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March 31, 2009

Video: Lance Stephenson speaks in Miami

Tons of Lance Stephenson news trickled out of Miami today, where the five-star shooting guard and Terps target delayed the announcement of his college decision.

Here are three of the most interesting links about Stephenson from today, plus two videos from McDonald's media day.

• John Calipari is leaving Memphis for Kentucky. Xavier Henry is a five-star shooting guard from Oklahoma City who signed with Memphis. So how does this affect Stephenson? The Topeka Capital-Journal explains.

“They were always in my top two, Kansas was,” Henry told a reporter from TheShiver.com, a Web site affiliated with ESPN. “So, of course, I’m gonna look at them again.”

Almost everything else about this situation is subject to interpretation. Whether or not Stephenson, who plays the same position as Henry, postponed his announcement because of Henry’s situation at Memphis is unclear. According to ZagsBlog.com, a recruiting Web site, Stephenson will wait another week to announce his decision.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria expounds on the Calipari-Henry-Stephenson-Kansas-Kentucky-Memphis conundrum, in addition to addressing Maryland’s place on Stephenson’s list -- specifically whether Gary Williams’ visit to his game on Saturday played a role in the delayed decision.

Was [Williams’ visit] a factor?

“It’s not about that,” Stephenson said. “I’m just waiting it out, make the best decision for me and my family. I’m just waiting it out.”

The Kansas City Star explains how the Jayhawks’ scholarship situation could be worked out.

Even if KU was to get a commitment from Stephenson or Henry, the fact remains that the Jayhawks would have 15 scholarships occupied if Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich return to school. That’s two over the limit of 13. Kansas would have to cut two scholarships either through Collins and/or Aldrich’s early defection to the NBA or players transferring this offseason.

Now for the video, both courtesy of YouTube.

Here’s Stephenson explaining why he postponed his announcement.

Here’s Lance Stephenson Sr. discussing his son’s decision-making process.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:13 PM | | Comments (5)
        

Born Ready delays decision

The college basketball world will have to wait a little longer for the culmination of Lance Stephenson’s recruitment.

Stephenson was scheduled to announce his college choice today, but the McDonald’s All-American Game public relations staff released this statement regarding his decision.

“Following [Monday night's] POWERADE Jam Fest, the McDonald’s All-American Games staff learned that Lance Stephenson will not make his college decision at media day, Tuesday, March 31 at 11:45 a.m. or during the game on Wednesday, April 1 at the BankUnited Center in Miami.”

According to the New York Daily News, Stephenson’s delay might not change his assumed destination.

Sources still strongly expect Stephenson to choose Kansas, one even adding that he's "99.9% sure" the Coney Island product will join the Jayhawks and pass on St. John's and Maryland. Sources believe Stephenson will choose a college if he is academically eligible and not follow prep star Brandon Jennings and play in Europe.

SI.com’s Kevin Armstrong wrote an extensive profile on Stephenson yesterday, which touched on the Maryland-Under Armour issue.

Asked whether the interlacement of company and school would influence his college choice, Stephenson, who has worn the Nike sneakers of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in the playoffs, said, "I just want to play ball." In his own words, his father made a stronger statement about Under Armour, telling The Washington Post, "The sneaker sucks."

• Click here to vote in a poll on where Stephenson will end up.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:37 AM | | Comments (21)
        

March 30, 2009

Weekend wrap — Stephenson, Padgett fall in state semifinals

The high school careers of Lance Stephenson and James Padgett are over.

On Saturday, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln dropped a 77-50 game to Rice in the New York Federation AA semifinals.

Stephenson, New York State’s all-time scoring leader, had 14 points, six rebounds and two assists for Lincoln and the 6-8 Maryland-bound Padgett posted 12 points and 10 boards.

Stephenson and Padgett played in front of a special visitor in the stands.

Nevertheless, Maryland coach Gary Williams -- who already has secured Lincoln big man James Padgett -- was on press row yesterday, making sure he was noticed.

"I was surprised to see him," Stephenson said.

Stephenson told the New York Daily News that his decision will be announced Tuesday morning in Miami.

The 6-5 senior has narrowed his college choices to Kansas, St. John's and Maryland, although some believe he may opt to play a season overseas.

• UM power forward target Tobias Harris powered Long Island Lutheran to 68-51 win over Jamesville-Dewitt in the New York Class A Federation state title game.

For the winners, 6-foot-7 all-state junior center Tobias Harris erupted for 27 points plus a game-high 15 rebounds and was named Most Outstanding Player of the contest. Harris had played for Half Hollow Hills West High School on Long Island a year ago, averaging 29 points per game, prior to transferring to Lutheran as a junior. Earlier this winter, Harris missed 12 games with torn ankle ligaments, but Lutheran won its last 11 games after he returned in late January.

• Terps shooting guard target Taran Buie will be in the Madison Square Garden stands Tuesday night as his brother, Penn State point guard Talor Battle, leads the Nittany Lions in an NIT semifinal matchup against Notre Dame.

The fan club will include at least one of Battle’s seven siblings -- younger brother, Taran Buie, a highly rated recruit from Battle’s alma mater, Bishop Maginn High School. Battle said both Penn State and Notre Dame are on his brother’s list of possible college destinations.

• Maryland women’s forward recruit Tianna Hawkins reached double figures Friday night during the Washington D.C.-Metropolitan private schools team’s 75-57 win over the Prince George's County public schools all-star team.

National Christian Academy's Vanessa Rice led the private schools with 14 points. Riverdale Baptist's Tianna Hawkins was next with 13, while her teammate Candace Bond added 11.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:11 AM | | Comments (9)
        

March 27, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

The countdown to Lance Stephenson's announcement is at four days, but several reports say all signs point to Kansas.

The five-star shooting guard from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln will choose between Kansas, St. John’s and Maryland on March 31 -- one day before he plays in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Miami. But NBE Basketball Report quoted “a source close” to Stephenson that said he’ll “definitely” be a Jayhawk.

“They went pretty hard, he had a great visit, and they essentially sent (former NBA player) Danny Manning as the Mariano Rivera in this situation to close the deal.”

The source continued, “Lance understood the magnitude of this decision. He flirted with the idea of revitalizing the St. John’s program and sort of sprouting into a New York City icon by putting SJU and New York City back on the map. But realistically, he wants to win at a big-time program and Kansas is a perfect fit for him.”

The New York Daily News also predicts Stephenson to Kansas, but notes that some UM sources are still holding out hope.

"It appears (Kansas coach) Bill (Self) has one up on (St. John’s coach) Norm (Roberts)," a source said Wednesday. The source would be "shocked" if Stephenson chose Maryland over Kansas and St. John's.

Maryland officials, however, said last week that they believe they are still in the Stephenson sweepstakes.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria also believes Stephenson will announce for Kansas next week.

Lance says it was between Kansas, Maryland and St. John’s, but several sources said Maryland is not in the picture and one source very close to the decision-making process said Kansas is a heavy favorite.

The New Haven Register named Maryland-bound power forward Jordan Williams its Player of the Year in Connecticut.

The 6-foot-10 center averaged 35.7 points per game this season, most of which were against arguably the top league in Connecticut. Williams is now the all-time leading scorer in school and Naugatuck Valley League history.

The Register also produced the video below, highlighting Williams’ senior year.

• Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton, a junior UM target, was named All-Metro Player of the Year by The Baltimore Sun.

No player in the area was more consistent or versatile than Barton, who averaged 18points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Along with his multiple skills at both ends of the court, Barton's enthusiasm, energy and confidence made his teammates better.

Barton discussed his recruiting this week on TerpCenter Radio. Scott Van Pelt and ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan were also guests on the weekly podcast. Click here to listen.

• Terps small forward target Terrell Vinson was named to The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro first team.

The Montrose Christian transfer immediately took on the role of the team's go-to player and leader. The 6-foot-7 small forward, who averaged 23 points and eight rebounds, was a constant mismatch for opposing defenses. He was able to score from outside or down low. He led the No.2 Panthers to undefeated seasons and tournament titles in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and the Baltimore Catholic League, showing a knack for providing whatever it took to close out wins.

• UM point guard target Tyrone Garland was named to the Philadelphia Daily News’ All-City first team.

Tyrone Garland, John Bartram: The lone junior in the group led the city in overall scoring (26 games, 750 points, 28.8 average) while showing a dizzying array of moves, and finishes. His hairstyle and competitive spirit lead some to call him "Braidheart." Paced the Braves (18-7) into the second round of the state playoffs. Averaged 4.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 4.0 steals. Already receiving national recruiting interest. Boasts 1,510 career points.

Testudo Times’ Ben Broman took a look this week at Maryland’s 2010 recruiting picture, identifying all the major Terp targets at the wing and post positions and at the guard spots.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:24 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 26, 2009

Season recap: Essence Townsend

Opponents of Paterson (N.J.) Catholic's girls basketball team adopted an interesting strategy this season to deal with Maryland center recruit Essence Townsend.

“They went right at her,” Paterson Catholic coach Dave Andre said. “They tried to get her in quick foul trouble, but she was prepared because other teams tried it as well. She held her own. ... They decided it’s easier just to go right at a shotblocker. She managed to block a ton of shots and stay out of foul trouble. [Then teams would do some] other thing in the second half after realizing that getting inside was going to be a big challenge.”

Townsend, 6 feet 6, averaged 10 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks per game. The Cougars finished the year 29-3, winning the New Jersey non-public B championship.

Paterson Catholic earned the No. 6-seed in the state Tournament of Champions. In the quarterfinals against third-seeded Bloomfield Tech, Townsend just missed a triple-double, scoring eight points, grabbing 14 rebounds and setting a TOC record with 10 blocked shots.

Townsend’s high school career ended in the TOC semifinals. St. John Vianney, the eventual champions, employed the ‘attack Townsend’ strategy to near perfection, limiting the future Terp to just eight minutes due to foul trouble.

