throughout the summer.

“For the ‘09 kids you have Andrew Fitzgerald, one of the best big men on the circuit this year,” Carrington said. “He’s one of the top 10 big men in the country. He got invited to the Amare Stoudemire Skills Academy. So he played well [this summer] and got invited. [DeMatha shooting guard and Baltimore native] Naji Hibbert committed to Texas A&M. He had a real good summer, was invited down to the Paul Pierce Skills Academy in California and was recognized as one of the top two-guards in the country.”

Fitzgerald, who played as a freshman at St. Frances, spent his sophomore year at Towson Catholic and went to Owings Mills for his junior season, is on the move again. The 6-foot-9 power forward is headed to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his final high school season.

“It was nothing about the school or academics,” Carrington said of Fitzgerald’s decision to leave Baltimore. “Andrew felt like he progressed so much that he didn’t want to be the super big fish in the pond. He wanted to play against good competition day in and day out. That’s definitely not a knock on Baltimore County. He just wanted to play against kids his size. He didn’t want to average 28 and 20 and not be ready for college. He realized he can play with those guys, that he can play with all the top bigs in the country. He just wanted to keep working against them.”

Fitzgerald’s recruitment took off over the summer. According to Carrington, Fitzgerald focused on seven schools.

“Louisville just offered him a scholarship last week,” Carrington said. “He’s going on an official visit there. Oklahoma, he’s going to visit there. Xavier offered, he’ll visit there. Boston College, I don’t think has offered yet, but [he could] use one of the five officials there. Seton Hall offered, Pittsburgh offered -- they’ve been in the picture for a while. Texas A&M offered a scholarship in the summer time. And all these schools, I’m not saying they called him a couple times. The head coaches really sat down and offered him scholarships, full rides. ... I’m so proud of that kid. He came so far and he just wants to play against big kids night in and night out.”

Carrington said Fitzgerald will probably bypass the fall signing period and wait until spring to make his choice.

Two John Carroll standouts also had big summers for Team Melo. Combo guard Raphael Jordan and shooting guard/small forward Wyatt Smith are both hearing from Division I schools.

“Wyatt Smith from John Carroll is in that mid-major range,” Carrington said. “Rider, Siena, schools up in the MAAC conference [are interested] .... Towson is really looking at him. … Raphael Jordan, he’s a mid-major kid. A lot of Patriot League schools [are interested in him]. ... Raphael Jordan has an offer from American University. He went on an unofficial to Bucknell. ... Those guys have a couple offers, but I know [John Carroll head coach] Tony Martin does a good job, so there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to land somewhere.”

Two other 2009 Team Melo guards are definite DI prospects. According to Carrington, Digital Harbor's George Jackson has offers from UMBC and Drexel and is also being recruited by Towson and St. Joseph’s. Towson Catholic point guard Devin Spence, meanwhile, is focused on several academic heavyweights.

“Devin Spence is being recruited by Ivy League schools,” Carrington said. “He has a 3.8 core GPA. Harvard is very, very interested in him. I think he’s very interested in Harvard, too.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Team Melo, including info from Carrington on some of the team’s 2010 prospects.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:09 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 18, 2008

Arundel's Lemon discusses commitment to Syracuse

There were times this summer when Alec Lemon felt like he could hardly catch his breath.

The Arundel wide receiver had a seemingly nonexistent summer break, embarking on an almost nonstop schedule of college visits, camp appearances and combine performances.

But it all paid for Lemon last week, when the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder verbally committed to Syracuse.

“It feels real good actually. I’m real excited,” Lemon said. “I called them [Thursday] night after 10. They kind of thought I was thinking of committing there for awhile. Me and [my] family were talking about it, going through the options [and thought it was the right time to commit]. But [the Syracuse coaches] were excited. They were pumped.”

Lemon shined as a junior for the Wildcats, catching 70 passes for 969 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping his team to the 4A state championship game against Quince Orchard.
aleclemon.jpg
But after the season, when scholarship offers didn’t start pouring in, Lemon and his stepfather, Sean Asbury, became proactive with his recruitment.

“We had to take the approach that since not many colleges were coming toward me, we had to come to them,” Lemon said. “So I made a lot of contact, went to the camps and impressed them there.”

The first stop on Lemon’s summer itinerary was Louisville’s camp in early June. The father-son duo flew from Baltimore to Kentucky and back. Days later, Lemon and Asbury loaded up the family’s 2004 Chevy Malibu and made the drive from their Crofton home to Nashville, Tenn., for Vanderbilt’s camp.

When the Commodores’ camp was complete, Lemon and Asbury hit the road again, this time heading to Louisiana for Tulane’s camp. After that it was a drive back up north and a couple well-deserved days of relaxation.

The rest of the summer was much of the same. Lemon participated in two combines at M&T Bank Stadium and one in Philadelphia. He went to camps at Maryland, Richmond and Delaware. A couple weeks after their southern road trip, Lemon and Asbury headed north for camps at Connecticut and Syracuse.

All told, Lemon and Asbury logged more than 4,600 miles, pushing the Malibu over 100,000 miles. Along the way, the duo bonded over football, recruiting and Lemon’s future.

“It brought us closer, especially all the time in the car we had with each other,” Lemon said. “... After each camp we would talk about college, but then the conversation would be about anything really, trying to keep my focus off of college and trying to have fun since it was the summer. ... [Going on trips with him] means a lot, just showing how much time he put into me.”

With the summer finally drawing to a close, Lemon held offers from Syracuse and Delaware, and felt confident scholarships from Vanderbilt, James Madison and Richmond would soon be on the way.

At nearly every place he visited, coaches told Lemon to be patient. The offers would come during the season, they said. But with two-a-days approaching, Lemon thought back to all the positives at Syracuse. He liked the campus and was impressed with the dorms. SU had his major of choice -- mechanical engineering. And Lemon felt wanted by Orange head coach Greg Robinson and his recruiting coach, Randy Trivers.

So he sat down with his family and made the decision. His parents, who are considering purchasing season tickets, were completely supportive and pleased with their son’s choice. For the Lemon-Asbury family, it was a summer well spent.

“[At times I was] just overwhelmed with everything. I was basically playing for my future, for a scholarship, at every event,” Lemon said. “[Committing to Syracuse] was just a relief. It felt like what I did paid off.”

Click on the YouTube player for Lemon’s junior highlights.

Photo of Alec Lemon during 4A state championship game by Colby Ware / Special to The Sun / December 7, 2007

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 15, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

First things first: For any area hoops fans with a clear schedule on Saturday, head out to the Madison Square Dome in East Baltimore for the fourth annual bmorehoops.com All-Star game.

There will be free food, drinks, school supplies for the kids and some really, really good basketball. Here’s a partial list of local participants in the headline game:

Josh Selby, Josh Corbett , Roscoe Smith, Will Barton, Antonio Barton, Donte Holmes, CJ Fair, Eric Atkins, Justin Jackson, Jordan Latham, Greg Lewis, Nardi Bogues , George Jackson, Davon Saddler, Isaiah Philmore, Leshon Edwards, Que Goodwin, Stewart Clarke, Andrew Fitzgerald, Alex Big Red Jackson, Isaiah Armwood, Terrell Vincent, Adam Johnson, Nick Groce, Naji Hibbert

For the full schedule of events, check out bmorehoops.com.

Sadly, I’ll be chained to my desk all day Saturday, updating the site (thanks to Michael Phelps’ potentially record-breaking night , the Ravens’ second preseason game and the Orioles-Tigers game), so for anyone that attends, feel free to post your take on the event in the comments section of this post.

