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May 30, 2009

Terps monitoring Virginia big man

I caught up with Blue Ridge boys basketball coach Bill Ramsey yesterday for a story on Croatian import Kristijan Krajina and his commitment to Mount St. Mary’s.

When Krajina went down with an ACL tear last January, power forward Darnell Turner stepped up in his place. According to Ramsey, Maryland is monitoring Turner’s progress.

“They are still in contact, no offer yet, but they have him as one of the guys they’re keeping their eyes on,” Ramsey said. “He definitely likes Maryland a lot. If he has a good summer and they decide to offer a scholarship, I think he would very seriously consider it. He really likes Maryland. Coach [Chuck] Driesell is in fairly close contact with him.”

Turner, 6 feet 8, 240 pounds, averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game as a junior, leading Blue Ridge to the Virginia Independent Schools state championship game, where they fell to Paul VI of Fairfax. Ramsey said there’s a lot to like about Turner’s game.

“He has really long arms,” Ramsey said. “He’s a good post player, good moves with his back to the basket. He tries to dunk everything he gets his hands on. ... I think Maryland could come in and get him. He likes Maryland a lot.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:27 AM | | Comments (2)
        

May 29, 2009

Big pickup for the Mount

All was going well for Kristijan Krajina at the Blue Ridge School in St. George, Va.

The 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward from Croatia was averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game in his first year in the U.S., leading Blue Ridge to a 13-1 record.

“He’s having a great fall and lots of schools are checking him out for the first time,” Blue Ridge coach Bill Ramsey said. “Purdue was in the gym, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Northwestern. TCU offered. But [the bigger schools] said they’d be back in the winter.”

Then on January 4, Krajina tore his ACL, and his recruiting picture went from crowded to nearly non-existent. The bigger schools wanted him to prep for a year, and Ramsey found a school in Indiana for Krajina.

Then earlier this month, Mount St. Mary’s assistant Kevin Robinson Jr. caught up with an old friend, Blue Ridge assistant Chris Cunningham, at a wedding. Robinson had an open scholarship for the 2009 class and Cunningham had a Division I-caliber player in Krajina that was still on the market. The Mountaineers offered and Krajina accepted. Ramsey thinks it’s a great fit for both parties.

“We like the situation in that he’s not going to a low-major team that’s fourth or fifth in the conference and needs him to be a starter and double-figure scorer and rebounder right away,” Ramsey said. “I think he’s going to be that for Mount St. Mary’s, but he’s going to be a year away from that. Full recovery is his prognosis. It’s usually a year after your injury.”

Krajina will resume full basketball activities on Aug. 17, roughly six months after his ACL tear. While a redshirt may be in his near future in Emmitsburg, Ramsey’s convinced Mount St. Mary’s got a late steal in Krajina.

“He’s a face-up forward who can play a little 3,” Ramsey said. “He’s a very good 3-point shooter and he’s athletic. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s a high-major player.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:15 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

The list of high-major programs involved with Portland, Ore. forward Terrence Jones is lengthy and impressive.

Thanks in part to Maryland’s commitment from Montrose Christian shooting guard Terrence Ross, Jones’ former teammate, the Terps have a spot on the list.

Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer broke down Jones’ game and touched on his recruitment in his weekly mailbag.

As to where Jones will end up is a tossup among a bunch of schools. He has said that he is not anchored to the West Coast; he has family scattered across the country and his former teammate and friend Terrence Ross is a Maryland commitment attending Montrose Christian on the East Coast. Schools such as Arizona, Florida, Georgetown, Indiana, Maryland, Oklahoma and a number of Pac-10 schools have offered, and a couple of traditional powers in North Carolina and Kansas are keeping up with Jones.

• Richmond, Va. shooting guard Justin Coleman has drawn attention from Maryland and several other high-major schools after his impressive start to the AAU season.

It’s amazing how in the matter of three weeks Coleman has gone from a virtual unknown to one of the hottest names on the East Coast. He raised more eyebrows on Saturday when he dropped 25 points in the first half against Nike Team Florida. He had it all working. He hit five three-pointers, threw down a dunk and nailed a hanging jump shot from the free-throw line.

• Praise for Will Barton continues to pour in after his play at the Nike Memorial Day Classic in Georgia last week. The Lake Clifton shooting guard was one of six tournament standouts according to ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc.

Barton was dominant the entire weekend. He is a high-energy guy who impacts a game in a lot of areas. He is wiry strong and not afraid to mix it up. He showed the ability to rebound the ball, bust it out of the pack, take it coast to coast and finish at the rim (usually some form of nasty dunk). He is a tough matchup; his size, length and bounce give him a great advantage over most shooting guards and he finds ways to score without having to always be set up.

• Scouts Inc. cited Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith as one of six standouts at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in North Carolina.

Smith is a big-time shooter with a quick trigger and great confidence. He can score in bunches with ability to knock down open jumpers in transition and in the half court. He sprints the lane for spot ups, slides to the open area and comes of screens ready to shoot. He has excellent form and elevation to go along with length that enables him to shoot over smaller defenders with ease.

• Memphis landed a commitment from five-star power forward Latavious Williams this week. The Humble (Texas) Christian Life Center product told Adam Zagoria that he hopes to convince Lance Stephenson to join him on the Tigers.

“He needs to go to Memphis,” Williams said of the 6-foot-5 Stephenson, the all-time leading scorer in New York State history.

It appears unlikely that Stephenson will end up in Tucson, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

[Arizona coach Sean] Miller said the chances of adding a fourth recruit, either highly-touted guard Lance Stephenson or disgruntled center Jerrid Famous, are slim.

Football recruiting

• Two Maryland football recruits won track championships this week. Safety Avery Graham accumulated 40 of Clarksburg’s 76 points to lead the Coyotes to their first state title.

Senior Avery Graham led the way with wins in all four events he entered, the most one athlete is allowed by the state in a single meet. Graham won championships in the 4x200-meter relay (1 minute, 28.97 seconds), 200 dash (21.99), 100 dash (11.08) and 4x100 relay (42.49).