While Townsend’s season ended on a rough note, Andre said her senior campaign will be remembered for dominant defensive performances and an improved offensive game.

“I guess the best way to describe it is, she’s definitely transformed [her game],” Andre said. “Her overall aggressiveness [improved dramatically]. Once she’s aggressive from the start, it’s probably going to continue the whole game, and that was a big adjustment for her -- realizing it was up to her to be aggressive and get involved. Once she decided to make things happen on her own, the snowball started to roll.”

Andre acknowledges that Townsend will have to get stronger before making a contribution in College Park. Improving her strength and conditioning will definitely be on the agenda for the summer. Andre, who coached Townsend for three years at Paterson Catholic, said he’s excited to watch her take the next steps in her development.

“It’s really exciting for us and her,” Andre said. “Maryland’s probably the hottest team in the country other than UConn. ... So she’s very excited. It’s unfortunate that obviously Kristi [Toliver] and Marissa [Coleman] are going to graduate. But there will be a ton of great players with her. ... [Essence] is excited following the results [of the NCAA tournament]. She’ll text me with the results during the games, so she’s very excited.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:43 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 25, 2009

Season recap: Alyssa Thomas

Alyssa Thomas quickly discovered this season that her reputation preceded her.

The junior small forward from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, Pa., was an all-state first-team selection as a sophomore, entertained offers from many of the top women’s college basketball programs in the country, and committed to Maryland shortly before the beginning of her junior season.

So when Thomas suited up for the first time this year, it was immediately evident that she’d be a target in every game she played.

“It was getting really crazy, to be quite honest,” Central Dauphin head coach Bill Wolf said. “She put up these numbers against box-and-ones, triangle-and-twos, man defenses where they just completely face-guarded her and didn’t let her get the basketball. They’d double-team her when she got the ball. You name it, she saw it. To still put up the type of numbers that she did when, in every game there was a different strategy used against her, was pretty amazing.”

Thomas, 6-1, averaged nearly 20 points and 13 rebounds per game. She shot 50 percent from the field, including 43 percent from three-point range. Central Dauphin finished its season 29-2. The Rams’ only losses were against Christ the King, a traditional New York powerhouse, and Downington West in a second-round upset in the Pennsylvania Class AAAA girls basketball tournament. Wolf said there were a couple notable improvements in Thomas’ game.

“She’s getting stronger and that’s one thing we’ve been working on with her," Wolf said. "The big improvement now that I’ve seen this year is just her shooting range, as well as her strength. Those are going to be two things that are going to be very important as she goes to the next level.”

Wolf said Thomas has taken all her success in stride. In the coming weeks she’ll likely be named first-team all-state for the second consecutive season. She’ll enter her senior season as arguably the best player in Pennsylvania. But Wolf said Thomas hasn’t changed a bit off the court or on it.

“We had our basketball banquet [Monday] night,” Wolf said. “She was selected by her teammates and our coaching staff ... as the best teammate and the person you would most want to play with in terms of having a good attitude and just making everyone better. She shares the ball. She’s basically what the program stands for in terms of good attitude. If somebody falls down on the court, she’ll pick them up. It just goes to show you that as good as she is and in picking Maryland early, she hasn’t let it go to her head. It’s not like she thinks she’s better than her teammates. She’s just a level-headed kid.”

Maryland coach Brenda Frese, and assistants Erica Floyd and Tina Langley, all made trips to Central Dauphin at different times this season. The Terps coaching staff hoped Thomas’ squad would meet UM combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud’s Cardinal O’Hara team for the state championship. The Rams’ second-round loss prevented the future Terp vs. future Terp matchup from happening, but there’s always next year.

“[Frese] wishes [Alyssa] could come on campus this coming year,” Wolf said. “They’re going to have to wait a year for her, but they’re really excited.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:19 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 24, 2009

Lake Clifton's loaded title team

There's not much Herman Harried hasn't seen or experienced in his lifetime of basketball.

The longtime Lake Clifton coach was a member of Dunbar’s 1983 national championship team. He then moved on to Syracuse, helping the Orangemen to four NCAA tournament berths, including a runner-up finish to Indiana in 1987. After graduation, Harried took his game overseas for five years, including three seasons with the now-defunct Worthing Bears in England, where he remains the franchise’s all-time leader in points and rebounds per game. He’s also coached for USA basketball, including the 2006 junior squad at the Nike Hoop Summit.

But while Harried has done it all, the 2008-09 season at Lake Clifton will always hold a special place in his heart. The Lakers finished 28-0, winning the Class 3A state title and the Baltimore City championship. Among Lake Clifton’s victims this year were the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA A conference champs (St. Frances), the Class 2A winners (City) and the Class 1A titleholders (Digital Harbor).

lakecliftonhoops.jpg

“I knew that the talent was there,” Harried said. “The key was them buying into the same goal, and you don’t get an idea of that until the season starts. Once we got into a couple of games, they were on point for the same cause.”

Lake Clifton’s cause was buoyed by the preseason additions of shooting guard Will Barton, a five-star prospect, and younger brother Antonio Barton, a three-star combo guard. The junior transfers from National Christian Academy in Fort Washington lived up to their reputations, according to Harried.

“I was impressed with [Will’s] personality,” Harried said. “He’s not an arrogant young man. He doesn’t get wrapped up in himself. ... He came in with a pleasant attitude. [His attitude was] ‘What can I do to help us,’ not ‘what can I do to help me.’ If you watched us play, you saw that.”

Barton led the Lakers in scoring at 18 points per game. He also averaged 10 rebounds and four assists on the year. Maryland, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Marquette, Miami, South Florida and several other high-major programs have offered.

Barton, 6-6, was originally a member of the 2009 class, having spent his first two years of high school at City followed by a one-year stint at National Christian Academy. He reclassified to 2010 at NCA. Because of the reclassification, Barton will have to spend his senior season at prep school, per NCAA rules. There’s been no decision yet on where he will go.

Antonio Barton, who’s about 11 months younger than Will, will be back at Lake Clifton next season. The 6-foot-2 player averaged around 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds per game. Harried said after this summer “he’ll be recruited by every major” school in the country. He’s already hearing from Maryland, Miami, Seton Hall, Temple and Virginia, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Senior power forward Cleveland Melvin emerged for the Lakers as a dominant defensive player and a more than capable scorer. Melvin, 6-8, averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game.

The Lakers’ other key senior returner was 5-11 point guard Jason Sharp. Harried said the mid-major prospect brought shooting and leadership to the Lakers, averaging 14 points, four assists and two rebounds per game.

Melvin and Sharp are ticketed for prep school, although both are still exploring potential locations. Harried said Melvin and Sharp made the Bartons’ transition to Lake Clifton seamless.

“They were extremely crucial because with the Bartons coming in, [Jason and Cleveland] had been around me for years,” Harried said. “I think they made the Bartons’ transition much easier [because of their leadership] and showing how to get things done. They led by example with their work ethic.”

Rounding out the Lakers’ quintet of future Div. I players was junior center Karee Watson, who averaged six points, seven rebounds and one block per game.

“He’s about 6-8 and he’s a true center,” Harried said. “I think once this summer’s over, he’ll be highly recruited by the major schools.”

Next year the Lakers will count on bigger contributions from Watson and Antonio Barton. The goal for Lake Clifton will be a repeat, but Harried knows that’s a lot to ask.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Harried said. “But last year, people forget we went 25-2 and lost some key players (including Miami-bound Antoine Allen and Darrius Gilmore). I’m not really big into estimates. I’m only into what’s concrete. But we’ll see what happens.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Herman Harried and the 2008-09 Lake Clifton boys basketball team by Kim Hairston / March 14, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 23, 2009

Charm City Challenge rosters updated

Two future Terps will be on display at the Towson Center next month, and another UM target will suit up for the opposing team.

Maryland power forward commitments James Padgett and Jordan Williams are two of the headliners on the U.S. All-Star team, which will be coached by Padgett’s high school coach at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln, Dwayne “Tiny” Morton.

The Baltimore team will be led by St. Frances small forward Terrell Vinson, who’s considering offers from Maryland, Cincinnati, UMass and Charlotte.

The Charm City Challenge is set for April 5 at the Towson Center. The Baltimore City vs. County game will tip off at 3 p.m., followed by the Baltimore vs. U.S. matchup at 5 p.m. Click here for more info on the event.

Baltimore roster

Antoine Allen, guard, Miss. Christian Academy/Lake Clifton (Miami)
Chris Baker, guard, Hammond
Xavier Drake, guard, Milford Mill
Andrew Fitzgerald, forward/center, Brewster Academy/Owings Mills (Oklahoma)
Naji Hibbert, guard, DeMatha (Texas A&M)
Adam Johnson, forward/center, City (St. Francis, Pa.)
Antoine Myers, guard, Forest Park
Auraum Nuiriankh, guard/forward, Arundel
Isaiah Philmore, forward, John Carroll (Towson)
Matt Rum, guard/forward, Loyola (William & Mary)
Devon Saddler, guard, Aberdeen (Delaware)
Terrell Vinson, forward, St Frances

Coach: Dave Herman, Winters Mill

United States roster

Lorenzo Brown, shooting guard, Centennial (Ga.), (NC State)
Jordan Dumars, shooting guard, Detroit (Mich.) Country Day, (South Florida)
Donte Hill, shooting guard, Norfolk (Va.) Collegiate, (Clemson)
Richard Howell, forward, Wheeler (Ga.), (NC State)
Robert Olson, guard, Georgetown Prep, (Loyola)
James Padgett, power forward, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln, (Maryland)
Dalton Pepper, shooting guard, Pennsbury (Pa.), (West Virginia)
Tristan Spurlock, small forward, Word of Life Academy (Va.), (Virginia)
Ari Stewart, small forward, Wheeler (Ga.), (Wake Forest)
Mfon Udofia, point guard, Miller Grove (Ga.), (Georgia Tech)
Jordan Williams, center, Torrington (Conn.), (Maryland)

Coach: Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, Lincoln (N.Y.)