Basketball recruiting

• Plainfield, N.J., point guard Isiah Epps told NBE Basketball Report that Maryland and Pittsburgh are the leaders in his recruitment.

So what does Isaiah think of the Big East anyway? “I’m really an ACC guy, but I just like certain schools from the Big East,” mentioning, “Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Georgetown.”

Epps, who indicated that he will play point guard in college, despite the fact that he may grow to 6-foot-4, does not have a clear leader between Pitt and Maryland at this point in time. When asked who he would sign with if signing day was tomorrow, he was really unsure, “I really don’t know ... [I'm] still thinking with my mom.”

• Brewster (N.H.) Academy small forward Givon Crump is on Maryland’s radar, according to Zags Blog. Now Crump’s working on trimming his list.

“I’m just planning out who I will be visiting with in September,” Crump told Beaverblitz.com. “Shortly after that I’ll make a commitment. I’m looking for a school to have a sincere interest in me and where I’ll have the opportunity to play and get a great education. I also want to be around good people.”

Crump has already taken unofficial visits to Maryland and Rutgers, but he still plans to take officials in September to Michigan and Oregon State, said his AAU coach Mark Matthew of AZ Pump ’n’ Run.

• Seneca Valley forward Jordan Goodman will be a sophomore this fall, but according to TurtleSportsReport.com, he was considering committing to the Terps this summer.

He’s received serious interest from Memphis, Tennessee, UCLA and Kansas State in addition to Maryland, but the Terps remain at the top of his early list. In fact, the Goodman was planning to commit to Maryland during the next week or so until his father decided it would be best to wait a bit, they said.

“We are truly considering going to Maryland, but my only concern with my son is he needs to show his dedication and determination to go to that level,” said Dion Goodman, whose son was academically ineligible last year at Wise High in Upper Marlboro. “I want him to have one more year of not having that pressure, not having to look over his shoulder and also to show that he’s able to play athletically as well as scholastically ... Time really goes fast after this year.”

• Former Montrose Christian small forward Tristan Spurlock -- a one-time Terps target -- committed to Virginia earlier this week.

“They’ve been on me the longest,” Spurlock said. “They know exactly how I play. They knew what they were getting in me and vice versa.”

Spurlock reportedly had offers from traditional powers Georgetown and Louisville on the table, as well as Clemson, Wake Forest and Villanova.

Football recruiting

• The Pittsburgh Tribune Review profiled Maryland quarterback commitment C.J. Brown this week, taking a look at Brown’s maturation on the football field.

Brown was a late bloomer on the football field. He played for the first time in sixth grade when he lined up at running back, but said he "didn't feel like playing anymore because I was more focused on basketball and was traveling for baseball." It was only a matter of time, though, before Brown, who averaged 14 points per game as a point guard last season, realized football was his calling. His father, Clark Brown, played quarterback at Michigan State, and C.J.'s strong arm and stature screamed quarterback.

• Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins was a high riser in Rivals.com‘s updated prospect rankings this week, vaulting into the Rivals 250.

Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins has had impressive offers from the beginning of the recruiting process, but the 5-10, 181-pounder didn't show his defensive prowess until Florida's Friday Night Lights Camp in late July. Hawkins, who has offers from Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, Penn State and plenty of other heavyweights, worked out as a wide receiver the two previous times he was evaluated in person. But in The Swamp under the lights, he showed why he's one of the nation's top cornerback prospects. Hawkins checks in at No. 192.

• Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins earned high praise from Billy Tucker in ESPN.com's updated outside linebacker rankings.

While [Manti] Te'o may be one of the more college-ready OLBs right now, in terms of pure upside, we have not seen a defensive prospect like Jelani Jenkins (Wheaton, Md./Good Counsel) in years. ESPN's No. 2-rated OLB turned heads as a junior last fall with his great range and rare explosiveness closing in space. The intriguing part -- he was only 15 years old. The only traits this fast, attacking defender lacks right now are size and strength to shed bigger blockers, but we expect his longer, leaner frame to blossom to the 6-foot-2, 230-pound range in college -- while he retains his great speed and athleticism.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:40 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 14, 2008

Allen talks UMES' 2008 recruiting class

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore hired Frankie Allen as head coach in April, leaving the ex-UMBC assistant just a few weeks to assemble a recruiting class before the end of the spring signing period.

A little more than a month later, Allen had put together his class, signing six prospects.

Joining Allen’s inaugural class for the Hawks are Tyler Hines (6-7, 220, PF/C, Sewell, N.J./Timber Creek H.S.), Mark Robertson (6-5, 215, SF/PF, Lakewood, N.J./St. Benedict's Prep), Christopher Conner (6-4, 210, SG/SF, Powell, Tenn./Hargrave Military Academy), Neal Pitt (6-6, 230, SF/PF, Ft. Washington, Md./Frederick C.C.), Hillary Haley (6-6, 210, SG/SF, Waldorf, Md./St. Bonaventure Univ.) and Samuel Obetoh (6-7, 190, SF, New York, N.Y./Washington Irving H.S./Boys' Club of New York).

Allen, who has also served as the head coach at Howard, Tennessee State and Virginia Tech, spoke with Recruiting Report recently about his first recruiting class at UMES.

Give us a brief overview of the class.

Well we had the opportunity to come here by being hired at the end of the first week of April, so we’ve got a lot of new faces -- a junior college player by the name of Neil Pitt, who we really feel is a strong addition to our program. A lot of the freshmen went to prep school, so they’re not the typical freshmen. But we’re going to be pretty young. There’s a solid nucleus that we recruited and we’re excited about this solid infusion of new blood coming into our program. I think we addressed our needs, got some size and scoring. We really feel these guys will be the nucleus of our program over the next three to four years.

What do you expect from Hines?

Tyler’s a rugged rebounder. I think Tyler will have an immediate impact on our team with his much-needed strength and size. He’s a strong player, 6’7", 220 pounds. I like the fact that he’s a solid, hungry aggressive rebounder. He has the ability to play the four or five position, with his strength and aggressiveness and size. I think he’ll have an opportunity to contribute right away in our program.

Robertson comes from one of the top East Coast basketball schools in the country in St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J. How’d you land him?

One of my assistant coaches that I did retain, Shawn Smith, had been recruiting Mark. Obviously St. Benedict’s is a very strong program. We thought Mark was a versatile player who can play multiple positions. I like his athleticism, he has an excellent skill-set and will be a great addition to our team. He was a young man who visited with his mom and liked it and wanted to get in on the ground floor of a program going in a new direction. He had a good year last season and it’s one of the premier programs up there. He’s used to winning, and [it’s a major positive] when you bring in kids with a winning mentality to a program that’s not so used to winning. Mark’s used to going 30-5 every year, so he brings that winning mentality to the program.

Will Conner’s experience at Hargrave help ease his transition to the Division I level?

Oh yeah. Spending that year in prep school, they play against other top prep schools, also against some college freshmen or JV teams. Chris has the ability to stretch the defense. He‘s an excellent three-point shooter. I really think he’s improved his game by spending a year at prep school. He’s an outstanding shooter with deep range. The fact that they’re moving the three-point line back won’t affect him, and that was one of the biggest things that attracted me to him. He can stretch the defense and he won’t have to make a big adjustment [to the three-point line being moved back]. He still has solid three-point range. We’re really excited about Chris and what he brings to the table.

How did you get involved with Pitt and Haley and what do you expect from them?

