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October 31, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland landed its highest-rated recruit of the 2009 class yesterday when Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins committed to the Terps over offers from Penn State, Michigan and Oregon.’s Seth Hoffman was on hand for the news conference, where Hawkins mentioned his new role as a recruiter for UM.

Hawkins also wants to continue the stream of in-state players going to Maryland. With him and [Caleb Porzel already in the fold, Hawkins immediately turned his attention to teammate and Maryland target Jason Ankrah, who sat with the rest of the football team in the auditorium.

“Jason, you’re my No. 1 recruit right now,” Hawkins said after making his decision.

• Two Maryland defensive linemen signees from the class of 2008 were in College Park this week. Cody Blue and Zach Kerr suited up for Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy in its scrimmage against Maryland’s JV squad. The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens spoke with Blue and Kerr.

Both Blue and Kerr said the sort of things you would expect to hear from guys who are attending prep schools -- that they would have liked to have made it to Maryland this year, but that they're in better shape academically because of the structure of a military academy.

Both also emphasized they are on track to arrive at Maryland when the spring semester starts -- although they enjoyed the bonus preview they received earlier this week.

• Brooklyn, N.Y., lineman Oday Aboushi -- a classmate of Terps basketball commitment James Padgett -- claims a Maryland offer and says UM and Rutgers are the two schools recruiting him the hardest.

Aboushi admits that Maryland has impressed him the most with their play thus far this season. "They beat Cal and kept Wake Forest from scoring," he said. "They are playing really well. They are a great team and I really like how the coaches stress academics there. I think that's important."

• Woodbridge, Va., running back De’Antwan Williams told this week that the Terps are one of four leaders in his recruitment.

“I would probably say my favorites are Alabama, West Virginia, Pitt and Maryland,” he said. “I’m not sure who would be number five but I like those four a lot.”

• Dunbar running back Tavon Austin is scheduled to take an official visit to North Carolina next week, according to The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer.

Austin has scheduled an official visit to UNC on Nov. 7. He’s already visited Michigan and lists West Virginia as his third school.

The 5-8, 160-pound scatback piled up 2,553 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns as a junior at Dunbar High School.

Basketball recruiting

• In Jerry Meyer’s weekly mailbag, the recruiting analyst gave his take on how power forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett will fit in with the Terps.

Williams and Padgett are both the type of big men that coach Gary Williams has had success with during his career. Neither prospect has received a lot of hype, but they are more than competent players who have successfully competed against more highly ranked big men in their class. They are hungry, blue-collar players who I expect to succeed at Maryland.

• Patterson (N.C.) School senior Arsalan Kazemi visited Seton Hall recently but didn’t make a commitment. Kazemi’s adviser, Anthony Ibrahim, told Zags Blog that Kazemi still wants to make two additional official visits.

Kazemi, hoping to become the first Iranian to play American college ball, will visit Rice next weekend and Maryland Nov. 8 for an exhibition.

Other schools remain interested, but those are the only official visits yet set.

“We’re going to see what the future Hall of Famer Ben Braun [of Rice] brings to the table,” Ibrahim said. “And we’ve gotta see what Mr. Gary Williams thinks.”

• New Jersey point guard Isaiah Epps, a junior, told Zags Blog this week that his visit to College Park for Maryland Madness was a success.

“It was great,” Epps said. “I loved everything. We went to a football game and I saw their real practice for the first time. It was good. I saw how Gary Williams controlled both teams. I like the way he coaches.”

That same weekend, Albany Bishop Maginn guard Taran Buie attended Maryland. Buie lists Maryland, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame as his leaders. He was slated to visit Georgia Tech this past weekend and Notre Dame this coming weekend.

• West Orange (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs, a sophomore, is already hearing from the Terps, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Playing for a high-profile high school program under long-time head coach Bob Farrell at Seton Hall Prep as well as playing up on the 17-U team of the NY Panthers AAU program has brought a lot of early recruiting attention to the 6-foot-1, 170 pound sophomore. Gibbs rattled off an impressive list of schools showing early interest in his abilities.

“The schools that have shown interest are Maryland, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Florida and Rutgers,” indicated Gibbs. As for favorites, it's too early to call as “at this point all of the schools are even,” says Sterling.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:28 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

October 30, 2008

Terps land Quince Orchard cornerback

Travis Hawkins is headed to College Park.

The four-star cornerback from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg committed to Maryland today, picking the Terps over offers from Penn State, Michigan and Oregon, among others.

“It’s a great day for him and his family,” Quince Orchard head coach Dave Mencarini said. “He’s really excited. [He announced the decision] in our auditorium [in front of] our team, family and friends. It was really nice. He’s really excited about the opportunity that’s ahead of him. He’s very comfortable [with] his decision.”

According to, Hawkins is the 19th-best cornerback in the country. He’s rated the No. 199 prospect nationally for the class of 2009.

Check back with Recruiting Report tomorrow for more on Hawkins’ decision.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:39 PM | | Comments (10)

Towson Catholic reloads

Gone are Larry Bastfield (Toledo), Brandon Greene (Robert Morris), Terrell Bruce (Missouri State University-West Plains) and Vinny Breckinridge (Patterson (N.C.) School) from Towson Catholic’s 2007-08 MIAA A conference championship team.

It’s a lot of production lost to graduation, but according to Owls head coach Josh Pratt, the cupboard is hardly bare.

Devin Spencer, a 5’11 shooting guard, returns to TC for his senior year after averaging nine points per game last season.

“He had a real good summer [with Team Melo],” Pratt said. “Harvard, Holy Cross and Navy have all expressed interest. He just took the SAT, so we’re waiting on that to come back.


“He’s a good shooter and great decision-maker on the floor. Now he’s becoming more of a combo guard. He’s more than just a shooter now; he’s a great floor leader. I love his work ethic. He’s totally transformed his body. ... At the Navy team camp he shot the lights out. I took him down to Charlotte for their elite camp and he played very well. He’s not quite big enough for the Atlantic 10, but they really liked him.”

Pratt also returns senior Malcolm Sizer, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound center.

“We did this SPARQ training and he shattered the [power ball] record, six feet past the national average. ... I’m trying to get him some football looks [from] Catholic, a DIII school in football and basketball, Frostburg State. ... He’s an unbelievable athlete.”

Towson Catholic was also the beneficiary this offseason of two high-profile junior transfers -- Raheem May-Thompson, 6’7, and Levi Noel, 6’5.

“Levi’s a transfer from Montrose Christian. Raheem is from DeMatha,” Pratt said. “Both played last year for them. They’re pretty good players. Raheem’s as good as Brandon Greene. He can be that type of player. He could be a first-team all-league player.”

Pratt said Loyola, George Mason, Fordham, Navy, Towson and James Madison, among other schools, have attended open gyms to monitor some of TC’s players. Several Atlantic 10 and Patriot League programs have expressed interest in May-Thompson, Pratt said.

“I’ve got some other pieces, [too]” Pratt said. “We’re going to surprise some people this year.”

Photo: Devin Spencer (right) converts a three-pointer over St. Frances' James Hamilton. Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam / Feb. 21, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 29, 2008

St. Frances' Sparrow commits to Richmond

Wayne Sparrow had just completed an unofficial visit to Richmond last Saturday.

The 6-foot-3 junior shooting guard from St. Frances walked away from Richmond’s basketball arena, the Robins Center, and piled into the family car along with his parents, Wayne and Patricia Sparrow, and younger brother Chris.

“As soon as I got in the car, I kept thinking, ‘this is where I want to go,’” Sparrow said. “We were in the parking lot, just sitting there for five minutes, just thinking about it; ‘should I go? Should I go?’ And [then I decided] this was the school.”


Sparrow and his family walked back into the arena, much to the surprise of the Spiders’ coaching staff, and offered his verbal commitment.

“[It felt] nice,” Sparrow said. “I feel real good about committing to Richmond.”

Sparrow averaged approximately 11 points, three assists and two rebounds per game as a sophomore, helping the Panthers to the Baltimore Catholic League championship. It was just after the BCL playoffs that Sparrow first heard from Richmond.

“They wanted me to come up for an elite camp ... and see the campus,” Sparrow said. “They just told me about if I came in as a player, what they would want me to do. ... They just wanted me to come in and be a floor general and be able to score.”

After taking that first unofficial visit in July, Sparrow forged a solid bond with the Richmond staff.

“Coach [Chris] Mooney was always around whenever [assistant] coach Jamal [Brunt] was there. That was really important to get the head coach and the assistant coach around,” Sparrow said. “They just want to make sure I graduate and make sure I do well along the way. They think I can really do something with my life.”

St. Frances assistant Nicholas Myles said Richmond is “a great fit” for Sparrow, whose game Myles likens to a former Maryland standout.

“To me, the player I compare him to most in high school is Juan Dixon,” Myles said. “He’s a very good shooter and has great court awareness, in the same type of mold. ... I think he’ll be an immediate impact player in that conference, for sure. And the Atlantic 10 is a great conference for guards.”

Sparrow said he’s excited to suit up for the Spiders in two years. He rode home from Richmond last Saturday more certain than ever that he found the right fit.

“Before I even got back to Baltimore, people were calling me about it,” Sparrow said. “[They were saying] ‘congratulations; we heard about the commitment, we’re very proud of you.’ … It just felt good. It felt really good.”

Photo: Sparrow (left) battles Mount St. Joseph's Justin McCoy for the ball. Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam / Jan. 23, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 28, 2008

Several schools after SFA's Holmes

It was just a matter of time for recruiting to pick up for Dante' Holmes.

Holmes, a 6-foot-3 junior shooting guard at St. Frances, is hearing from Temple, Miami (Fla.), West Virginia and UMass, according to Panthers assistant Carlos Green.

Holmes, who averaged 11 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals per game as a sophomore, took an unofficial visit to Temple last weekend for the team’s Cherry and White Night, a midnight madness-type event.

“It went real well,” Green said. “He likes the relationships that he’s building with the coaches. They frequently call and frequently visit. They’re always coming to open gyms and they watched him on the AAU circuit [with Team Melo].”

Green said Holmes spent the summer working on his ball-handling.

“He’s a 2-guard trying to work on being a combo guard,” Green said. “He shoots well and slashes to the bucket pretty good.”