Offensive lineman Bennett Fulper took first in his district in the shot put.

Fulper met the National Elite mark, and broke his own school record, with a throw of 53'6".

• Some internet reports this week had DeMatha running back Marcus Coker committing to Minnesota. Those reports proved to be erroneous.

"All he did was commit in his mind to a visit to go to Minnesota, that's what he committed to. He has not committed to go to Minnesota," DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said.

According to Rivals.com, the Gophers are in Coker’s top three.

“I haven’t really started to narrow it down too much. I guess my top three would probably be Maryland, Minnesota and Wake Forest. Maybe Iowa is up there too. They’re just about even.”

• Maryland target and five-star defensive end prospect J.R. Ferguson will leave St. John’s Catholic Prep in Frederick to spend his senior year at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy.

"I want to be known as the best in the country," Ferguson said. "I think this is a step toward that."

• Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Johnson told Rivals.com this week that his recruitment is pretty wide open.

“Everything is going good,” he said. “I’m at 14 offers. I think Miami is possible soon. I know I’m going to Miami for camp this summer. I’ll probably go to Maryland’s camp too.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:05 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

May 28, 2009

Dunbar QB Perry takes long road to DI

Feb. 4, 2009 should have been the best day of Jonathan Perry's young life.

Eight Dunbar seniors signed letters of intent to play college football that day. Perry, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback and one the most recognizable and talented Poets, wasn’t one of them.

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As Perry watched his teammates, with whom he won two 1A state titles, accept their scholarship offers under a bright media spotlight, emotions were decidedly mixed.

“I mean [I was very happy for my teammates] but it definitely did hurt to see them all sign,” Perry said. “But I just felt like my time was coming and it just meant that I had to work harder in order to get what they got.”

More than three months later, Perry’s time came. He became Dunbar’s ninth Division I-bound senior after signing with the University of Alabama at Birmingham almost two weeks ago.

Perry’s route to UAB was anything but direct. In his first two years of high school at Samuel L. Banks, Perry dug himself into a large academic hole which appeared insurmountable to several interested programs.

“A lot of schools started finding out my grades were bad and schools started backing off,” Perry said.

Morgan State and Liberty both stepped forward with scholarship offers before Signing Day, Perry said. But he was reluctant to accept without being 100 percent certain of his decision.

“I mean a lot of people were saying nothing bigger was going to come and I should take what I had,” Perry said. “Actually, I just wanted to get out of the city of Baltimore. I wanted to get away from home. That’s why I didn’t go to Morgan. Liberty, they didn’t think I was going to qualify. But I just waited, I trusted myself, I prayed a lot and something came through. I just didn’t want to take an offer and not be happy where I ended up and then regret it.”

Perry appeared ticketed for junior college after passing on those offers. Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College emerged as a potential destination after Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith circulated Perry’s highlight tape.

Meanwhile, back in Baltimore, Perry was furiously attempting to raise his grade point average in the event a Div. I school expressed interest late. He retook three core classes online, and stepped up his performance in the classroom. According to Perry, his GPA jumped from a 1.8 before Signing Day to a 2.68.

“I’ve been working hard and I [have been getting] 80s and 90s in my classes, and that’s what helped,” Perry said. “I might finish with a 2.75.”

In April, the Hutchinson staff played host to some coaches from UAB who were in the market for a linebacker and quarterback. Perry said the Blazers staff saw his tape on their trip to Hutchinson and were impressed. Once they took a look at Perry’s transcript and saw how much progress he had made in the classroom, a scholarship was offered.

“Actually, Tavon [Austin] was with me when we got the news that they offered me, so he started jumping on me and throwing water, him and Davon Muse,” Perry said. “So it was kind of good. Everybody was just praying for me that I got the offer.”

Perry was almost positive he’d commit to UAB, but he wanted to see the campus first before making things official. This required Perry to board an airplane for the first time in his life. On May 15, Perry flew from BWI to Atlanta to Birmingham, where Blazers assistants Kim Helton and Jay Chapman awaited his arrival.

Perry received a steady dose of Southern hospitality during his visit. He enjoyed seeing the football and academic facilities, and was particularly impressed with how “everybody’s nice down there.” The thin quarterback depth chart coupled with his comfort level made his decision easy. Perry signed his housing and financial aid papers before leaving Birmingham.

“[The coaching staff was] happy,” Perry said. “They were just saying how they wanted me and how they signed a junior college quarterback that didn’t qualify, so they were saying it worked out better for them because I was ... coming in as a freshman and that would help the team also. ... I could see myself going down there and maybe a year or two, just taking over and being the face of the program, hopefully.”

While Perry’s recruitment was anything but ideal, the struggles have undoubtedly made him more appreciative of what he’s earned.

“I just think before I transferred to Dunbar, I went through a lot of adversity,” Perry said. “I always believed that struggle builds character, and adversity just reintroduces you to yourself. I just feel that’s going to motivate me. ... There’s a chip on my shoulder now.”

Baltimore Sun photo by Jonathan Perry by Kenneth K. Lam

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:12 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 27, 2009

Stock rising for St. Frances' Holmes

If East Coast basketball observers were unfamiliar with Dante' Holmes before, that likely changed on March 20.

Holmes exploded for a tournament-best 34 points, along with nine rebounds, to lead St. Frances to a 64-58 win over DeMatha in the semifinals of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational.

“My career is still to come, but as of right now, it was the game of my career,” Holmes said. “I just wanted to win; do whatever it takes for my team to win that game. I wanted to win a championship for my coach, for me and the rest of the team as well.”

danteholmes1.jpg

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound combo guard followed that performance up with a game-high 18 in a finals loss to Gonzaga (D.C.). Later came a 23-point, five-rebound, four-steal outing in a nationally televised game against St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) at the ESPN Rise Invitational.

Holmes was a consistent producer for St. Frances all season long, averaging 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals per game for the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA A conference champs. But that late-season flurry took his recruitment to another level, according to Holmes’ uncle, Carlos Green, a Panthers assistant.