When I was at UMBC as an assistant last year, we were recruiting Neil Pitt, and obviously recruiting changes back and forth. So I had seen him play and was aware of him. Neil is a big, strong combo forward who could play inside and out. I remember him from his high school days when I was coaching at Howard. I really felt he was somebody we should target with his ability. Bringing in a JUCO player from in-state really helped because it gave us an opportunity to give us a quality player with his skills and ability. He’s somebody we really feel good about with a young team and all the freshmen. Neil has played at the college level for two years. He brings the ability to score on the block and wing. He has size and strength and a little bit of leadership. I consider him a veteran player. He’s played a lot of basketball and we’re really excited about all the things Neil brings to the table.

I tried to recruit Hillary Haley when I was at Howard a few years ago, but St. Bonaventure was obviously a good distance from home. The assistant is a good friend of mine and had recruited Hillary for [the Bonnies’] previous head coach and was retained. It works out well for Hillary coming back close to home. I think Hillary really sees this program going to a different direction, moving up and on. I think they really have confidence that this will be a successful program. They’re really attracted to the school, the setting, the small-town atmosphere where the college is the focal point of everything that goes on. They really feel he’ll get the attention and academic support they need. With the NCAA residency rule, he has to sit out a year, but he’s going to be an outstanding performer for us. ... He played some significant minutes and made significant contributions at St. Bonaventure last year, but he had the opportunity to come back and be closer to home and being a part of our program, which was very attractive to him. So he’s a complete player and we’ll utilize all of his skills. He’s long and athletic. The fact that he has to sit out a year will help his growth and development ... and we’ll have an outstanding player for three years.

How important is it to land in-state guys like Pitt and Haley?

I think you’ve got to have a philosophy of recruiting inside and out. We’ve got good players in the Delmarva peninsula. You want to get kids from in-state -- [like] Hillary from the metro Washington, D.C. area. Same thing with Neil. Neil went to junior college in-state. I think that speaks well. People always want to recruit within a 250- to 300-mile radius where friends and family can see them play. But you want to get top-notch players. In Neil and Hillary, we were able to do that. Once you get those guys to come, it sort of opens doors for others to follow in terms of recruiting that area. We want to try to establish a philosophy of recruiting inside the state and in the Delmarva peninsula. Within a three-and-a-half hour drive, there are some pretty good basketball players that you can go out and recruit.

Talk about Obetoh and what he’s done since graduating high school.

He played AAU ball. We saw him in April at the Charlie Weber AAU event down in the D.C. area and he was playing for an AAU program out of New York. He’s just a skilled wing man that runs the floor and finishes in transition. He’ll give us another proven scorer on the wing. He has great athleticism. He can probably play either forward position. Sammy was sort of under-the-radar. He only played AAU ball during the summer, that’s when he was really getting noticed. Some of the people that saw him at AAU [tournaments] tried to get in late, but he came in for a visit and liked the program, liked the things we’re stressing. He came down this summer and got involved in summer school, worked out in the weight room, [started] getting stronger, those types of things. I think Sammy is somebody that’s best ball is ahead of him. I think at 6’7", 190 [pounds], he’ll put on the necessary strength. He has great skills and is athletic. Those are the type of guys we try to recruit at this level. We feel confident he’ll develop into a combo forward that can play and contribute before his career is done here.

Which of these guys do you expect to contribute immediately?

Well I’d say Neil because of the fact that he’s a two-year junior college performer and he’s so versatile. He can do so many things. He’s the type of kid that can play inside-out, can be a 3 or a power forward at the 4. As far as immediate impact, JUCO is still considered college basketball. [Neil comes in] a little bit stronger and older ... so he should have an immediate impact. Other players, as they become older and become more familiar with our style [will contribute]. Once we get into conference play, hopefully we will have developed. [Our newcomers are] obviously talented, so it’s just a matter of playing in our system and working as a team to develop. These kids that came down in the summer showed an ability and work ethic by going in the weight room with the strength and conditioning. [Those guys] bonded a little bit. I think we’re going to be a team that’s going to get better and better as the season goes along. With young kids … it takes a while for development, but the talent is there. We’re excited about our prospects for having a successful season this year

You started as head coach in April. How did you put the class together so quickly? Was it pretty hectic?

It was, but the fact that I’ve been coaching for a long time and have a lot of contacts and had a lot of people excited about the opportunity here [made recruiting easier]. So I had a lot of my friends in the coaching profession call me and tell me about kids under the radar or kids we needed to take a look at. We were able to get a kid, Tim Burns, to transfer in from High Point. An assistant down there called me about him. He’s from New Jersey, was down in North Carolina, and wanted to get a little bit closer to home. He’s somebody who’s going to sit out next year and have two years left. But those things [are typical in recruiting]. It was hectic, but a lot of times going into a new program, there’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. At UMES, with this administration, the president, athletic director, people on the board, and on the search committee that hired me, they are really going to make a concerted effort to put the resources into the program to do the things you have to for you to move forward. I’ve got a strong staff and we know recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. We had a successful first time out, and we’re just trying to build from that. Hopefully through the grace of God and a lot of hard work we can really establish the program next year as one that’s going to be up-and-coming.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:13 PM | | Comments (2)
        

August 13, 2008

Blog endorsement

Terps supporters looking for a fan’s perspective have a new option in the blogosphere.

TestudoTimes.com -- which is part of the Sports Blog Nation network -- launched last month. The co-authors, Ben Broman and Dave Tucker (he of I Probably Hate Your Team fame), have been pretty prolific thus far, doing season previews of Maryland’s offense, defense and special teams, while also starting a countdown of the top moments in UM men’s basketball history.

A little background on the co-authors, courtesy of Broman and Tucker.

Ben Broman was born and raised in Annapolis. His grandma went to Maryland, and thus he's been a Terps fan all his life. His happiest sports moment is when Maryland captured the NCAA championship in men's basketball.

Dave Tucker is originally from Lutherville. He’s a 2005 graduate of UM and has been a Terps fan his entire life. A member of the University's "M" Club, he lives and dies with Maryland sports, sticking by the Terps through thick and thin.

Here are a few other semi-recent additions to the blogroll, which can be found by scrolling down past the Recruiting Report archives on the right rail of this blog.

Digital Sports Maryland, an excellent local high school sports site with tons of great video.

d1scourse, a frequently-updated, always informative and entertaining Terps blog by The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens.

Recruiting Insider, a D.C.-centric recruiting blog by The Washington Post’s Josh Barr.

BaltimoreMetroSports.com, another nice local resource that specializes in highlight-film production for area athletes.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:13 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Schlieper discusses commitment to Maryland

Ryan Schlieper returned home weary yesterday after spending more than 12 hours at North Allegheny Senior High School in Wexford, Pa.

The 6-foot-5, 278-pound offensive tackle kicked off his senior season by completing his second session of three-a-days. It started with defensive practice from 8 a.m. to 10:30, followed by offensive work from 1:30 p.m. to 4 and culminating with a pad-less team walk-through from 6 to 8.

“I’m dead,” Schlieper said when asked how he felt.

But despite his exhaustion, Schlieper came home with a clear mind, focused solely on high school football and not at all on college or recruiting.

Three days before, Schlieper was able to end all lingering thoughts of his recruitment by committing to Maryland. Schlieper chose the Terps over offers from Connecticut, West Virginia, Central Florida, Florida International, Miami (OH), Temple and several others.

Schlieper picked up his Maryland offer in June, which came as somewhat of a shock.