Green said Holmes doesn’t have a timetable for making a decision.

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of Holmes.

Warning: The music in the clip contains profanity.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

John Carroll's Jordan picks Bryant

Three years ago, Raphael Jordan and Erick Smith enrolled at John Carroll as freshmen with the hope of helping to rebuild the boys basketball program.

Friends since second grade, Jordan, a point guard, and Smith, a shooting guard, helped lead the Patriots to 63 wins in their first three seasons under new coach Tony Martin.

Earlier this month, Smith committed to Bryant (R.I.) University, a program in its first year of Division I play. On Saturday, Jordan decided to join Smith by pledging to play for the Bulldogs.

“He was just as excited as I was,” said Jordan when asked about Smith’s reaction to his commitment. “I’m definitely excited for the future. They know we have a history together. We’ve played together and already have a vibe together.”

Jordan, 6’1, said Tim O’Shea and the rest of the Bryant staff first noticed him at an open gym at John Carroll. O’Shea offered Jordan a scholarship soon after Smith committed.

Jordan took an official visit to the Smithfield, R.I., school over the weekend with his family. After touring the campus and meeting with academic officials, Jordan and his family decided to make the commitment before returning to Maryland. With the fall signing period just a few weeks away, Jordan said finding the right fit at this time of the year was “a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

“Everybody has their moments [of nervousness], but I would say I was in good hands with Coach Martin because Coach Martin does take care of his players,” Jordan said. “John Carroll has come a long way ... and I have nothing but positive words for [the John Carroll] community.”

Martin said Jordan will most likely be expected to come in and distribute the ball as a freshman at Bryant.

“Raphael has a gear that very few other players have. He’s really explosive when he wants to be,” Martin said. “Raphael is a kid that was thrown into the fire from day one [at John Carroll]. His amount of experience is a very valuable [asset]. ... He’s a super-quick kid that can get to the basket at will, he’s an underrated jump shooter and he’s a game-changing defender on the ball.”

Jordan said he knows Bryant’s transition to DI won’t be easy. But his experience in laying the foundation at John Carroll should serve him and Smith well in Rhode Island next year.

“[I’ll be] a hard worker that wants to bring winning right away,” Jordan said. “It’s definitely a big jump. They have a tough schedule this year; Iowa, Maryland, Rutgers. They may have a tough year, but I just want them to have something to look forward to.”

Photo of Raphael Jordan courtesy of John Carroll.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:07 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 27, 2008

Weekend wrap -- Big games for Porzel, Adams

Terps running back commitment Caleb Porzel helped Good Counsel to a 42-3 rout of St. John’s (D.C.) on Friday, returning a punt 62 yards for a touchdown and leading the Falcons’ rushing attack.

The ensuing punt sailed into the end zone, forcing a touchback. And Good Counsel crushed any momentum the Cadets might have mustered, marching downfield in eight plays to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Caleb Porzel. The 5-foot-8 Maryland commit tallied a team-high 42 yards on nine carries.

• Maryland’s newest commitment, Theodore Roosevelt (D.C.) linebacker Darin Drakeford, recorded nine solo tackles and two sacks, while rushing for 103 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries in Roosevelt’s 40-12 win over Cardozo.

D.J. Adams paced the Norcross (Ga.) ground game in its 28-0 win over Duluth.

D.J. Adams rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns and Norcross held Duluth without a first down until late in the fourth quarter.

• Terps quarterback recruit C.J. Brown was dangerous on the ground and through the air in Seneca Valley’s 18-14 win over Butler (Pa.).

Maryland recruit C.J. Brown rushed for 169 yards and passed for 151. Brown scored on a 19-yard run and also threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Peter Vincente.

• Edmondson defensive end David Mackall terrorized the Poly offense throughout the Red Storm’s 22-16 win over the Engineers.

University of Maryland-bound David Mackall made 12 tackles, recovered two fumbles and caused a fumble, and D'Andre Gordon caused a fumble.

• Tight end Dave Stinebaugh hauled in one touchdown pass in Perry Hall’s 38-16 win over Parkville.

[Davonte] Farrell's 12-yard touchdown run started a 22-point second quarter explosion for Perry Hall. He threw a 44-yard strike to Wood, and connected with Dave Stinebaugh for a 35-yard score.

• St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) kicker Nick Ferrara accounted for seven points in the Friars’ 41-21 loss to Iona Prep.

[Tom] Schreiber moved St. Anthony’s from his own 16 to the Iona Prep 29 with nine seconds left. After a pair of time outs meant to ice the kicker, Ferrara went out and nailed – with plenty of room to spare – a 46-yard field goal to close the gap to 21-13.

• UM linebacker pledge Ryan Donohue found the end zone once in St. Joseph’s (N.J.) 47-7 win over Greenwich (Conn.).

Senior Ryan Donohue, headed to Maryland, plunged in from 1-yard out to cap St. Joe's opening drive of the second half.

• Maryland safety commitment Avery Graham reeled in a touchdown pass in Clarksburg’s 34-6 victory over Einstein.

Senior Avery Graham caught a 27-yard touchdown to start the scoring in the second quarter, and junior Pat Isaacs (81 yards on six carries, two touchdowns) and senior Mark Small (192 yards on 17 carries, one touchdown) had big performances.

• On homecoming at Dinwiddie (Va.), Bradley Johnson picked off a pass, helping the Generals to a 47-10 win over Prince George.

Johnson, the Dinwiddie linebacker who will play next year at the University of Maryland, had an interception on a pass thrown by wide receiver Bryan Yates on the trick play. His returned the ball 30 yards and ran out the second-quarter clock and the Generals started their homecoming parade.

• UM linebacker recruit Avery Murray rushed for a score in West Florence’s 39-13 win over Hartsville (S.C.).

The Knights’ offense took advantage, scoring 25 unanswered points. [Paul] Pizzuti and Avery Murray scored second quarter rushing TDs to hand their team a 12-7 halftime advantage.

• Quarterback Danny O’Brien guided East Forsyth (N.C.) to a hard-fought 9-7 win over Page.

Starting at their own 13, O'Brien got in a rhythm with his receivers, hitting three straight passes, the last one covering 36 yards to running back Josh Kellum. Two plays later, O'Brien found a wide open Spencer Warren for a 2-yard touchdown pass.

• Saturday’s game between L.A. Goree's C.H. Flowers squad and Isaiah Ross' Eleanor Roosevelt team was postponed until today.

The teams will kick off at 3 p.m. at Roosevelt High in Greenbelt.

One recruiting note

Good Counsel junior cornerback Louis Young committed to Stanford on Friday, picking the Cardinal over offers from Maryland, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:03 AM | | Comments (2)

October 24, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Barring a drastic change of heart, it appears unlikely that Dunbar running back Tavon Austin will stay in Maryland for college.

Austin told's Mike Farrell this week that he’s narrowed his list of schools to three.

“I haven’t taken any official visits lately,” Austin explained. “I went to West Virginia a little while back and that went pretty good. I’m not going to take all five of them.

“I’m taking an official to UNC on November 7, and I think I might make my decision after that. I’m looking at West Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan right now, but I might not make it to Michigan. I’d say West Virginia is leading by a little bit.”

• Maryland remains in good shape with Hoboken, N.J., defensive end Isaac Holmes, who told that the Terps are in his top three along with Florida and Pittsburgh

Another team that Holmes said he believes he could play quickly at is Maryland. "They are really getting it together now," he said. "They are playing great and improving every week. They've beat a couple top 25 teams already and it's only getting better."

• Two Maryland commitments will square off this weekend in a battle of unbeatens. C.H. Flowers (7-0) linebacker L.A. Goree and Eleanor Roosevelt (7-0) defensive end Isaiah Ross will meet at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Eleanor Roosevelt.

Flowers has been challenged just once, in a 7-6 victory over Wise on Sept. 27. Otherwise, the Jaguars have had a pretty easy go of it with their wing-T offense led by quarterback Dwayne Powell. Their defense, led by linebackers Lorne Goree (a Maryland recruit) and Brandon Killebrew, has posted four shutouts and allowed just four touchdowns all season. Flowers has yet to trail in a game.

• Quince Orchard cornerback Travis Hawkins suffered a severe ankle injury on Saturday while filling in for the Cougars' injured starting quarterback.

Hawkins then had his left leg rolled up on while plunging into the end zone on a sneak. The bad news was twofold for the red and black; the touchdown was disallowed because of a false start, and Hawkins had to be carted off on a stretcher.

Hawkins had an MRI Monday, and the results were not available at press time. [Quince Orchard head coach Dave] Mencarini said the ankle was not broken, as initially feared, but that Hawkins "will miss the rest of the regular season at least."

• In Mike Farrell’s Weekly Whispers column, the analyst says that Hawkins and his Quince Orchard teammate, defensive end Jason Ankrah, have been impressed with Penn State’s 8-0 start.

Speaking of Penn State, numerous prospects who didn’t have interest in the Nittany Lions suddenly are interested after the team’s awesome start. While Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard defensive end Jason Ankrah has always loved Penn State, teammate Travis Hawkins - a cornerback - once again is showing a lot of interest.

• Raleigh, N.C., linebacker Kendall Moore, a 2010 recruit, picked up an offer recently from the Terps, according to

Moore has received offers from Maryland, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest, with the latest coming from the Terrapins.

“I think two Tuesdays ago I received an offer from Maryland,” Moore explained. “It was supposed to be a surprise. Their coach called mine and my coach was going to surprise me with it, but I talked to my friend Demetrius Hartsfield. He went to Maryland last year and he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to tell me.”

Basketball recruiting

• With Torrington, Conn., center Jordan Williams and Brooklyn, N.Y., power forward James Padgett in the fold, the Maryland coaching staff’s attention turns to Patterson (N.C.) School forward Arsalan Kazemi. According to Zags Blog, Kazemi plans to visit Maryland on Nov. 8. He’s also set to visit Seton Hall and Rice, while many other schools are still trying to get in the mix.

“We’ve had talks with Memphis, Colorado, Cincinnati, Western Kentucky and Virginia Tech,” [Anthony Ibrahim, Kazemi’s adviser] said. “They’re really on us now. All these others are fighting for the visits.”

