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April 30, 2009

City WR Adrian Coxson talks Penn State commitment

On a picturesque spring day in Happy Valley last weekend, City College wide receiver Adrian Coxson walked through the tunnel at Beaver Stadium and was greeted by a predictably raucous crowd.

With more than 76,000 fans in attendance at Penn State’s spring game Saturday, the level of noise was no surprise. But what many of those PSU supporters were cheering did come as a bit of a shock.

“They were screaming my name, asking for my autograph,” Coxson said. “I didn’t really prepare for that. I wasn’t expecting all of that. But I just wished that it would happen and it really happened.”

Starting in the fall of 2010, Coxson can expect similar reactions from the PSU faithful on a regular basis. Coxson committed to Penn State this week and made his decision public Thursday.

As a junior, Coxson caught 35 passes for 985 yards and 12 touchdowns, according to Digital Sports. The 6-foot-2, 194-pounder emerged as the most high-profile junior in the Baltimore area. After the season, Coxson was rated a four-star prospect and the No. 158 overall prospect in the country by Rivals.com.

Coxson’s scholarship list soon reflected that four-star status. Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and West Virginia were among the many schools that offered. Penn State, however, always stood out.

“I didn’t really want to do a top five list or anything like that. I just wanted to [decide] where I wanted to go,” Coxson said. “I had told my coach that I really liked Penn State and that was my dream school. When I finally got a chance to go see it, it was just like I pictured it and everything was like it was on TV. I liked it.”

Coxson made the City varsity squad as a freshman but played sparingly. Playing major college football was the furthest thing from his mind, and Coxson said there were times he thought of quitting. City coach George Petrides kept pushing and encouraging, and Coxson’s role as a sophomore expanded dramatically.

Coxson’s successful 10th-grade campaign coincided with his introduction to former Knights star Bryant Johnson. Johnson, a former Penn State standout and current Detroit Lions wide receiver, served as motivation for Coxson.

“[Johnson comes back to City] whenever he can get back,” Coxson said. “He comes back and he’s a good influence on the team and the players. It’s good to see somebody from your school [be that successful] and show what they’re capable of doing.”

Johnson stayed impartial when it came to recruiting, but Coxson didn’t need much convincing in the first place. He was sold on the football program long before Penn State showed interest. The Nittany Lions accounted for that fact throughout the recruiting process.

“They didn’t even really talk about football,” Coxson said. “They talked about academics and the education, about finishing your degree. [PSU head coach] Joe Paterno never talked to me about football. He was always talking about school.”

Coxson, who’s interested in studying sports medicine, said he appreciated that approach, as did his mother, Altoviese Hogan.

The spring game was an eye-opening introduction to Penn State football for Coxson. Now he’s just waiting for the real thing.

“I can’t wait to walk out in that stadium, walk on the field and hear the fans,” Coxson said. “I can imagine it. It’s going to be a dream.”

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of Coxson.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:43 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Terps land New Jersey defensive end

Maryland landed its fourth commitment of the 2010 recruiting class on Tuesday when Hammonton (N.J.) defensive end Ian Evans pledged to the Terps.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder chose UM over offers from Syracuse and Temple. Rutgers, Penn State, Vanderbilt and many others were expressing interest, according to Hammonton head coach Pete Lancetta.

“I sent film out to a lot of places and [Maryland] was one of the first to respond very, very positively,” Lancetta said. “We’ve been getting obviously a lot of traffic coming through [the school]. He went [to College Park] twice on visits and really liked it. He went to the spring game with his mother. ... I think [his commitment] had a lot to do with the fact that it’s a really beautiful place. He felt that it was right for him. ... I support him 100 percent. I’m real proud of him and really happy about his decision.”

Evans helped Hammonton (9-3) to the South Jersey Group 3 championship game, where the Blue Devils fell to Shawnee, 28-7. Going into the Shawnee game, Evans had recorded 82 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions.

Evans, a first-team all-conference selection who led the team in sacks, also played wide receiver for Hammonton. He’ll likely move to tight end as a senior, but his college future is on the defensive side of the ball.

“He’s like an outside linebacker in our scheme,” Lancetta said. “In [Maryland’s] scheme, he can either stand up or possibly play with his hand down. He’s 6-3, 230 pounds, but he can probably get up to 265. He just runs so well; that’s what stands out on film. He ran a 4.49 [40] at a combine. That could be [a little inflated], but even if it is, he’s legitimately in the 4.5s, and that’s pretty darn good for a junior at 6-3, 230. ... [The Maryland staff was] impressed by the way he moves laterally and the way he hawks people down.”

Evans joins Wise safety Titus Till, Handley (Va.) cornerback Jeremiah Wilson and Pittsford (N.Y.) Mendon tight end Sean Fitzpatrick in the Terps’ 2010 recruiting class.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:35 AM | | Comments (0)
        

April 29, 2009

Gilman's Jim Poggi on his Iowa pledge

Iowa City is more than 900 miles away from Baltimore, but to Gilman linebacker Jim Poggi, the two cities seemed worlds apart.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder took an unofficial visit to Iowa last week. While the differences between Hawkeye country and Charm City were quite pronounced, Poggi was sold on Midwest living.

“It was all definitely foreign, but it was actually kind of cool,” Poggi said. “I’m not used to people just saying ‘hi’ to me. They have no idea who I am, just passing on the street and saying ‘hi.’ Everyone was great out there.”

Poggi, who recorded 130 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions as a junior, committed to Iowa earlier this week. He was also recruited by Ohio State, Texas, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Carolina and “a lot of the ACC schools.”

Biff Poggi, Jim’s father and Gilman’s head football coach, has a relationship with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz dating back to the late 1990s. While Ferentz was an assistant with the Ravens, Poggi coached his son Brian during his freshman and sophomore years at Gilman.

Ferentz got the Hawkeyes job in 1999, and the family left Baltimore for Iowa City. Brian Ferentz finished high school in Iowa City and had a standout college career playing for his father. Poggi said he has fond memories of Brian Ferentz from his Gilman days.

“He was kind of just another one of the guys at the time,” Poggi said. “I was just a little guy running around kicking the older guys ... But one thing I do remember is he and his group of friends would always pick me up and take me around.”

Poggi said the family connection helped make his decision easier. But the school itself had plenty to offer as well, as did the Big Ten’s reputation.

“If you think about all the great linebackers in the past few years [from the Big Ten], they’re all just really tough dudes,” Poggi said. “They’re not really flashy, but they’re really tough and they love playing football. That’s kind of something I wanted to be a part of.”

Ferentz didn’t sugarcoat anything for Poggi. There were no promises of early playing time or anything of that nature. You’ll have to come in and battle, Ferentz told Poggi.

“They said they’re really top-heavy at linebacker,” Poggi said. “I don’t know if they’re going to redshirt me or not. I’m just honored that they think I’m good enough to play there, which is pretty cool. But they told me when I get there everyone’s going to be yelling and screaming, but I’m going to work really hard. If I work hard, I’m going to earn my spot.”

Poggi said it’s a relief to be done with recruiting so early in the process. He’s entirely focused on his senior year, noting that he’s the only Poggi who hasn’t won a championship. Poggi plans on rectifying that in the fall while giving Iowa fans a preview of things to come.

“I’m not flashy, I’m not the fastest and I’m not the strongest,” Poggi said. “But I work hard and I’m really happy to be a Hawkeye. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:52 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 28, 2009

Eric Atkins discusses commitment to Notre Dame

Eric Atkins had no shortage of options for college.

Notre Dame, Virginia, Vanderbilt, UMass and Virginia Tech all earned spots on the Mount St. Joseph point guard’s list. When decision time came for Atkins, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound junior looked for guidance in an uncommon place.

“[Recruiting] was on my mind everyday,” Atkins said. “In my mind I would jump from school to school sometimes. At the end of the day, I really felt like Notre Dame was the best choice for me. This is where my father would want me to be.”

William Atkins passed away in the summer of 2007 after a long bout with cancer. Eric Atkins, who committed to the Irish on Monday, said Notre Dame encompassed everything his father would have wanted in a school.

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“First of all, he always loved Big East basketball,” Atkins said. “But he always wanted me to go to a very good academic school first. With my list of top schools, U.Va. is a great academic institution. Vanderbilt is almost close to Ivy League. But Notre Dame and the tradition behind it, I know my dad would be all over that. So when I thought about that, it made [the decision] easy.”

Atkins and his mother, Dominique, visited South Bend this past weekend. Atkins spent much of the visit chatting with the player he could replace in Notre Dame’s starting lineup as a freshman -- point guard Tory Jackson.

“I spoke with him a lot, asking him why he chose Notre Dame, how was Coach [Mike] Brey as a coach. I asked him all the questions that I would need to know,” Atkins said. “He just told me that this was an opportunity of a lifetime. Going to Notre Dame and the education you receive, it’s just in another league. I spoke with [Jackson] and Tyrone Nash. Those were the two players I spoke with the most. They both loved it there and they’re both from out of town. I wanted to know how it felt for a kid not close to Notre Dame, making the transition to a school that’s far away from them.”

Atkins, the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year, averaged 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals per game as a junior. The Mount St. Joseph offense ran through him. Atkins said he expects to have a similar role in South Bend.

“They pretty much told me I could step right in for Tory in my freshman year,” Atkins said. “I’d have the ball in my hands my freshman year. That played a big role in my decision. ... [Tory] was just telling me how Coach Brey loves his point guards. He has a special bond with his point guards, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Atkins said his mother couldn’t have been happier with his choice. As the two drove away from South Bend on Sunday night, both were thinking the same thing.

“The tradition is one of a kind,” Atkins said. “It’s not just a known school around America. It’s known everywhere. So it’s a great opportunity for me. I’m really proud I made this decision.”

Click here for D.C. Assault coach Zach Suber’s take on Atkins’ decision.

Baltimore Sun photo of Eric Atkins by Monica Lopossay / Feb. 27, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:34 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Mount St. Joseph's Eric Atkins picks Notre Dame

Mount St. Joseph's point guard Eric Atkins is headed to the Big East.

Atkins, the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year, committed to Notre Dame last night.

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The 6-foot-2, 165-pound junior chose the Irish over UMass, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia Commonwealth, Indiana and Ohio State, according to Zach Suber, Atkins’ AAU coach on D.C. Assault.