“It was a big surprise,” Schlieper said. “At the time I was getting recruited by some smaller schools and I had one Big East offer, and all of a sudden I got an offer from Maryland and I was like, ‘wow.’”

Schlieper visited College Park later in the summer and was immediately impressed with UM’s “beautiful campus.” He also began forging a solid relationship with his recruiter, Terps wide receivers coach Lee Hull.

Schlieper had quietly narrowed his list to Maryland and UConn, with the Terps holding an edge. UM remained at the top of his list throughout the summer. With three-a-days right around the corner, Schlieper ended things on Saturday.

“It was one of my goals. I really wanted to have it set before my camp started,” Schlieper said. “I was thinking about committing for awhile, but I just wanted to pull the trigger ... and make the right decision, so I took my time and made the call.”

North Allegheny head coach Art Walker Jr., said in Schlieper, Maryland’s getting a versatile offensive lineman.

“Ryan’s an offensive tackle, but he can play guard as well,” Walker said. “He runs well and has good athleticism for his size. ... He’s a great kid on and off the field.”

Schlieper, who is considering a major in education at UM, is Maryland’s second 2009 commitment from Pennsylvania, joining Seneca Valley quarterback C.J. Brown. The future teammates will square off when their rival schools meet Sept. 26.

For now, Schlieper will continue three-a-days, battling heat and fatigue on a daily basis, before returning home each night with the knowledge that his college plans are all set.

“It feels good getting everything over and having everything set in stone.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:46 AM | | Comments (1)
        

August 12, 2008

ACC football recruiting overview

Two-a-days are under way for college and high school football programs across the country, shoving recruiting to the backburner for most prospects.

With this unofficial break in action, now's a good time to take a look around the Atlantic Coast Conference and see what each school has done so far.

Here's a breakdown of each ACC school's 2009 recruiting class. Analysis is based on information primarily from Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Maryland

Headliner: When the Terps landed four-star defensive end DeOnte Arnett in July, they bested traditional powers like Georgia, Ohio State and Tennessee, and kept the all-important Forestville-to-College Park pipeline flowing. Arnett -- who possesses the wingspan of a seven-footer -- follows ex-Forestville tight end Devonte Campbell and receiver Kevin Dorsey to UM. Arnett's a good bet for early playing time at Maryland.

Sleeper: Edmondson defensive end David Mackall is rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, but once the recruiting service gets film on the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder, that ranking should change in a hurry. Mackall's a relentless pass rusher whose size makes him the ideal fit for UM's LEO position. Click here for DigitalSports.com's highlight reel of Mackall.

Overview: Right now Maryland's 2009 class is on the fringe of the top 25, according to Rivals.com. The Terps could hang around the top 30 when Signing Day rolls around, or they could surge into the top 20 depending on the decisions of guys like Dunbar running back Tavon Austin, Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins and St. John's College (D.C.) offensive lineman Pete White. The Terps' 19-man class includes two promising quarterback prospects (C.J. Brown and Danny O'Brien), a thunder (D.J. Adams) and lightning (Caleb Porzel) combo at running back, the heir apparent to Obi Egekeze at kicker (Nick Ferrera) and a number of intriguing defensive prospects (Arnett, Mackall, linebacker Bradley Johnson and several others).

Boston College

Headliner: According to Rivals.com, the Eagles landed the strongest defensive tackle in the country in Dillon Quinn, a four-star prospect. The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder from Pawling, N.Y., sported early offers from Maryland and Virginia before committing to BC in April. It probably goes without saying that Quinn would’ve garnered many additional offers had he not committed so early.

Sleeper: Defensive end Kasim Edebali couldn’t get his football fix playing for club teams in Germany, so the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder left his homeland to play high school football at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H. Information on Edebali is scarce (he doesn’t have a Scout.com profile and there were no stories written about his commitment), making the two-star player the quintessential sleeper recruit.

Overview: Slim pickings so far from a numbers standpoint, but that’s probably to be expected considering BC landed a 29-man class in 2008. A big question for the Eagles is whether or not they can pull off the rare re-commitment. Dartmouth, Mass., tight end Arthur Fontaine committed to Boston College in May, withdrew his commitment weeks later, and now is reportedly down to BC, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. According to this article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Bulldogs might have the edge.

Update: A couple hours after I wrote this, Fontaine did, in fact, commit to Georgia. Tough break for the Eagles.

Clemson

Headliner: The Tigers went to battle with a who’s who of college football powers for the services of Craig Loston, but the No. 1 ranked safety in the country verbally committed to Clemson in April. The Aldine, Tex., native, paired with four-star safety DeVonte Holloman, give Clemson an embarrassment of riches in the defensive backfield.

Sleeper: Finding a sleeper in Clemson’s star-studded class is tough, but linebacker Quandon Christian probably qualifies. Christian, an in-stater with 4.5 speed, earned his Clemson offer with a standout performance at the Tigers’ summer camp. My Clemson insider tells me Christian reminds some CU coaches and analysts of former Tigers standout and current San Diego Charger Anthony Waters.

Overview: Clemson could potentially top its 12th-ranked 2008 class, from a ratings standpoint, in 2009. Tommy Bowden has already assembled a well-balanced mix of offense (including ultra-quick athlete Larry Raper and punishing tackle J.K. Jay) and defense (namely Loston, Holloman and defensive end Malliciah Goodman).

Duke

Headliner: Four-star running back Desmond Scott went from one of Rutgers’ prized recruits to Duke’s biggest catch last month. The Durham native cited distance as the reason for switching his commitment from the Scarlet Knights to the Blue Devils. Scott picked Duke over reported offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and a host of others. I’m no Duke football historian, but I’ve got to believe Scott’s one of the Blue Devils’ highest-rated commitments of all time.

Sleeper: Scott’s quarterback at Hillside, Corey Gattis, torched opposing teams as a junior, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. Gattis’ athleticism and 4.5 speed could make for a dynamic slot receiver.

Overview: Apparently David Cutcliffe means business. Under the Blue Devils’ first-year head coach, Duke has landed 21 verbal commitments, many of whom had other big-time BCS offers. In the past, Duke did battle with many mid-major schools in football recruiting. But landing guys like Scott and Georgia defensive tackle John Drew shows that things will be much different on the recruiting trail for Duke under Cutcliffe.

Florida State

Headliner: Five-star defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel is the highest rated commitment in the entire ACC, checking in at No. 8 on the Rivals 100 list. McDaniel committed to FSU on Feb. 7 -- one day after National Signing Day for the class of 2009. The 6-foot-1, 270-pounder picked the Seminoles over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, among others.

Sleeper: Sleepers are hard to come by in FSU’s already loaded class (even the Seminoles’ kicker commitment, Dustin Hopkins, has three stars), but rangy South Carolina safety Justin Bright fits the bill. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder chose Florida State over an offer from Texas A&M. According to NoleDigest.com, Bright plans to enroll early, making early playing time a distinct possibility for the three-star player.

Overview: Looks like a typical Florida State class -- tons of speed, lots of in-state athletes and plenty of intriguing defensive standouts. Per usual, the Seminoles will almost assuredly end up with a top 10 recruiting class.

Georgia Tech

Headliner: Four-star defensive tackle J.C. Lanier ended his recruitment before it really got started, pledging to Georgia Tech the day after Signing Day. Lanier, a massive run-stopper, picked the Yellow Jackets over an offer from Clemson.