Baltimore City roster

Nardi Bogues, point guard, City
Joshua Boyd, forward/center, Walbrook
Jerry Cummings, forward/center, Mississippi Christian Academy
Darrius Gilmore, guard, Princeton Day/Lake Clifton
Gerald Hill, forward, Mount St. Joseph
Allen Holt, guard, Lake Clifton
George Jackson, guard, Digital Harbor
Jaquan Jones, guard, Lake Clifton
Tyrone Smothers, guard, Mervo
Donte Stuckey, forward, Walbrook
John Underwood, forward, Princeton Day

Coach: Herman “Tree” Harried, Lake Clifton

Baltimore County roster

Brendan Bald, forward, Severna Park, (Vermont)
Julius Fambro, forward, Long Reach
Josh Glascoe, point guard, Milford Mill
Miquante Green, guard, Patapsco
Nick Groce, guard, St. Mary’s, (UMBC)
Donn Hill, guard, Bel Air
Devin Spencer, guard, Towson Catholic
Sidney McCray, forward/center, St. Paul’s
Danny Murphy, forward/center, Glen Burnie
Leo Rogers, forward, Hammond
Shawn Holmes, guard, Calvert Hall
Wyatt Smith, forward, John Carroll

Coach: Jeff Starr, Arundel

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:27 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekend wrap — Stephenson, Padgett take home title

Terps shooting guard target Lance Stephenson made history on Saturday.

The five-star prospect led Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln to its fourth consecutive New York Public Schools Athletic League championship.

Stephenson, a 6-6, 205-pound shooting guard, ended his PSAL career with an exclamation point, scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to earn MVP honors in leading the Railsplitters to a 78-56 win over JFK Saturday in the "AA" title game at the Garden.

Maryland power forward signee James Padgett chipped in with a double-double.

But James Padgett, Lincoln’s 6-8 Maryland-bound big man, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds, scored inside, and Shaquille Stokes made two steals that led to baskets.

Stephenson’s scheduled to announce his college decision April 1 at the McDonald’s All-American Game. He’s down to Kansas, Maryland and St. John’s, but according to SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria, the Jayhawks are the heavy favorites in his recruitment.

Based on numerous interviews, Stephenson’s comments in recent days and the history of his recruitment, it’s a safe bet that he ends up in a Jayhawk uniform next season. Lance says it was between Kansas, Maryland and St. John’s, but several sources said Maryland is not in the picture and one source very close to the decision-making process said Kansas is a heavy favorite.

Jordan Williams’ Torrington squad dropped a 58-57 game to Bulkeley in the Connecticut Class L title game on Saturday, but the Maryland-bound forward had a memorable performance in his final high school game.

The 6-foot-10 senior scored a game-high 36 points shooting 15-for-20 from the field, and he missed a triple double by one blocked shot as he also had a game-high 13 rebounds.

With his 21st point, Williams broke the all-time Naugatuck Valley League scoring record.

In his 400th and final game, [Torrington coach Tony] Turina saw his prize pupil make history by becoming the all time leading scorer in NVL history, finishing a magnificent career with 2,228 points, good for seventh place overall in the state.

• UM small forward target Terrell Vinson (12 points, 10 rebounds) helped St. Frances to a 64-58 win over DeMatha in the semifinals of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State on Friday. On Saturday, Vinson scored 13 in the Panthers’ 66-56 championship-game loss to Gonzaga (D.C.).

"We didn't come to play the whole game - we showed up in the second half, but it was too late then. We weren't playing enough defense, and our shots weren't falling in the first half. And Gonzaga executed, especially down the stretch," St.Frances junior forward Dante Holmes said. Holmes and senior teammate Terrell Vinson were named first-team All-Tournament, and Calvert Hall junior forward Jonathan Graham was named to the second team.

• Terps shooting guard target Victor Oladipo made the play of the game in DeMatha’s loss to St. Frances.

Victor Oladipo had nine points, six rebounds and perhaps the best dunk of the weekend, a powerful two-hander in traffic after taking a pass from Quinn Cook in the second quarter.

• Maryland women’s combo guard recruit Natasha Cloud led Cardinal O’Hara in scoring in the Lions’ 67-58 loss to Mount Lebanon in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA championship game.

For the Lions, Natasha Cloud drilled five of eight three-point attempts en route to 20 points. Holzer (14 points, six rebounds and five blocks in 18 minutes) and Alicia Manning (10 points) were next in the scoring column.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:53 AM | | Comments (13)
        

March 20, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Jordan Williams will play for a state championship.

The Maryland power forward signee had a double-double in Torrington’s 39-38 win over Lyman Hall in the Connecticut Class L semifinals on Wednesday. The future Terp’s younger brother, Desmond Williams, hit the game-winning shot with 1.34 seconds remaining.

“I was right underneath the basket and I saw it going in the whole way,” said Jordan Williams (17 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks), Desmond’s more storied brother as a 6-foot-10 center heading for Maryland.

Williams will lead Torrington against Bulkeley on Saturday night for the state title.

• Maryland shooting guard target Lance Stephenson has made a decision on where he’ll attend college. But the rest of the world won’t know until his announcement April 1 at the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Stephenson, who, along with teammate Darwin (Buddha) Ellis, would become the first player to win four PSAL city titles, said he has based his pick on the caliber of coach, the kind of players he will be surrounded by and what program gives him the best chance to win an NCAA championship. Kansas is the defending national champions while Maryland is a perennial contender.

St. John’s is Stephenson’s third finalist.

FiveBoroSports.com profiled Stephenson’s teammate, Terps power forward signee James Padgett, this week, crediting him with much of Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln’s success.

“James looks like the old James from last year,” [Lincoln point guard Darwin] Ellis said. “I’m loving him. ... He’s been playing like a Maryland player.”

As Padgett’s confidence grows, so does his teammates belief in him.

“He’s been keeping it consistent, scoring big points,” Ellis said. “When we need a basket we will feed it to him down low. We are not scared to throw it down there.”

Terrell Vinson led a well-balanced St. Frances scoring attack in the Panthers’ 58-38 win over Bishop O’Connell in the opening round of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Cumberland last night.

The 6-foot-7 Vinson had 13 points and 12 rebounds, Williams 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals, and Holmes and Lewis 10 points for St. Frances. Lewis, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, also had four blocked shots and four steals.

• UM shooting guard target Victor Oladipo helped DeMatha to a 83-50 rout of Bishop Walsh in another opening-round Alhambra matchup.

Naji Hibbert had 17 points and four steals and Victor Oladipo 13 points for DeMatha (31-3), the Washington Catholic League champion. Four others had eight points, including Mikael Hopkins, who had eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Quinn Cook dished out eight assists and had six rebounds.

• Terps shooting guard target Will Barton was named boys Athlete of the Week by The Baltimore Sun.

On Saturday, Barton set the tone in the Lakers' 75-50 win over Friendly in the title game, scoring 10 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter, hitting two three pointers and a highlight dunk. He added nine rebounds and three assists.

He averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the season. Barton, who made the honor roll this year at Lake Clifton, hasn't selected a college.

Antonio Barton, Will’s younger brother, spoke to NBE Basketball Report this week about his recruitment.

“Miami, Virginia, Maryland, Seton Hall, Temple, LaSalle and a couple of other schools” are recruiting him, shared Antonio.

Could the [Barton brothers] end up a package deal? “It’s some schools that want him that don’t want me, and there are some schools that want me that don’t want him” he said. “If it’s a school that we both like, that we both want to go to, that would happen”.

Dave Leitao’s departure from Virginia could help the Terps with at least one notable recruit, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

With Leitao’s dismissal, Virginia could also take a hit in its 2010 recruiting efforts. The Miller School’s Mychal Parker and Eric Atkins (Mt. St. Joseph’s, Columbia, Md.) were top targets.

• Foul trouble doomed Maryland women's center recruit Essence Townsend in Paterson Catholic's 72-52 loss to St. John Vianney in the semifinals of the New Jersey Tournament of Champions.

Townsend, who sat for the final 12:51 of the first half after being whistled for three fouls in 43 seconds, started the second half, but was back on the bench after being called for her fourth 40 seconds into the third quarter.

• Cardinal O’Hara will play for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA championship tonight, thanks in part to the play of Terps combo guard recruit Natasha Cloud in her team’s 47-36 win over Downington East on Tuesday.

Junior Natasha Cloud (five points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal) drew the defensive call on East’s 5-11 11th grader Ro Gentry, who carried an 11-point average into the game.

Football recruiting

• Tuscarora offensive tackle Hansen Barrick is hearing from the Terps and a variety of other East Coast schools.

“I’m still getting letters from Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia, Boston College and Virginia Tech,” he said. “Schools haven’t really gotten that personal yet, so I’m not sure who is most interested in me.

“I kind of like Maryland though. It’s close to home and I like the setup of the facilities I’ve been there twice.”

• City wide receiver and Terps target Adrian Coxson was offered a scholarship by Florida this week.

Previously it was believed Penn State may be in the forefront, does the Florida offer change anything?

“This makes my decision a whole lot more complicated,” he said. “This decision determines my life, my future and is really big. I’m not going to rush it. I still plan to announce before the football season or this summer. I’ve got a lot to think about and my coach is a big part of this too.”

• Stamford, Conn., linebacker Khairi Fortt spoke to Scout.com this week about his recruitment, including a tidbit on a recent trip to College Park.

Maryland’s junior day also impressed Fortt. “I like the guys they have there,” he said. “I connected with some of the players there and the whole school and campus is nice.

• Maryland was one of the first schools to offer State College, Pa., offensive tackle Jack Deboef, according to Rivals.com.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people,” State College (Pa.) State College Area offensive tackle Jack Deboef said. “I’ve gotten full rides from Buffalo, Maryland, Temple, NC State and I just got one earlier this week from Purdue.