“George Mason offered a scholarship from that [DeMatha] game,” Green said. “It was just one of those statement games. He just used that to show [the recruiting rankers] that he’s as good as everybody else.”

Holmes, who also has offers from Virginia Commonwealth and Loyola, is fielding interest from Providence, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Miami, NC State, Florida State, Marquette and Temple. The Friars and Hokies have particularly stepped up their pursuit, Green said.

Virginia Tech’s interest should come as no surprise. The player Holmes is most frequently compared to is former Towson Catholic standout Malcolm Delaney, a sophomore guard who finished second on the Hokies in scoring this season at 18 points per game.

“The first thing [Va. Tech coach] Seth Greenberg said [was that he liked Dante’s] Baltimore toughness. He sees the Malcolm Delaney comparisons,” Green said. “Me and Malcolm’s father, Vince, are really good friends. That’s kind of the measuring stick for [Dante’] as a local talent, with kind of the same build. ... So there are most definitely some similarities there. Malcolm’s a great player.”

Like Holmes, Delaney was a big-time producer for a BCL power who floated somewhat under the radar in the earlier stages of his recruitment. Their games are comparable as well.

“[College coaches] like his toughness,” Green said. “[They like] that Baltimore toughness and his heart, his ability to slash to the basket. His jump shot is improving, and they like his mid-range game. The thing they talk most about is his toughness. He does so many things on the court. He kind of does a little bit of everything.”

Holmes played in AAU tournaments this spring with Baltimore Assault and Boo Williams, which is based in Hampton, Va. Green said Holmes has been invited to elite camps at Virginia and Maryland, and visits to the Old Dominion state schools on his list are in the works.

While Holmes is still waiting on the high-major schools to step forward with scholarship offers, he remains confident that all will work out in the end.

“I mean I’m just patiently waiting,” Holmes said. “I’m just putting in hard work in the gym and waiting my turn. All I can do is just work in the gym and the classroom. If it’s meant to happen, then hopefully it’s my turn now to get the looks that I want. ... But when it comes down in the end, I just want to get better than I was before last year. I just want to play ball and win.”

Photo of Dante' Holmes by Patrick Smith / Special to The Baltimore Sun.

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of Holmes at the 2008 I-95 Elite Challenge.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 26, 2009

Q&A with Towson coach Pat Kennedy

Pat Kennedy would be the first to admit Towson’s 2008-09 season fell short of expectations.

The Tigers finished 12-22, including 5-13 in Colonial Athletic Association play. But a strong finish that included a surprise run to the semifinals of the CAA tournament, coupled with a highly touted recruiting class, has Kennedy optimistic about the direction of his program.

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Kennedy’s 2009 recruiting class includes John Carroll forward Isaiah Philmore, a Baltimore Sun All-Metro second-team selection, Caravel (Del.) Academy center Erique Gumbs and Guilford (N.C.) Technical Community College shooting guard RaShawn Polk, who averaged more than 24 points per game last season.

The Tigers received an added boost to their class earlier this month when former Calvert Hall standout and Maryland center Braxton Dupree announced his intention to transfer to Towson.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia shooting guard Will Adams will delay his enrollment at Towson after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.

Kennedy spoke with Recruiting Report last week about Towson’s 2009 recruiting class.

You lose Junior Hairston, Rocky Coleman, Tony Durant and Tim Crossin, but you’re bringing in a highly touted class. How will this class fill the void and how will it help you move forward on the court?

Kennedy: Well the first kid we’ve got coming in is RaShawn Polk. RaShawn is a 6-2 off guard, very strong. He was the leading scorer in junior college basketball in the state of North Carolina. He had several games over 30 points. We felt we really needed to step up in the backcourt [in terms of] physical size. Our league’s got a lot of big, strong guards. We’ve got Troy [Franklin] and Josh [Thornton] coming back, which is a good group of guards. We think RaShawn coming in as a sophomore is going to be a very important addition.

In the freshman class, Erique Gumbs is a big, 6-10 youngster. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware. We haven’t signed a freshman big player [of his caliber] since I’ve been here. I think he’s going to have a great career.

Isaiah Philmore is a 6-7 youngster who can be a real difference-maker for us. He was a Troy Franklin-like signing for us; very, very important. So we really like all three guys.

Jimmy Smith did not play last year with a knee problem. He had surgery and he will be added to that. Jimmy is Jarrel [Smith]’s older brother. He’s 6-5 and he can play the 1, 2 and 3.

[We're excited about] those four new additions ... along with our guys coming back that gave us great production, especially towards the end of the year.

Philmore was a guy who had numerous high-major offers and chose Towson. What was your approach in recruiting him with such heavy competition?

Kennedy: Well the big thing is, I’ve done that before and it’s all relative. When I was at Florida State, they didn’t have a history of signing McDonald’s All-Americans. And we went in there and started recruiting guys above the level they had signed before. [My staff] has already taken a handful of guys above us before. You’ve got to be really, really calculated. [We have to find out] what’s important to this guy when we speak to him on the phone. Is it a lost cause? Is he going to the ACC, or would he consider staying home and playing in the CAA? But with Isaiah we really had good reason to hang in there. He’s very close to this family, he really likes our players and he wants to be an impact guy. Some of the high-majors, they backed off a little bit, so all of these indicators were developing. These things kept popping up, [so we thought], ‘if we stick with this guy, maybe we get him.’ Once we were able to convince Erique to sign, that certainly helped us sign Isaiah.

So Gumbs was a guy you had targeted early on?

Kennedy: He was on our list. Erique was one of our very top recruits. Then we found out how close he was to Isaiah. They played on the same AAU team, the same AAU team that Josh Thornton played on. So we had a lot of good ties in place.

Do you expect both Philmore and Gumbs to make immediate contributions?

Kennedy: Well I think that both are going to have a chance to have an impact right away. Isaiah might be a little more advanced than Erique right away. But over the years, you become a little cautious [of projecting freshmen to make immediate impacts]. The CAA is full of a lot of good players. A bunch of pro scouts have called me lately about Eric Maynor from VCU, [Larry] Sanders from VCU, Gary Neal when he was with us. There are a lot of high-level guys that [initially] went to the Big East or ACC, like a Braxton Dupree, who’s coming back to playing at this level. But what kind of impact [Isaiah and Erique have] remains to be seen.