Ibrahim said it was possible Kazemi could take one or two more visits before the end of the early signing period, which runs Nov. 12-19.

The Register Citizen, Williams’ hometown newspaper, profiled the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder after he made his commitment to Maryland this week. Williams said UM’s criminal justice program was a major factor in his decision to go with the Terps over St. John’s.

"I was leaning back and forth," Williams said. "I was like, what am I doing? I couldn't turn down the criminal justice program and the division I'll be playing in." Maryland's criminal justice program is No. 1 in the country, Williams said.'s Jeff Ermann caught up with 2010 shooting guard prospect Taran Buie after the Albany, N.Y., product visited College Park for Maryland Madness. Buie said he was impressed by the Terps’ fan support.

There were numerous signs in the stands at Maryland Madness this weekend imploring the 6-foot-3 combo guard to become a Terp and to join fellow junior guard prospect Isaiah Epps in Maryland’s future backcourt. The affable Buie, who chatted and took pictures with some of those students, was flattered.

“That was surprising to me. I was a surprise about how many people knew about me. Some of the signs even had my nickname [Ron-Ron],” he said.

• Two post players that Maryland showed interest in, but ultimately chose not to offer, made their commitments this week. Linden, N.J., center David Bruce offered his pledge to St. Joseph’s, while Baltimore native Andrew Fitzgerald, who’s spending his senior year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, picked Oklahoma.

Fitzgerald chose the Sooners after being recruited by several Big East schools, Louisville and Pittsburgh among them, as well as the likes of Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Fitzgerald told he canceled a visit to Louisville after the Cardinals recently secured a commitment from Indiana prep power forward Stephan Van Treese. That opened the door wider for Jeff Capel, and the Oklahoma coach slammed it shut this weekend.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

Thomas discusses commitment to Maryland

After Maryland Madness last Friday, Alyssa Thomas and her father, Bob, left Comcast Center in search of a midnight snack.

The father-daughter pair settled on a local McDonald’s, and over a couple of milkshakes, Thomas, a junior wing from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, Pa., dropped a bombshell on her dad.

“I told him I was ready [to commit to Maryland],” Thomas said. “He didn’t know what I was talking about at first. And he was kind of shocked that I was ready so early. He asked if I was sure and I told him I was positive about it and he was like, ’OK, you know what you have to do.’”

The following morning, Thomas followed through on that plan, offering a verbal commitment to Maryland coach Brenda Frese. According to Thomas, Frese was “ecstatic” about the news.

“I told Coach Frese Saturday morning. I met her in her office,” Thomas said. “Then she asked me if I wanted to tell the team and I told her she could tell them. She gathered the team in the locker room, and they were all excited and just screaming. They just welcomed me to the family.”

Thomas picked Maryland over Penn State, Notre Dame, Marquette, Duquesne, Virginia, Villanova, St. Joseph’s and Pittsburgh. According to Central Dauphin head coach Bill Wolf, Maryland identified Thomas as its top wing target for the class of 2010 early on in the process. While Wolf was a little surprised that she committed so early, he wasn’t shocked by her choice.

“Initially she was going to take her time and do some unofficial visits to some schools, but she had visited [College Park] once in the summer and was really impressed," Wolf said. "She went this past weekend and just really enjoyed her visit. She basically told her parents ... ‘this is a place I feel I want to go.’ The fact that they’re nationally ranked and she really feels she’s at a place where she can compete for a national championship all four years [was important for her]. Everything just sort of came together.”

Thomas led Central Dauphin to a state championship as a sophomore, averaging approximately 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game, while shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Wolf said there are few things on the court that Thomas isn’t capable of doing. There's even a solid chance she could claim a spot in Maryland's starting lineup as a true freshman in 2010.

“Alyssa will be a pretty natural 3 at the college level,” Wolf said. “She plays a guard position for me in high school. I use her as a 2 because of the fact that I use her to handle the ball a lot to break pressure and so forth. She’s the type of girl that makes her teammates better. She plays a lot like Magic Johnson in that she can get an outlet pass and lead the break, make the right pass at the right time. She averaged 18 points per game as a sophomore, [made] first-team all-state in Pennsylvania as a sophomore. ... She could’ve scored more to be quite honest. But she makes sure her teammates get involved, and in crunch time she’s definitely someone to go to to score a needed basket. ... So she’s just a really good player.”

Thomas has two seasons left to add onto her already impressive high school legacy. For now, Thomas said she’s enjoying her new status as a Maryland recruit, while also mentally preparing herself for her Terps debut in two years.

“It’s been pretty crazy [at school since I committed],” Thomas said. “Everybody’s been congratulating me and saying how they can’t wait to get all their Terps gear. ... It’s two years away [until I play for Maryland] and I have plenty of time to think about it and prepare myself for what’s ahead. I have two years to improve and I would love to just come out and show people what I can really do.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:01 AM | | Comments (0)

October 23, 2008

Coach, town excited for Terps recruit Williams

High school basketball in Torrington, Conn., has somewhat of a Hoosiers-like quality to it.

During Tony Turina's 17 seasons as boys varsity coach at Torrington High School, the team has routinely drawn between 1,000-1,500 fans to its home games. In a city of roughly 36,000 people, the Red Raiders are generally “the best ticket in town,” according to Turina.

Jordan Williams, Torrington’s standout senior center, has been the main attraction on the team throughout his high school career. When the 6-foot-9 1/2, 245-pounder committed to Maryland on Monday, it was cause for celebration throughout the area.

“It’s a big deal up here that he’s going to a school like Maryland. It’s been kind of crazy up here,” Turina said. “The local newspaper had him on the front page, going to Maryland. ... Jordan is extremely well known throughout the state. We’re broadcast every night on a radio station. When we play the top teams in the league, it’s on a local TV station. He’s not a mystery. ... He’s really getting excited, and he’s kind of in awe in seeing what he’s always known about the ACC; he’s seeing what this basketball madness is all about. I think he’s tremendously excited about this.”

Williams wowed the Torrington crowds throughout his first three years on the varsity squad. As a 6-foot-4 freshman, he helped the team to a state championship. As a sophomore, the Red Raiders made it to the state semifinals, falling to the eventual champions. Last season, in what was supposed to be somewhat of a ‘rebuilding year,’ according to Turina, Williams averaged 28 points and 16 rebounds per game, leading Torrington to a division championship.

But while Williams was a battle-tested player in Connecticut, it wasn’t until this summer, playing with the New England Playaz AAU program, that high-major Division I programs started taking notice of his talent. Williams’ summer ascent from mid-major prospect to high-major recruit reminded Turina of another post player with Connecticut ties.

[Emeka] Okafor, who played at UConn. He was a relative unknown until late in his junior year,” Turina said. “He went to one AAU tournament in Indianapolis, and next thing you know, [people were saying] ‘where did this kid come from?’ Jordan falls in that same category. He was relatively known by the lower level Division I schools. But after his success and exposure in these tournaments, what [colleges] realized was this kid wasn’t a one-game fluke. They saw a kid consistently scoring 18 points, [grabbing] 10 rebounds, and a very mature kid who runs the court extremely well. He isn’t your methodical big guy that lumbers up the court. He’s a 6-9, 245-pound player that can get out on the break and finish.”

Williams’ speed and athleticism in the open court, along with his ability to hit the 15-foot jumper, are just a couple of the characteristics that set him apart from other big guys, Turina said. Based on conversations with the Maryland coaching staff, Turina expects Williams to come in as a freshman and compete for time at the power forward and center positions.

“I think that they feel confident that if he comes in in shape, developed and ready to go, he’s going to see some solid minutes as a freshman,” Turina said. “That will be determined by how committed he is as well as the pieces they have coming together. A school like Maryland isn’t going to rely on a kid as a freshman to take them to a national championship. Gary Williams said point blank, ‘There are no guarantees. We expect you to come ready to play and become a better basketball player every day. If you’re committed to becoming a better player every day, we’ll assist you in becoming a better player.’

“I think that was a first-class comment coming from a Hall of Fame coach. I thought Maryland was tremendously honest and professional during the whole recruiting process. They laid it on the line on what he needed to be successful there. They didn’t talk down about any program; they just felt confident about the University of Maryland. I think Jordan came away really appreciative of that type of recruiting. I think that’s why he chose to go down there. He feels they will help him get to that next level. ... They’ve got a diamond in the rough that’s already a proven player.”

Turina has known Williams since he was a toddler. Leron Williams, Jordan’s father, and Murray Williams, his uncle, both starred for Torrington during their high school years. Leron has been an assistant to Turina for 10 years. So Turina speaks with confidence when he predicts that Williams, who picked Maryland over St. John’s, will impress Terps fans just as he has the Torrington faithful.

“When people come in, Jordan knows them personally and they know him,” Turina said. “He’s a tremendously nice kid; a gentleman. He’ll send out 50 or 60 cards to people in town [after the season], just thanking them for their support. He’s the type of guy that can go through a wall, but he’s the first kid that will help opposing players off the court. ... He goes to war many of the nights playing in our league. He’s going to experience that playing in the ACC, so he’s going to be ready for it. ... Maryland will find [out what type of player and person he is] very shortly.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:24 AM | | Comments (9)

October 22, 2008

Maryland-bound Townsend continues improving

When Essence Townsend enrolled at Paterson (N.J.) Catholic High School in 2005, she was a lanky, 6-foot-2 freshman who had dabbled in basketball for less than a year.

Three years and five inches later, Townsend has developed into a legitimate high-major Division I basketball player.

The 6-foot-7 senior committed to Maryland on Saturday, picking the Terps over offers from Miami, Seton Hall and Pittsburgh.

“It’s really kind of crazy because I always had high expectations for myself,” Townsend said, “but I never imagined going to the University of Maryland and playing for a great coach like Brenda [Frese] and just having the opportunity that I have now.”

Townsend, who committed to UM while on a visit to College Park for Maryland Madness, said there were times early on in her basketball-playing career when she thought about quitting.

While everyone assumed the 6-foot-2 freshman would immediately be an impact player, that wasn’t the case for Townsend. Those lofty expectations based solely on her height were difficult to deal with.