Atkins made an unofficial visit to South Bend this weekend. Suber wasn’t surprised that he committed soon after returning to Maryland.

“He was going out for his second visit there just to get a better feel of the school and campus and players and coaching staff,” Suber said. “The first time he went out was for a quick trip, basically watching a basketball game. He was pretty excited about going out to Notre Dame this time.”

Atkins averaged 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals per game as a junior and led the injury-ravaged Gaels to a 21-13 record. The Irish will lose starting point guard Tory Jackson after this season, opening the door for Atkins to compete for the job as a freshman.

“He’s going to get his chance to play a lot in his freshman year,” Suber said. “But like anything else, you can’t be promised anything. You’ve got to earn your minutes. But he will have an opportunity to compete for it. ... They just liked his whole basketball demeanor. They thought he can fit right in to their system.”

Atkins, a Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, needs to gain weight and add strength before arriving at Notre Dame, but Suber believes he’s up to the task.

“He’s real excited,” Suber said. “I think he’s glad the process is over and now he can move on and focus on gaining weight and getting stronger. ... I think his leadership skills have gotten tremendously better. He’s improved his outside shooting and he’s just a savvy player altogether when it comes down to it.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on Atkins’ decision.

Baltimore Sun photo of Eric Atkins by Monica Lopossay / February 27, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 27, 2009

Weekend wrap — Painter's list

The battle for DeShawn Painter could come down to two ACC rivals.

Painter, a senior power forward from Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy, withdrew his commitment to Florida earlier this month. The Daily Press’ Norm Wood reports that "rumors have Painter considering [Virginia] Tech and Maryland as his new finalists".

We've discussed in this space before how Tech coach Seth Greenberg likely would have to do some creative scholarship-adjusting (either taking a current player off scholarship or having one of the four current signees head to prep school) to get Painter to Tech for the 2009 season. Still, it appears Greenberg may be on the verge of a major recruiting coup. A decision from Painter could come any day.

• Another week, another twist in the recruitment of Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard Lance Stephenson. SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that Arizona has now entered the picture.

Sources say Stephenson is not completely happy with his current choices -- he has taken official visits to St. John’s, Maryland and Kansas -- and is open to other options.

• The Miller School’s Mychal Parker was “simply unguardable” Saturday at the King James Classic in Akron, Ohio. The Maryland target, who earned those rave reviews from Rivals.com’s Brian Snow, updated his list of schools.

Mychal Parker has offers from Miami, Maryland, Florida, Clemson, Arkansas, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Along with those, he is getting serious looks from Kentucky (new staff), Wake Forest, and USC.

• Terps power forward target Will Regan updated NBE Basketball Report with his recruitment this weekend at the Providence Jam Fest.

Will Regan, of the Albany City Rocks, told NBE this weekend that he is currently considering offers from Maryland, Virginia, Stanford, Arizona State and Providence. Regan is a 6-foot-8 forward who plays at the Nichols School near Buffalo (NY).

• UM power forward signee Jordan Williams reached double figures for the Connecticut All-Stars in a 110-99 win over the New Jersey All-Stars on Saturday night.

The Jewish Community Center was close to its 800 capacity as 6-foot-5 Steve Samuels from Windsor High School earned the MVP award with 18 points. Dominique Langston (16, Kolbe Cathedral); Adrian Satchell (15, Windsor); Jordan Williams (13, Torrington); Anthony Ireland (12, Crosby) and Chris Evans (12, Stamford) added to the balanced attack.

• For those that missed the news on Friday, Maryland landed a commitment from Montrose Christian shooting guard Terrence Ross. Here’s video of Ross from Seth Hoffman of InsideMDSports.com (formerly TerpCenter.com).


Terrence Ross, 2/10/09 -- TerpCenter.com from Seth Hoffman on Vimeo.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:03 AM | | Comments (19)
        

April 24, 2009

Montrose Christian's Terrence Ross picks Terps

The Maryland men's basketball program landed its second commitment of the 2010 class today, and it was a big one.

Montrose Christian shooting guard Terrence Ross pledged to the Terps this afternoon. The four-star prospect was reportedly recruited by Arizona State, California, Oregon State, Washington, Louisville, Georgetown, Villanova and several others.

“He actually told Gary today around noon,” Montrose Christian head coach Stu Vetter said. “He’d been thinking about it for awhile and he has been impressed with the University of Maryland, the way they play and the coaching staff. He decided it was best to make the decision now so he could concentrate on his academic work and becoming a better basketball player."

Ross, the No. 31 player in the 2010 class, according to Rivals.com, is originally from Portland, Ore. The 6-foot-5, 180-pounder transferred to Montrose before this season. He was Montrose's second-leading scorer at around 15 points per game, according to Vetter.

“One of the reasons why he decided to go to Maryland was that he’s very happy at Montrose,” Vetter said. “He wanted to stay near the Montrose family and decided that he really liked the fact that he could still keep his ties to Montrose playing at the University of Maryland. That was one of the determining factors.

“He also wanted to get the recruiting process over with because a player like him would be recruited by every school in the country. The amount of focus that was starting to generate around him [was crazy], so this was an opportunity to get the recruiting process over with and just sign with a school that he really has enjoyed this past year.”

Vetter called Ross a versatile shooting guard that plays above the rim and has outstanding athleticism. Vetter said the Terps are getting the total package in Ross.

“Maryland did an outstanding job of recruiting him,” Vetter said. “They came on strong in the spring recruiting period. [Terps assistant] Robert Ehsan and Gary Williams did a great job of recruiting and showing him the advantages of staying close to Montrose and again, the other players we have at the University of Maryland (Greivis Vasquez and Adrian Bowie) also did a good job of convincing him that Maryland’s an outstanding place for him to come and play.”

Ross joins Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita point guard Terrell Stoglin in Maryland’s 2010 recruiting class.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:19 PM | | Comments (21)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

The college options for Lance Stephenson appear to be dwindling.

On Thursday, Oklahoma City shooting guard Xavier Henry, a former Memphis signee, committed to Kansas. The Jayhawks were long thought to be Stephenson’s favorite, but Henry’s commitment leaves KU without another open roster spot.

Don't expect Lance Stephenson or John Wall to be talking about Kansas anymore.

Bill Self isn't. He said Thursday that he is done recruiting the 2009 class.

"For this year, it looks that way," Self said. "We can really focus in on the young underclassmen."

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reported Thursday that the Stephenson family was “still weighing its options.” Zagoria says it’s unclear where Stephenson will turn next.

I have reported all along that Maryland was out and that it would come down to either Kansas or St. John’s. I also hear that the Maryland coaches are not that optimistic about landing Stephenson. That said, head coach Gary Williams made a trip to Coney Island last Friday to meet with the Stephensons.

Update: Zagoria broke down the Stephenson situation further on Friday, adding this tidbit about the Terps and Red Storm.

Word is that Stephenson does not want to stay local at St. John’s and thinks that Gary Williams‘ system at Maryland is too structured. Both of these things make sense, but both St. John’s and Maryland have put the fullcourt press on recently.

• After Columbus, Ohio power forward J.D. Weatherspoon withdrew his commitment from Xavier, Maryland was one of the first schools to offer the 6-foot-6, 200-pound junior a scholarship. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the hometown Buckeyes are now involved as well.

[Cameron] Wright's spot in the 2010 recruiting class could be filled by 6-7 J.D. Weatherspoon of Northland, who rescinded his commitment to Xavier two weeks ago and is again being recruited by Ohio State. Coach Thad Matta was at Northland yesterday to talk to Weatherspoon's counselors and get a copy of his academic transcript, Northland coach Satch Sullinger said -- typically a precursor to a scholarship offer.

• Long Island power forward and Terps target Tobias Harris was named New York Class A Co-Player of the Year earlier this week.

Harris, who transferred back to Hills West last week, averaged 23.5 ppg and 11 rebounds this season.

• Richmond, Va., small forward Travis McKie, a former UM target, committed to Wake Forest on Wednesday.

He said he chose Wake Forest over a list of schools that included Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth, Maryland and Boston College.

Football recruiting

• Milford Mill wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro sports offers from Maryland, Pittsburgh and Rutgers, according to Millers head coach Reggie White.

“He likes Maryland. He went up there and visited Ralph Friedgen and all the guys,” he said. “He’s been to Pittsburgh too and liked Coach Wannstedt. He has also been in touch with Coach Schiano, but right now he likes everybody and is real excited about the process. He likes everybody.”

• City wide receiver and UM target Adrian Coxson picked up recent offers from Michigan and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is also one of Coxson’s newest offers and he said the Irish are intriguing because of the great history that program has enjoyed. Virginia Tech and Syracuse are also now involved along with Florida, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Boston College, Maryland and Georgia.

• Friendly safety Jordan Haden committed to Florida this week over offers from Maryland and many others.

“I’m real excited to be a Gator now,” said Jordan Haden, who is the brother of Gator starting cornerback Joe Haden. “I’ve been going through a lot with this recruiting process.”

• Pennington (N.J.) Prep safety Dontae Johnson told Rivals.com this week that the Terps are in his top four.

“Yeah, those two are still up there,” he said, referring to Maryland and Michigan State. “Just make sure you’ve got NC State and UConn up there, too.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:21 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 23, 2009

Dunbar's Smith ready to reload

Things will be very different for Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith next season.

Gone from the Poets’ 1A state title team are eight Division I-bound players, including record-shattering running back Tavon Austin, a West Virginia signee.

Filling the void for Dunbar’s vaunted 2009 class will be just four returning seniors. But despite the Poets' youth, Smith’s optimistic about next fall.

“We have some young guys that want to step up and play,” Smith said. “Our JV was 11-0 last year ... and we’ve got a great class of kids coming in. We feel at Dunbar that we don’t rebuild; we reload.”

Nevada-Las Vegas has already offered two members of Dunbar's 2010 class: running back/linebacker Nathan Ayers and offensive tackle/defensive end Devin Clark.

lawrencesmith.jpg

Ayers, who has also been offered a scholarship by Toledo, spent his first two years of high school at City. As a junior, the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder made his mark at fullback, blocking for Austin and Davon Muse, a Central Michigan recruit. This season Ayers, who runs a 4.5 40, will be Dunbar’s featured back.