• The father of Middletown, Del., offensive tackle Gifford Timothy spoke to Rivals.com this week about his son’s recruitment.

“Alabama wants to recruit him and Princeton is engaging him along with Utah. Illinois came to the school and has sent a lot of paperwork. Colleges keep talking, but he has the same four offers, BYU, Maryland, Rutgers and Boise State.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:54 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 19, 2009

City's title team stocked with prospects

The City boys basketball team began the 2008-09 season without its biggest name.

Junior small forward C.J. Fair, the No. 45 player in the country according to Rivals.com, tore his ACL last spring. The injury relegated the Syracuse-bound forward to the sideline for his entire junior year.

While Fair’s absence was missed, the Knights managed just fine. City registered a 55-42 victory over Frederick Douglass of Prince George’s County on Saturday in the Class 2A state title game at Comcast Center, giving the Knights their first state championship in 40 years.

“[C.J.] was always there giving us support,” City coach Mike Daniel said. “He only missed maybe a couple games [because he was at rehab for his knee]. He was on the bench and he was like one of my assistant coaches. He has an unbelievable knowledge of the game. ... He didn’t bellyache about his injury. He knew that he had to build things back up to get his knee back [to normal]. So he’ll be fine.”

City’s other highly-touted junior, center Jordan Latham, shined on the defensive end for the Knights. Daniel said Latham averaged about 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocks per game. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder committed to Xavier in November.

“They expect him to come in and be an impact player,” Daniel said. “I think he has the talent to come in and be an impact player. He’s a tremendous shotblocker. He turned into the anchor to our defense this year, which I think ... enabled us to have a successful season.”

Small forward Adam Johnson shouldered much of City’s scoring load in Fair’s absence. The 6-foot-6 senior averaged 16 points per game. Johnson is committed to St. Francis, a Div. I program located in Loretto, Pa.

“They love that he’s a very versatile kid,” said City assistant Tony Biggers. “He just does a lot of things. He can rebound, he can shoot it, he [plays hard] on the defensive end. He pretty much has the whole package. They like his energy, and more importantly, they really like his leadership.”

The Knights also received senior leadership from point guard Nardi Bogues, a transfer from Centennial. Muggsy Bogues’ nephew is fielding inquiries from several Div. II and III schools, including Barry University in Miami, Belmont Abbey (N.C.), Fayetteville (N.C.) State, Pfeiffer University in Charlotte and Goucher College. The 5-foot-10 prospect’s stock is on the rise thanks to a strong senior campaign.

“He comes from good stock and he showed that as he was going down the wire,” Daniel said. “He definitely showed a lot of what Muggsy did at the time. He really pulled things together for us. He [averaged about] 12 points per game. His scoring really picked up. ... He was the final piece I thought we needed to be successful this year.”

Biggers is constantly working the phones on behalf of City’s other seniors. Quinton Goodwin is hearing from Davis & Elkins (W.Va.), Pikesville (Ky.) and Georgetown (Ky.), among others. According to Biggers, Malik Pack will attend Neumann College, a Div. III school near Philadelphia, while Tore Turner has received from interest from Neumann and Wesley College in Dover, Del.

With Fair and Latham among City’s returners next season, the Knights are well-positioned to make another run to Comcast Center.

“We have some pieces coming back,” Daniel said. “I would say I’m pretty happy about that. I’ve got some young kids who will step up and give us a hand.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 18, 2009

Terps still in the picture for Stephenson

Scratch that previous report about Lance Stephenson’s finalists.

Stephenson told SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria today that Maryland’s still in the running.

Stephenson said he will attend either “St. John’s, Maryland [or] Kansas” and that he talks with coaches from each school every day.

Zagoria reported last night that the five-star shooting guard was focused on Kansas and St. John’s.

So to recap, Maryland, Kansas and St. John’s are all still in the running for Stephenson. He’ll announce his choice April 1 at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Miami.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:26 PM | | Comments (10)
        

Born Ready down to two?

Surprising news out of New York last night regarding Maryland shooting guard target Lance Stephenson.

According to SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria, Stephenson has decided when he’ll announce his college choice. But Zagoria says the Terps might not be among the five-star prospect’s finalists.

Lance Stephenson will make his college announcement April 1 at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Miami and will likely choose from between defending NCAA champion Kansas and St. John’s.

Never say never in recruiting, but this is an unexpected development, to say the least.

• Terps power forward signee Jordan Williams and his Torrington (Conn.) High squad moved one step closer to a state championship with its 52-49 win over Stratford in the Class L quarterfinals Monday night.

“Jordan (Williams) was aggressive, but everybody on the team was more aggressive,” said Torrington coach Tony Turina. “It was a real team win.”

Williams, the 6-10 center headed for Maryland next year, averaged 36 points a game during the regular season. The Devils held him to 20 (plus 18 rebounds) on Monday, but nobody ever looked better dipping 16 points below their average.

• Maryland women’s center recruit Essence Townsend set a New Jersey Tournament of Champions record with 10 blocked shots last night in Paterson Catholic’s 56-41 win over Bloomfield Tech.

Townsend collected seven boards and seven blocks for the Passaic County team in the first half, when Javis had eight rebounds for Bloomfield Tech. Townsend concluded with eight points and 14 rebounds, Marshall had 12 points and Johnson contributed six points and 16 rebounds.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:58 AM | | Comments (11)
        

March 17, 2009

Season recap: Dara Taylor

Kristin Caldwell remembers the first time she met Maryland recruit Dara Taylor like it was yesterday.

Then an assistant varsity coach at Caravel Academy in Bear, Del., Caldwell recalled speaking with the freshman point guard at a girls basketball team meeting before the start of the 2005-06 season.

“I just remember this skinny little girl that didn’t say a word. She was so, so quiet,” Caldwell said.

Needless to say, much has changed since that autumn gathering more than three years ago. Taylor spent four years on the Caravel varsity, three with Caldwell as head coach. The 5-foot-7 floor general became the Terps’ first oral commitment of the 2009 class early in her junior season. She drew national praise last summer for her AAU play with the Philadelphia Belles. And her senior-season efforts earned her Gatorade Delaware Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors.

“She was unbelievable,” Caldwell said. “She was consistently great in every game. I think she improved in a lot of areas. Defensively she improved. She improved her strength. She improved her three-point shooting. ... She was really an extension of me on the floor. It just felt like the two of us were on the same page this season. It made my job a lot easier this season with her being more vocal and such an outstanding leader. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Taylor led Caravel to a 14-11 record, averaging 17.8 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game. Perhaps the finest moment of her senior season came during Caravel’s second-round matchup with St. Mark’s earlier this month.

“We were down 10 with 17 seconds left in the first half. Nothing was going right for us,” Caldwell said. “In 17 seconds, she got three steals and made three layups. So we went into halftime down four instead of 10. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. ... [After halftime] you could just see the other kids’ confidence was through the ceiling. Everyone was fired up.”

Taylor finished with 21 points, leading Caravel to a 43-37 win over St. Mark’s. The Buccaneers’ Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament run came to an end days later with a one-point loss in the quarterfinals to Caesar Rodney.

While her high school career is complete, Taylor has one notable game remaining on her itinerary before she heads to College Park. Last month Taylor became just the third Delaware girls basketball player to be selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game, which is scheduled for April 1 in Miami.

With Kristi Toliver’s impending graduation, Caldwell said Taylor’s well aware that she’ll be counted on immediately in College Park. If Caldwell’s learned anything from her four years coaching Taylor, it’s that she’ll do whatever it takes to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

“I really think [the Maryland staff is] expecting Dara to come in and be ready to play,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think they’re necessarily going to look at her as a freshman point guard coming in. I think they’re looking at her as a point guard, take the ‘freshman’ out of it.

“I just think she’s very mentally tough and she’s ready. I think at that level, maybe the mental aspect of it is sometimes the toughest part. But she’s just so ready to go there and put in the work and that’s what it’s all about. If you can stay mentally tough and put in the work to be good, then you’re going to be successful. I think she has the right mindset for that. She’ll come in and be ready to go.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:13 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Season recaps
        

March 16, 2009

Weekend wrap — Stephenson, Padgett will play for title

Maryland shooting guard target Lance Stephenson and Terps power forward commitment James Padgett will play for a championship on Saturday.

Stephenson and Padgett led Lincoln High to a 76-64 win over Brooklyn Boys & Girls in the semifinals of the New York City Public Schools Athletic League tournament.

[Stephenson] scored 11 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter, including nine in the final 4:00 when the Coney Island dynamo out-scored The High, 17-5.

“That’s what superstars do,” Lincoln coach Dwayne (Tiny) Morton said of Stephenson, who also had 13 rebounds. “You can’t coach that.”

Morton emphasized the role players, too, if not more so. There was Padgett continuing to impress, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Stephenson could announce his college choice after Saturday's game, according to SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria. Maryland, Kansas and St. John's are believed to be the front-runners in Stephenson's recruitment.

• Terps shooting guard target Will Barton (20 points, nine rebounds) led Lake Clifton to a 75-50 win over Friendly on Saturday in the Class 3A state championship game.

"In the beginning of the season, we knew we could do it," said Will Barton, a transfer from National Christian Academy. "I came into Coach Tree's office in the beginning of the year when he first found out I was coming. ... I told him we were going to be a special team, we were going to win states. I just wanted to go undefeated because I knew we had a special group. ... We just had to come to practice and work hard, stay on our books and just play hard to see where we end up at the end of the season. You see where we're at - state champions, undefeated, 28-0, and we just made history."

• Maryland women’s center signee Essence Townsend scored four points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked eight shots in Paterson Catholic’s 55-42 win over Bishop Eustace in the New Jersey Non-Public B state championship game. NJ.com’s Gregg Lerner credited Townsend with Paterson Catholic’s defensive success.