Polk was your only late signee in this class. Was it your intent to take another player last fall, or did he just sort of burst onto your radar?

Kennedy: I’ve always done this. You have your target guys early and try to sign as many high-quality guys [in the fall]. We’ve been very successful early. But I got Sam Cassell [at Florida State] late, and he took us to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Sam wasn’t on our radar screen [at first], but we were one great guard away from being a top 10, top 15 team in the country. We went out and found Sam, and Oklahoma and Arkansas had already been recruiting him. We got him to visit late and got him. So I’ve always found guys late that can make a difference.

RaShawn’s a quality player. He’s strong, gets to the rim and can shoot and score it. He’s terrific offensively because of his size. After the season, you [look back and say] ‘what are some things that hurt us?’ Lack of scoring hurt us, so you say, ‘OK, lets get a scorer.’ Now all of a sudden we get the young big kids, and lo and behold we get Braxton Dupree, and a guard that’s big and strong. That covers all the bases. So you go through your notes and develop another target list. Our assistants went to the California JUCOs, the Kansas JUCOs, the Florida JUCOs. Our guys went ahead and scoured the country a little bit. At the end, we ended up getting involved ... with RaShawn. [Recruiting that way is] not an uncommon practice.

Last week it was announced that Will Adams (a shooting guard from Philadelphia who picked Towson over several Atlantic 10 and CAA schools last fall) had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. What was your reaction when you received the news, and how has he been holding up?

Kennedy: Well it’s just a very difficult situation, but we’re looking at the situation through very optimistic glasses. We think he’s going to fully recover. He’s not going to be in condition to compete at the Division I level this year. So Will will be our first signing for next year’s class. Our commitment to him is 100 percent. We’re going to stay with that young man right through everything he’s going to do. He’s going through treatment right now and progressing as he should.

Will he be on campus this fall or will he stay in Philadelphia?

Kennedy: His treatment is going to keep him close to his doctors [in Philadelphia]. It’s not the type of thing where you want to change physicians. He’s got to stick with one scenario.

Dupree will obviously have to sit out a year due to transfer rules, but talk about your impressions of him at Maryland.

Kennedy: I just think Braxton’s a great kid. He had nothing but great things to say about Coach [Gary] Williams and the University of Maryland. He just felt it didn’t work out. But he’s big, strong, runs and catches the ball and he’s got a chance to come in our league and have two solid years to help us win. We’re very, very excited about Braxton. He’s a great kid.

Last year was obviously a tough one, but do you think there enough pieces in place now for a significant turnaround this year?

Kennedy: I made a tremendously calculated decision to go with our young guys. Rocky, Tim and Tony Durant didn’t play as much. What I thought was the right thing to do was to develop this group. Time will tell, no doubt about it. We finished up very strong, with the win against Delaware when it was a big game for them as well as us. We went to the [CAA] tournament and made history. An 11th seed never did what we did, being minutes away from being in the championship game. The last three weeks of the season were extremely important for us. We found ourselves and now we have to build on it for the future.

Associated Press photo / Nov. 28, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:12 AM | | Comments (1)
        

May 25, 2009

Weekend wrap — Barton dominates

Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton spent Memorial Day weekend staking his claim for top player in the class of 2010.

At the Nike Memorial Day Classic in Sewanee, Ga., Barton earned rave reviews from Rivals.com for his play all weekend long -- particularly against five-star prospect Harrison Barnes’ Howard Pulley squad.

Barton got the game going in style with a dunk, and from there it was simply his show. He scored with ease going to the rim, finished athletically with impressive dunks, made perimeter jump shots, and simply did anything that he wanted to do on the court. In the first half alone Barton had 19 points, and only missed two field goals in the process.

Barton finished with 36 points for Nike Baltimore Elite.

• Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks power forward Will Regan continues to list the Terps in his top five.

Will Regan rattled off a list of Virginia, Stanford, Arizona State, Providence and Maryland while mentioning that he felt pretty comfortable with those schools.

• Portland, Ore., power forward Terrence Jones, who listed Maryland as one of fourteen schools he’s considering, turned in a dominant day two performance for I-5 Elite at the Nike MDC.

While Jones was good against Team Texas, he saved his best for last. In an overtime thriller against Albany City Rocks, Jones once again went to work, but this time it was all about his play when the game matters the most. With I-5 Elite trailing by one and time winding down, Jones used a quick and powerful left hand drive to get himself in a position to score. From there he attempted a highly contested mid-range floater, that bounced high off the rim and fell through the net as time expired.

• Carolina Cobras teammates C.J. Leslie and Tashawn Mabry both impressed at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in North Carolina this weekend. According to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, Leslie is being recruited by every ACC school but Duke, while Mabry is hearing from the Terps and several others.

The 6-foot-6 big man from Rocky Mount has attracted attention from a flurry of ACC schools including Clemson, N.C. State, Maryland and Wake Forest. And he had far and away the nastiest follow jam of the tournament so far on Friday, an effort in which he rose over center DeMarco Cox of the Jackson MBA Elite and dunked on Cox’s head.

• The latest on Lance Stephenson comes from Adam Zagoria via the New York Daily News. According to the News, a new school has entered the mix for the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard.

In other Florida developments, the New York Daily News quoted sources close to Brooklyn Lincoln guard Lance Stephenson saying that Florida is now in play for the 6-5 McDonald’s All-American.

Zagoria said he couldn’t confirm the Gators’ interest in Born Ready.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:17 AM | | Comments (11)
        

May 22, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Another week, another twist in the ongoing Lance Stephenson saga.

According to USA Today, Maryland is still in the picture for the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard.

Stephenson has narrowed his choices to Maryland and Arizona, his father said. "He's going to continue to work out and take care of his schooling," Lance Sr. said.

Adam Zagoria’s sources say UM is joined by a different school on Stephenson’s list.