“He basically [got carries] ... after we took Tavon and Davon out of the game,” Smith said. “He didn’t really have a lot of big runs in the highlight film. But he’s a very physically strong kid. They really liked his style and, like I said, he’s a good kid. He’s a very coachable kid.”

Clark has started every game for the Poets since his freshman year. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder, who runs a 4.7 40, played center during his first two years of high school before moving to right tackle as a junior.

Smith said the biggest issue for Clark is figuring out which side of the ball he’ll play on in college. UNLV likes him on the defensive line. The offer from the Rebels was big considering it came from assistant coach Andre Patterson. Before coming to Las Vegas in 2008, Patterson spent 10 seasons in the NFL, coaching the defensive line for the New England Patriots (1997), Minnesota Vikings (1998-99), Dallas Cowboys (2000-02), Cleveland Browns (2003-04) and Denver Broncos (2005-06). Patterson recruited Dunbar cornerback Courtney Bridget to UNLV last year.

“[Patterson] told me last year that when he came in during the early signing period he was going to offer Devin,” Smith said. “He’s been around the NFL and he wanted to coach Devin, and that’s why the early offer came so fast.”

In the past, most Dunbar players have taken a deliberate approach to recruiting. Smith expects Ayers and Clark to do the same.

“The key thing with my guys is ... take your time and see what’s out there,” Smith said. “I was a little upset with the decommit thing that happened with Horace [Miller] (who switched to Louisville from UNLV). I don’t want to get in a habit with that. That type of thing will come back on you. So when you commit to somebody, you’re off the market. Take your time and be sure that’s where you want to go for the next four years.”

Smith said Ayers and Clark will need to lead the way for the Poets if they expect to win their fourth straight state championship.

“Are we going to be scoring 50 points a game? Probably not,” Smith said. “But I really feel this team is going to be able to make a run again. ... Teams will be gunning for them. But they tell me they’re up for the challenge.”

Notes: Senior quarterback Jonathan Perry had offers from Morgan State and Liberty, but Smith said he decided to go the junior college route in hopes of generating more Division I interest. Perry’s considering schools in California, Kansas, Texas and Arizona. ... Linebacker Tevin Brown will attend prep school next year at North Carolina Tech in Charlotte. Brown, a Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection, received interest from West Virginia, Akron, Morgan State, James Madison, Delaware State and several others.

Baltimore Sun photo of Lawrence Smith by Kim Hairston / Dec. 8, 2007

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:35 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 22, 2009

Season recap: James Padgett

James Padgett has always been a man of few words.

The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln power forward famously told one Maryland recruiting site that his official visit to College Park was “fair,” just days before committing to UM.

But Padgett took his strong-and-silent persona to another level last December, according to Lincoln head coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton.

“The most important part of his senior year was when he got injured,” Morton said. “He sprained his ankle ... [when he] went up for a dunk and came down awkwardly before the game started. ... We were playing Duncanville (Texas) on TV and he didn’t even tell anybody [he sprained his ankle]. But he kept working, kept playing and didn’t quit.”

The Railsplitters suffered a 77-57 loss that day, but Morton said what stood out most about the game was Padgett’s toughness.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder was slowed by the ankle injury for much of his senior year, but he played through the pain. Lincoln hit its stride once his health improved. While Maryland target and five-star shooting guard Lance Stephenson drew all the accolades for turning in 30-point performances on a nightly basis, Padgett did the oft-overlooked dirty work in the post.

“He did a great job,” Morton said. “He had a great end to his senior year. He probably averaged 18 [points] and 12 [rebounds] in the playoffs. He made a couple All-City first teams and we won our fourth city championship in a row. ... He brought a lot of leadership. He always kind of led quietly by example.”

After the season, Padgett faced a minor dilemma. NCAA rules permit student-athletes to participate in no more than two postseason all-star games. Earlier this year, Padgett was picked to play in the Jordan Brand Classic Regional All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. The event was Padgett's last chance to play on his hometown’s biggest stage.

But when Padgett was invited to play in the Charm City Challenge at the Towson Center and the Capital Classic at American University’s Bender Arena, the decision was simple.

“When I heard about [those all-star games], I thought it was a great situation for Padgett,” Morton said. “I know he wants to get used to playing in front of the Maryland fans and they’re not used to seeing him. So I was kind of happy he got used to playing down there.”

At Charm City, Padgett earned MVP honors, scoring 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting. Four days later in Washington, Padgett contributed four points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Both all-star game performances ramped up expectations for Padgett among Maryland fans, but Morton said that’s fine. He expects Padgett to go about his business as usual upon arrival in College Park.

“He just has to play to his potential,” Morton said. “I don’t think they’re going to push him too hard, expecting too much from him. They love his potential, which I’m happy about. ... I think once he gets down there and gets his strength together, he’s going to be OK.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:39 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Season recaps
        

April 21, 2009

Vinson discusses commitment to UMass

Terrell Vinson's never been one to seek the spotlight.

Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Maryland, Memphis and Villanova were just a few of the schools that, at one time or another, recruited the St. Frances senior, who started his high school career at Montrose Christian in Rockville.

Vinson shocked nearly everyone when he shunned the bigger schools and committed to Loyola Marymount last fall. When Vinson reopened his recruitment in the winter, it seemed everyone had an opinion on his next destination.

“With recruiting, everybody’s got something to say,” Vinson said. “You just try to keep a low profile and think about what’s the best thing for yourself.”

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Vinson decided Monday night that the best thing for him would be continuing his basketball career at Massachusetts. The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder committed to UMass head coach Derek Kellogg last night during an in-home visit.

Vinson, a Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection who averaged 23 points and eight rebounds as a senior, made an official visit to the Amherst campus about two weeks ago.

“I was kind of unsure [about UMass] when I went into it,” Vinson said. “But on the visit, I felt comfortable. The guys up there, they were nice. They’re some cool cats I’m about to play with.”

Vinson signed with Loyola Marymount last November, but asked out of his letter of intent in January when Lions head coach Bill Bayno resigned from his position.

When UMass first expressed interest after the release was finalized, Vinson didn’t give much thought to the Minutemen. He remembered Kellogg as an assistant coach at Memphis, where he recruited Vinson as a sophomore. But Vinson said he wasn’t in any position to give much thought to other schools.

“I mean it takes awhile for any recruiting [relationship to develop],” Vinson said. “I just got out of my letter of intent and wasn’t thinking about who I was serious about and who I wasn’t serious about.”

Vinson focused on his senior year and pushed recruiting to the background. After leading St. Frances to the MIAA A conference and Baltimore Catholic League championships, Vinson was ready to give the Minutemen a shot. At 6-7, Vinson spent much of his earlier high school career playing power forward. Kellogg sold him on playing the 3. Vinson said his relationship with Kellogg put UMass ahead of the other contenders.

“[He said to me] probably what he said to all his freshmen: come in and work hard,” Vinson said. “... He said I’m an all-around player and [he liked] my IQ for the game.”

In Amherst, Vinson will join a program that returns its leading scorer, shooting guard Ricky Harris (Calvert Hall), and welcomes transfers from UConn (Doug Wiggins), Memphis (Hashim Bailey) and Oregon State (Sean Carter).

In addition to Vinson, Kellogg landed four other recruits, all of whom are 6-5 or taller. The Minutemen finished 12-18 this season, but Vinson thinks there are enough pieces in place to turn things around in a hurry.

“They’ve got some workers on the team,” Vinson said. “[We’ll] just get ready to make a run … at the NCAA [tournament]. I know we’re pretty close to getting there.”

Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna / Jan. 27, 2009.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:26 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Terrell Vinson commits to UMass

Terrell Vinson is headed to Massachusetts.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound small forward from St. Frances committed to UMass last night during an in-home visit with Minutemen head coach Derek Kellogg.

“It went well,” said James Gilyard, Vinson’s father. “DK came in and DK is a player’s coach. He’s working hard to make sure he gets the best out of [Terrell].”

terrellvinsonphoto.jpg Vinson, who transferred to St. Frances from Montrose Christian before his senior season, helped the Panthers (33-5) to the MIAA A conference and Baltimore Catholic League championships. A Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, Vinson averaged 23 points and eight rebounds per game.

Vinson originally signed with Loyola Marymount last fall. But when Lions head coach Bill Bayno resigned from his position, Vinson asked out of his letter of intent. Once he received his release, UMass quickly entered the picture.

“What really helped him out was Derek Kellogg being the head coach,” Gilyard said. “With a lot of other schools, the assistant coaches come in, but when it’s not the head coach, you don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. Derek being the head coach, he came in and told Terrell, ‘you’re going to come in, work hard and have a chance to play next year.’ And Terrell wants to play next year.”

Vinson will join Baltimore native and Calvert Hall graduate Ricky Harris on the Minutemen roster next year. Harris, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, led UMass in scoring last year with 18 points per game.

Gilyard said his son’s other finalists were Maryland and Cincinnati. Father and son are both glad the recruiting process is over.

“Oh, man. It was grueling. It was tough,” Gilyard said. “But in the long run, it was good for him. He had to make decisions daily. But the pressure was on him and he came through.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on Vinson’s decision.

Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:38 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 20, 2009

Weekend wrap — Terps still battling for Stephenson

Despite numerous reports listing Maryland third in a three-team race for Lance Stephenson, the UM coaching staff has not relented.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that Gary Williams visited the five-star shooting guard last Friday.

One of the sources said Stephenson told Williams that he will decide by the end of the week. “I think everything will probably come to a head by next weekend,” a third source close to the situation said. “Everything hinges probably on what Xavier Henry does.”

Kansas and St. John's are Stephenson's other finalists, while Memphis has also tried to get involved recently.

TerpCenter.com spoke with four-star power forward DeShawn Painter late last week. Painter, who recently withdrew his commitment to Florida, is now considering Maryland.

Painter, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward at Hargrave Military Academy, has heard from a bevy of major programs since parting ways with the Gators a couple of weeks ago -- Maryland, Marquette, Michigan State, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri -- but Maryland is the only one he's decided to visit thus far.

• UM power forward target Will Regan was named The Buffalo News’ Player of the Year for boys basketball. The News took a look at Regan’s recruitment.