And, I highly doubt there is another post player in the state that has such a game-altering impact in the paint like 6-6 Essence Townsend. Forget her eight blocked shots and 14 rebounds in the 55-42 triumph over Bishop Eustace in the Non-Public B final. It only took one block early to make Eustace players think twice about venturing into the paint. When they did, you could see their concern for Townsend's whereabouts, leading to short shots and tentative releases that played into Paterson Catholic's hands.

• UM women’s combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud helped Cardinal O’Hara to a 44-33 win over Lower Merion in the quarterfinals of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA tournament.

For the Lions, who went 16 for 31 from the field and 10 for 11 from the line, Natasha Cloud chipped in six assists, three steals and two rebounds.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:40 AM | | Comments (6)
        

March 13, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

The past week was a big one for Maryland power forward recruit Jordan Williams.

On Tuesday, Williams scored 36 points, grabbed 24 rebounds and blocked seven shots in Torrington’s 81-76 overtime win over Kennedy in the first round of the Connecticut Class L tournament.

Last night, Williams powered the Red Raiders to a 56-49 win over Pomperaug.

The younger Williams finished the game with 16 points while Maryland-bound Jordan posted another double-double, scoring 24 points and hauling in 14 rebounds.

Torrington (19-6) advances to play second-seeded Stratford (22-1) in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Monday at a site yet to be determined.

Earlier in the week, Torrington coach Tony Turina compared Williams’ game to that of former Providence standout and current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Ryan Gomes.

“Jordan is light-years ahead of where Ryan was at this time in his high school career,” Turina said. “There is no comparison.”

Gomes went on to play college ball at Providence, where he worked hard and made himself a better NBA prospect and eventually a great professional.

“If Jordan puts in the same time and effort that Ryan did at Providence, he could exceed anything we could expect.”

The Hartford Courant profiled Williams on Wednesday, touching on what it’s like to be a part of a legendary Connecticut basketball family.

The No. 20 that Jordan wears follows the family line. His dad, Leron, an assistant at Torrington, wore it for the Raiders, as did Murray. And Murray wore No. 20 at UConn from 1987-91.

"It means a lot to me to follow them," Jordan said. "And I feel real good because I talked to [Maryland coach] Gary Williams and he said I've got No. 20 next season. But before that I'd like to wear my Torrington No. 20 for a few more games."

• Kansas is sending a big name to Brooklyn in its effort to land Lincoln shooting guard Lance Stephenson. According to SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria, KU assistant Danny Manning is the Jayhawks’ point man in Stephenson’s recruitment.

Kansas figures that if Stephenson wants to develop into an NBA player at a high-level program, who better to teach him than Manning, the No. 1 overall pick by the L.A. Clippers in the 1988 NBA Draft?

Stephenson, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009 according to the Hoop Scoop and No. 9 by Rivals, will likely choose from among Kansas, Maryland and St. John’s and hopes to announce March 21 at Madison Square Garden after the PSAL championship game.

• Terps shooting guard target Will Barton paced Lake Clifton in its 63-54 win over Seneca Valley last night in the Class 3A state semifinals.

"We really did want to take it one game at a time," said junior forward Will Barton, who had 18 points and nine rebounds. "People thought we were playing, but you see how focused we are out there on the court. When teams make a run at us, we don't panic, we don't start fussing - we just stay together, and now we have one more to go to accomplish all our goals."

• Potential Maryland point guard target Tyrone Garland had a big game in Philadelphia Bartram’s 78-53 loss to Penn Wood in the second round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA playoffs.

The Pats advance to the state quarterfinals, where they will meet Pennsbury on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Penn Wood improved to 25-4, while Bartram's season, despite a stellar, 21-point performance by Tyrone Garland, ended with an 18-9 mark.

• UM small forward target Roscoe Smith had a double-double in Walbrook’s 74-69 loss to Springbrook in the Class 4A state semifinals.

In its return to the state tournament, though, it was Springbrook (26-0) that seemed in control of the game, only to allow Walbrook (23-4) to stay just close enough. Star forward Roscoe Smith, a highly-touted junior, had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors.

The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., recapped the Miller School’s Virginia Independent Schools Division 2 championship, giving much of the credit to Terps small forward target Mychal Parker.

The 6-foot-6 junior poured in a game-high 26 points, 10 of which came from the free-throw line. Parker made timely baskets throughout and also helped key a pivotal third-quarter run for the Mavericks.

When he wasn’t doing the scoring, he often found open teammates Brice Kofane, Marshawn Powell and Hippolyte Tsafack underneath. Parker also grabbed nine rebounds and snagged a pair of steals in the win.

• UM shooting guard target Taran Buie is in Indianapolis to watch his brother, Talor Battle, play in the Big Ten tournament.

Battle's mother, Denise Murphy, is visiting Indianapolis from Albany along with her next oldest son -- Taran Buie -- a junior at Maginn who is also being heavily recruited to join his big brother at Penn State.

Women’s basketball

• Maryland center signee Essence Townsend powered Paterson (N.J.) Catholic to a 65-52 win over Gill St. Bernard’s for the New Jersey North Non-Public B championship.

Townsend finished with a triple-double: 12 points, 15 rebounds and 13 blocks.

“She played tremendous, tremendous,” said Andre. “We have a lot of weapons, but when she is scoring we are very hard to guard.”

• The high school career of UM point guard recruit Dara Taylor ended Monday with Caravel Academy’s 46-45 loss to Caesar Rodney in the quarterfinals of the Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament.

Dara Taylor (20 points) tried to get off a 3-pointer but could not, and with four seconds left she drove in and scored, hoping to draw a foul. The Riders avoided contact and won.

"We let their pressure get the best of us when we shouldn't have," Taylor said. "I take full responsibility for that. We got to a fast run-and-gun game and completely changed what we did in the first half. We got out of hand and played right into their hands."

Later in the week, Taylor was named the Gatorade Delaware Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The 5-foot-7 senior point guard led the Buccaneers to a 14-11 record and the quarterfinals of the state tournament this season, averaging 17.8 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game.

It was also announced this week that Riverdale Baptist forward and Terps signee Tianna Hawkins was named Gatorade Maryland Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

• Terps combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud hit a crucial bucket in Cardinal O’Hara’s 36-34 win over Wilson in the second round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA tournament.

O'Hara outscored Wilson 15-4 in the second quarter and appeared to be in command when it took a 10-point lead 2:05 into the third. Natasha Cloud hit a 3-pointer to put the Lions up 34-23 with 5:55 left in the fourth.

Football recruiting

The Washington Post’s Josh Barr reports that Linganore fullback Zach Zwinak recently added a Notre Dame offer to his already lengthy scholarship list.

He previously had been offered by Maryland, West Virginia, Penn State, Stanford, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, California, Pittsburgh and Kansas State.

• Linganore offensive tackle Robby Havenstein claims offers from Maryland, Kansas State, Penn State, Stanford and West Virginia, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Already Havenstein has taken in one junior day to Maryland.

“I just got to know them more. It’s a good place to hang out and I’m getting to know everyone there better.”

• St. John’s (D.C.) defensive tackle Andre Monroe received an early offer from the Terps.

“I have one offer from Maryland,” he said. “I’m in touch with Pittsburgh and Duke. I’m also receiving letters from Michigan State, Northwestern, Boston College, Rutgers and Tennessee. New Mexico is very interested in me.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:25 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 12, 2009

Where are they now: Latay Darden

Maryland's search for a defensive-minded big man last spring led the Terps staff to Progressive Christian Academy in Camp Springs, where senior forward Latay Darden was averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds, 11 blocks and four steals per game.

The UM staff was reportedly intrigued with the 6-foot-7, 195-pounder, but never offered a scholarship. Marquette and Indiana also expressed interest, according to PCA coach Russell Branch. But Darden was never approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse, making him ineligible for Division I play.

That’s when Paris (Texas) Junior College coach Ross Hodge entered the picture.

“His prep school coach at Progressive, Russell Branch, I’ve known him for four or five years now,” Hodge said. “With most guys at [Darden’s] level, you kind of just monitor [the academic situation] and hang around. We ended up getting him around June or July when it was evident that he was not going to get qualified.”

Darden moved to Paris last summer. Located just south of the Oklahoma border, about two hours northeast of Dallas, Paris Junior College is a traditional basketball power. The Dragons won the NJCAA national championship in 2005.

This season, Darden helped Paris to a 23-5 regular-season record. Paris’ season ended Monday with a loss in the Region XIV championship. Hodge said he was pleased with Darden’s contributions.

“Offensively, he can really finish and he’s a good passer,” Hodge said last week. “But his biggest strength [is that] he really, really impacts the game on the defensive end of the floor with his length and athleticism. Right now, on the year, he’s averaging 7 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. ... We have four people averaging double figures, eight people averaging 6 points or more. We kind of spread it around. ... [On defense is where] he impacts the game. He has an unbelievable feel for blocking shots. He really gets his hands on a lot of balls. He’s a really good rebounder.”

Hodge regularly brings in players that were heavily recruited by Div. I schools, and Darden was no different. Still, there was a small adjustment period going from prep school to junior college.

“I think that’s the biggest shock to these guys,” Hodge said. “They think, ‘hey, I’ll go to junior college so I’m going to come in and dominate. It’s not going to be that hard. I’m going to be better than everybody.’ We played in Region 14, one of, if not the best, junior college regions in the country. So everybody in the league has guys like Latay Darden. Bambale Osby, who played for Maryland, he played at Paris Junior College. There are just really good players in the league, so I think that was a big shock at first.”

Hodge was an assistant at Paris during Osby’s lone junior-college season. The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder averaged just 6 points and 5 rebounds for the Dragons. Two years later, Osby was an integral member of the Terps, finishing his senior season third on the team in scoring (11.5), second in rebounding (6.5) and second in blocked shots (2.1) per game.

At 6-7, 195 pounds, Darden’s body couldn’t be more different than Osby’s. But Hodge thinks there are some similarities in their games.