“My freshman year, my team didn’t do well and I didn’t have the support I felt I should have,” Townsend said. “I didn’t feel comfortable playing with my body then and I wasn’t developing.”

Thanks to encouragement from her aunt, Glenda Townsend, Essence stuck it out, sprouted to her current height, and dreamed of a future where she’d receive a free education for playing basketball.

“Nobody ever told me I had to play,” Townsend said. “It was always motivation for myself for playing basketball and my aunt. She always wanted what was best for me. I needed to do this for where I wanted to go in life. ... As time progressed I learned to love the game.”

According to Paterson Catholic head coach Dave Andre, Townsend’s love of the game has become evident. As a junior, she averaged 10.5 points, 10 rebounds and 8.5 blocks per game.

“She’s a long, athletic, shot-blocker with both hands,” Andre said. “Offensively she’s coming along every year, making progress. She’s basically just scratching the surface of her game. She had a real good AAU summer playing against really good, elite competition and just continues to get better.”

Andre said the Maryland coaches have told him they’re intrigued with Townsend’s potential, particularly once they get her in the weight room.

“They love her upside,” Andre said. “They see what we see, looking further into the future. Coaching her in the weight room, they think her potential is unlimited at her size. Once they have her on campus, I think the sky’s the limit.”

After getting a chance to see Terps fans in action at Maryland Madness, Townsend said she’s excited to suit up in Comcast and use that 6-foot-7 frame to her advantage.

“[UM fans] can expect me to work hard and block as many shots as possible, because that’s what I love to do.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:25 AM | | Comments (2)

October 21, 2008

D.C. linebacker commits to Maryland

Six and a half years ago, Darin Drakeford watched with awe as the Maryland men’s basketball team won its first national championship.

The Washington D.C. native had visions of joining the Terps basketball program once he reached college.

“I mean when I was growing up I always followed the basketball team,” Drakeford said. “It turned out [I’ll go there for a] different sport.”

Drakeford, a 6-foot, 217-pound linebacker, committed to the Maryland football program yesterday, picking the Terps over offers from Illinois, Pittsburgh and Duke.

Drakeford averaged 12 points and nine rebounds per game as a junior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in D.C. On the football field, he’s led the Rough Riders (3-5) with 62 tackles, 17 assists and seven sacks this season. He has rushed for 296 yards and five touchdowns on 13 carries, and caught eight passes for 203 yards and two scores.

Roosevelt head coach Daryl Tilghman said Drakeford has been dangerous on offense, and occasionally scary on defense.

“In the last couple games, I really saw his closing speed,” Tilghman said. “I could see him go from 10 yards to 10 feet in just a matter of seconds. ... We were playing Coolidge and I can still vividly remember; he exploded into this guy and he ended up on the track. I was like ‘wow!’ That’s when I saw what everyone else could see [about his potential at linebacker].”

Tilghman said that particular play against Coolidge best exemplifies Drakeford’s game.

“His ability to close on the ball carrier and that explosiveness he brings as he gets there are probably his plusses,” Tilghman said. “I think he’s a good student of the game and recognizes things very quickly. I think those are probably his biggest attributes in playing middle linebacker.”

Drakeford admitted that Maryland was the leader in his recruitment for a long time. Those sentiments were reinforced after taking unofficial visits to Illinois and Pittsburgh.

“When I was at Pittsburgh, I liked the school a lot but I didn’t really like the city,” Drakeford said. “When I was at Illinois, [I liked the school] but it’s a really small city. ... [Maryland] was always my first choice. ... It’s close to home, and close to D.C., where I’m from. [It was important] staying home.”

Drakeford said he hopes to play for the Terps as a true freshman and carry on UM’s tradition at linebacker.

“There’s a lot of great linebackers that came through there and I can be another one.”

Click here for's Recruiting Spotlight video feature on Drakeford.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:34 PM | | Comments (9)

Terps land Conn. power forward

Jordan Williams is coming to College Park.

The 6-foot-9, 245-pounder from Torrington, Conn., committed to the Terps yesterday.

Williams, a four-star prospect according to, told Zags Blog that academics played a big role in his decision.

“My decision was based mainly on the academics. I want to major in criminal justice and Maryland has the top criminal justice program in the country. If something were to happen where I would get hurt and couldn’t play basketball, then I would have something to fall back on.”

Williams joins Brooklyn, N.Y., forward James Padgett as part of Maryland's 2009 recruiting class.

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Williams' commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:13 AM | | Comments (16)

City's Fair talks Syracuse

When Syracuse first started recruiting City College junior C.J. Fair, he didn’t automatically think about other Baltimore prospects that ended up playing for the Orange.

But on Saturday, when Fair became the third Charm City small forward to commit to Syracuse this decade, the four-star prospect finally made the connection.

“I wasn’t really thinking about [former Syracuse and Towson Catholic standouts Carmelo Anthony and Donte Greene] at the time, but then I looked back, and there is a little Baltimore trend for my position,” Fair said. “But I want to make my own route my own way.”

While Fair, 6 feet 8, might not have immediately equated himself with the likes of Anthony and Greene, the Syracuse coaching staff did have an effective recruiting pitch about how they’ve used people in his position in the past.

“They were saying every year their small forward leads them in scoring, which is perfect because they know I can score the ball real well,” Fair said. “I’d help them get over the hump.”

Fair, who averaged 20 points and six rebounds as a sophomore, chose Syracuse over Louisville, Georgetown, Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State, Wake Forest and Kentucky. He committed during an unofficial visit to Syracuse with his parents, younger sister and Baltimore Stars AAU coach.

Fair said he didn’t intend to commit on his visit, but after meeting with the coaches, and checking out his future home court, Fair was sold on Syracuse.

“I walked in the Carrier Dome and my eyes lit up. I was just picturing the 40,000 people that will be there and playing in front of them,” Fair said. “It all caught my eye ... Coach [Jim] Boeheim is in the Hall of Fame. Talking to him is just a blessing. Coach Rob Murphy, he’s tremendous. I like his whole demeanor. [The Syracuse staff has been] straight up and honest with me.”

Beyond basketball, Fair said he was impressed with Syracuse’s communications department and the lack of separation between athletes and regular students on campus.

Right now Fair is focused on finishing rehab for his knee. He tore his ACL last spring, but said he’s almost regained his full range of motion and should be ready to suit up for City by December or January. In the meantime, Fair will have his eye on Syracuse from now on.

“I’m real excited,” Fair said. “It’s a big relief.”

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of Fair.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:25 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 20, 2008

Weekend wrap -- O'Brien stands out in rout

Terps quarterback commitment Danny O’Brien was responsible for four touchdowns on Friday night, leading East Forsyth (N.C.) to a 51-6 rout of Greensboro Smith.

Quarterback Danny O'Brien of East completed 6 of 12 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns and added touchdown runs of 1 and 5 yards for the Eagles, who built a 21-6 at halftime.

• UM safety commitment Avery Graham scored on offense and defense, helping Clarksburg to a 32-14 win over Rockville.

Cody Martin completed 9-of-14 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He threw a 5-yard TD strike to Avery Graham in the second quarter and hit Myles Daughtry with a 16-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

Avery Graham returned an interception 68 yards in the fourth quarter for the Coyotes.

Caleb Porzel rushed for 112 yards on 11 carries in Good Counsel’s 42-6 win over Bishop McNamara.

The game started off fast with Caleb Porzel taking the hand off and scoring on a 64-yard touchdown, giving the Falcons a quick burst of energy.

L.A. Goree helped his C.H. Flowers squad move to 7-0 with a 59-0 drubbing of High Point.

The tone for the game was set defensively as quarterback/linebacker Dwayne Powell, linebacker Lorne Goree and Donte Faison all had interception returns for touchdowns. Flowers forced a total of five High Point turnovers.

• Maryland kicker commitment Nick Ferrara scored six points in St. Anthony’s 24-6 win over Chaminade (N.Y.).

Jaffrea Corley-Woods capped the march on an 11-yard scoring run with 7:54 left in the half and Ferrara's kick made it 14-0. Ferrara added a 29-yard field goal with 56 seconds left for a 17-0 halftime lead.

• Tight end recruit Dave Stinebaugh accounted for eight points on Friday night, but Perry Hall dropped a 21-17 game to Kenwood.

Brandon Sofia scored on a five yard run in the fourth quarter and that was followed by a two point convesion pass from quarterback Davonta Farrell to University of Maryland-bound David Stinebaugh.  A few minutes later, Farrell hit Stinbaugh for a five yard touchdown, but the conversion attempt failed.

• UM running back commitment D.J. Adams helped lead Norcross (Ga.) to a 17-0 win over North Forsyth.

Norcross tailback D.J. Adams gained 137 yards on 22 carries, but the Maryland recruit was held without a touchdown after scoring four times in last week's 45-0 rout at Northview.

• UM linebacker pledge Bradley Johnson found the end zone once during Dinwiddie’s 41-14 win over Petersburg (Va.).

In the second half alone, the Generals scored four times, three of which were touchdown passes to three different receivers (White for 31 yards, Bradley Johnson for two yards and Sam Haskins for 9 yards).

• Quarterback C.J. Brown and his Seneca Valley (Pa.) squad fell to 3-5 on the season with a 17-14 loss to Pine-Richland.

[Pine-Richland quarterback Eric] Kordenbrock completed only 6 of 19 passes for 162 yards. His quarterback counterpart, C.J. Brown, finished with 216 yards passing for Seneca Valley. A Maryland recruit and the passing-yardage leader in the WPIAL, Brown completed 13 of 28 attempts. He also was victimized twice with interceptions.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:59 AM | | Comments (1)

Frese picks up two commitments

Maryland Madness turned out to be a major success for Terps women’s coach Brenda Frese.

I received word yesterday that Frese picked up verbal commitments over the weekend from two visitors to UM’s kickoff event.

Paterson (N.J.) Catholic senior Essence Townsend, 6‘6, and Central Dauphin (Pa.) junior Alyssa Thomas, 6‘2, both pledged to the Terps in the wake of their trips to College Park.

I’ll have more on Townsend and Thomas later this week. Click here for a profile of Townsend.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:20 AM | | Comments (0)

October 19, 2008

City's Fair picks Syracuse

City College forward C.J. Fair committed to Syracuse yesterday, according to Baltimore Stars official Troy Franklin.