Sleeper: Offensive guard Raymond Beno is a two-star prospect according to Rivals and Scout, but the 6-foot-1, 280-pounder claimed offers from Miami, Wake Forest and Southern Miss, among others. Height is probably keeping Beno from a higher rating by the recruiting services, but his quick feet make him a good fit for the option offense.

Overview: Paul Johnson’s first full class as Georgia Tech’s head coach looks to be a solid one. The ex-Navy coach has done a nice job taking advantage of Georgia’s plentiful in-state talent. Arguably the most important recruit for Tech is dual-threat quarterback Jordan Luallen -- Johnson’s choice to man his option offense.

Miami

Headliner: The Hurricanes landed Bryce Brown, Scout.com’s No. 1 running back, back in February. Brown has said he’ll take visits to other schools, but assuming he follows through on the commitment, Miami will be getting a player who was wanted by pretty much every other major college football program in the country.

Sleeper: Miami pulled tight end Billy Sanders from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, beating several Pac-10 schools for the three-star prospect. If there’s any program in the country that’s earned the benefit of the doubt with tight end prospects, it’s Miami. Sanders could be the program’s next success story at the position.

Overview: The Hurricanes have been selective this season in recruiting after compiling an enormous, 33-man class in 2008. The guys Randy Shannon has brought in for 2009 are mostly impact players. Numbers could prevent it from being a typical, top-10 Miami class, but as always, the Hurricanes will fill their spots with athletic, highly-rated guys.

North Carolina

Headliner: Donte Moss had his pick of ACC and SEC offers early on in the process. In March, the five-star defensive end and top prospect in North Carolina chose the Tar Heels. Moss, a run-stopping, pass-rushing lineman, also doubles as a wide receiver for Jacksonville High School.

Sleeper: Injuries sidelined Curtis Campbell for all but five games of his junior season, which probably explains his one- and two-star rankings, per Scout and Rivals respectively. But the 6-foot-2, 205-pound safety has plenty of athleticism and speed, making him a likely contributor for UNC down the road.

Overview: Butch Davis has hit the in-state class hard, landing six of the top 25 prospects in North Carolina thus far. A big coup for the Tar Heels was landing Elite 11 quarterback Bryn Renner in March -- before many other big-time schools became involved.

North Carolina State

Headliner: High Point, N.C., outside linebacker Rickey Dowdy recorded 12 sacks and 13 tackles for loss as a junior at Central High School. That standout junior season led to reported offers from Georgia Tech and North Carolina (according to Rivals), but the three-star prospect went with the Wolfpack in March.

Sleeper: Orlando running back James Washington is just a two-star prospect according to Scout, but the 6-foot, 180-pounder with 4.4 speed chose NC State over offers from Cincinnati, Rutgers and South Florida, according to Rivals.

Overview: Not much to say about NC State’s nine-man class at this point, other than there’s a long way to go until Signing Day. Tom O’Brien has assembled a few intriguing pieces, most notably Fayetteville, N.C., quarterback Everett Proctor, who will either give the Wolfpack a dual-threat presence under center, or a dangerous deep threat receiver.

Virginia

Headliner: Fredericksburg, Va., prospect Dominique Wallace is Rivals.com’s top-rated fullback, but the 6-foot-1, 231-pounder is slated to play running back in Charlottesville. Here’s how Wallace described his game to VirginiaPreps.com: “I'm big as crap and have the speed to back it up. I'm not going anywhere to sit on the bench. I may not start, but I have the ability to do something.”

Sleeper: Safety LoVante’ Battle, a two-star prospect, is one of Virginia’s fastest sprinters, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress. He also hails from the talent-saturated Hampton Roads area.

Overview: The state of Virginia is obviously a major priority for Al Groh and staff in 2009, with 11 of the Cavaliers’ 19 commitments coming from the Old Dominion State. Speed also appears to be a point of emphasis for U.Va. According to Rivals, nine of Virginia’s recruits have 4.6 speed or faster.

Virginia Tech

Headliner: Running back David Wilson’s blend of size and speed earned him the No. 63 spot on the Rivals 100. Wilson picked the Hokies over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and many others.

Sleeper: Defensive end Duan Perez-Means snuck into Rivals.com’s top 30 list for Virginia, checking in at No. 28. A two-star prospect per Scout.com, Perez-Means has impressive athleticism for a defensive lineman, as evidenced by his success on the football field and basketball court.

Overview: The Hokies have made good use of Virginia’s talent, reeling in nine prospects from in-state. So far it looks like a fairly typical Va. Tech class -- not incredibly heavy on star power, but filled with a few standouts and several hard-nosed overachievers.

Wake Forest

Headliner: Wide receiver Quan Rucker has the most impressive set of offers of Wake’s commitments. The 6-foot, 182-pound wide receiver chose the Demon Deacons over Clemson, Illinois, Maryland, NC State, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Rivals.com.

Sleeper: 6-foot-4, 215-pound guys with 4.59 speed aren’t exactly plentiful, but that’s what Wake landed in Tazewell, Va., athlete Matt Muncy. Now they just need to find the right position for the two-star athlete recruit.

Overview: The days of Wake Forest picking up table scraps in recruiting are long gone. The Demon Deacons' 16-man class includes 11 three-star prospects, according to Rivals.com. Jim Grobe has established a notable presence in Florida, nabbing six recruits from the Sunshine State. From a local perspective, River Hill running back/slot receiver Michael Campanaro is a perfect fit for Grobe's misdirection style of offense. Campanaro, Rucker and Jacksonville, Fla., athlete Derald Jones should be dangerous in that scheme.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:04 AM | | Comments (6)
        

August 11, 2008

Franklin's Fleming picks Pittsburgh

Franklin safety/running back Carl Fleming made history last week.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder committed to Pittsburgh on Friday, becoming the first Franklin football player in the program’s history to go to a Division IA school. Fleming picked the Panthers over offers from Buffalo, Connecticut, Delaware and Eastern Michigan.

“I’m very fortunate and thankful,” Fleming said. “A lot of kids would die for a DI scholarship. I’m just real excited to go to Pittsburgh and showcase my talent.”

Pitt’s courtship of Fleming began in May when former Maryland assistant and current Panthers wide receivers coach Bryan Bossard visited Fleming at school. Pitt was impressed with Fleming’s highlight tape, but wanted to see him in person before extending an offer. So in June, Fleming made the four-and-a-half hour drive from Baltimore to Pittsburgh for camp.

“I went out there and didn’t have a scholarship on the table, so I could just relax and do what I do,” Fleming said. “But I just showed them I can play and I’m DI material. I’m not the most heavily-recruited DI recruit. I’m a little under-the-radar, but that’s what helped me a lot. Going up there and ... being the guy nobody knows about helped me a lot.”

Fleming worked out at running back and safety. Two weeks later, the Pitt coaches extended an offer.

As a junior, Fleming rushed for 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns. From the safety position, he recorded 50 tackles and picked off six passes. Franklin head coach Anthony Burgos said Fleming’s success on both sides of the ball intrigued the Pittsburgh coaching staff.

“They just loved his film and loved him as an individual,” Burgos said. “He has such an upside to him that he can play plenty of positions. His highlight film showed him as a quarterback, running back, defensive back, linebacker, receiver. He has such versatility. He’s such a great athlete and has a tremendous upside to him.”

The Pitt coaches don’t know where they’ll put Fleming yet, so he’ll be brought in as an athlete recruit. Fleming said that’s an ideal situation for him.

“That’s actually what I wanted because going to college at just one position is kind of limiting,” Fleming said. “If I don’t like one at that level, then why not try the other position, just to see how fast I can get on the field.”