“Without any question, physically they’re completely different,” Hodge said. “But Latay on the defensive end of the floor, tip-ins and finishing, all those things he does at a high level. The biggest thing for him at the ACC or Big East or Big 12 level is that he needs to improve his strength. If he would’ve went to a Maryland right out of Progressive, they would’ve had him in the weight room and put 10, 15 pounds on him like it was nothing because of the resources they have.”

According to Hodge, the staffs at Maryland, Marquette and West Virginia call periodically to get updates on Darden’s progress. Hodge expects Darden's recruitment to pick up during the coming months.

“To play at the ACC level, he has to improve on his strength and his overall skill level,” Hodge said. “But the things he can do, you can’t teach those things.”


Is there a former high school athlete with Maryland ties you’d like to see profiled in a Where are they now segment? If so, e-mail me at mbracken@baltimoresun.com.
Previous Where are they now? features:

Football: Wayne Dorsey (Southwestern) and James Carmon (City)

Basketball: Omar Strong (Douglass)

Basketball: Jeremy Robinson (Northwestern)

Football: Eteyen Edet (Friendly)

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

March 11, 2009

Mount St. Joseph's Clatchey on Atkins, Beaumont

Odds were stacked against Mount St. Joseph’s Eric Atkins this season.

ericatkins.jpg

The junior point guard and three-star player was faced with the prospect of playing without ex-MSJ center and Georgetown freshman Henry Sims. A few notable injuries and transfers before the season made things more challenging for the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder.

But according to Gaels head coach Pat Clatchey, Atkins met those challenges and probably surpassed expectations. Atkins was named Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year, averaging more than 23 points per game and leading the Gaels to a 21-13 record.

“We literally lost five guys that could’ve been on our roster (to injury or transfer) that are pretty darn good players. [Eric] carried the major load for us,” Clatchey said. “He basically played every second of every game. ... He really just shouldered the scoring load despite being the defensive target every game. I think the circumstances led him to really broaden his horizons and become a more complete player than he was.”

Atkins, who averaged about 14 points per game as a sophomore, was the sixth Gael in the last eight years to win BCL Player of the Year. He’s hearing from many of the same schools that recruited him before the season, in addition to a couple notable newcomers.

“Basically Notre Dame, Villanova, Virginia, Vanderbilt and UMass [are recruiting him],” Clatchey said. “And recently Florida has expressed some interest.”

ryleybeaumont.jpg

Clatchey said Atkins is interested in each of those schools and doesn’t appear to be in a huge rush to make his decision.

“I don’t think he has a timetable,” Clatchey said. “I know a lot of the recruiting starts early. It seems like everyone always bumps [their recruiting] up a year earlier now. Kids are making commitments sooner and sooner. I think he really wants to evaluate the situation and just take his time and make the best decision for him and his future. When that situation comes to him, I think that’s when he’ll make his choice.”

Atkins isn’t the only MSJ junior with a Division I future. Forward Ryley Beaumont, 6-6, was named to the BCL’s second team after averaging about 14 points per game. Clatchey said Beaumont has an offer from Loyola and “probably four or five” others.

“I think Ryley had a terrific season,” Clatchey said. “He missed probably about 85 or 90 percent of his sophomore season with a broken hand. ... I think he’s a guy with a lot of upside potential. He’s 6-6 and has guard skills and fundamentals. He can score in a variety of ways. I think really the next step for him is to really just become a better overall defensive player. ... He’s got a chance to be a really good college player.”

Credit: Sun photos of Atkins (Jan. 23, 2009) and Beaumont (Feb. 13, 2009) by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 10, 2009

Vinson focused on four schools

Terrell Vinson's return to Baltimore couldn't have gone much better.

The small forward, who transferred to St. Frances from Montrose Christian before his senior year, led the Panthers to the Baltimore Catholic League title and the MIAA A conference crown. The 6-foot-7, 200-pounder averaged about 23 points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game, according to his father, James Gilyard.

Next up for Vinson is the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Cumberland, which kicks off March 19. But the four-star player and No. 81 player in the country, according to Rivals.com, has also turned his attention to recruiting.

tvinson.jpg

According to Gilyard, Vinson is focused on four schools: Cincinnati, Charlotte, Maryland and Massachusetts.

The Terps recruited Vinson before he signed with Loyola Marymount in November, and became involved with him once again after he was released from his letter of intent in February.

“Maryland is the home school. Terrell always wanted to play for Maryland as a kid,” Gilyard said. “Right now, Maryland doesn’t have [an open] scholarship. That’s what the big thing is with Maryland -- they don’t have any scholarships to give in ’09. So pretty much we’ll see what’s going on. Greivis [Vasquez], we don’t know if he’s going to stay or go pro. So we’ve got to play it by ear. But we’re not in a hurry to sign so we can wait it out.”

Gilyard said UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has a relationship with Vinson’s AAU coach on WPC Elite that goes back “15 or 20 years.” Vinson and Gilyard “definitely have plans to visit UMass” in the coming months.

Cincinnati started pursuing Vinson after he reopened his recruitment. Vinson and Gilyard are mulling a visit to the Queen City later this spring. They like the Bearcats staff's plans for Vinson, should he choose UC.

“Cincinnati has big guys down there, and Terrell really wants to play the wing forward,” Gilyard said. “They’ve got [Yancy] Gates and another young big kid down there. The coach (Mick Cronin) has been to our games also. He spoke to me and said that all they need is a 3. They need a wing player. That drew a lot of attention when they spoke like that.”

Charlotte has been arguably the most persistent of Vinson’s main four suitors, Gilyard said.

“They’ve been real consistent on what they’re doing, so we figure, why not give them a shot?” Gilyard said. “They’re here for every game pretty much. The head coach (Bobby Lutz) has been here at least three or four times and [assistant coach Chris] Cheeks comes all the time.”

After the Alhambra tournament, Gilyard said Vinson will finalize his visits and focus entirely on his decision.

“We want to go visit a couple schools after March Madness,” Gilyard said. “We’ll go see a couple of the schools and pretty much after that at the end of April [he’ll be ready to make a decision]. Everyone’s pretty much even right now.”

Credit: Baltimore Sun photo of Vinson by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Feb.12, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:30 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 9, 2009

Weekend wrap — Stephenson, Padgett lead Lincoln to semis

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln moved one step closer to the New York Public Schools Athletic League title game this weekend.

Led by Terps shooting guard target Lance Stephenson (28 points, 12 rebounds) and UM power forward signee James Padgett, Lincoln powered its way to a 86-80 win over Transit Tech in the PSAL quarterfinals.

Working high-lows with Maryland-bound power forward James Padgett (13 points), Stephenson did much of his damage close to the hoop, enjoying free reign with Transit Tech big man Rhamel Brown on the bench in foul trouble. He scored on putbacks, layups and finger rolls. He left the outside shooting to guards Darwin (Buddha) Ellis (15 points, seven assists) and Codion Becker (12).

According to NYDailyNews.com, Stephenson had a brief post-game encounter at St. John’s Carnesecca Arena with a Red Storm assistant.

After scoring a game-high 28 points in top-seeded Lincoln's 86-80 victory over No. 9 Transit Tech in the PSAL "AA" quarterfinals, the senior guard crossed paths with Red Storm assistant coach Fred Quartlebaum as he walked out of Carnesecca Arena.

They had a brief exchange, with Quartlebaum telling Stephenson: "I can't talk to you, but let me say this ..." The coach then pressed his hands together, as if praying, and bowed in an obvious sign of homage.

• Maryland small forward target Mychal Parker led the Miller School to a 69-61 win over Atlantic Shores Christian for the Virginia Independent Schools Division II championship.

Miller also got a stellar performance from junior Mychal Parker in the win. Parker did a little bit of everything, as he led all scorers with 26 points to earn tournament MVP honors. Parker also pulled down nine rebounds and had several assists and a pair of steals.

• Potential UM point guard target Tyrone Garland exploded for 40 points in Philadelphia Bartram’s 72-67 win over Pocono Mountain East in the first round of the Pennsylvania Class AAAA playoffs.

The 6-foot junior had 26 points through the first 31 minutes Saturday, but Bartram trailed 59-51 after two D.J. Strayhorn free throws with 44 seconds to go. That's when Garland took over, scoring off an offensive rebound and then hitting a 3 to pull the Maroon Wave to within two at 60-58. After Jakub Halicki hit one of two at the line to put East up by three, Garland took the inbounds pass, shook his defender and drained a 3 from 30 feet to tie the game at 61-61 with 3.3 seconds left.

• Terps shooting guard target Will Barton helped Lake Clifton advance to the 3A state semifinals with a win over Milford Mill on Friday.

The visiting Millers, who believed all the way to the end they could pull off the upset, had the ball in the hands of standout senior guard Xavier Drake in the last second and a chance to win. But Drake's off-balance three-point try in the right corner, with a hand in his face, found the front rim at the buzzer, making Will Barton's two free throws with seven seconds left stand as the Lakers survived with a 56-54 win.

Barton, a junior forward, led a balanced offense with 15 points, and the Lakers remained unbeaten (26-0) with a berth in the state semifinals set for Thursday at Comcast Center in College Park.

• UM shooting guard target Terrence Ross reached double figures in Montrose Christian’s 69-63 loss to Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

Montrose cut the lead again, to 47-43, on a 3-pointer by Terrence Ross (14 points) to close the third quarter. But the Warriors scored the first four points of the fourth from the foul line, and the Mustangs never got closer than five the rest of the way.

• Maryland women’s point guard recruit Dara Taylor (21 points) led Caravel Academy to a 43-37 comeback win over St. Mark’s in the Delaware High School Girls Basketball Tournament.

Taylor, a Maryland signee who will play in next month's McDonald's All-American game, guided Caravel's comeback in more ways than one.

"If she wasn't scoring," said St. Mark's coach John Fiorelli, "she was dishing off to somebody else. She is just a special player who takes them to another level."