On Friday afternoon, Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins, the former Duke star, watched Regan work out in Nichols' gym. So did Providence assistant Rodell Davis. In Buffalo today will be Maryland assistant Rob Eshan and Vanderbilt assistant King Rice, the former Binghamton High and North Carolina standout. Michigan has been recruiting Regan since last summer. Villanova and Virginia are as well.

Long Beach Post Sports reports that former Maryland women’s target Monique Oliver has backed out of her commitment to Southern Cal, and is considering the Terps once again.

It sounds like paperwork might not be finalized yet, with USC not having a coaching staff in place and Oliver being out of town. We also heard anonymously that Texas and Maryland would be the two leading candidates if Oliver decides not to stay local.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:47 AM | | Comments (31)
        

April 17, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

There's apparently a new player in the Lance Stephenson sweepstakes.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that new Memphis coach Josh Pastner has expressed interest in the five-star shooting guard from Lincoln High in Brooklyn.

Pastner is now in the process of trying to reach out to the 6-foot-5 Stephenson, who could make a decision any day now between Kansas or St. John’s.

The Brooklyn Eagle thinks Maryland’s out of the running for Stephenson, while MaxPreps.com gives the Terps a five percent chance.

The forgotten suitor, Maryland would love to land Stephenson. It would be a major coup for Gary Williams, who has come under fire recently for his recruiting. Given Stephenson’s enigmatic nature, the fact that teammate James Padgett will be a Terrapin, and the school’s close connection to Under Armour, Maryland is not totally out of the picture.

NBE Basketball Report believes St. John’s is at the top of Born Ready’s list.

“It’s a done deal,” claims one source who is close to the St. John’s coaching staff.

FiveBoroSports.com named Stephenson its Brooklyn Player of the Year this week, while Lincoln teammate and Maryland-bound power forward James Padgett earned a spot on the first team.

Quiet and unassuming, he was easy to be overlooked, particularly since the senior struggled the first half of the year with an ankle injury. There was no coincidence that Lincoln started to turn it on just as Padgett got healthy. He followed up a solid regular season with an unforgettable postseason, averaging 16 points and 13 rebounds.

• Maryland power forward target Tobias Harris has switched high schools, according to Newsday.

The multitalented 6-8 junior forward, who led Long Island Lutheran to the Federation basketball championship, has transferred back to his old high school, Half Hollow Hills West, and will begin classes there next week.

Maryland made the cut when Harris narrowed his list of schools to 11 this week. Newsday’s Bob Herzog lists UM as one of Harris' serious contenders.

Harris is being heavily recruited by dozens of major Division I colleges, with Syracuse and Maryland among the favorites. He is expected to announce his college choice in late September.

• Maryland power forward signee Jordan Williams was elevated to four-star status this week when Rivals.com released its final 2009 player rankings. Williams is now rated the No. 85 senior in the country.

• Lake Clifton shooting guard and Terps target Will Barton made Rivals.com’s list of the top nine performers at last weekend’s Boo Williams AAU tournament in Virginia.

Barton is a scoring machine in the mold of something between Rip Hamilton and Michigan's Manny Harris. Despite his thin frame, Barton's length and strength with the ball allow him to make plays against contact. His funky dribble game is sure to create space for his accurate jumper, and his instinct for coming up with loose balls gets him bonus buckets.

• Former UM target Tristan Spurlock decided this week to honor his commitment to Virginia.

“I am going to UVa next year,” wrote the versatile 6-foot-7 Spurlock, who had been recruited for some three years by former Virginia coach Dave Leitao. Spurlock’s decision comes as a sigh of relief to Cavalier fans – not to mention new coach Tony Bennett.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:23 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 16, 2009

St. Frances stocked with DI recruits

St. Frances' 2008-09 season will be tough to top.

The Panthers finished 33-5, winning the MIAA A conference and Baltimore Catholic League championships. SFA reached the finals of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational and participated in the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep.

Much of the Panthers’ success this season was thanks to senior forward Terrell Vinson, who transferred to SFA before the season from Montrose Christian. The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder averaged 23 points and eight rebounds per game, earning him a spot on The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro team.

tevinson.jpg

“Man, I think he did wonderful,” St. Frances assistant coach Nick Myles said. “I think it was wonderful for him to get a chance to move and play out on the wing to get ready for the next level, and [it was great for] us to finish out the year nationally ranked and in the National High School Invitational on ESPN. I think it worked out for both parties. I think it was a dual benefit.”

Vinson, a four-star prospect and the No. 90 senior in the country, according to Rivals.com, is considering Maryland, UMass and Louisville, although the Terps and Cardinals both have uncertain scholarship situations.

“[He’ll decide] within the next month, but he’s not going to rush his decision,” Myles said.

Senior Trawn Rogers, a 6-foot-8 forward, also remains undecided on his college future. Davis & Elkins, a Division II program in West Virginia, has offered. Delaware State and Loyola have also expressed interest in Rogers, who averaged nearly 10 points per game.

“He’s a good shot blocker, he’s got great size and good athleticism, and he can shoot the jump shot,” Myles said. “He’s just got to get stronger. Once he gets stronger, he’ll be a pretty good college player.”

Junior shooting guard Wayne Sparrow was St. Frances’ lone committed prospect, having pledged to Richmond in October. The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder averaged more than 13 points and five rebounds per game this year.

“To me, he’s the best shooter in the area, hands down,” Myles said. “He started to get more athletic, more explosive. I think he’s going to be a great Atlantic 10 player. Wayne’s the type of player that, from the start, he can be an All-Freshman team type of kid. He’s just really smooth, and when he gets in the rhythm, he can really shoot the ball.”

danteholmes.jpg

Sparrow was joined on the BCL second team by classmate Dante Holmes. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound shooting guard has plenty of options already. According to Myles, Holmes averaged around 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals per game, and is being recruited by George Mason, Loyola, Miami, Morgan State, Providence, Temple and UMass.

“He was our most valuable player defensively, especially late in the year,” Myles said. “What he was doing was focusing on defense. While he was doing that, he was improving on offense. With so many offensive weapons, you’ve got to wait to get in the flow. But when you’re playing hard defense, you get in the flow offensively. Once he realized that, he had a great year.”

Junior guards Jason Jones and Carlos Corbin have also fielded varying degrees of DI interest.

“UMBC came in the other day and coach [Randy] Monroe loves [Jones],” Myles said. “I think he’ll be a great player at a Patriot League or America East school. He’s very, very good academically. ... Carlos is the same thing. Good academically, a small Division I kid. But he’ll be a great player at that level.”

Two sophomores cracked St. Frances’ starting lineup this year. Center Greg Lewis, 6-8, 200 pounds, averaged nine points and nine rebounds per game, while point guard R.J. Williams, 5-8, 155 pounds, put up about 10 points and seven assists. Both players have already been recruited by a variety of high-major programs.

ronaldwilliams.jpg

“Greg’s definitely going to be an ACC, Big East type,” Myles said. “R.J.’s a great player. I don’t know how big he’ll go because of his size ... but he’s maybe the quickest kid I’ve ever seen with the ball. If he grows, he’s definitely an ACC or Big East kid. ... The sky’s the limit for Greg and R.J.”

Myles mentioned three additional Panthers underclassmen to watch next season, all of whom contributed this year. Sophomore guard Karrell Goines, 5-10, 165 pounds, was often the first player off the bench and made his biggest impact on the defensive end. Freshman center Josh Forney, 6-8, 230 pounds, and freshman shooting guard Shaquir Brown, 6-4, 175 pounds, were both moved up from St. Frances’ undefeated JV squad and have definite DI futures.

St. Frances received an unexpected boost last summer when Vinson decided to transfer to SFA. There aren’t any new additions lined up now, but that could always change in the coming months.

“It’s early. Summer hasn’t started,” Myles said. “But I think with the nucleus we have coming back, I think we’re going to be really good, even without anybody [transferring in].”

Credits: Baltimore Sun photos of Terrell Vinson, Dante Holmes and R.J. Williams by Kenneth K. Lam, Patrick Smith and Elizabeth Malby.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:16 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 15, 2009

Meet Tianna Hawkins

Tianna Hawkins' final list of schools wasn't too typical for a high-major women's basketball recruit.

Maryland made sense for the 6-foot-3 power forward from Riverdale Baptist. But George Washington and Delaware State?

“Well the only other schools I considered were George Washington and Delaware State because they were both local and they weren’t that far from home,” Hawkins said. “If I wanted to go far, there were other schools I could’ve chosen.”

Hawkins wanted to remain close to her mother, Latanya Hawkins, and twin sister Tierra, a standout forward for Riverdale Baptist who will graduate in 2010. The Terps pulled ahead of the Colonials and Hornets late last spring.

“My friend was graduating [from C.H. Flowers High School] at Comcast Center,” Hawkins said. “My mom didn’t even know I was going to do it. I went into the women’s basketball office and I told them I wanted to verbally commit.”

Needless to say, Hawkins’ choice pleased Latanya and Tierra.

“They were very happy,” Hawkins said. “They thought it was the best place for me.”

Here’s an introduction to Hawkins.

Name: Tianna Hawkins
Birthdate: March 2, 1991
Birthplace: Washington D.C.
Hometown: Clinton
Nickname: Big Twin
Height: 6’3
Position: Power forward
High School: Riverdale Baptist
Senior statistics: 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks
Other schools considered: George Washington or Delaware State
Favorite pro basketball player: Carmelo Anthony
Favorite pro basketball team: Denver Nuggets
Favorite all-time Terp: Marissa Coleman
Favorite music: Ginuwine, Pretty Ricky, T.I., Beyonce, Mariah Carey Alicia Keys.
Favorite book: Native Son by Richard Wright
Favorite movie: Love and Basketball
Favorite TV show: CSI Miami
Favorite food: Buffalo wings and crab cakes
Favorite high school class: Debate
Favorite thing about College Park: “The prestige.”
Hobbies: Going to the movies, bowling, skating.
Intended major: Criminal Justice
Something that not many people know about you: “A lot of people don’t know that I’m left-handed.”
Best basketball moment: “Playing on ESPN [against St. Frances and Seton Keough].”
Role model: “My mother because she teaches me that in order to get what you want you have to work for it. And nothing comes easy.”
Why Maryland? “For one, it was a childhood dream. My mom always wanted me to go there because of the type of school it is. She went there, too.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:54 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

April 14, 2009

Season recap: Tianna Hawkins

Senior year couldn't have been much better for Tianna Hawkins.