Fair, a 6’7 junior, is rated the No. 45 player in the 2010 class by

“It’s an exciting time,” Franklin said. “C.J. is another very talented piece of the Baltimore Stars that’s on his way to high-major basketball. We’re excited about the opportunity for him to play in the Big East for coach [Jim] Boeheim. We feel good for the family -- his mom and his dad.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Fair’s commitment to the Orange.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:47 AM | | Comments (0)

October 17, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins trimmed his lengthy list of schools to 15 earlier this week.

Maryland made the initial cut for's No. 4 prospect in the class of 2009.

“In no order, my final 15 schools are as follows...Southern Cal, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Miami, LSU, Maryland, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Boston College, Florida, Clemson and Tennessee,” said the 6-foot-1, 212-pounder. “It was very hard to get it down this far from more than 40 schools, but my family and I sat down and we looked at a few different categories to get it narrowed down.”

• St. John’s College (D.C.) offensive guard Peter White has narrowed his list of schools to five and scheduled his first official visit.

White has narrowed his list down to Florida, Maryland, Miami, Oregon and Tennessee, and on Sunday he announced that he has set up his first official visit.

“I’ve actually set up my official visit to Tennessee,” White explained. “I’m going to be going down there for their game against Kentucky.'s Adam Gorney caught up with cornerback Travis Hawkins after the Quince Orchard standout took an official visit to Oregon. Hawkins discussed the visit and his favorites.

“Well, I like Penn State a lot,” he explained. “But I like Oregon, too. I know my mom likes Maryland. The coaches and players are cool there. It’s a real family atmosphere. I’m still looking at Michigan too. I wouldn’t say there’s one sticking out right now.”

• Earlier this week profiled Williamsburg, Va., defensive end Will Hill, who had plenty of good things to say about Maryland.

“I like coach Sollazzo, my position coach, and coach Brattan., who is recruiting me. He’s a good guy. I’ve also gotten to speak to coach Friedgen and he’s a good guy too,” he said. “It’s a good program. They’re building toward an ACC championship every year and they consistently produce NFL players. There are lots of great opportunities around the D.C.-Baltimore area in terms of internships and jobs. Everything is right there. You’re also going to be on TV every week, whether it’s Comcast or ESPN.”

• The stock of Maryland quarterback commitment Danny O’Brien has declined, according to's midseason report for the Atlantic East region.

O'Brien has been somewhat effective running the ball this season, averaging more than five yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns. However, he's struggling a bit throwing the ball, completing less than 50 percent of his passes in four of his first six games and throwing two key interceptions in his team's 35-13 loss to West Forsyth.

• Stafford, Va., defensive end Lanford Collins is still considering an offer from the Terps -- along with scholarships from at least nine other schools, according to the Daily Press.

Collins, who has gained 50 pounds in the past two years, has garnered plenty of attention from colleges. He's considering offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Tennessee, Penn State, Illinois, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina State and North Carolina.

Basketball recruiting

• Adam Zagoria spoke with Jordan Williams' high school head coach, who said he expected Williams to choose between Maryland and St. John's this week.

“I spoke to Jordan and his father on Sunday,” Torrington coach Tony Turina said by phone. “They haven’t made a decision. They’re hoping by the end of the week. They will be sitting down in a day or so to finalize things. He was interested in possibly this week coming to a final decision and making a verbal commitment to one or the other school.”

• Former Terps center Gus Gilchrist is still waiting for an NCAA ruling on his eligibility status for this season.

Gilchrist, awaiting word from the NCAA on a hardship waiver that would allow him to play this season, is a versatile scorer; [USF coach Stan] Heath said he may be the team's best perimeter shooter at 6 feet 10, and [USF senior Jesus] Verdejo compares him to Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki.

• One-time Maryland target and former Riverdale Baptist standout Thomas Robinson ended his recruitment this week. The Brewster (N.H.) Academy senior committed to Kansas.

Robinson, a five-star power forward recruit from Washington, D.C., became the first player to orally commit to Kansas from the class of 2009. He said the togetherness of everyone in the program was the main reason he selected Kansas over Memphis, which he had pegged as his other finalist.’s latest Recruiting Spotlight features looks at DeMatha shooting guard Victor Oladipo, a four-star player who has offers from Maryland, Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Click here to watch the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:09 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

October 16, 2008

Graham stands out for Calvert Hall

Jonathan Graham underwent somewhat of a transformation over the summer.

The Calvert Hall power forward added approximately 10-15 pounds of muscle to his 6’8 frame, according to Cardinals head coach John Bauersfeld. With that added strength, Graham -- now weighing in at about 220 -- has become a more confident, faster and more explosive player, Bauersfeld said. Numerous Division I coaches have taken notice.

“He’s been talked to by Villanova, West Virginia, UNLV, to name a few,” Bauersfeld said. “Pitt came down to see him, also. Pretty much the Big East schools are the main ones talking to him right now.
Bauersfeld has had some contact in the past with Maryland assistant Keith Booth regarding Graham. His father, Ernie Graham, was a standout player for the Terps in the late 70s and early 80s.

Whenever Bauersfeld has conversations with college recruiters about the younger Graham, the discussion starts with his game and often turns to his character and personality.

“They love him, they love his work ethic, love his emotion,” Bauersfeld said. “They love that he’s a good student, [so there are] no problems there. Overall, they like his skill-set and really just like all the things that he does well.”

Graham, who averaged 18 points and nine rebounds as a sophomore, is a versatile big man who will only get better, Bauersfeld said.

“He is a very skilled big man; not a big man that’s going to play with his back to basket, especially in college,” Bauersfeld said. “We move him around. I like him to go inside and outside. So he can do a lot of different things fairly well, which is rare when you’re 6’8.”

There’s been no shortage of solid college options for Graham already, but Bauersfeld feels confident that his recruitment will become much crazier sooner rather than later.

“I think we’re just getting started right now,” Bauersfeld said. “I think by his senior year, if he continues to improve the way he has, he’ll get a lot of looks from a lot of different people.”

• According to Bauersfeld, three other Cardinals players have received DI attention. “We have kid named Donya Jackson, who’s a junior. Mount St. Mary’s has been talking to him. I know St. Joseph’s talked to him over the summer. [We have] a kid named Damion Lee; Mount St. Mary’s is also talking him. Kyle Wise has had some [DI] contact. Mount St. Mary’s has been pretty active to watch our guys. Those guys, as this year moves on, I think they’ll get more interest.” All three players are juniors. Jackson and Lee are both small forward/wing prospects, while Wise is a point guard.

Photo caption: Jonathan Graham boxes out Towson Catholic's Terrell Bruce (31). Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / March 3, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 15, 2008

Mount St. Joseph's Atkins has options

Two years as Mount St. Joseph’s starting point guard has a way of generating recruiting interest.

At least that’s what Gaels junior Eric Atkins has discovered. Atkins, who averaged approximately 14 points per game as a sophomore, is hearing from a variety of high-major Division I programs.

“There are probably about five schools right now in the mix,” MSJ head coach Pat Clatchey said. “Virginia Tech, Pitt, Notre Dame, Villanova and Vanderbilt. ... I would think those are the schools he has a genuine interest in. UMass is another school [he’s considering].”

Clatchey said Maryland has also shown interest, but not to the extent of the other six schools mentioned.

“To be honest, I think the kid’s being under-recruited,” Clatchey said. “He’s got some quality schools recruiting him; I think the kid’s a terrific player.”

Atkins, 6’0, spent the summer playing with D.C. Assault, teaming with a pair of Duke commitments -- Spotsylvania, Va., power forward Josh Hairston and Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard Tyler Thornton. According to Clatchey, Atkins doesn’t have a timetable for making a decision.

Clatchey said Atkins’ fundamentals, unselfish play and high basketball IQ are all qualities cited by college recruiters impressed with his game.

“I just think he’s a very good all-around basketball player,” Clatchey said. “I think he has a great understanding of the game and has the ability to make other players better. His decision-making, I think, is just terrific. He has a great feel in the sense of how to play the game. I think he’s a very good high school player and I think he’ll be a very good college player as well. Whoever’s fortunate enough to get him is getting a champion on and off the court.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:25 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 14, 2008

Meet Jin Soo Kim

Last month I got an e-mail from a reader named John Lee, asking for my impressions of
Maryland freshman Jin Soo Kim -- Lee’s cousin.

After some back-and-forth with Lee, he offered to relay some questions to Kim, who’s enrolled at UM but still awaiting approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Lee passed the questions along to Kim, who then confirmed his answers to me via e-mail.

While this doesn’t exactly fall under the umbrella of recruiting, here’s a belated introduction to Kim.

Name: Jin Soo Kim
Birthdate: 5/11/89
Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Nickname: Jin
Height: 6-8
Weight: 200 pounds
Position: Small forward
High School: South Kent (Conn.) School
Other schools considered: “Maryland was the first and only school I actually visited.”
Favorite pro basketball player: Ray Allen, Tayshaun Prince
Favorite music: “I usually listen to Korean music. I especially like hip-hop and rap.”
Favorite TV show: Prison Break
Favorite food: “I like both American and Korean foods. My favorite American foods are hamburgers and pizza.”
Favorite high school class: Math
Favorite thing about College Park: “I have made many good friends here ... and most importantly, I love the basketball team, because the coaches are great and my teammates treat me very well.”
Hobbies: Listening to music
Intended major: Physical therapy
Something that not many people know about you: “I am somewhat of an introvert, but many people think I am an extrovert because I am active and humorous.”
Best basketball moment: “When I played a high school game on an NBA court for the first time. I was a sophomore, and the game was a tournament in New York. We played at the [Knicks’] home court.
Role model: My parents
Summarize why Maryland was the best fit for you: “The school’s atmosphere and activities on the campus just fit me well.”
How is your shoulder? “My shoulder is a lot better than before. I actually think I can play this year.”
What was the most difficult part about your injury and having surgery? “The process of surgery and rehab was very long for me. The most difficult part was that I could not play basketball. I spent a lot of time doing rehab.”
When and why did you decide to enroll early at Maryland? “I really liked the school and coaching staff. ... Coach Williams and [the] other coaches seemed really enthusiastic about basketball. I felt that Maryland is where I belong.”
Are you excited to get back on the court? “Yes. I am very excited to get back on the court. I know that this season is very important for the Maryland fans and myself, so I am going to work very hard. I just can’t wait for this season.”
What has school and basketball at Maryland been like for you so far? “Both the school life and playing basketball here at Maryland have been great. I study hard at school. And I play basketball with all my energy on the court.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:24 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Meet the recruit

October 13, 2008

Weekend wrap -- Big games for Whitfield, Adams

Maryland has Northwest athlete Marcus Whitfield pegged for linebacker in College Park, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder stood out on offense in his team’s 49-27 loss to Churchill on Friday night.