• UM women’s small forward commitment Alyssa Thomas paced Central Dauphin in the first round of the Pennsylvania Class AAAA girls basketball tournament.

Alyssa Thomas scored 22 points as Central Dauphin rolled to a 51-38 win over Great Valley at HersheyPark Arena.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:06 AM | | Comments (3)
        

March 6, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Lance Stephenson and James Padgett got off to an ideal start in their quest for a second straight New York Public Schools Athletic League championship.

The Terps' shooting guard target and power forward commitment combined for 60 points and 25 rebounds in Lincoln High’s 101-72 win over Thurgood Marshall Academy.

Lance Stephenson had a triple-double of 39 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists and James Padgett followed with 21 points and 13 rebounds for No. 1 Lincoln (18-10), which faces No. 9 Transit Tech in the PSAL Class AA quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at St. John’s University at 5 p.m.

Earlier in the week, SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria took a closer look at Stephenson and the sneaker wars.

Stephenson, the No. 1 senior in the nation according to the Hoop Scoop and No. 9 by Rivals, is one of the few elite seniors who has yet to pick a college and will likely choose from among St. John's (a Nike school), Kansas (adidas) and Maryland (Under Armour).

Yet the young man they call "Born Ready" has repeatedly said that the style of play (he prefers an up-tempo approach), the talent level of his future teammates and his relationship with the coach will be the determining factors. The sneaker affiliation of the school, he said, will have no bearing on his choice.

Jordan Williams’ monster game last night wasn’t enough in Torrington’s 77-72 loss to Crosby for the Naugatuck Valley League championship.

“It came down to two championship players -- (Torrington center) Jordan Williams and (Crosby point guard) Anthony Ireland -- living up to their billing,” said Torrington coach Tony Turina, whose team took its first lead of the game (68-67) with two minutes left on a pair of Desmond Williams (8 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds) foul shots, then got trades from their leaders as Jordan (52 points, 21 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals) and Ireland (29 points) made athletic layups at opposite ends of the court to wrestle the lead back and forth.

Torrington enters Connecticut’s Class L playoffs this week as heavy favorites in their first-round game.

Kennedy-Waterbury likely will go 0-3 for the season against Torrington Tuesday night. Torrington only has Jordan Williams, who plays at Maryland next season.

• The junior season of Terps shooting guard target Taran Buie ended Tuesday with Bishop Maginn’s 60-59 overtime loss to Albany Academy in the New York state playoffs.

Taran Buie nailed six threes and totaled 30 points for Bishop Maginn, which hadn’t lost to a Section II opponent (CBA) since midway through the 2006-07 season.

Penn State’s student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, profiled Buie this week. Buie’s older brother Talor Battle is a junior guard for the Nittany Lions.

[Bishop Maginn coach Rich] Hurley felt the brothers playing in the same backcourt again would be "neat," but was worried Battle's senior-year priorities might shift if he had Buie's collegiate adjustment to worry about.

Battle said it would be fun recreating the high school days with his brother on the Bryce Jordan Center hardwood, but the point guard won't count on it for the time being.

• Terps targets and Miller School teammates Mychal Parker and Hippolyte Tsafack (10 points, 11 rebounds) contributed to the Mavericks’ 82-68 win over Walsingham (Va.) Academy in the VIS Division II quarterfinals.

Mychal Parker and Brice Kofane rounded out the offensive effort with 14 and 13 points each, and the two were both efficient and effective as shot blockers. Parker had three blocks and a pair of steals and Kofane finished with five rejections.

TerpCenter.com has a free video highlight package and interview with Seneca Valley sophomore power forward Jordan Goodman.

• UM-bound point guard Dara Taylor (22 points, nine steals) led Caravel Academy to a 68-27 win over St. Georges in the first round of the Delaware high school girls basketball tournament.

"We struggled a little bit this season," said Dara Taylor, the Caravel senior point guard and Maryland signee who terrorized St. Georges offensively and defensively.

"This is to show everybody we're serious about making a championship run, and it's ours to take. It didn't matter who we were playing. We still had to play defense, play with energy, make shots, and come out sharp."

• Maryland power forward recruit Tianna Hawkins and sister Tierra have Riverdale Baptist in position for its third consecutive National Association of Christian Athletes girls' basketball championship..

The Hawkins twins will be playing their final prep games together at the NACA championship; 6-foot-3 Tianna will play for Maryland next year, and 6-0 Tierra has one more year at Riverdale (though she said she'd love to join her sister in College Park in 2010). They said they'll miss playing side by side in the low post, something they've done on common teams since seventh grade.

"I'm going to miss those bullet passes," said Tianna, the team's leading scorer (16.5 ppg). She said one of her best memories was in December at a tournament in Phoenix, where Tierra scored 37 points in four difficult games. "Arizona, that was the best. Every time we got the ball we looked for each other -- and it was her turn to shine."

• Terps women’s center signee Essence Townsend is mentioned as a player to watch in the New Jersey non-public B playoffs.

At 6-6, Essence Townsend of Paterson Catholic is enough of a deterrent to make penetrating point guards think twice about driving the lane. When they determine it's safer to attack off the wing and to gain a better perceived angle to the basket, they discover quickly how fast Townsend covers ground to get in position to challenge any interior shots. She had 10 blocks and cleared a dozen rebounds in a 52-33 victory over Teaneck on Jan. 4.

• Terps junior forward commitment Alyssa Thomas leads Central Dauphin to a first-round matchup with Great Valley tonight in the Pennsylvania Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.

Great Valley (25-4) vs. Central Dauphin (28-1). The Patriots are pitted against the defending state champions. Alyssa Thomas, a Maryland recruit, averages 19.5 points and 13 rebounds a game.

Pick: Central Dauphin, 62-43.

Football recruiting

• Maryland was the first of 10 schools to offer Thomas Johnson linebacker Nick Forbes, according to Scout.com.

Although it wasn’t for a junior day, Forbes has been to Maryland several times. “I like that they are closest to Baltimore and Washington, DC,” he said. “It’s one of those places where you’ll never get bored.

“Plus they also have good academics,” he said. “I plan to major in mechanical engineering and coach Ralph Friedgen says that Maryland has good connections to get an internship and that he knows people at Clark Construction. Getting an internship at a company like that would definitely help my career.”

• Lynchburg, Va., defensive end Zack McCray, a Rivals 250 member, took a recent trip to College Park.

“Maryland was fun,” he said. “I went up there and got a little visit in. Basically I got a whole tour of the campus and got to see the student center. The whole team was in there bowling. I chilled with them a bit.

“I really like the business school up there and the opportunities when you graduate. I little more than 90% of the kids graduate and get jobs in D.C. or Baltimore.”

• West Springfield, Va., offensive tackle Michael Justice has received some early interest from the Terps.

“I’m getting letters from Maryland and I’ve called one of their coaches,” he said. “I’ve gotten a handwritten letter from UCLA and a few others.

“I plan to go up to Maryland to see some practices once they start up next month.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:13 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

March 5, 2009

Miles puts Glenelg Country on the map

Isaiah Miles faced the toughest decision of his young life less than a year ago.

The 6-foot-7, 175-pounder was the subject of an all-out recruiting battle, but his choice essentially boiled down to two options: join an established power and battle for early playing time, or pick a lesser-known program and be the man from day one.

Miles, a Randallstown native, chose the latter scenario, but it had nothing to do with college. The 14-year-old basketball prodigy had just picked a high school, shunning overtures from most MIAA A conference programs for Glenelg Country, a B conference school with approximately 275 high school students.

“It was actually [stressful picking a high school]. A lot of schools wanted me,” Miles said. “It was a hard decision to pick one. [I picked Glenelg Country] because my mom likes the education. The academics are strong. And if I went to an A conference school, I would’ve played JV my freshman year. But I went to Glenelg and played varsity.”

In his freshman season, Miles averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game. He shot 46 percent from the field, leading GCS to a 12-11 record.

“People were very surprised [when I chose Glenelg Country]. They thought I was going to an A conference school,” Miles said. “[But I’m glad I picked GCS] because I actually did better than I thought I would do on varsity. I thought I wouldn’t play. Then I started and actually scored a lot.”

Next year Glenelg Country will return eight players from its nine-man rotation, including Miles and two other freshmen contributors from this season. According to Dragons head coach Charlie Stewart, Miles has already raised the profile of the fledgling basketball program.

“We want to be a flagship program for our school and let people know what a great school we are,” Stewart said. “We’re part of something much larger than the basketball program, and that, at the end of the day, is why Isaiah chose us. But having him has created a real buzz for our basketball program in the larger community with the press he’s received. [Playing as a freshman] has certainly brought attention to him, so it’s been a win-win for the school, our program and Isaiah.”

Miles will play for Nike Baltimore Elite this summer, which will undoubtedly raise his recruiting profile. He’s already receiving serious interest from Xavier, Oregon State and Providence, among others. Musketeers coach Sean Miller has already been out to Glenelg Country, Miles said. Stewart said college coaches have been enamored with many things about Miles’ game, but especially his tenacity on defense.

“That’s what I think makes him such a rare kid, his kind of basketball maturity,” Stewart said. “He understands the importance of playing hard on the defensive end. He’s one of the rare 14-year-old kids that I’ve coached that you don’t have to prod too much to give a great effort on the defensive end. I think that’s a testament to the type of kid he is. He’s a tough kid and he loves to win. Put all his physical gifts together, throw on top his mental toughness, competitiveness and willingness to work hard to improve, and that’s why we’re so excited about him. He’s already so far along. It’s very impressive.”

Glenelg Country associate head coach Geoff Reed served as the school’s junior varsity coach for eight years, and assisted Stewart in transitioning the program to the B conference after winning the C title three years ago. Reed said Miles is 6-7 now, but will “probably get up to the 6-9, 6-10 range.” The coaches have developed Miles’ perimeter game, and will continue to do so.