Fleming took an unofficial visit to Delaware, and had planned to visit UConn over the weekend. But when Fleming thought about what he wanted in a school, he canceled his trip to Storrs, Conn., and informed the Panthers coaches of his choice. Ultimately, Fleming couldn’t find a flaw in Pittsburgh.

“I actually like the fact that the campus is actually in the city,” Fleming said. “Some campuses are out in the middle of nowhere, but in Pittsburgh you’ll still be interacting with the regular community. ... When I went on the tour of the campus and talked to the academic advisor, it just felt like it fit me as far as what I want to do in life. The coaches are great people, the players are welcoming, and I just felt I could be successful in the city of Pittsburgh. And how often do you get to share a facility with an NFL team? So I want to take advantage of that.”

Fleming, who plans on studying business and communications, said it’s a relief to have made his commitment.

“It does feel real good to have it out of the way, so I can go into the season focused,” Fleming said. “I just felt like it was time to make that decision. I’ve been waiting a while, and I’m really excited I’m going to be a Panther.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 8, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland is out of the running for Thomas Robinson.

The Brewster (N.H.) Academy power forward recently trimmed his list of schools to five, and the Terps didn’t make the cut.

“Yes, I have narrowed my list of schools,” the 6-foot-8, 210-pound Robinson told JayhawkSlant.com. “Memphis, USC, Kansas, Miami and Texas are the schools I’m looking at. Memphis, Kansas and USC are on top. I still have not scheduled any visits yet, but that’s something I’m going to do soon. I hope to have that done by next week.

Zags Blog has the latest on Torrington, Conn., power forward and UM target Jordan Williams, who said his recruitment is wide open.

“As of right now, there isn’t anyone standing out only because it only really started towards the end of July. That’s when I started getting the most calls. St. John’s has been there before the spring. They’ve been there for a while but most of the schools just started to recruit me hard after the July period. So it’s not like there is just one school that has stood out just yet.

“I’ve always said that I want to go to a school where I can make an impact. I want to go to a school that needs me and not just wants me. I want to make a difference wherever I go. It doesn’t have to be close to home either. If it means I have to go to the West Coast, I’ll go to the West Coast. If it means it’s near my home, I’ll go there. I want to go where it fits me the best.”

• According to Razorback Central, Findlay (Nev.) Prep forward Clarence Trent intends to make an official visit to Maryland.

[Little Rock Hall point guard A.J.] Walton has his schools down to Arkansas, Baylor, Kentucky and Marquette and is nearing a decision while Trent will make his after taking official visits to Arkansas, UNLV, California, Maryland and Washington.

Trent recently participated in Arkansas’ Elite camp in Fayetteville, impressing NWAnews.com’s Richard Davenport.

Very few forward prospects in the nation can match the athletic ability of the 6-8, 230-pound Trent. I believe his upside is tremendous once he gets on a college campus and is able to be a part of a weight program. Trent, who plays in the summer for the Arkansas Hawks, already looks good physically but probably has the potential to put on another 10-15 pounds of muscle and still keep his 39-inch vertical and quickness. If he does that and continues to make steady improvement in his overall game, the sky is the limit.

Football recruiting

• In response to ESPN’s recent Outside the Lines report on Penn State’s off-the-field problems, MDVarsity.com‘s Mike Loveday checked in with some of the Nittany Lions’ Maryland recruits to get their take on the piece. Eleanor Roosevelt defensive back Derrick Thomas, who picked PSU over the Terps and several others, wasn’t fazed by the story.

"Me and my mother watched it. It didn't really have an affect on me because I know what I can do and what I'm going through," said Derrick Thomas of Greenbelt Eleanor Roosevelt. "It doesn't really change my mind at all. I still like Penn State and I'm still with it."

Thomas’ mother, however, told Loveday she was concerned with the report.

"I am. Honestly, I am." Angela Thomas said. "I'm going to have to have a serious talk with him. I'm definitely not leaving it up to him. We all need to sit down and talk about this because I just want the best for my son and I need to see what type of options he wants to have right now because Penn State, to me, is not a good option."

Derrick Thomas added that his mother had expressed interest in him attending the University of Maryland before his commitment. Thomas chose Penn State over offers from Maryland, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Illinois.

• The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., looked at the recruitment of Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith linebacker Jerod Askew this week. While the in-state schools were slow to show interest in the four-star recruit, Maryland and several others didn’t hesitate in getting involved.

Askew's response to the late -- or lack of -- attention from Tech and UVa? No worries. He'll go where he's wanted.

"I kind of moved on from (Tech and UVa) when I broke my offers down to five schools," said Askew, who had 14 sacks last season.

He's down to West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina and Maryland.

• Dartmouth, Mass., tight end Arthur Fontaine has Maryland in his final four along with Boston College, Georgia and Virginia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the Bulldogs’ chances with the four-star prospect.

“I never really considered Georgia until I went down there the first time and was just blown away by the experience,” Fontaine said. “So my family and I want to go back and see if I feel the same way this time as I did the first time.”

When Fontaine was asked if he would consider committing if the Georgia trip met expectations, he said, “We’ll have to see what happens, how everything goes. I definitely plan on making a decision before my first high school game on Sept. 12, if not sooner.”

• For those of you wondering how Maryland’s 2009 recruiting class stacks up nationally, Rivals.com has your answer. According to the site’s updated team rankings, the Terps are just outside the top 25, but have the potential to join that list by Signing Day.

Maryland also has made a nice move up the charts and could be in line for a top-25 class.

WashingtonPost.com’s latest Recruiting Spotlight video takes a look at Quince Orchard defensive end Jason Ankrah, who sports offers from Maryland, Penn State, West Virginia, Tennessee, NC State, Michigan and Virginia Tech. Click here to watch the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 7, 2008

Mitchell talks Coppin's 2008 recruiting class

Last season Fang Mitchell led the Coppin State men’s basketball team to one of the more improbable seasons in NCAA history.

The Eagles suffered through a 20-loss season before catching fire down the stretch, winning 12 of their last 13 games, including an upset of Morgan State in the MEAC championship, which earned the team an NCAA tournament berth. It was the first time a 20-loss team made the tournament.

This season, Mitchell returns the team’s leading scorer Tywain McKee, to the roster. But Mitchell must replace the other four starters, all of whom graduated.

Mitchell will look to his 2008 recruiting class to help make up for that lost production. The Eagles are bringing in four freshmen this season: Loch Raven shooting guard Jordan Lee, Mount St. Joseph point guard Justin McCoy, Milwaukee Custer guard Michael Harper and Philadelphia North Catholic guard Lenny Young.

Mitchell spoke with Recruiting Report recently about Coppin’s 2008 recruiting class.

fangmitchell.jpg

Give us a brief overview of the four-man class you’re bringing in.

Well the four guys that we’re bringing in -- I’ve always believed you can win with guard-play, so the four new guys we’re bringing in will help us in that area. We have an athletic small forward in Michael Harper, a scorer in Jordan Lee, a point guard in Justin McCoy and a 1-2 in Lenny Young.

What have you seen from McCoy and what do you expect from him?

Well I think he comes from a great family. His father was real good player at Morgan State. He comes from a solid program at Mount St. Joe’s with coach Pat Clatchey. I just looked at him as someone whose upside is tremendous. I think he learns and he knows how to play the game. He’s a solid basketball player. And I just think he’s going to get better as he plays.

What type of player is McCoy?