Looking Good in a Loss: Northwest wide receiver Marcus Whitfield finished with five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

• Maryland running back commitment D.J. Adams found the end zone early and often in Norcross’ shutout of Northview (Ga.).

D.J. Adams rushed for 148 yards and four touchdowns, Charles King passed for 219 yards and one score and Norcross defeated Northview 45-0 on Friday.

Norcross (4-2, 3-1 Region 7-AAAAA) went up 14-0 early on a 5-yard Adams touchdown run, followed by an 11-yard TD pass from King to Arius Wright. Wright's TD was set up by a 41-yard pass from King to Prince Kent and a 19-yard run by Adams.

Adams had another TD run, this one a 69-yarder later in the first quarter.

• Quarterback C.J. Brown put up big numbers, but Seneca Valley (Pa.) fell to 3-4 on the season with a 35-32 loss to Shaler.

C.J. Brown completed 20 of 33 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns for Seneca Valley (3-4, 0-3). The Raiders have given up 143 points over the past three games.

Click here for a feature on Brown that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday.

• UM defensive end/linebacker pledge Isaiah Ross helped lead the Eleanor Roosevelt defense in the Raiders’ 21-2 win over Suitland.

The Raiders allowed the Rams to advance inside the Roosevelt 20-yard line just twice and held Suitland's offense scoreless. Roosevelt linebacker Isaiah Ross got two of the four Raiders' sacks on the afternoon.

• Terps running back recruit Caleb Porzel rushed for more than 100 yards and a score in Good Counsel’s 41-14 win over O’Connell.

Caleb Porzel rushed for nearly 150 yards and one touchdown, Jelani Jenkins scored three touchdowns while freshman Stefon Diggs caught a touchdown pass and returned a kick for another score.

• Tight end Dave Stinebaugh found the end zone once in Perry Hall’s 45-41 loss to Franklin.

Stinebaugh, who has clocked a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, did manage to break loose for a 20-yard scoring reception from Devonte Farrell, stretching the Gators' lead to 20-10 in the second quarter.

• UM safety commitment Eric Franklin helped Archbishop Curley on offense in the Friars’ 49-6 rout of St. Vincent Pallotti.

Seven different players scored Curley's seven touchdowns with quarterback Mark Venable leading the way with a 53 yard scoring pass to Eric Franklin, in the second quarter, and a 28 yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

• Quarterback Danny O’Brien and his East Forsyth (N.C.) squad moved to 6-1 with an 18-16 win over Northwest Guilford.

"Good teams have got to win ugly," said O'Brien, who went 13-of-20 for 153 yards. "We did tonight."

Nick Ferrara accounted for seven points in St. Anthony’s 37-28 win over St. Joseph by the Sea (N.Y.).

A 26-yard Nick Ferrara field goal gave St. Anthony’s a 16-14 third quarter lead. But it was short-lived. Electric running back Lyle McCombs countered with a 59-yard touchdown run.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)

October 11, 2008

Weekly football recruiting roundup

D.J. Adams committed to Maryland in July, but according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Norcross, Ga., running back is still hearing from several other schools.

Still, other schools continue to contact Adams, who has rushed for nearly 600 yards and seven touchdowns in five games this season. LSU, Kentucky, Rutgers and others call, e-mail or send letters to the 5-10, 212-pounder.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Adams said. “I really don’t respond. It’s just kind of one of those things. I am definitely firm on Maryland.”

• UM quarterback recruit C.J. Brown's big senior season has piqued the interest of Colorado, Penn State and Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"A couple of schools have said, 'Hey, if Maryland is not it for you, we're here,'" Brown said. "They're being mature and respectful about it. They're not all over me. They just want to put it out there in case anything would happen."

But Brown said he is still sold on Maryland.

"I'm pretty happy with my decision," he said. "Right now, I'm going to Maryland."

The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Chronicle's Anthony Hill ranked the top 10 high school players in the Winston-Salem area this week, and Terps quarterback commitment Danny O’Brien checked in at No. 3 on the list.

Number three goes to the best quarterback in the city, Danny O’Brien. You can’t knock O’Brien. He’s got every tool that you want in a quarterback. That’s why Maryland signed him. I mean, O’Brien can beat you with his great speed and deadly arm. Most nights he does just that. The only thing that can stop O’Brien during most games is heavy rain. He’s on point when the weather is dry.

• Hoboken, N.J., defensive tackle Isaac Holmes told earlier this week that three schools lead the pack in his recruitment.

“To tell you the truth there are a few schools that stand out the most,” he said. “Three stand out, they would probably have to be Maryland, Pittsburgh and Florida.

“They are great programs. I’ve felt comfortable with those coaching staffs and the players. Maryland is a place I could see myself at. I like the staff at Pittsburgh too. They have shown me the most interest since recruiting has started and Florida I really enjoyed my visit.”

• Quince Orchard standouts and Maryland targets Jason Ankrah and Travis Hawkins spent last weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., where academics were a primary topic of discussion.

The official visit to Michigan was the first of the recruiting process for both Hawkins and Ankrah, though both unofficially attended a game at Penn State the week prior. One element of the Michigan visit that caught their attention was the level of support offered by academic adviser Shari Acho and her team.

“The academic support lady, she's awesome. She made me feel like I would always get my work done,” Ankrah said.

"Academically, I feel like there is great opportunity at the school after football,” Hawkins added. “Ms. Shari did a great job explaining what she's been doing with the players since she's been there. That was probably the best part of the visit.”

• Maryland made the final five for Chesapeake, Va., linebacker Jerod Askew, but the four-star prospect committed to Tennessee earlier this week.

Askew said he was impressed with every facet of his visit to Knoxville.

"It was a great atmosphere," he said. "The fans and all the guys in the stadium were going crazy. I like the coaches, the players and definitely the scheme they run."

Before committing to UT, Askew also considered Alabama, Clemson, Maryland and West Virginia. Those considerations are complete - as are his official visits.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

October 10, 2008

Weekly basketball recruiting roundup

Maryland’s top remaining target for the 2009 recruiting class is drawing closer to a decision.

Torrington, Conn., power forward Jordan Williams has made official visits to Maryland and St. John’s, and the 6-foot-10, 245-pounder will decide between the two schools soon.

“He’s been at St. John’s and he was also at Maryland,” [Torrington coach Tony] Turina said. “Both visits were great. He’s got a difficult choice. He came away impressed with both schools. I would say they’re both neck-and-neck. He’s narrowed his choices down to those two schools. Within the next week to 10 days, he should be making a commitment one way or the other.”

Williams has opted not visit any other schools, even though UMass and Providence were in the mix. Turina said Arizona, Cal, Siena and Marquette also called to express interest.

• Patterson (N.C.) School small forward Arsalan Kazemi wants to visit Maryland for Midnight Madness on Oct. 17, but might not have his SAT score back in time to make the trip. According to Zags Blog, Kazemi needs his test score before he can take visits.

“If (the SAT people) tell us we’re going to get it on the 18th, then Maryland would go first and Seton Hall goes second and Rice goes third,” [Kazemi’s advisor Anthony] Ibrahim said.

“If we don’t get it on the 18th, then we’re going to miss Midnight Madness. Then we’re going to go Seton Hall first on the 25th. Then the weekend after that, Nov 2., to Rice. Then Maryland after that Nov. 9.”

• Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks AAU coach Jim Hart told Zags Blog this week that Maryland continues to heavily recruit 2010 shooting guard Taran Buie, while New Jersey point guard Isaiah Epps has also been talking up the Terps to Buie.

Hart said Notre Dame, Maryland and Georgia Tech have been “working the hardest on Buie.” Syracuse is also involved, but with Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters coming in, the Orange may be on the backburner.

Meantime, Plainfield (NJ) junior guard Isaiah Epps is working on Buie to attend Maryland.

“Isaiah Epps keeps telling him, ‘Hey, we could go to Maryland a be a great backcourt together,’” Hart said.

• Buie spoke to this week about the possibility of ending up in College Park along with some of his AAU teammates.

The Terps not only are recruiting Epps and Buie, but also are one of many schools chasing 6-10 forward Tobias Harris and well as post player Will Regan, both Buie's teammates with the Albany City Rocks AAU program.

“I know they're recruiting Tobias Harris and Will Regan too and I think they have a good chance. If I wound up there with Isiah and Tobias went there, I think there's a good chance we could compete for the ACC championship and the national championship."

• Torrel Harris, the father of junior power forward Tobias Harris, updated NBE Basketball Report on which schools are recruiting his son the hardest.

“Tobias’ favorites are not necessarily excluding any other schools from his selection, but it is important to Tobias to be a part of a program that is truly interested in him,” was what Mr. Harris indicated to us at summer’s end, so seeing other schools re-enter the picture strongly has not been a surprise.

When pressed to see which of the 16 had been putting in the extra effort, nine schools were mentioned by Mr. Harris, “West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, Connecticut (and) Virginia.”

• Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy forward Chris Braswell committed to Charlotte this week, picking the 49ers over offers from Indiana, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Xavier.

"Chris felt there was a good opportunity at Charlotte to build a good relationship with the coaching staff. Secondly, he liked the way Charlotte allows its power forwards to utilize their versatility," [Braswell’s AAU coach Keith] Stevens said.

"His mom and grandmother were also impressed after meeting with members of the administration in learning of all the resources available to help him be successful academically."

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:58 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

October 9, 2008

Local hoops notebook: Smith picks Bryant; King headed to Navy

John Carroll guard Erick Smith committed to Bryant University late last week, becoming the first verbal pledge of head coach Tim O’Shea’s tenure at the Smithfield, R.I., school.