“He played a lot of 3 / 4. He wants to be more comfortable on the perimeter,” Reed said. “We run the dribble-drive offense. It’s basically the offense that Memphis runs with John Calipari. We run four guards out. So we’re really trying to improve his perimeter skills. We’ve got a couple other kids who play inside for us as well. We’d like to get him out on the wing a little more. He can really shoot the ball. He’s got 3-point range. He shot about 30 percent from three, which is pretty good for a big kid obviously.”

Miles said he couldn’t be happier with his decision to enroll at GCS. Basketball season went better than expected, he’s enjoying his academically-rigorous coursework, and he’s even assumed the role of Glenelg Country’s de facto recruiter, bringing him full circle to where he was less than a year ago.

“Actually, most of the top eighth graders, they want to play with me,” Miles said. “So I’m getting their attention to come and play with us to help us win a championship.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:49 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

March 4, 2009

Where are they now: Wayne Dorsey and James Carmon

Wayne Dorsey was a Sun second-team All-Baltimore City selection in boys basketball at Southwestern High School in 2006.

James Carmon was a two-time All-Metro selection on the offensive line at City College, where he graduated in 2008.

Though two years apart in age, and better known for different sports in high school, Dorsey and Carmon are both on the same track now, which could very well lead to the SEC for football in 2010.

Dorsey, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound defensive end, and Carmon, a 6-foot-7, 370-pound defensive tackle, both completed standout freshman seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College this fall. The Baltimore linemen helped the Bulldogs to a 10-2 season.

waynedorsey.jpg

“Both of them are here and both of them are doing great,” said Mississippi Gulf Coast coach Steve Campbell. “They both had great summer semesters, had a lot of credit hours under their belt, they came back and had real strong [fall] semesters in the classroom and on the football field. They helped lead us to a state championship. Both are looking forward to great sophomore years. They’ve already generated a lot of interest from Southeastern Conference schools. We even had Southern Cal call [two weeks ago] about both of them.”

Dorsey, a two-sport standout at Southwestern, was supposed to sign with Virginia Tech’s football program in 2007, according to Scout.com. There was an issue with the NCAA clearinghouse and he was rerouted to Milford (N.Y.) Academy. Minnesota then offered a scholarship, but another clearinghouse issue arose, at which point Dorsey decided on Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Carmon played football and basketball for City. He had plenty of Div. I interest but needed some work in the classroom.

jamescarmon.jpg

Campbell, who coached MGCCC to a national championship in 2007, said his staff discovered both Baltimore products while looking at a different lineman in the Mid-Atlantic region.

“We found another big kid up in Virginia. It didn’t work out with him,” Campbell said. “[An assistant coach] had another couple days to look around and ended up in Baltimore looking for big guys that were athletic. The coach got put on Wayne and we found Wayne, hunted him down and squared him away. Another coach told him to see this guy play on the basketball court, and that was James. Six-foot-seven, 370 pounds running down the court. So we watched some highlights of him on You Tube and got him signed up.”

Eighteen MGCCC sophomores signed with four-year schools last month, including seven with Div. I schools. The most notable recent MGCCC graduate is Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody, who’s considered a surefire first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Campbell thinks Dorsey and Carmon are both positioned well to make a similar jump from junior college to major Division I programs.

“Wayne is a great athlete,” Campbell said. “He’s a 6-8 kid that can really run and is athletic. He’s a very athletic young man that has great hands and feet. He’s an outstanding kid with a great work ethic. He has a good family back home. Both have great support systems back home.

“James, he’s 6-7, weighs 370 pounds and the thing that makes him special is that he can move so well for a guy that big. He came in here bench pressing something around 275 pounds. [Two weeks ago] the last set he did was 450 pounds on the bench. He’s got freakish strength and he can move so well for a guy that’s 6-7, 370 pounds.”

Both Dorsey and Carmon have been offered scholarships by Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, according to Campbell. They could end up at the same school, but Campbell said he doesn’t necessarily expect the pair to be a package deal. They’re both on track to graduate from MGCCC in December and be ready to enroll in college by January 2010. Campbell thinks Dorsey and Carmon will live up to those lofty standards of those that played for Mississippi Gulf Coast before them.

“We’re always looking for those diamonds in the rough,” Campbell said. “They’re either under the radar because of grades, they’re too big or too small, but they’re special football players. We can only take eight out-of-state football players, so we need them to be guys that are future NFL players, which I believe [Carmon and Dorsey] are.”

Credits: Baltimore Sun photo of Dorsey (left) by Glenn Fawcett (Jan. 4, 2007). Carmon photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. (Dec. 5, 2006)

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:13 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

March 3, 2009

Where are they now: Omar Strong

Omar Strong was definitely good enough to play Division I basketball after graduating from Douglass High last spring.

But Strong had work to do in the classroom, so the 5-foot-9 combo guard moved on to Cecil College in North East.

Strong, a two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection who averaged 22 points per game last year, has put together a solid rookie campaign for the Seahawks.

omarstrong.jpg

“He’s having a good year,” Cecil coach Bill Lewit said. “I had no idea how hard he works and how hard he prepares to be a great player. He’s really diligent and very conscientious unlike a lot of freshmen coming in that rely on natural talent. He really works hard on preparing in everything from conditioning and drills to [the game itself]. His work ethic is extremely impressive.”

On Sunday, Strong scored 24 points to lead Cecil to an 89-75 victory over Howard Community College in the NJCAA Division II Region XX championship. Strong was named to the All-Tournament team.

Strong will lead the Seahawks (32-1) in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Danville, Ill., which begins March 19. He’s averaging around 15 points and 3.5 assists, while shooting 42 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range.

“A couple good schools will gamble and overlook his size,” Lewit told Recruiting Report last week. “There are a lot of things he still needs to improve on. No. 1 is his ability to play the point guard spot. He needs to really learn [to develop] his point guard skills. He’s not going to grow, but he can get physically stronger. But he’s made marked improvement since he came here in August.”

Lewit said Strong performed well in the classroom during the first semester, earning a GPA better than 3.0. Lewit said junior college recruiting really gets going during the summer before sophomore year, but he expects Strong’s profile to rise as the Seahawks’ postseason play continues.

“I think he’s moved himself right into being a bonafide mid-major player,” Lewit said.

Credit: Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston / March 8, 2008

Click on the YouTube player for Strong’s senior highlights.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:08 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

March 2, 2009

Weekend wrap — Maryland, Under Armour and Stephenson

Maryland's recruitment of Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard Lance Stephenson got a little more complicated over the weekend.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Under Armour’s ties with the Terps athletic program and the shoe company’s courtship of the five-star shooting guard raises questions about the recruitment.

Maryland wanted the heralded guard to be the centerpiece of a recruiting class that would help make the Terrapins a contender in the ACC in the 2009-10 season. At the same time, industry sources said, Under Armour wanted to build a relationship with Stephenson so he would become part of its fledgling basketball shoe division if he reaches the NBA.

The most elite high school basketball players are often recruited by shoe companies, but rarely is a company also a major benefactor of a university pursuing the same player. Under Armour founder and chief executive Kevin Plank is a former Maryland football player and member of the school's Board of Trustees. That means the NCAA considers him a "representative of the institution's athletics interests," commonly known as a booster.

In a statement released last night, the Maryland athletic department said it was reviewing the situation.

"The coaches and staff of Maryland Athletics are diligent in regards to following NCAA rules and regulations," Maryland's statement said. "Our business relationship with Under Armour, as the department's exclusive apparel provider, is a relationship common throughout collegiate athletics."

On Saturday, SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reported that the UM staff planned on making several more trips to New York this season to watch Stephenson and power forward signee James Padgett play.

The Terps staff plans to watch Stephenson, a McDonald’s All-American, four or five more times this season as Lincoln pursues its record fourth straight PSAL championship and third consecutive New York State Federation crown.

Terrell Vinson scored 20 points yesterday, leading St. Frances to the Baltimore Catholic League title.

Vinson had two key blocks in the final two minutes and hit three of four free throws in the last 10 seconds to lift the No. 2 Panthers to a 44-41 win that wasn't decided until Loyola senior guard Matt Rum's desperation heave from midcourt fell short at the buzzer.

• Maryland targets Mychal Parker and Hippolyte Tsafack helped the Miller School to a 48-45 win over Blue Ridge (Va.) for the VIC Division I championship..

The Barons still held a three point lead going into the final period, and with time running out and the game tied at 45, Mavericks junior Mychal Parker hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift his team to victory. Parker led Miller (23-3) with 16 points and Marshawn Powell added 14. Hippolyte Tsafack posted 10 points.

Will Regan’s Nichols (N.Y.) School squad suffered a 69-60 loss to Canisius in the Manhattan Cup final.

Andy MacKinnon led Nichols with 14 points while senior Chris Stegemann had 11. Junior standouts Ron Canestro and Will Regan were limited to 10 and eight points, respectively. Regan and Stegemann were named to the all-tournament team.

Baltimore Sun reporter Glenn Graham took a look at Lake Clifton’s run to the Baltimore City Championship. Terps target Will Barton led the Lakers with 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.

"We all took a back seat, and we're all for one," said Will Barton, a versatile forward. "We don't care about the individual stats as long as we're winning. That's all we care about."

• Maryland women’s commitment Alyssa Thomas guided Central Dauphin (Pa.) to a 38-34 win over Wilson in the District 3-AAAA girls' basketball championship game.

"It all just happened so fast. Gabby and I were trying to figure it all out waiting for our medals," said Thomas, who finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. "We were very fortunate to win. They played exceptional defense."

• Terps point guard commitment Natasha Cloud helped Cardinal O’Hara to a 48-35 win over Central in the Pennsylvania District 12 AAAA final.

In the second quarter, O'Hara put together runs of 6-0 and 8-0, and went into halftime with a 29-22 advantage. Natasha Cloud (six rebounds, two assists) scored six of her 11 points in that period.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:54 AM | | Comments (12)
        
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Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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