The Maryland-bound power forward averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game, leading Riverdale Baptist to a 26-3 record and the No. 11 ranking in the country by USA Today.

But for all of Hawkins’ successes this year, even Riverdale Baptist coach Gina Miller was taken aback when the 6-foot-3 post player was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland.

“We were both surprised,” Miller said. “I mean I think she had 16 straight games with a double-double, but I don’t even know who’s on the panel that voted for that award. So we were surprised and elated.”

According to Miller, the honor was well deserved. Hawkins stepped up for the Crusaders when it mattered most and made a variety of improvements to her game.

“Defensively she showed a lot of improvement and she took on more of a leadership approach on the court,” Miller said. “She worked really hard for us this year. ... There were a couple moments this year when I went up to her to see where [her mind] was at, and she'd just say, ‘I’m ready, Coach. I’m focused.’”

Aaron Kinchen was in his first year as an assistant coach with Riverdale Baptist after serving as the defensive line coach for the Bowie State football team. Kinchen saw Hawkins once during a tournament at Prince George’s Community College last year. According to Kinchen, a transformation took place in Hawkins between then and now.

“She was decent then, but I didn’t know too much about her,” Kinchen said. “But when I got to Riverdale, she was a totally different girl. Athletically, she toned up and was in great shape. I’m not saying she wasn’t in shape then, but I know she’s in great shape now.

“She was the team captain. We really leaned on her this year. When we needed that one bucket to go ahead, she was the one we called on. We called her number on many occasions. She gave it to us each time.”

Miller and Kinchen both mentioned Riverdale’s 65-46 win over Arundel in February as a highlight of Hawkins' senior season. The Wildcats featured three seniors committed to Division I programs, plus a 6-foot-5 junior with a DI future. Hawkins scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the win. That game was typical of Hawkins’ senior year.

Hawkins will probably be expected to contribute immediately to the Terps. With Drey Mingo’s transfer, it’s possible Hawkins will be one of UM’s first post players off the bench. Miller said it won’t be an easy transition from high school to college, but Hawkins is up for the challenge.

“She’s got to be able to defend in the post,” Miller said. “That’s what they recruited her to do. So she’ll just have to be ready to come in and be in shape, attack the boards and attack on offense and keep her head in the game. It’s going to be a big jump for her. A big step up. ... But she’s going to be leaving big shoes to fill for us next year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:41 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Season recaps
        

April 13, 2009

Hoops notebook: Loyola lands transfer; Born Ready's weekend

Baltimore became somewhat of a second home for Erik Etherly before his senior year of high school.

In the summer, the 6-foot-7, 200-pound small forward made an almost daily hour-long trek from his Annandale, Va., home up to Baltimore to play with the Team Melo AAU program.

After one year of college basketball at Northeastern University in Boston, Etherly is all set to return to his home away from home. The former two-star prospect received a release from Northeastern and will continue his basketball career at Loyola.

“Everybody’s kind of like, ‘hey, welcome back home,’ even though I’m from Virginia,” Etherly said. “In the summer time, Baltimore almost felt like home, too. It was a good experience there. So everybody’s kind of happy to see me come back home.”

As a freshman for the Huskies, Etherly appeared in 12 games and shot 50 percent from the field. He started playing more as the season progressed, including a career-high 11 minutes in Northeastern’s first-round matchup with Wyoming in the College Basketball Invitation. He would’ve been counted on to play a larger role for the Huskies as a sophomore. But Etherly said he was looking for a different style of play, so his mind was made up on transferring. Loyola was the logical destination.

“Actually [Loyola was] the first phone call I made after getting my release. [Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos] seemed so excited,” Etherly said. “[Loyola] was actually my second choice to Northeastern [coming out of high school]. Right now I can’t even tell you why I picked Northeastern over Loyola. When I made the decision, Northeastern seemed better but I don’t know why. I can’t even really explain it.”

Etherly, who had 17 scholarship offers as a senior, will redshirt next season per NCAA transfer rules. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining starting with the 2010-2011 season.

• It was a busy weekend for Terps shooting guard target Lance Stephenson.

The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln standout hosted Kansas coach Bill Self for an in-home visit on Friday and later tripped with his family to nearby St. John’s for an official visit.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that Stephenson’s decision could come soon.

Lance Stephenson was courted by both Kansas coach Bill Self and St. John’s coach Norm Roberts this weekend and it appears that he will choose between those two schools in the coming days.

• The stock of Lake Clifton shooting guard and UM target Will Barton is on the rise after this weekend.

The five-star prospect suited up for Nike Baltimore Elite at the Boo Williams AAU tournament in Hampton, Va. Barton earned rave reviews from Rivals.com after the first day of tournament play.

This long shooting guard was right with [Marquis] Teague in the excitement category. Barton put on a scoring clinic in the span of about 15 minutes in a tough Baltimore Elite loss to Albany City Rocks. A high level scorer who is poised to shoot up the rankings, Barton finished with an impressive 19 points.

Barton scored 30 against Louisiana Select on Day Two.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:23 AM | | Comments (1)
        

April 10, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Lance Stephenson watch could be nearing the end.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that Stephenson will make an official visit to St. John’s this weekend.

“They’re getting closer to making a decision,” a third source said of the Stephenson family. “They [the coaches] are all making their last minute pitches and I think this is St John’s last chance to beat the other couple [schools, including Maryland]. This is their best opportunity right now. This is their last chance right now.”

Kansas coach Bill Self will make the trip to Stephenson’s Coney Island home tonight, according to the New York Daily News. Maryland is probably running third to the Jayhawks and Red Storm, according to the Daily News.

Sources still are saying that Stephenson's first choice is Kansas, but the Coney Island product may wind up signing with St. John's by default. That's because Stephenson is still waiting on Xavier Henry - a 6-6 guard from Oklahoma City who is ESPN's No.1-ranked player in the country - to make his official commitment.

A decision from Stephenson could come early next week, according to the Daily News.

• In Thursday night’s Capital Classic at American University, Terps power forward recruit James Padgett scored four points on 1-for-4 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

• Maryland point guard commitment Terrell Stoglin told the Arizona Daily Star this week that Arizona’s hiring of Sean Miller won’t change his pledge to the Terps.

"To be honest, man, U of A passed me up for three years," he said Monday. "I'm not really even worried about them. I made my commitment to Maryland. I'm going to stick with it."

• Former Maryland target and Virginia small forward signee Tristan Spurlock will decide by Monday whether he'll honor his commitment to U.Va.

He told NBC29's Lindsay Murphy that right now his chances of coming to UVA is 60 percent. Spurlock said, "Right now, I'm going to take my visit to Virginia. This weekend will determine a lot of things. I'm going to visit the campus, visit the school again, hang out with the players, then Monday, I will make my decision to the public, and let everyone know what I'm doing."

• Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy power forward DeShawn Painter withdrew his commitment to Florida earlier this week.

Painter immediately becomes a very sought after player in the 2009 class. Before committing to Florida, the Virginia native had offers from such schools as Louisville, Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland.

• UM shooting guard target Will Barton’s undefeated Lake Clifton squad was named the No. 21 team in the country by MaxPreps.com.

The Lakers won their second Class 3A state championship. Will Barton, a 6-6 junior, was the leading scorer at 18 points per game and he also averaged 10 rebounds.

• Maryland women’s forward signee Tianna Hawkins had 13 points and 16 rebounds in Riverdale Baptist’s 44-42 loss to Seton Keough on Sunday.

Riverdale's Tianna Hawkins, Tierra Hawkins and Candace Bond were named to the all-tournament team.

"I'm going to miss my teammates," said Tianna Hawkins, on playing in her last game. "I have many great memories."

Football recruiting

• Maryland was the first school to offer Old Mill linebacker Josh Furman, but the 6-foot-3, 194-pounder has said location’s not a factor.

Another thing the Terps have going for them is that his dad, Tyrone Furman, played nose guard there. “Obviously, he likes Maryland and would like me to go there but he isn’t pushing them or anything,” he said.

• Louisville, Ga., athlete Barry Bostic told Rivals.com this week that UM is one of his five favorites.

“It would be Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Maryland, Vanderbilt and UCLA. They are all pretty close right now.

• Leesburg, Va., linebacker Chase Williams updated LoudounExtra.com on where the Terps stand in his recruitment.

Williams said his correspondence from Virginia Tech has slowed well below where it used to be, and that it has been "quite a while" since he has heard from Maryland.

• Pittsburgh cornerback Cullen Christian has named Michigan his heavy favorite, but Maryland is still hanging in there.

“Maryland also said that I could probably play early,” he said. “They have good coaches there too and a good history of winning.”

• UM remains the only school to have offered Forestville wide receiver Antonio Belt, but the 6-foot, 165-pounder told Rivals.com this week that he really likes Pittsburgh.

“I like Pittsburgh a lot right now,” he said. “I fit in well with their program and I just like the way they throw the ball a lot and everything academically, team structure and chemistry.”

• Quince Orchard wide receiver Karim Jones told Rivals.com that he’s receiving interest from Maryland.

“I’m getting interest from Maryland, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech sent me something,” he said. “There are a few colleges I’d like to attend. At first I was looking at Penn State, I liked the atmosphere, it felt like home. Maryland is definitely interest. I’ve always wanted to go to Virginia Tech and I like Miami, but I’m definitely keeping my options open and am wide open right now.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:32 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 9, 2009

Meet Dara Taylor

Dara Taylor never expected to finish her high school career with an appearance at the McDonald’s All-American game.

Yet there she was last week in Miami, chosen as one of the top 24 high school girls basketball players in the country.

The Maryland-bound point guard earned rave reviews from scouts during East team practices. She finished second to Virginia signee China Crosby in the skills competition. But most importantly, Taylor came away from the all-star event knowing she belonged.

“It definitely was cool to see myself ... on the court with all these big names from across the country,” Taylor said. “To finally meet them and be on the same court, it helped reassure myself that I’m ready to be on the same level with them. I feel like I’m right there with the best competition in the country.”