Memphis is still trying to remain involved with Stephenson and Latavious Williams told me yesterday that if he ends up at Memphis, he would like Stephenson to join him.

Another source told me the other day that Lance told one coach he would announce between Maryland and Memphis.

The Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe wonders if Arizona will wait around for Stephenson.

It will be interesting to see if this case gets settled out of court or dismissed before then, but if it goes the distance, that puts Sean Miller in a tough spot: Does he try to land Stephenson before the case is over, only to possibly have him later found guilty? Or does he keep waiting, since UA could add him in mid-summer without any real harm done except him missing the start of summer classes, which most freshman take.

The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy thinks the chances of Stephenson landing in Tucson are low.

It's unlikely Arizona will add guard Lance Stephenson, the New York prep star who lists the Wildcats among his finalists. Stephenson is a talent, but [Sean] Miller will concentrate on landing players who have a serious future with the program.

Off the court, Stephenson and teammate Darwin “Buddha” Ellis will have to wait until June 29 to face sexual assault charges stemming from an incident last fall.

Stephenson and Ellis were charged with allegedly groping a 17-year-old female student outside Lincoln High on Oct. 3.

Click here for an InsideMDSports.com promotion tied in to Stephenson's recruitment.

• Columbus, Ohio power forward J.D. Weatherspoon, a Maryland target, recently picked up an offer from the hometown Buckeyes.

“Coach Matta told me, ‘We kind of made a mistake because of all your hard work. We’ve seen you develop,’ ” Weatherspoon told BuckeyeSports.com. “He said I’ll bring my new skills to the program. I just had to keep working hard.”

• Maryland is facing heavy competition for North Carolina power forward C.J Leslie, according to the Charlotte Observer.

In 2010, North Carolina has McDonald's All-America candidates in Bullock and 6-8 forward C.J. Leslie of Word of God Academy in Raleigh. Leslie recently withdrew his commitment from N.C. State and is considering scholarship offers from many schools. Overall, there are seven players from North Carolina among scout.com's top-100 prospects in the Class of 2010.

Football recruiting

• North Carolina defensive tackle Darius Kilgo has the Terps at the top of his list.

“I do like probably East Carolina and Maryland,” he stated. “They both want me really bad and I think I have a chance of playing immediately at those. They both have great defensive line coaches and have had defensive linemen get drafted.”

• Forestville wide receiver Antonio Belt now has offers from Maryland, Towson and Rhode Island, but the 6-foot, 165-pounder doesn’t have a favorite.

“Right now I don’t really have a favorite, I’m still weighing my options,” he said. “I just want a school that isn’t too far from home and a school I fit in at. I want good team chemistry too.”

InsideMDSports.com’s Seth Hoffman recently spoke with several UM targets from DeMatha, including running back Marcus Coker.

“Probably my top schools are Maryland and Minnesota,” he said.

Coker said he’s been to Maryland about 10 times.

• DeMatha offensive tackle Arie Kouandjio has developed into a true national recruit.

[South Carolina] is one of 25 offers for offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio (6-6, 314) of Hyattsville, Md. Some of his other offers are Maryland, Tennessee, Miami, Alabama, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Penn State and Pitt. He went to junior days at North Carolina and California and will visit several schools, including USC, over the summer.

The Washington Post’s Josh Barr caught up with St. John’s Catholic Prep coach Jimmy Ward for an update on five-star defensive end and Terps target Ego “J.R.” Ferguson.

Among the schools that have sent assistant coaches to the Frederick campus this spring: Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, California, Miami, Southern Cal, UCLA, Connecticut, Rutgers, Oklahoma, Louisiana State, Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State. "I'm trying to think so I don't forget anyone," Ward said.

The Detroit News checked in with Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker and Maryland target Javarie Johnson recently to discuss recruiting and his trip to Michigan.

Johnson, who is rated a three-star prospect (at the moment) by Scout.com, currently has 12 scholarship offers. That tally includes tenders from Maryland, West Virginia, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State. Late last month, he made his way to the Great Lakes state to check in on the Spartans and Wolverines.

• Maryland was involved with Good Counsel cornerback Louis Young before and after he withdrew his commitment to Stanford, but the four-star prospect recommitted to the Cardinal this week.

Young proved to be a versatile player as both offense and defense are potential fits for him. Credit must be given to Harbaugh and his staff as Stanford has very quickly established itself as a national player for recruits from all regions of the country.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:24 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

May 21, 2009

Back in action

Looks like I picked a good time to go on vacation.

As far as I can tell, very little recruiting news transpired while I was away. Pre-summer lull, I suppose.

The biggest Terps-related news in my absence was former Florida commitment DeShawn Painter’s decision to attend N.C. State over Maryland. The Hargrave (Va.) power forward made his choice last week.

DeShawn Painter liked Maryland. He played in a pickup game with NBA star Kevin Durant and was impressed with Comcast Center , the Terrapins’ home court.

He liked N.C. State more, though. So on Wednesday night, the former Booker T. Washington star made it official and announced he’ll be playing for the Wolfpack.

On the women’s hoops side, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly center Monique Oliver, a former Southern Cal pledge, committed to Rutgers over Maryland and Texas.

Oliver, the No. 6-ranked player for the Class of 2009 by ESPN HoopGurlz -- a high school recruiting service - admitted she chose Rutgers "to challenge myself and see how it is on the East Coast in a whole new environment."

As for the blog, I’ll have a weekly roundup ready for tomorrow and be back to a normal writing schedule by next week.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:25 AM | | Comments (6)
        

May 12, 2009

Vacation

By this time tomorrow, I'll be soaking up some rays across the Atlantic. Destination: Cape Verde, where my big-hearted younger brother is serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.

This means Recruiting Report will take its first hiatus since its August 2007 debut. I should be back in action on the blog by May 21.

Over/under on commitments involving Maryland football and basketball while I'm away is set at 3. I, for one, am crossing my fingers for the under. See you next week.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:15 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Baltimore natives emerge at Princeton Day Academy

Van Whitfield dreamed of coaching a nationally competitive high school basketball program years ago. He just didn’t think his plans would come to fruition so quickly.