Smith, 6’3, committed during an in-home visit with O’Shea. The new coach will lead Bryant this year in its first season as a Division I program.

“It was very appealing [for Erick to be a part of something new],” John Carroll head coach Tony Martin said. “Erick has a lot of upside as a player. ... He’s part of the growth at John Carroll and Coach O’Shea thinks he’ll be a significant part of their growth. [O’Shea’s] first recruit at Boston College as an assistant was [former NBA guard] Troy Bell, and we know how that worked out. So there are a lot of good things that Erick’s excited about.”

O’Shea, who spent seven seasons as head coach at Ohio University, was hired by Bryant in June. He’ll guide the team in its four-year transition period that will culminate with the school joining the Northeast Conference.

Smith, who was also recruited by Boston University, didn’t play for an AAU program this summer, choosing instead to spend time in the gym working on fundamentals and improving his game, Martin said.

“I think Erick’s kind of flown under the radar,” Martin said. “There’s no denying his athletic ability. He’s 6’3, jumps out of the gym and has a nose for scoring. When he gets to college and puts on 20 or so pounds of muscle on his frame, he’s going to become a real star at that level.”

Martin said Smith will likely contribute early for the Bulldogs.

“I think [O’Shea] expects Erick’s going to be on the floor as a freshman,” Martin said. “He will utilize Erick and that freshman class. ... I think Erick has a chance, because of the kind of person he is, to possibly be a captain. I think in the NEC you’re going to see the potential for an all-league player by the time he’s a junior.”

King headed to Annapolis

St. John’s Catholic Prep forward Troy King ended his recruitment earlier this week when he pledged to the Naval Academy.

King, 6’7, picked the Midshipmen over offers from Radford and St. Francis (Pa.).

“[At one time I felt] like I wanted to wait it out longer, but the more I found out about the Naval Academy, I just felt it would be the right offer no matter what,” King said. “Even if I got other offers, I would still pick the Naval Academy.”

King said he never envisioned himself at a service academy, but Navy coach Billy Lange and his staff won him over with their personality and persistence.

“Well the Naval Academy staff -- they were the first school that offered, they were the most consistent, always calling when they were allowed to. I felt support from them early. We had the strongest relationship from the start, so I feel like I know the coaches well.”

King, who averaged approximately 18 points and six rebounds as a junior, said he feels his game is the perfect fit for Navy’s style of play. He’s also excited to join a squad that’s already a contender in the Patriot League.

“I never would’ve thought that I’d be going where I’m going, but it just ended up that way and I’m excited,” King said. “[Committing to Navy] just makes everything so much easier.”

UMBC picks up Conn. forward

According to New England Recruiting Report, UMBC landed a commitment last month from Adrian Satchell, a 6-foot-5 forward from Windsor, Conn. Click here for more on Satchell’s decision.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 8, 2008

Towson lands Florida forward

Pat Kennedy and the Towson staff went south for their latest verbal commitment.

Nick Diatta, a power forward from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, pledged to the Tigers late last week. Diatta joins Philadelphia shooting guard Will Adams as part of TU’s 2009 recruiting class.

Diatta, 6 feet 8, picked the Tigers over offers from Tennessee Tech, South Carolina Aiken and Newberry (S.C.) College, according to Montverde head coach Kevin Sutton.

“There were a lot of other schools that are mid-Division I that were going to start to recruit him. But he chose Towson and is very happy,” Sutton said. “They were on him the longest and did the best job. Once Nick took the visit [to Towson last month], it was just a formality after that. ... He was very excited that he had the opportunity. He liked everything that he saw from academic support. He obviously hung out with the players and coaches. It was a very good thing for him.”

Diatta was born and raised in Senegal, but came to Montverde -- an international boarding school -- for his sophomore year. As a junior, Diatta averaged six points and five rebounds per game on a team that sent four seniors to DI schools -- Femi Akinpetide (UMKC), Marcus Capers (Washington State), Dash Harris (Texas A&M), Steve Tchiengang (Vanderbilt).

This year’s Montverde squad will feature Diatta, Auburn-bound forward Robert Chubb, 7-footer Ruslan Pateev (who’s being recruited by Florida State, Central Florida, Marquette, Arizona State and several others) and junior shooting guard James Bell, who’s committed to Villanova. Sutton expects Diatta’s role to increase this season.

“It will expand. Nick will continue to be part of the energy team,” Sutton said. “He’ll give us major production. We play 12 players and we’re expecting a lot from him. ... [His offensive game is] evolving. But he can finish around the basket. He’ll continue to run the floor and finish in transition and be a very good contributing factor.”

Sutton called Diatta “a quality person” who takes academics seriously and has an interest in community service. He organized a shoe drive at Montverde last season, sending more than 400 pairs of shoes to his hometown of Ziguinchor, Senegal. Sutton thinks Diatta’s hard work in classroom and on the court will make him a hit at TU.

“First and foremost, he plays incredibly hard,” Sutton said. “Nick is a young man who has dedicated himself to getting better. He’s a hard-working player, very chiseled, and has worked very hard in the weight room. ... They can expect a player that plays extremely hard. He’s going to be a great teammate and help continue what Towson is building right now.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:22 AM | | Comments (1)

October 7, 2008

St. Frances' Vinson discusses commitment to Loyola Marymount

Before Bill Bayno was hired as Loyola Marymount’s head coach in April, the Los Angeles university was a complete unknown to Terrell Vinson.

Vinson, who transferred to St. Frances from Montrose Christian for his senior year, was weighing scholarship offers from Maryland, Georgetown, Villanova and several others when Bayno took the job and began recruiting the 6-foot-6 small forward.

“When they first started recruiting me, I didn’t really know about the school,” Vinson said. “Over time, [Bayno] was just calling me and talking to me, telling me things I needed to work on. He was straight-up with me. He went with a humble approach.”

That approach paid off for Bayno last week when Vinson, a four-star prospect and's No. 81 player in the country, committed to LMU.

While Vinson didn’t know much about the Lions last spring, that began to change throughout the summer, culminating with a visit to LMU’s elite camp in August. Vinson was immediately impressed with Bayno’s coaching style.

“He showed me a lot and I got better,” Vinson said. “[There were] little things like hitting somebody with your shoulder, using your left hand more, improving your foot speed and handle. ... He’s very active in his coaching. He’s not the type of coach that’s just going to sit on the sidelines. He’s out on the floor directing and he has a lot of energy when he coaches.”

Loyola Marymount finished 5-26 last year. The Lions haven’t finished with a record above .500 since the 2003-04 season. But LMU’s recent struggles weren’t a concern for Vinson, who said he’s excited to be a part of a new beginning, and is confident Bayno’s experience as an NBA assistant and college head coach will make an immediate difference in the program’s fortunes.

“I mean he has coached in the past for the Portland Trailblazers and UNLV and UMass,” Vinson said. “He was successful with his past players and successful developing players to the pros. ... Zach Randolph and Brandon Roy all got better when they were at Portland.”

Vinson said he’s excited to be back home in Baltimore for his senior season. But he’ll also be ready to make the 2,700-mile journey to Los Angeles next year.

“I’m looking forward to it,“ Vinson said. “It’s definitely a challenge to go all the way across the country away from home. And it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:24 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 6, 2008

Weekend wrap: Brown's squad drops second straight

Maryland quarterback commitment C.J. Brown put up solid numbers for Seneca Valley (Pa.) on Friday night, but the Raiders dropped a 52-21 game to North Hills.

The Raiders' C.J. Brown is a Maryland recruit who led the WPIAL in passing coming into the game with 1,286 yards and nine touchdowns. He threw for 256 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score -- but had two interceptions to double his season total.

"C.J. Brown was hit a lot and had to scramble, but he made some plays," [North Hills coach Jack] McCurry said. "Our defense played well enough to win."

• Terps safety commitment Eric Franklin made an impact on offense during Archbishop Curley’s 34-6 win over Riverdale Baptist.

Eric Franklin also caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mark Venable in the win.

Avery Graham, a UM safety pledge, found the end zone early in Clarksburg’s 55-0 rout of Poolesville.

On the ensuing kickoff, Poolesville, which suffered its fourth shutout in five games, fumbled the kick at the Falcon 12 and Clarksburg got the ball back. Two plays later, Avery Graham scored on a 1-yard plunge with 9:41 to go in the quarter, Isaacs made his kick and it was a 14-0 game.

• Maryland linebacker recruit Bradley Johnson rushed for a one-yard score in Dinwiddie’s 52-15 win against Colonial Heights (Va.).

Bradley Johnson and Chad Hall contributed rushing TDs for the Generals, who improved to 2-0 in the district and 4-1 overall, while senior Chad Jones drilled a 42-yard field goal.

• Tight end Dave Stinebaugh found the end zone once in Perry Hall’s 42-0 drubbing of Dulaney.

Gator quarterback Davonta Farrell rushed for a 15-yard touchdown and threw a 10-yard scoring pass to University of Maryland-bound tight end David Stinebaugh.

• Linebacker/defensive end David Mackall led the Red Storm defense in Edmondson’s 20-0 blanking of Mervo.

Defensively, Anthony Rice made eight tackles, recorded a sack and recovered a fumble, David Mackall had nine tackles and D'Andre Green had six tackles as the Red Storm built a 14-0 halftime lead on the way to improving to 3-2 overall, and 2-1 in the league's Division I.

Nick Ferrara converted all four of his extra point attempts and kicked two field goals in St. Anthony’s 41-27 win over Farrell (N.Y.).

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:26 AM | | Comments (0)

October 3, 2008

Weekly recruiting roundup

Playing in front of more than 4,500 fans and a national television audience, Terps running back commitment Caleb Porzel rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, leading Good Counsel to a 42-21 win over DeMatha last night.

Porzel has committed to play for Maryland, and Terrapins Coach Ralph Friedgen and most of his staff were in attendance last night to see their recruit sparkle. Although Porzel missed most of the past week of practice after spraining his left ankle on his first carry in last week's 42-0 victory over Paul VI Catholic, he said he never doubted his ability to play last night, even though he spent one day on crutches and two more days in a walking boot.