He’s one of those guys that’s going to force you to make the play. He’s capable of being on the floor defensively. He spent a lot of time at Mount St. Joe’s on the floor. I just look at him as a solid player that can play both offense and defense. I don’t think that’s going to change much. He works hard, and that just always makes you better.

Lee developed quite a reputation as a scorer last season at Loch Raven. Do you expect him to bring that scorer’s mentality to Coppin?

There’s no question. I definitely needed someone that could score to be able to play, especially with [just] McKee coming back. I thought that would be a great addition for us. It’s not hard to tell him, ‘what I need you to do is score for me.’ That’s something he can do. I just hope he’s mature -- because he is young -- and be able to give us the defensive help as well as help on the offensive end. I think that’s going to be critical in him playing.

When did you identify McCoy and Lee as potential recruits?

Well the fact is that we have a kid on our team from one of the AAU teams [in town] -- the Baltimore Stars -- Ceslovas Kucinskas. Both of those gentlemen played on the Stars, so we did have a chance to see them early. So that definitely helped. We got Ceslovas, and he has not made me regret having him. I look at these kids being in the same mold as determined type of players.

How important is it to land a couple of Baltimore guys in this class?

Well I think it’s very important. People have been saying for years that we didn’t want Baltimore players, and that’s one of the biggest lies ever told. What happened is we didn’t have the opportunity to get the great Baltimore players. When I had the opportunity to have somebody out of a Mount St. Joe’s (like McCoy) or a Mount Carmel (like Kucinskas) ... I jumped at that opportunity. I think that’ll make people recognize that we are looking for talent within the city as well as the state. We have an outstanding recruiter in Larry Tucker, who went Dunbar High School, and we’re aggressively recruiting the Baltimore area. We’re hopeful the success of these kids will allow us to get more.

How did you discover Harper?

That was our assistant, Jay Dull, who has some [contacts] that had seen him play in Wisconsin. We had an opportunity to see him and from that point on we pursued him heavily, brought him down for a visit. He was a kid who was all-area up in Wisconsin, averaged about 14 points a game. I really and truly like how he plays. He’s very athletic, can get to the hole as well as shoot the jump shot. When we lost as many guards as we did, we had to bring in some quality people and we did. There’s a lot of playing time [available that] will be based on how well they play defense. And we’ve always been known for defense. I think these young men are capable of scoring, but it’s going to come down to the defense when we put them on the floor.

Is Harper known for his defense?

I think he has the ability to play it. Defense is an individual thing. If you want to play it, you’ll play it. Hopefully these young men understand that [we’ve got to get our defense] straightened out early. Because we don’t have a lot of time before we go out on the road and start playing some of the bigger schools in the country.

How did your staff find out about Young?

Well we went to watch another kid, and when we went to watch the other kid, we saw him and recognized he’d be a solid player for us. He can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He’s a penetrator as well as a shooter. The fact that he can play both positions, 1 and 2, that would be helpful for our team. Our rule is you can never have too many guards.

Which of these freshmen do you expect to make immediate impacts?

Well, to be honest with you, Jordan Lee is coming in with the biggest stats of all of them. I’m looking for him to bring some scoring to the court. But again, it’s going to take more than just offense to keep you on the floor. Rebounding is important as well as the defense. To me, rebounding is connected with defense, because of the fact that if you don’t rebound the basketball, you’re still playing defense. So I always look at it that way. You have to finish it. You don’t go on offense until you get the ball. Whoever comes and shows us they’re capable of those things will be playing. There are a lot of holes out there since we’re only bringing back one starter, so there’s an opportunity for a lot of people.

Has recruiting been easier since Coppin made the NCAA tournament this year?

Anytime you go to the NCAA tournament, it’s helpful. All they’ve got to see is the name on the board. They recognize you’ve been successful, so that definitely helps in our recruiting. [Making the tournament makes] it a lot easier for our guys that were trying to make up their mind in whether they wanted to go to Coppin or not. They also saw that our program has been pretty strong for a lot of years, so people are aware of that. The combination of [recent and past success has] helped people in recognizing the program.

Do you feel this class filled your needs?

We probably could have taken another big guy if we had to, but if I don’t have big guys, I’ve got to have good guards. So I’m satisfied with where we’re at now and we’ll proceed. I think the recruiting is just going to get better. We have our new arena that’s supposed to be ready in the fall of ’09. I just read on a Web site that ESPN ranked our program No. 90 in the last 15 years. So anytime we present ourselves in the top 100 [in the country] and the No. 1 program in the MEAC, that doesn’t hurt our recruiting.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the team?

The biggest thing I say is that normally the early part of the year is always rough. But the bottom line is this: Watch us late.

Sun photo of Fang Mitchell by Gene Sweeney Jr. / March 18, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:30 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 6, 2008

Ross discusses commitment to Maryland

Isaiah Ross had no shortage of advisors when it came to the recruiting process.

The football program at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt regularly churns major college football players, sending several prospects to Division I schools each year. So whenever Ross had a question about recruiting, there were a number of former teammates he could count on for an answer.

One of Ross’ main counselors was former ERHS defensive back Okechukwu Okoroha, now a freshman at Boston College.

“He just told me stuff to look for ... as far as college,” Ross said. “I think Boston College was one of the first schools to offer him. He said with the first offer, you’ll always have love for the school that offers you first.”

With that advice in mind, Ross thought back to when he received his first offer, which came from Maryland.

“I think it was April 24th,” Ross said. “It was my first one. I was at school while it happened, so I was pretty fired up.”

On Monday, Ross took those words of advice from Okoroha to heart. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder committed to UM, picking the Terps over offers from Illinois, Syracuse and Buffalo. He cited that early interest as a factor in his decision.

“You’ve always got love for the team that first took a chance on you, because they kind of put you out there for other schools, also. That lets you know who really wants you and who will treat you the best.”

While Okoroha answered some of his general recruiting-related questions, Ross had another go-to consultant when it came to more Terps specific queries.

“I had a sister that graduated the same class [at ERHS] with [Maryland senior] Trey Covington,” Ross said. “They graduated together and were friends. He came over to the house a couple times, so they were pretty good friends. ... [Knowing him was] like [having] a mentor that looks out for me in helping preparing me [for college].”

When Ross arrives at Maryland next fall, he’ll join the competition to replace his mentor at LEO, a combination linebacker-defensive end. Ross, who collected 128 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior, thinks the position is the perfect fit for his talents.

“I think it’s a good position for me because it’s sort of like a linebacker that can also cover and stand up,” Ross said. “You can also put your hand in the dirt and that’s something I can do. There’s more I can do [in that position] instead of limiting myself [to another spot].”

Ross, who is considering sports management, communications and business as potential majors, said it feels good to be done with recruiting. And he’s thankful for the guidance that led him to the Terps.

“I was going to wait it out, but I started feeling pretty comfortable with it and it clears my mind as far as the recruiting process,” Ross said. “It also clears my mind so I can focus on school and going to states [in football], so that’s a big help to be committed early.”

Click here for Roosevelt head coach Tom Green’s take on Ross.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:56 AM | | Comments (1)
        

August 5, 2008

Terps land another in-stater

Maryland picked up its 18th verbal commitment for the class of 2009 yesterday when Eleanor Roosevelt linebacker/defensive end Isaiah Ross chose the Terps over offers from Illinois, Syracuse and Buffalo, among others.

Eleanor Roosevelt head coach Tom Green said Ross, who recorded 128 tackles and 13 sacks as a junior, reminds him of a current Terp defender.