Whitfield was born in Baltimore, graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt and went to UMBC for college. He started the basketball program at Princeton Day Academy, which operates out of Mount Calvary Church in Lanham, two years ago.

A best-selling author, Whitfield got involved with basketball earlier this decade. He spent time with the D.C. Storm AAU program, Southern Maryland Christian Academy and Progressive Christian Academy, before starting Princeton Day Academy’s program. Things have gone well for Whitfield thus far.

“This year we finished sixth in the country by the National Private School Athletic Association,” Whitfield said. “That’s a big achievement because we finished ahead of some really well-known programs.”

Whitfield’s first success story at Princeton Day Academy was Baltimore native Beloved Rogers. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard averaged more than 27 points per game as a senior and graduated from PDA with a 3.7 grade-point average. Rogers signed with Oral Roberts and appeared in 30 games for the Golden Eagles as a freshman, averaging two points per game and connecting on 40 percent (14-for-35) of his 3-point attempts.

From the Storm’s 2009 class, power forward Jonathan Underwood, an Arizona native, signed with Missouri earlier this month. The next Princeton senior to sign with a Division I school could be former Lake Clifton standout Derrious Gilmore.

Gilmore, a 5-foot-10 point guard, is being recruited by San Diego State, San Jose State and Fordham, according to Whitfield. In his first season at Princeton, Gilmore averaged 17 points, eight assists and three steals per game.

“Derrious exceeded every expectation,” Whitfield said. “He was one of those few kids who was better than advertised, and he was advertised as a really excellent high school basketball player. ... He’s a true 1. His ability to penetrate and his ability to control the ball and thereby control the pace and flow of the game puts him at a very high level. The interest continues to rise because he’s doing so well on the spring circuit right now with Baltimore Assault.”

Gilmore is waiting on a qualifying SAT score and should receive that news sometime this month. Whitfield said he likes Gilmore’s chances, noting that he had a strong year in the classroom and his scores “got better with every test.”

Two other Baltimore seniors suited up for the Storm this year, and both have their plans for college all set. Former Mount Carmel guard Dwayne Wheeler, 6-2, has committed to the University of Charleston, a Div. II program in West Virginia’s capital city. Wheeler averaged around eight assists per game, according to Whitfield.

Kendrick Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard, plans to attend Nyack College, a Div. II program in New York. Brown was an integral part of New Town’s state championship team two years ago, scoring 14 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in the title game against Dunbar.

The most intriguing Baltimore name on Whitfield’s roster is Leshon Edwards, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound shooting guard. Edwards was one of the most highly regarded eighth graders in the country, and lived up to the hype early in his high school career at Towson Catholic.

After two and a half years at TC, academic issues forced Edwards to transfer to Patterson in Southeast Baltimore. He resurfaced this year at Princeton as a fourth-year junior. Whitfield said Edwards, who will return to Princeton for a fifth year to finish up his coursework, averaged around 15 points per game, showing why he received so much attention at such an early age.

“He really did amazing,” Whitfield said. “His basketball IQ is really high. He benefited from the coaching and instruction that he received from various AAU programs he played in and his former coach at Towson Catholic, Josh Pratt. ... He’s got a lot of mid- to high-major Division I interest ... so we feel real comfortable that [his] recruitment will be finished before next season.”

Whitfield said he hopes to welcome more Baltimore players to Princeton in the future. The team travels every weekend, basically from the start of the school year in September until March. Despite the exhaustive schedule, Princeton players don’t miss any class time because of the weekend tournament scheduling. After just two years, Whitfield couldn’t be happier with his program’s progress.

“It’s way beyond what I envisioned,” Whitfield said. “The measure of any school [that is] doing athletics is what footprints you’re making with the young men and women who’ve been there. Are they actually going to college and when they go, can they be productive? And we know Beloved [Rogers] is a 3.5 student in his first year of college. I think the young men we have this year will be really well prepared to handle college and athletics as well.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 11, 2009

Weekend wrap — Barton, Harris and more

A little more than one week ago, Lake Clifton shooting guard and Maryland target Will Barton praised Kentucky in an interview with Recruiting Report.

In a story that ran Sunday in The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky, Barton had similar things to say about the Wildcats.

"Kentucky is very high," he said. "I'm just going to tell you they are very, very high. I like a lot of things about their program."

Barton said he was recruited by UK coach John Calipari when the coach was at Memphis and noted he loves "the kind of style he plays."

• Notre Dame would like to pair point guard commitment Eric Atkins (Mount St. Joseph) with Long Island, N.Y., power forward and Terps target Tobias Harris in the class of 2010, according to the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.

And, just maybe a prospect with the potential to play power forward, someone like Tobias Harris, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward from Dix Hills, N.Y. Harris, who averaged 29 points a game as a junior, is close friends with Atkins. And Harris' father, Torrel, once worked the Notre Dame summer basketball camps during his days as a college player at Duquense.

Harris' early wish list has plenty of schools, including Connecticut, Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Syracuse and West Virginia.

NBE Basketball Report conducted a Big East-focused Q&A with Harris last week.

• Maryland continues to recruit DeMatha shooting guard Victor Oladipo, according to The Washington Post’s Josh Barr.

"Notre Dame came in to see [Jerian] Grant a couple weeks ago, Marquette came in to see Grant and Oladipo a couple ago weeks ago," [DeMatha coach Mike] Jones said. "Then Virginia is trying to play catchup, doing a good job of it. Georgia Tech and Clemson are both trying to recruit them both as well. Maryland got [Montrose Christian All-Met junior forward Terrence] Ross, so I don't know if it's a priority right now but they're still showing interest."

Lance Stephenson scored 38 points in an IS8/Nike Spring H.S. Classic quarterfinal on Saturday. An Arizona visit could be in the works for the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard, according to Adam Zagoria.

“It wouldn’t surprise me [if he visited],” a source close to Stephenson said. “I’ve been hearing about Arizona for two weeks now. I would be surprised if he missed next weekend’s playoffs.”