The Washington Post profiled Good Counsel linebacker Jelani Jenkins on Thursday, going into detail how his mother, stepfather, brother and father have assisted in managing his recruitment.

And then there's Jelani's father, Maurice Jenkins, the finely dressed entrepreneur whose background as both an artist and architect best qualifies him to manage the whole process. He leaned against the fence surrounding Good Counsel's field 20 minutes before kickoff against Paul VI and watched his son run through pregame drills.

Minutes earlier, he had met with coaches from Notre Dame and Maryland who had come to watch Jelani. Hours earlier, he had spoken to UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel on the phone. Days earlier, he had chatted with a coach from Michigan, one of a handful of recruiters he said he's in touch with about once a week.

• Quince Orchard teammates and Maryland targets Travis Hawkins and Jason Ankrah spent last weekend at Penn State and will travel this weekend to Michigan. Ankrah, a defensive end, told that he was able to clear up some confusion with the PSU staff.

“At first I thought they were slow on recruiting me, now I know they were just making sure on my grades and make sure school is first before football. I’d say right now Penn State is back at the top. Maybe when I go somewhere else I’ll fit in. I feel comfortable at Penn State. The people there make you feel like it’s at home. I like the coaches, they are cool.”

Hawkins, a cornerback, told that the Nittany Lions are still very much in the running for his services.

“When it’s time for me to pick a school I’ll know that Penn State fits me very well. I haven’t put together a list of favorites or anything, but if I had a top three or something Penn State would be in that.”

Hawkins has an official visit scheduled to Michigan this coming weekend for the Wolverines’ game against Illinois. The following week he will take an official visit to Oregon.

• After taking an official visit to West Virginia last weekend, Chesapeake, Va., linebacker Jerod Askew spoke with‘s Mike Farrell and reiterated that Maryland is still in the running.

While Askew has no favorites he has basically narrowed his focus to West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson and Maryland.

“Basically, I’d say West Virginia is one of the top schools. I’ve been there twice now but the other time I didn’t get to see all that I saw this time.

“This coming weekend I’m going on an official visit to Tennessee and on (October) 18, I’m going to Maryland. Before this I had just been to Maryland’s junior day.

Basketball recruiting

• St. Frances small forward Terrell Vinson, a 2009 prospect who recently transferred from Montrose Christian, has made his college choice. According to this premium article from, Vinson committed to Loyola Marymount yesterday. He picked the West Coast Conference school over offers from Maryland, Georgetown and Villanova.

• Anthony Ibrahim, the adviser to Terps target and Patterson (N.C.) School forward Arsalan Kazemi, told Zags Blog that they’re in the process of scheduling a visit to Maryland.

Ibrahim said Seton Hall wanted Kazemi to visit Oct. 12, but now it may happen Oct. 25. Officials to Maryland and Rice are still pending.

“They’re looking at Oct. 25th (for Seton Hall),” Ibrahim said. “Maryland, we’re not sure. We’re trying to sort it out right now. It could be before, it could be after.”

Ibrahim said Kazemi hoped to decide by November but was open to options.

• According to Zags Blog, Torrington, Conn., power forward Jordan Williams, who visited Maryland last weekend, is making an official trip to St. John’s this weekend, while New York power forward Tobias Harris, a 2010 recruit, will be back in College Park later this month.

The 6-foot-8 junior combo forward from Long Island Lutheran will visit West Virginia this weekend. After that he goes to Maryland for Midnight Madness Oct. 17, Georgetown (Oct. 18), Marquette for Midnight Madness (Oct 24 & 25), Georgia Tech (Nov. 1) and Georgia (Nov. 2).

Harris is the No. 9 power forward in the Class of 2010 and has numerous scholarship offers. Rutgers has made him a prime target for the Class of 2010.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:31 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

October 2, 2008

Local hoops recruiting: Baltimore Stars updates

Baltimore’s already-loaded 2010 basketball class got a little more highly touted this offseason.

According to Baltimore Stars official Troy Franklin, brothers Will Barton and Antonio Barton, both juniors, have transferred to Lake Clifton after spending their sophomore seasons at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington.

“We’re glad to see them home,” Franklin said.

The Barton brothers, who are 11 months apart in age (Will is older), spent their first two years of high school at City College. They reclassified to the class of 2010 at NCA last year. Franklin said the Bartons will spend this year focusing on their core academic classes and providing a “great one-two punch for Lake Clifton,” the defending Baltimore City champions.

Will Barton, a 6-6 shooting guard, has McDonald’s All-American potential, according to Franklin. He sports offers from Central Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Miami, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Temple, Tennessee, Towson, Villanova, Virginia Tech, Virginia and several others.

“He’s long and he can do everything,” Franklin said. “He can handle, he can shoot it, he can finish around the basket, he’s a great passer. He can play the 1 if he’s pressed to it. ... His basketball IQ is off the charts. He can stroke it from deep and make an entry pass in the post. In the open floor he makes the right pass, the right decision. And he can defend. When you pump a jump shot in his face, he’s going to block it. He’s an exciting player.

Antonio Barton, a 6-3 point guard, has offers from Central Florida, Miami, South Florida, Temple and Villanova, according to Franklin.

“Antonio is faster [than Will]. He’s a scorer,” Franklin said. “He can really take over the game. ... He can finish and he can shoot it. He’s going to be a 1 and he’s still growing.”

Other Baltimore Stars notes

• Small forward Terrell Vinson, a 2009 prospect and four-star player, transferred to St. Frances from Montrose Christian in Rockville this offseason. Vinson has already taken an official visit to Loyola Marymount, while Maryland, Georgetown and Villanova are also under consideration.

• City College forward C.J. Fair, a 2010 player, was sidelined this summer by a torn ACL suffered near the end of the school year. “He’s going to be fine,” Franklin said. “It’ll be a full recovery. The surgery’s done, he’s walking and stretching and everybody’s excited about his recovery.” Louisville, Kentucky, Maryland and many others are involved in Fair’s recruitment thus far, according to Franklin.

• Two underrated 2009 prospects, according to Franklin, are Centennial point guard Tanardo “Nardi” Bogues and City College guard Quinton Goodwin. Bogues is the nephew of former Dunbar star and retired NBA guard Muggsy Bogues. Goodwin’s older brother, Dejuan Goodwin, starred at Mount St. Joseph’s before moving on to Marist. Franklin also predicts big things for Digital Harbor guard Justin Jackson, a 2010 player. “He’s going to really blow up and he’s right there with Antonio Barton,” Franklin said. “He’s a super.”

• Ending on a sad note, Leslie “Tar” Dennis, a longtime fixture in Baltimore’s AAU basketball and parks and recreation scene, lost his bout with cancer on Monday. Dennis, 58, volunteered countless hours of his time coaching and mentoring young, local basketball players. Listed below are the funeral arrangements for Dennis:

Viewing: Friday, Oct. 3. 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. -- Phillips Funeral Home, 727 North Monroe St., Baltimore.

Funeral: Saturday, Oct. 4. 10:30 a.m. -- Greater Harvest Baptist Church, 1617 West Saratoga St., Baltimore.

Repass: Saturday, Oct. 4. 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. -- John E. Howard Recreation Center, 2011 Linden Ave., Baltimore. 410-396-7849

Click here for a tribute to Dennis by I.W. Asir.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:56 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting

October 1, 2008

Coach expects big things from Padgett

In a city known for its point guards, James Padgett has always stood out.

Dwayne "Tiny" Morton, head coach of Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., couldn’t help but notice the athletic, 6-foot-8, 210-pounder on the playgrounds of New York City, running the floor and flying to the hoop.

When Padgett, who verbally committed to Maryland late last week, was looking to leave Xaverian High School in Brooklyn after his sophomore year, Morton recalled that playground prowess and extended an invitation for Padgett to join Lincoln’s squad.

“He’s rare in New York City; a big guy that can score down low,” Morton said.

While Morton was excited to add a post player to his program, his initial expectations for Padgett were tempered by his lack of actual production and experience up until that point in his basketball-playing career.

“[For James, it was] more or less [about] getting more experience on the basketball court,” Morton said. “When I watched him the first two years of high school, he wasn’t playing much so I was surprised about that. The thing that impressed me most was when he got on the court, he was able to compete right away.”

Padgett averaged a double-double as a junior (“probably 11 and 10,” Morton said), helping Lincoln to the New York State Class AA Federation Championship. He stood out on a guard-oriented offense (led by five-star shooting guard Lance Stephenson), giving the Railsplitters a much-needed presence in the middle.

His role, Morton said, was to rebound, contribute put-backs and play tough defense. That unselfish play as a junior, and during the summer on Morton’s AAU team, the Juice All-Stars, convinced Morton that Padgett had a bright future. Morton said Maryland’s a good place for him to realize his potential and continue his development.

“Well, he’s a straight power forward. He plays with his back to the basket,” Morton said. “I think for Maryland, he’ll play a very disciplined post game, because of the past players [Gary Williams has] had over there. I think he’s similar but a little more fluid down low.

“I think he’s got a couple of post moves down low that some of the players down there had; [Lonny] Baxter, [Chris] Wilcox. Those guys are powerful. I think James has a couple of moves down there. I just hope he goes down there and gets strong. He’s already athletic. Add strength to that and he’ll have a good career there.”

Padgett chose the Terps over offers from Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence and several others. Morton said Padgett immediately clicked with his future teammates when he made an official visit to College Park last month. His connection with the players and the available playing time presented an ideal situation, according to Morton.

“I think the situation at Maryland was perfect,” Morton said. “The fact that they’re in the ACC, have a history of winning and a chance for him to compete to play right away [were all major factors in his choice]. Some of these schools, their spots are already set. In reality, those guys already got their plans for the ’09, ‘10 seasons. I think Maryland had an open post spot there.”

Morton expects bigger things from Padgett as a senior. He’s hoping for “Kevin Garnett numbers” from his big man and another state title. After Padgett’s done at Lincoln, Morton thinks he’ll continue to impress in College Park.

“They’re going to get a great kid down there that’s going to play hard,” Morton said. “A no-nonsense kid, just like most of the kids Maryland gets.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:52 AM | | Comments (6)
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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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