Taylor’s set to arrive in College Park in mid-July. There’s a good chance she’ll be immediately tasked with replacing Kristi Toliver at the point -- something the Wilmington, Del., native has dreamed of since committing to the Terps early in her junior year.

“I’m ready for the challenge,” Taylor said. “Following in Kristi’s footsteps [is an honor]. Kristi came in as a freshman obviously and did really big things. So the opportunity is there. I’m looking to take full advantage of it.”

Name: Dara Taylor
Birthdate: Jan. 16, 1991
Birthplace: New York City
Hometown: Wilmington, Del.
Nickname: D.T.
Height: 5’5
Position: Point guard
High School: Caravel Academy
Senior statistics: 17.8 points, 5.5 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 steals
Other schools considered: Penn State
Favorite pro basketball player: Chris Paul
Favorite pro basketball team: New Orleans Hornets
Favorite all-time Terp: Kristi Toliver
Favorite music: Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favorite movie: Oceans 11
Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy
Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese
Favorite high school class: Calculus
Favorite thing about College Park: “Comcast. Everything about Comcast, and the fans.”
Hobbies: “Shopping. I like to go bowling, go to the movies.”
Intended major: Business
Something that not many people know about you: “I used to play football ... in seventh grade. I think I was about 12 or 13. I was the only girl. ... It was weird at first, but I was better than all the guys (laughs). So they kind of accepted me as the quarterback. ... I only played for one year because I got serious about basketball.”
Best basketball moment: “Probably beating DFW.” (Editor’s note: Taylor’s Philly Belles AAU squad beat the previously-undefeated Dallas-Fort Worth team in a tournament last summer.)
Role model: “I would say my parents because they work hard and make a lot of sacrifices for me and my brother.”
Why Maryland? “It fit me overall. I was comfortable when I went down there. I love the coaching staff, my teammates, the style of play, the academics. It just was the perfect school and I felt really at home.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:54 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Meet the recruit
        

April 8, 2009

Five questions on Terrell Stoglin

Before I came to The Baltimore Sun in July 2007, I worked as an online producer/videographer/blogger for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.

So imagine my surprise last week when the Maryland men’s basketball program landed its first commitment of the 2010 class from my old stomping grounds, nearly 2,300 miles southwest of College Park.

Santa Rita point guard Terrell Stoglin, 6 feet 1, 160 pounds, picked the Terps over offers from Texas A&M, Penn State and San Diego.

To get a better feel for Stoglin’s game, I called on Josh Gershon, the senior editor of GOAZCATS.com. Gershon, a Tucson native and University of Arizona graduate, took a break from the Sean Miller hoopla to discuss all things Stoglin.

What type of game does Stoglin have, and what are some of his strengths and weaknesses?

Gershon: He’s a really good, high-basketball IQ point guard. Good handles, good shooter, good vision. He’s deceptively quick, although he doesn’t have the best basketball body and he’s not overly athletic. So improving his body, gaining strength and improving his lateral quickness -- those kinds of things are going to be important for him. He’s extremely talented, and really the only thing keeping him from being considered one of the top-rated point guards is his body and athleticism, which isn’t necessarily bad, just not what you’d want from an elite point guard either. ... But he’s as good a high school player this city has had in arguably two decades. Tucson isn’t known for producing talented basketball players. So getting a guy like Terrell Stoglin at an ACC school is just a tremendous success for both him and the city of Tucson. It’s such a rare thing to happen here.

Tucson’s not known for its high school basketball, but some of Stoglin’s biggest games have come against top-notch competition (he scored 30 against five-star point guard and Washington commitment Abdul Gaddy’s team, and had 35 as a sophomore facing USC standout DeMar DeRozan’s team). What does that say about Stoglin?

Gershon: I think that in terms of being a high school basketball player, it’s not that these other players in the country are much better than Terrell Stoglin. The reason other point guards are ranked higher is just because they have higher upside due to their bodies. Stoglin’s a little on the short end. He’s athletic, but he’s not a great athlete. He doesn’t have a great basketball body. So he can play with these point guards right now. But Abdul Gaddy, once he gains 15-20 pounds, he’s going to be a completely different player. So the question is whether Stoglin’s body will allow him to do [those same things in college].

What was Arizona’s involvement with Stoglin?

Gershon: U of A liked him, but the biggest problem with his recruitment was having three coaches in three years (Lute Olson, Kevin O’Neill, Russ Pennell). Recruiting has been so off and on. The 2010 class, nobody from Arizona has really touched that yet. I think the biggest thing with Terrell is that, he’s always been on the Arizona radar because he’s such a talented kid, but there hasn’t been a coaching staff yet that’s looked at the 2010 class, so it’s just a matter of bad timing. Maybe if he were to have remained uncommitted, the new staff would’ve seriously looked at him, but I know he’s been in communication with Arizona all these years. But the coaches have never been able to look far enough ahead to offer him a scholarship or anything like that.

From some message-board scanning, it seems like some UA fans were hoping Stoglin would wait things out and give the new coaching staff a chance. Stoglin told the Arizona Daily Star earlier this week he’s “going to stick with” his commitment to Maryland, even if Sean Miller does show interest. Now that Miller’s got the job, do you expect Arizona to go after Stoglin again?

Gershon: Well I’m sure that at some point, Sean Miller will evaluate him and determine for himself whether he’s good enough to play for Arizona. It’s tough to predict what Miller’s going to think. I haven’t talked to Terrell since [Miller was hired], but I imagine if Arizona offered and recruited him hard, it might be tough to leave the city of Tucson. But that’s just logical speculation on my part, and I shouldn’t speak for Terrell.

What type of college success do you think Stoglin’s capable of having?

Gershon: Honestly, he’ll be as good as his body allows him to be. I think the stronger he gets, the better basketball player he’ll be. I assume Maryland’s going to recruit pretty good point guards [in the future], so I assume he’ll have pretty good competition. I don’t think there will be many players as talented as him right away, but will they be more athletic? But Terrell is an outstanding kid; as nice and humble and good a kid [that I’ve covered] for as long as I’ve been doing this. Maryland’s really getting a good person, a hard worker, and someone that’s going to represent the school really well. I know he has a lot of people in the city of Tucson pulling for him. Regardless of how successful he is, he’ll always be a great representative of what’s been a really successful basketball program (Santa Rita) over the past several years.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:25 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Five questions
        

April 7, 2009

Calvert Hall breaks out

After last year's 15-17 campaign, Calvert Hall boys basketball coach John Bauersfeld expected significant improvement from his team.

But even the second-year head coach was surprised by just how much the Cardinals improved this season.

“I didn’t think we’d get 30 wins,” Bauersfeld admitted.

Calvert Hall finished 30-7, getting to the semifinals of the Baltimore Catholic League tournament and falling to St. Frances in the MIAA A conference title game. For leading the Cardinals' dramatic turnaround, Bauersfeld was named BCL Coach of the Year.

“I think we gelled as a unit really well,” Bauersfeld said. “We played exceptional defense, especially in the second half of the season. That really led us to some key victories.”

The Cardinals were led by junior power forward Jonathan Graham. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks per game this season.

“I think he grew a lot as a player,” Bauersfeld said. “I think he matured a lot, especially number one, as a leader on the team, and as a guy who, when we needed a bucket, we could go to him. Defensively he became a better player as well. He still has work to do, but he got a lot better this year.”

Graham, a four-star prospect and the No. 77 junior in the country according to Rivals.com, has a lengthy list of schools following his progress.

“Villanova has been in strong contact with him,” Bauersfeld said. “I know I’ve had contact with West Virginia, Florida State, Providence, George Mason, Richmond. He’s got a lot of interest. It gets real crazy in the summer. ... I would say [Graham’s recruiting interest] picked up from the fall and it’ll continue to increase as well.”

While Graham stifled opponents down low, small forward Donya Jackson locked down the wing. The 6-foot-3 junior earned BCL Defensive Player of the Year honors. With the exception of Mount St. Joseph point guard Eric Atkins, Jackson always drew the toughest defensive assignment for Calvert Hall.

“He just never stops,” Bauersfeld said. “The key to defense is constantly moving your feet and being relentless. He is relentless on the defensive end. He just has that attitude.

“He really improved a ton over the course of the season. He just became a very reliable scorer for us. He scored, I think, 11 a game. He’s a slasher, but he can also knock down jump shots.”

calverthallhoops.jpg

St. Francis (Pa.), Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s and Navy have all expressed interest in Jackson, according to Bauersfeld.

Shooting guard Damion Lee has heard from Richmond, Holy Cross, American, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s and Navy after the 6-foot-4 junior and second-team BCL selection averaged about 10 points per game.

“He had a great year,” Bauersfeld said. “He’s just a great slasher, and he really became a good defensive player for us. He can knock down open jump shots as well. He just has a really good sense of the game; a real good feel for the game.”

Junior Kyle Wise also stood out for the Cardinals, earning honorable mention honors from the BCL. An “absolute true point guard,” Wise averaged better than five assists per game and played lock-down defense, according to Bauersfeld. An impressive showing at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational piqued the interest of a couple Div. I schools.

“William & Mary just expressed some interest in him,” Bauersfeld said. “George Mason just sent some literature to us about Kyle as well.”

With Graham, Jackson, Lee and Wise all returning for their senior seasons next year, Calvert Hall will be expected to contend for the BCL and MIAA A conference crowns. Bauersfeld said his team will be up for the challenge.

“I think obviously we’ll have set some high expectations for ourselves next year to be in contention for the league and to be right there at the end just like we were this year. We’ll just try to get over that hump.”

Baltimore Sun photo by Damion Lee by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 6, 2009

Charm City Challenge news and notes

In their first game together as teammates, James Padgett and Jordan Williams didn’t disappoint.

The Maryland-bound post players powered the U.S. All-Stars to a 112-86 win over the Baltimore All-Stars in the Charm City Challenge on Sunday night at the Towson Center.

Padgett scored 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting and earned game MVP honors for his efforts. Williams contributed seven points, seven rebounds and four blocks.

For a complete recap of the event, click here for Sun reporter Rich Scherr’s game story. Click here for Sun columnist David Steele’s take on Padgett and Williams.