• Maryland women’s target Monique Oliver was named Dream Team Player of the Year by the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram.

Before her senior season began, Oliver signed a letter of intent with USC. But after Coach Mark Trakh resigned in April, USC granted Oliver a release and she's now considering Rutgers, Maryland and Texas as well as the Trojans.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:39 AM | | Comments (9)
        

May 9, 2009

Terps land South Carolina DL recruit

Maryland linebackers coach Al Seamonson has been known to unearth a hidden gem or two down in his South Carolina recruiting territory.

But Seamonson had a little help with his latest Palmetto State find, Summerville defensive tackle Brice Laughlin, who committed to Maryland on Thursday.

From 1998-2002, Summerville offensive coordinator Joe Call was a quarterback at The Citadel. Two Bulldogs assistants at the time were none other than Seamonson and current Terps defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo. The ex-Citadel signal-caller was willing and able to point his former coaches in Laughlin’s direction.

“Coach Seamonson recruits our area,” Call said. “When he was down here last year, we kind of told him about Brice. Coach Sollazzo kept in touch after that and Coach Seamonson came down for a recruiting visit.”

When Laughlin, 6 feet 3, 270 pounds, sought advice on the Terps, Call was the logical person to ask.

“I told Brice, ‘I played under these coaches, they’re going to care about you as a person, as a student and as a football player, and I know that for a fact because that’s how they were when I played for them,’” Call said. “They’re honest, that’s one thing I keep telling him. They’re not going to lie to you. [They said] the academics are tough at Maryland and the ACC is not going to be easy. And he kind of appreciated their honesty.”

Maryland was Laughlin’s only official scholarship offer, while Clemson, N.C. State and several other programs were keeping tabs on him. Call said there’s a simple explanation for Laughlin’s low-profile recruitment.

“Brice missed five games for us with an injury [to his thumb that required surgery],” Call said. “[Several programs] knew he was a player, but a lot of people said, ‘lets see what he can do this year.’ But Coach Seamonson and Coach Sollazzo have always had an eye for finding good talent and I think he falls in that category.”

Summerville finished 10-3 last year, winning their sixth straight regional championship before losing in the playoffs to the eventual state champion. Call said he can’t wait to plug Laughlin back into Summerville’s starting lineup and unleash the now-healthy defensive tackle on the competition.

“He’s an inside guy with quickness and size, which is hard to find for a defensive lineman,” Call said. “He’s just a menace. He’s got a motor that just doesn’t stop. Coach [Ralph] Friedgen and Coach Sollazzo and Coach Seamonson all liked that about him. He goes 100 miles per hour and is just relentless to the football. ... He’s a 4.8 [40] guy -- a defensive lineman that can run. We love him. I’m looking forward to having him for another year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:55 AM | | Comments (1)
        

May 8, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Montrose Christian shooting guard Terrence Ross has taken on the role of recruiter since committing to Maryland last month.

According to InsideMDSports.com, Portland, Ore., forward Terrence Jones is being lured by Ross to College Park.

"Right now, I think it's more Terrence Ross recruiting him than Maryland recruiting him, but that's just me speaking for him, so you'd have to talk to him," said Jefferson coach Pat Strickland.

... "He can play all five positions and he can guard all five positions, from point guard to center," Strickland said. "As a sophomore, he played point guard for us 75 percent of the time. He has a great feel for the game. His passing really stands out. And he's a very good shot-blocker and rebounder."

InsideMDSports.com reports that Terps power forward signee Jordan Williams has officially been admitted to the University of Maryland.

"It felt great because a lot of people didn't think I could do it. I felt like I had a lot to prove. I knew I would do it but there are always going to be people that doubt you," said Williams, a 6-foot-9-and-a-half, 250-pound power forward rated among the top 100 players in the country by some scouting services.

• Terps target Mychal Parker, a small forward from The Miller School in Charlottesville, Va., could wait awhile to make his decision.

"He wants to go to a team that's pretty much established and has a good supporting cast and that can win right away," [Parker’s father, Omar] Parker said. "We're going to sit down and really think about what direction we're going in around the middle of the basketball season."

Parker said his son will likely wait until the spring signing period to make his decision. He said his son averaged close to 20 points and 6 to 7 assists a game at The Miller School this past season.

• Barring an extremely unforeseen turn of events, Lance Stephenson won’t end up at Maryland. Now the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard’s other longtime finalist, St. John’s, has stopped pursuing him, leaving just two schools still in the picture.

Memphis and Arizona appear to be the leading candidates now, but Stephenson has not visited either campus. The late signing period ends May 20.

Tucson Citizen columnist Steve Rivera wonders if Arizona should even go after Stephenson.

There's no question Stephenson is a dynamic player, but his character - given his desire to get to the NBA as quickly as possible - might not be a good fit for [Sean] Miller's system. Why risk it? What's to gain for one season?

• Columbus, Ohio forward and Terps target J.D. Weatherspoon turned in a solid performance during an AAU tournament in Fort Wayne, Ind., last weekend.

After a subpar showing at the King James tournament in Akron, J.D. Weatherspoon bounced back nicely. Weatherspoon, who as always had a few nasty dunks, stepped up his all around game. He did a good job of rebounding the ball as well as playing defense. Also he mixed in a few jump shots along the way, but it was his passing, rebounding, and defensive effort that made the difference for All-Ohio against the Wisconsin Playground Warriors.

NBE Basketball Report notes that Delaware center prospect Malcolm Gilbert has reclassified and is interested in the Terps.

Gilbert is apart of the 2011 class now after reclassifying when he transferred to the Academy of the New Church. The native of Smyrna (DE) previously attended St. Elizabeth HS in New Wilmington (DE) and has yet to decide on a school, although he is considering such schools as LaSalle, Delaware, Maryland, St. Joseph’s and Virginia to name a few, as well as Big East schools in Villanova, Notre Dame and Rutgers, with more and more likely to enter the picture once the summer evaluation period gets in full swing.

• St. Benedict’s (N.J.) Prep point guard Kelvin Amayo, a class of 2011 member, told Access Athletes that he’d like to hear more from Maryland.