“He’s a versatile player,” Green said. “He can play [defensive] end or outside linebacker. He’s a lot like [Maryland senior] Trey Covington. He’s a very explosive kid. He’s a good student. He’s already qualified. So he’ll definitely add to what they have.”

Like Covington, Ross is expected to play the LEO position for Maryland, which is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position. Green said the staff is excited about Ross’ potential at that spot.

“Well from talking to [offensive coordinator James] Franklin, he was excited because he felt Isaiah really liked Maryland and wanted to come. So he was pleased. It’s still an adjustment [from high school to college], but I think he’ll do well. They like him a whole lot.”

Green’s in his first year at Eleanor Roosevelt after spending the previous seven years as Surrattsville’s head coach. While Green’s still getting to know his new team, he was immediately impressed with Ross and his leadership.

“He’s very unselfish,” Green said. “He’s one of a few kids I actually named as captain, one of two going into the season, because he’s been so helpful in motivating the other guys. ... He’s been willing to play anything, even out of position to help the team. That says a lot that the kid’s willing to play out of position to help the team.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Ross.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:02 AM | | Comments (8)
        

August 4, 2008

Checking in with Gary Onuekwusi

Dunbar linebacker Gary Onuekwusi has been patient.

The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder has waited a long time for his first scholarship offer. Onuekwusi, who recorded 144 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions as a junior, is still waiting, but he thinks his first offers could starting coming any day now.

Onuekwusi spoke with Recruiting Report about his recruitment recently, including why he thinks scholarships could be just around the corner.

garyonuekwusi.jpg

Gary Onuekwusi heads for the end zone against South Carroll in a 1A playoff game / Sun photo by Kim Hairston, Dec. 2, 2007.

Why do you think you haven’t received any offers yet?

I just started sending off my highlight tape, so hopefully everything will be coming in soon. I’ve got to get some more addresses.

Are you anxious to hear back from coaches?

Yeah, I’m anxious to get feedback. I’ve got high hopes for going to a school, so I’m just trying to find out which one.

What schools have shown you the most interest so far?

West Virginia, Bowie State, Maryland, Syracuse, Temple.

What will the coaches see on your highlight tape?

Big plays, big hits, the way I crawl gaps and fill them and [good] technique.

You and several of your teammates at Dunbar went to West Virginia’s camp earlier this summer. How did that go?

Wonderful. There was a lot of publicity. ... I did good on a lot of drills at the West Virginia camp. I did extremely well at the camp. That’s why I had to get my highlight tape and send it off. All the coaches at every camp I went to, all the coaches asked about my highlight tape, but I didn’t have a highlight tape to give them. So I just had to send it off last week.

Did you enjoy your time in Morgantown?

Yeah, it’s wonderful there. I just like [West Virginia] because it’s comfortable. The coaches, they remind me of my school, how our coaches carry themselves and how they communicate with the kids. That’s how it is out there.

Do you and your teammates talk about college frequently? What are the chances that some of you end up at the same place?

We always want to go to the same spot, but more than likely we don’t think we are. But everybody wants to go to the same school. We talk about [recruiting] frequently. We always wonder where we’re going to end up at, but we try not to think about it lately. What [running back] Tavon [Austin] always says is, 'something will come up. The door’s going to open up. Just work hard.' That’s what the coaches say, too.

Click on the You Tube player for highlights of Onuekwusi.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Checking in with ...
        

August 1, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland finally got the long-awaited (albeit expected) news this week on the academic status of Sean Mosley.

The St. Frances guard made it through the NCAA clearinghouse, making him academically eligible for the Terps this season.

FoxSports.com‘s Jeff Goodman analyzed the move, and how Mosley could factor into Maryland’s rotation.

Terps incoming freshman guard Sean Mosley got a qualifying SAT score (according to numerous published reports) and is expected to be eligible to play this season in College Park.

Now [Gary] Williams will have a potent guard trio in Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Mosley. There’s no question that Vasquez is one of the top players in the ACC and maybe even the country and adding Mosley, a bona-fide scorer, should help ease some of the scoring burden.

• Maryland point guard target Isiah Epps impressed last week in Las Vegas. Rivals.com‘s Jerry Meyer named the Plainfield, N.J., prospect one of the top class of 2010 performers at the Vegas AAU tournaments.

It's safe to say that in most every game Epps played, he was the best guard on the floor. A solid athlete with a left-handed game, Epps scored off the catch and the dribble while also creating scoring opportunities for teammates. Most importantly Epps provided the leadership to go along with his talent to get his club into the final four of the adidas Super 64 16-under bracket.

SLAM Online's Aggrey Sam had good things to say about a couple 2010 Terps targets -- Dix Hills, N.Y. forward Tobias Harris and Albany, N.Y. guard Taran Buie -- in his recap of recent AAU action in Orlando.

-- Tobias Harris, 6-7 combo forward, 2010: More of a face-up power forward than a true wing, the big-bodied Harris frustrated opponents by handling the rock and hit deep jumpers like a guard, but rebounded and scored on the inside like a big man.

-- Taran Buie, 6-2 combo guard, 2010: The younger brother of Penn State point guard Talor Battle is making quite a name for himself with his shooting, athleticism and slashing ability and while he’s not a true point, his playmaking and on-ball defense have stood out, as well.

Football recruiting

• The Terps remain in good shape with Hoboken, N.J., defensive end Isaac Holmes. Holmes told Scout.com this week that “it's really between Rutgers, Maryland and Pittsburgh right now.”

Holmes' former teammate and cousin Bearthur Johnson plays offensive tackle for Maryland. "He really likes it and tells me all the good points about them," he said. "But he wants me to make the right decision for me and isn't pressuring me to go there.

"I feel like I can really relate to the coaches (at Maryland) well," he said. "My parents also really like Maryland. It's a great environment and I feel comfortable there."

• According to ESPN.com’s JC Shurburtt, Dunbar running back Tavon Austin has formulated his list of official visits.

Baltimore (Md.) Dunbar running back Tavon Austin, an ESPN150 Watch List member, will visit SEC schools Tennessee and South Carolina officially. He also will visit West Virginia, Maryland and Michigan.

• According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., Maryland’s in the mix for Georgia defensive end Izaan Cross, who intends to make an official visit to College Park.

DE Izaan Cross (6-5, 253) of Flowery Branch, Ga., made a recent visit to Mississippi State and has the Bulldogs in his top five along with USC, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Oklahoma. Those five will get his official visits.

• Trinity (Pa.) offensive lineman Nick Kindler had a chance to join former teammate R.J. Dill at Maryland, but the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder committed to West Virginia on Wednesday.

"He definitely has that mean streak in him and definitely loves the physicality of being an offensive lineman," said Jeff Boger, Kindler's coach at Trinity High, in Camp Hill, Pa. "He loves to hit up until the whistle and maybe a little bit after that whistle sometimes. They're getting the type of lineman you want to have."

Kindler could not be immediately reached for comment. He had a host of offers, including Connecticut, Rutgers, Maryland and Virginia, and picked WVU after narrowing his final list to include Illinois and Boston College.

• Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith linebacker Jerod Askew -- a former teammate of Terps wide receiver Kerry Boykins -- has included Maryland in his top five.

Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) linebacker Jerod Askew has cut his list to five schools – Alabama, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Askew, a four-star prospect who's a member of the Rivals100, says there is no leader at this point. He has an official visit lined up for Sept. 28 to West Virginia.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:40 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        
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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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