• Sunday’s game was the end of a long weekend for St. Frances small forward Terrell Vinson. The four-star prospect played Friday in the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep, scoring 29 points in a 74-65 loss to St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J. The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder finished second on the Baltimore team in scoring Sunday with 15 points. “I could’ve used a little rest from the weekend, but it was nice,” Vinson said. “It was good I got to come back and show my face in my city, but I wanted to win.”

Vinson said he’s looking primarily at three schools. “I like UMass, Maryland and possibly Louisville,” he said. After the dead period is over, Vinson plans on visiting UMass and most likely Maryland. Louisville has a scholarship crunch, but they could factor in depending on attrition. Vinson said he’ll likely make his commitment next month, and until then he’ll pay close attention to the news. “There’s going to be coaching changes and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Vinson said. “Somebody might say they’re going to be staying at their school today, but [they] might have a different feeling tomorrow.”

• Digital Harbor point guard George Jackson scored 14 points for the City team in its 89-86 win over the County All-Stars. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder said he's staying in Baltimore for college. “I did a verbal commit to Coppin State ... last week,” Jackson said. “They’re building new facilities, they’re upgrading. So it looks like a nice fit for me. Their point guard (Tywain McKee) is leaving, and I can come in and be good.”

Jackson, who picked the Eagles over Tulsa and Bowling Green, said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell has high hopes for him as a freshman. “He just wants me to come in and work hard everyday. He believes if I stay all four years I can go to the next level.”

• Last year it was Mount Carmel point guard Troy Franklin who wowed the Towson faithful on his future home court. On Sunday it was John Carroll forward Isaiah Philmore’s turn. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder, who signed with Towson last fall, was greeted with a nice round of applause and gave Tigers fans a preview of things to come. Philmore scored six points and demonstrated nice touch around the hoop. “[The fans] treated me very well,” Philmore said. “I’m looking forward to next year. ... I’m going to try to do just as well as Troy did his freshman year. We’ll see if we can go ahead and get to the finals of the CAA.”

Nick Groce ran the point efficiently for the County team, scoring nine points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists in 20 minutes. The St. Mary’s standout could get a chance at running the show for UMBC next season due to Jay Greene’s graduation. “Well we haven’t really talked about it yet, but [stepping in for Greene] is kind of what they’re implying,” Groce said. “There’s another guard there, too, so we’ll probably be splitting time. But I should be getting a lot of time, hopefully.”

• Georgetown Prep’s Robert Olson was the only U.S. team member not committed to an ACC or Big East school, but the Loyola-bound guard more than held his own, scoring seven points and showing great range. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder said he had never played on a team with so many highly-rated players, but he felt completely comfortable right from the start. “I just soaked in the experience,” Olson said. “I knew I could play with good players. It wasn’t a matter of confidence for me. It was just a matter of showing everybody that I could play.”

• Former Lake Clifton point guard Derrious Gilmore connected on three foul shots in the final 11 seconds to seal the win for the City All-Stars. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder finished with 12 points and four steals. Gilmore spent his senior year at Princeton Day Academy in Lanham. “I had a real good season,” said Gilmore, who averaged 15 points, eight assists and three steals per game. “We played on the national scene. I got a lot of good looks and got my academics together. It was a good experience.” Gilmore, who expects to receive his latest SAT scores any day now, said he’s being recruited by UNC-Greensboro, San Jose State and Fordham. “I’m trying to finish up the school year real strong so I can get eligible for Division I basketball. If not, I’ll go to prep school and have another year to work on my body, get smarter, tougher and become a better basketball player.”

• Bel Air forward Donn Hill opened some eyes Sunday, leading the County team in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three-point range. Hill said he’s heard from Penn State, Loyola, St. Francis (Pa.) and York College, but he’s still waiting on a qualifying SAT score. He’ll take the test again in May. If his score falls short of NCAA standards, Hill said he’ll likely attend Cecil College. “It’s number one in the country,” Hill said of the Seahawks, which finished with the nation’s best junior college record at 34-2. Three participants in last year’s Charm City Challenge ended up at Cecil: Douglass point guard Omar Strong, Towson Catholic power forward Brandon Greene and Digital Harbor small forward Jermaine Edwards.

• Walbrook guard Donte Stuckey will most likely continue his playing career at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College. He’s also considering CCBC-Catonsville and Colby (Kan.) Community College, but the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder is “liking Tallahassee because I want to get away.” Former Baltimore standouts Jeremy Robinson (Northwestern), Jermaine Dixon (Blake, Pittsburgh), Marcus Hatten (Mervo, St. John’s), Bootsy Thornton (Dunbar, St. John’s) and Marcus Johnson (Annapolis, College of Charleston) all played at TCC. Stuckey said he’s fine with following in their footsteps. “I understand the situation I’m in and I know what I’ve got to do to fulfill my dream.”

Notes: Milford Mill point guard Xavier Drake, a Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, is still on the market. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is fully qualified academically, but will likely head to either prep school or junior college next season, unless a Div. I school comes in late. “It’s basically an exposure thing,” Drake said of his plans for next year. ... Arundel guard Auraum Nuiriankh impressed Sunday with eight second-half points. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder said Albany called recently, while Wildcats head coach Jeff Starr mentioned that several Div. II schools have expressed interest. “I’m just trying to play somewhere,” Nuiriankh said. “I’d prefer to stay on the East Coast, but if not, I’d go anywhere.” ... Hammond point guard Chris Baker will take an official visit to Missouri Southern State, a Div. II program, on April 16. “Hopefully if everything works out I’ll be going there,” Baker said. “If it doesn’t, I’ll probably just go to a prep school.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:46 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

April 3, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

The first commitment of Maryland’s 2010 basketball recruiting class is on the board.

Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita point guard Terrell Stoglin pledged to the Terps late Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder, who averaged 27 points and seven assists as a junior, told Recruiting Report that he chose UM for a variety of reasons.

“I was weighing my options, and as a matter of fact, I was going to wait until the summer [to commit],” Stoglin said. “A couple of days ago my family sat down at the dinner table and discussed it. I like the D.C. area, and I like the climate. I like the way Coach Williams coaches and I like the program overall. Maryland has a great guard history and I just thought I’d pull the trigger.”

Santa Rita head coach Jim Ferguson spoke to the Arizona Daily Star about UM’s recruitment of Stoglin.

"They've been watching him and they like what they see," Ferguson said. "They have a point guard who's graduating and he can move right it."

"I don't know if Tucson's ever sent a player to play in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference)," Ferguson said.

The Tucson Citizen noted that Stoglin has shined when facing top competition.

Two of his best games over the past two seasons came while being guarded by current USC freshman DeMar Derozan (in winter of 2007) and Abdul Gaddy (winter 2008) in prestigious national tournaments in San Diego. Stoglin scored 35 on DeRozan and 30 on Gaddy.

Click here for video of Stoglin. Thanks to Testudo Times for the link.

• Junior shooting guard Taran Buie cheered on his brother, Talor Battle, as Penn State beat Baylor last night for the NIT championship. After the game, Buie made a commitment to PSU.

"He called me (at 11:45 p.m. Thursday) and told me he gave Coach DeChellis his commitment," Bishop Maginn coach Rich Hurley said. "I told him, 'If that is where you want to go, I support you 100 percent.' He is a Nittany Lion."

Buie picked Penn State over offers from Maryland, Georgia Tech, Marquette and Notre Dame.

SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria reports that John Calipari’s move to Kentucky from Memphis and five-star shooting guard Xavier Henry’s uncertain commitment status with the Tigers caused Terps target Lance Stephenson to delay his announcement this week.

The source said Stephenson held off on announcing for Kansas on Tuesday because of the uncertainty surrounding the Calipari/Henry situation and of similar uncertainty surrounding the futures of Kansas players Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins. Either or both of them could go pro.

Zagoria later reported that Henry is now considering staying with Memphis, which could push Stephenson back towards Kansas.

If Xavier remains at Memphis, it could open things up for Lance Stephenson to go to Kansas, as he had originally planned. Alternatively, Stephenson could still go elsewhere -- Maryland or St. John’s -- and Kansas could wind up empty-handed.

Click here for an extensive profile of Stephenson, courtesy of The New Republic.

• Two Maryland small forward targets are playing in this weekend’s National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep. Montrose Christian junior Terrence Ross and St. Frances senior Terrell Vinson will both begin tournament play today.

St. Frances forward Terrell Vinson: All-Met as a junior at Montrose Christian, the Baltimore native transferred closer to home. He had committed to play for Loyola Marymount but now is considering other options after a midseason coaching change. He is averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds this season.

On Sunday, Vinson will headline the Baltimore All-Star team against the U.S. All-Stars at the Charm City Challenge at the Towson Center. Maryland power forward commitments Jordan Williams and James Padgett will suit up for the national team. Click here for the rosters and here for more info on the game.

• Two quick links from TerpCenter.com. First, the Maryland recruiting site is co-sponsoring the I-95 Elite Challenge, a Baltimore vs. D.C. all-star event on May 2 that will pit the area's best players from the classes of 2010-2013 against each other. Click here for more information. Second, on this week’s edition of TerpCenter Radio, publisher Jeff Ermann and Adam Zagoria discuss the Lance Stephenson recruitment. Click here to listen.

Scout.com identified UM women’s point guard signee Dara Taylor as a McDonald’s All-American recruit ready to contribute immediately in college.

Dara Taylor will likely start at the point guard position next season for Maryland in replacing All American Kristi Toliver. Taylor did not have a great game, but was very impressive in practice, defending and shutting down nearly every guard in the game.

• Maryland women’s small forward commitment Alyssa Thomas was named to Pennsylvania’s Class AAAA All-State team.

Thomas has 1,512 career points, easily on pace to become a 2,000-point scorer, and is approaching 1,000 rebounds.

Thomas’ future classmate, UM combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud, was a third-team All-State selection for Pennsylvania.

Football recruiting

St. John’s Catholic Prep defensive end J.R. Ferguson and Thomas Johnson linebacker Nick Forbes were both cited as examples of Frederick’s loaded 2010 football class by FrederickNewsPost.com.

Forbes and Ferguson were both just picked to play in the Army All-American Bowl, which features some of nation's top high school players, next January in San Antonio. Right now, they are the only Maryland players chosen for that prestigious game. Both are also ranked among the nation's top 100 prospects in the Class of 2010, regardless of position, by Rivals.com -- Ferguson is No. 15, and Forbes is No. 97.

• Old Mill linebacker Josh Furman picked up another big offer this week.

Old Mill junior RB/LB Josh Furman received a scholarship offer from Oklahoma today. The Sooners join a list that's sure to keep expanding, but currently includes Duke, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

• St. John’s (D.C.) athlete Charles Johnson added an offer from Kansas State this week.

“I’m hoping to get one from Maryland and I’ve been talking to NC State and North Carolina a lot,” he said. “I’m also hearing from Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Penn State, Rutgers and Notre Dame.”

• DeMatha safety Jeff Knox sports offers from Maryland, Penn State and Pittsburgh, but according to Rivals.com, the Terps are likely running third in his recruitment.

“Penn State and Pittsburgh are my two top schools,” he said. “I’ll probably end up going to one of those two. I’m from Pennsylvania and it’s close to home, I’m from Pittsburgh. I’m looking to get back up north. Plus, all my family is up there.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:23 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

April 2, 2009

Stoglin discusses commitment to Maryland

Maryland wasn't really on the radar of Santa Rita High School point guard Terrell Stoglin growing up.

The 6-foot-1, 160-pound junior was born and raised in Tucson, Ariz., where the Arizona Wildcats are king and the Pac-10 is the conference of choice.

“The only thing I knew about Maryland was that Steve Francis went there,” Stoglin said. “He was one of my favorite players when he was in his prime. But it’s the ACC and it’s a big conference. So when you get a phone call from an ACC school, you get happy.”

new.jpg Stoglin got that call last night and promptly offered his commitment to Maryland. The three-star prospect said he chose the Terps over offers from Texas A&M, the University of San Diego and Penn State. Arizona also recruited Stoglin.

The Maryland staff discussed offering Stoglin about two months ago, but made things official last night.

“Matter of fact they called [last night], coach Gary [Williams] and coach Rob [Ehsan],” Stoglin said. “Coach Gary did all the talking about the program and where I would fit in. They offered and I just felt it was my job to take it.”

Ehsan discovered Stoglin last summer at the Nike Hoop Jamboree in St. Louis. The Terps assistant told Stoglin he was interested, and the recruitment progressed from there with Ehsan checking out a few more AAU games and a couple of Stoglin’s practices at Santa Rita. Stoglin’s first trip to Maryland came during a high school tournament this winter. The area appealed to him immediately.

“I was weighing my options, and as a matter of fact, I was going to wait until the summer [to commit],” Stoglin said. “A couple of days ago my family sat down at the dinner table and discussed it. I like the D.C. area, and I like the climate. I like the way coach Williams coaches and I like the program overall. Maryland has a great guard history and I just thought I’d pull the trigger.”

As a junior, Stoglin averaged 27 points, seven assists and two steals per game. He described himself as a pass-first point guard that plays tough defense. Stoglin said Williams expects him to contribute to the Terps as soon as he arrives on campus for the 2010-2011 season.

Stoglin said he plans to visit College Park this summer. Until then, he’ll keep his eye on Maryland from afar.

“I’m a hard worker and I do my best to win,” Stoglin said. “I’m a winner and I look forward to representing the Terrapins.”

Arizona Daily Star photo by James Gregg

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:56 PM | | Comments (28)
        

Terps land point guard recruit

The Maryland men's basketball program has picked up its first commitment of the 2010 class.

Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita point guard Terrell Stoglin pledged to the Terps last night, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Stoglin is Tucson’s first major Division-I commitment in about 20 years. He averaged 27 points, two steals and 7.5 assists per game in the high school season.

Click here for the entire story.

Check back later for more on Stoglin's commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:55 PM | | Comments (13)
        

Towson Catholic's youth movement

Josh Pratt readily acknowledges that his 2008-09 Towson Catholic team was “kind of young and inexperienced.”

The Owls weren’t expected to repeat as MIAA A conference champions, and they didn’t.

But there were plenty of positives this year for Pratt and company, and much to look forward to in the future.

“We went 17-13, finished third in the MIAA and fourth in the [Baltimore Catholic League],” Pratt said. “We went down to Charlotte, and played a national schedule basically. ... But I think we’re going to be really good next year. I really do.”

Towson Catholic loses two significant senior contributors off this season’s squad: shooting guard Devin Spencer and center Malcolm Sizer.

Spencer was a first-team Baltimore Catholic League selection after averaging 19 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. The 5-foot-11 prospect, who will play in Sunday’s City-County game at the Charm City Challenge, is hearing from a variety of schools.

“Devin is really being recruited hard by St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland,” Pratt said. “Pfeiffer University in North Carolina and Wingate University in North Carolina [are also recruiting Spencer heavily]. Central Connecticut also came in [Tuesday]. So he’s being recruited by Division I, Division II and Division III schools. He’s kind of being recruited by everyone, so he’s just weighing his options right now.”

Sizer, 6-4, 250 pounds, has the body of a football player, Pratt said. Towson Catholic doesn’t field a team, but Sizer could potentially play the sport at the next level.

“He’s looking at some DIII schools,” Pratt said. “One in particular is Stevenson College. With his size, he might also try to play football, too. So we’ll see. ... Goucher’s also looking at him to play basketball.”

Bolstering the contributions of Spencer and Sizer this season were several juniors with college basketball futures.

Levi Noel, a 6-foot-5 small forward, transferred to Towson Catholic from Montrose Christian. Noel was a second-team BCL selection. Raheem May-Thompson, a 6-foot-7 power forward, came to the Owls after two years at DeMatha. Both prospects are receiving similar recruiting interest.

“[Raheem’s] getting recruited by VCU and Tulane. Stony Brook called me [yesterday about him],” Pratt said. “Levi’s the same thing. VCU [was recruiting him], at least when [new Alabama coach] Anthony Grant was there. Tulane and Stony Brook [are recruiting Noel]. UMBC loves both of them. They’re both impact players.”

Juniors Walter Noel, a 6-6 guard, and Julian Harrell, a 6-2 guard, have received some interest from smaller schools. Point guards Keron Deshields and Kareem Storey, both of whom started games for the Owls, will also be back next year.

Pratt expects several underclassmen to step up for the Owls next season as well. John Crowder, a 6-7 freshman, plays for Nike Baltimore Elite in the summer and is a future Div. I player. Ronald Scott, a 6-6 sophomore, could also emerge. Probably the most notable addition to the Owls’ varsity roster next season will be Sam Cassell Jr., son of the Dunbar legend and longtime NBA standout. Cassell Jr. starred on TC’s junior varsity squad as a sophomore.

“He had games on the JV level where he scored 28, 29, 30 points,” Pratt said. “He’s a legit 6-3. You know who he reminds me of? [Former Maryland guard] Keith Gatlin. He reminds me a lot of Keith Gatlin. He’s a left-handed kid.”

While there’s no Malcolm Delaney or Donte’ Greene coming back for Towson Catholic, Pratt’s excited about the future.

“Next year’s team I could probably start 6-6, 6-5, 6-7 across the back line and they’re all athletic,” Pratt said. “[Levi] and Raheem ... are really going to have to step up and be leaders. If we can put it together and work hard this summer and believe in each other ... I think we really have a chance to be pretty good.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Stephenson pushes East to McDonald's win

Maryland shooting guard target Lance Stephenson came up big in crunch time for the East team last night in the McDonald’s All-American Game.

"He drives and dishes to the open man; he's unselfish," said [Derrick] Favors, a Georgia Tech-bound post player from South Atlanta (Atlanta, Ga.). "Lance is misunderstood sometimes; he's very intense and wants to always win."

It was a pair of Stephenson-to-Favors alley-oop dunks in the final 41.7 seconds which propelled the East over the West 113-110 on Wednesday at the University of Miami's BankUnited Center.

Stephenson finished with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting, to go along with six assists, four rebounds, three steals and six turnovers in 23 minutes. NBADraft.net offered a mixed review of Stephenson’s performance.

Had a rough go of things committing 6 turnovers. Showed good speed in the open floor with the ball, but gets out of control. On one occasion, he got off the ground before passing causing a turnover showing his lack of fundamentals. He did make some solid plays down the stretch including the game clinching pass to Favors.

What did everyone else think of Stephenson’s game?

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:18 AM | | Comments (13)
        

April 1, 2009

Season recap: Natasha Cloud

Maryland combo guard commitment Natasha Cloud saved her best for last this season.

In the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAAA championship game against Mount Lebanon, Cardinal O’Hara senior Steph Holzer collided with a teammate early in the third quarter, sending the Vanderbilt-bound center to the bench. In Holzer’s absence, Cloud emerged.

“We lost Holzer two minutes into the third quarter,” Cardinal O’Hara head coach Linus McGinty said. “We struggled to get some possessions and [Cloud] really picked us up. We were down 11 and brought it back to three a couple of times.”

The Lions ultimately fell to Mount Lebanon, 67-58, but Cloud, 6 feet, kept them in the game. She led Cardinal O’Hara with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting and dished out six assists. Cloud was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.

O’Hara finished its season 27-3, checking in at No. 15 in USA Today’s national rankings. Cloud averaged 7.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game. She also routinely drew the toughest defensive assignment each game.

“Basically she guarded every type of player, from a small point guard to a 6-2 post player,” McGinty said. “She’s just a kid that wants to win. No ego as far as stats.”

Cloud was the lone junior starter for McGinty. The Lions lose four players to graduation who will play in Division I: Holzer, Alysha Womack (Monmouth), Danielle Callahan (La Salle) and Alicia Manning (Lafayette). In their absence, McGinty expects Cloud to shoulder more of the scoring load.

“I think next year she’ll be one of the players we really depend on,” McGinty said. “I’d like to see her develop a pull-up jump shot in the lane. She’s so good at getting to the basket. ... She’d rather pass the ball to you than score herself. She’s just a great kid to have on your team.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:25 AM | | Comments (0)
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About Matt Bracken

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

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Area high school commitments -- 2009
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Maryland's 2011 football recruiting class
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