At the moment, Amayo is being recruited by Western Kentucky University, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Maryland, Georgia, Tennessee, and Delaware. Only WKU has given Amayo an offer at this point. "I like Maryland, but they haven't offered me yet." He also likes Syracuse and Georgetown, but they haven't shown any interest in him.

Football recruiting

LehighValleyLive.com’s Michael Blouse expects big things from Easton (Pa.) Wilson quarterback Tyler Smith when the recent Terps commitment arrives in College Park.

But, my expectations are for Tyler Smith to eventually have a very productive college career. He's the best high school quarterback prospect I've seen in the Lehigh Valley in the past 10 years.

Better than former Bethlehem Catholic and West Virginia QB Adam Bednarik, better than former Liberty and current Northwestern QB Dan Persa, better than former Wilson and current Toledo QB D.J. Lenehan, and yes, better than current Liberty QB Anthony Gonzalez.

The Hammonton (N.J.) News spoke recently with defensive end Ian Evans, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who committed to Maryland last week.

“It has been exciting,” Evans said. “At first, I didn’t know what to think, but my mom helped me and guided me through, and it has been fun.”

He added: “I visited the school twice. It has a great football program and I talked to the coach about my career (aspirations) and future. It was a great place and it’s a great program. It is where I want to be. I saw them play and I wanted to be out there with them.”

• Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Johnson earned positive reviews during last Saturday’s Nike combine at Penn State.

Javarie Johnson (Washington D.C./Dunbar) passed the look test and showed a great attitude Saturday. The 6-foot-3 and 210-pound outside linebacker struggled a bit in pass coverage, but he has the potential with his long and lanky frame to gain plenty of weight and put his hand down and move to defensive end in college.

• H.D. Woodson (D.C.) quarterback Ricardo Young announced his commitment to Virginia Tech on Thursday. Young picked the Hokies over Maryland, West Virginia, UConn and several others.

Young, who informed the Tech staff of his decision last Saturday, was scheduled to make the decision public tonight at the Big-Time Showcase Camp, which is being held at Rutgers University.

• Carey, Ohio offensive tackle Michael Dennis sports offers from Maryland, Indiana, Iowa State and several MAC schools.

“I have learned a few more things,” Dennis said. “Iowa State plays football in a big-time conference. They play out of the spread. I am trying to get out to Iowa State and Maryland, maybe go down to Cincinnati and Indiana this summer.”

• Bergen (N.J.) Catholic running back Doug Rigg has tentative plans to visit College Park.

“I’m probably gonna go down to a one-day camp at Maryland. They said they wanted to see me do that. I’m going with the team down to Boston College’s camp in June. Other than that I’m not sure if I’m going to others (camps).”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:30 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

May 7, 2009

City's Latham taking it slow

City College center Jordan Latham took care of business quickly when it came to recruiting.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder visited several schools last summer and committed to Xavier in November, before the start of his junior season.

But when Arizona hired Xavier coach Sean Miller last month, Latham was forced to reopen his recruitment and start over once again.

jlatham.jpg

“Everything’s been fine,” Latham said last week. “It was a crazy moment for me because I was very set on where I was trying to go, and then [Miller] left and one of the other coaches, coach [Emanuel] Book [Richardson] left with him. It was really hard on me because I was really set on playing for Sean Miller at Xavier.”

Miller has communicated with Latham since leaving Cincinnati for Tucson. Still, the chances of Latham ending up with the Wildcats appear slim.

“I think Arizona’s looking at me, but it’s just hard right now to figure out if I want to go to Arizona,” Latham said. “It’s so far away; a long way from where I live. Right now, when I talk to him, he just said to make my own decision.”

As a junior, Latham averaged 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocks per game, leading City to the Class 2A state championship. A four-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Latham has had plenty of suitors since reappearing on the market.

“I’m still serious about Xavier, [plus] Marquette, Texas, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech. Just a few schools,” said Latham, who also mentioned Penn State as an option.

Latham said he’s traded e-mails with Terps assistant Rob Ehsan, while Keith Booth has been in touch with his father.

Coaches from Virginia Tech and Marquette have been to Baltimore to visit Latham this spring. Latham said he’d like to visit Marquette and Texas this summer, in addition to a potential return trip to Xavier.

There’s still a decent possibility of Latham ending up in Cincinnati. The Musketeers’ chances of landing Latham improved when the school elevated assistant Chris Mack to head coach.

“Coach Mack, he really wants me to still attend Xavier,” Latham said. “He really likes my game, my attitude and me as a person. He really wants to coach me. ... I’m seriously considering sticking with them, but I’m looking at my options also. They’re probably the number one team on my list right now.”

Latham’s playing with Nike Baltimore Elite this summer. He sprained his MCL in the first tournament this spring, but should be back in action in a few weeks. In the meantime, Latham plans on taking visits and making his decision by November.

“It’s real stressful right now,” Latham said. “But right now I’m just [taking care of] my knee and just getting my game better.”

Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / January 18, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 6, 2009

I-95 Elite Challenge: Baltimore's 2011 standouts

The class of 2011 team from Baltimore didn't have it quite as easy as the 2010 squad in Saturday's I-95 Elite Challenge at St. Frances.

While Baltimore’s best juniors cruised to a 104-79 win over an undermanned D.C. team, the Charm City sophomores dropped a 79-72 decision to the District All-Stars.

Despite the tight loss, there was plenty to like on the Baltimore team. Here’s a look at four local sophomores who stood out.

• Remember the name Grandy Glaze. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound power forward from St. John’s Catholic Prep had a monster game Saturday, scoring 17 points to lead Baltimore.

After a standout AAU season with Team Takeover Canada as an eighth grader, Glaze was recruited by DeMatha and several other “schools of that caliber.” The Toronto native picked St. John’s. He lives in Frederick with the family of Ego Ferguson Jr., a five-star defensive end prospect, and returns home to Canada during the summers.

Glaze said he came to the U.S. in order to have more exposure to colleges, citing academics over athletics as his primary concern. The move has paid off, as Glaze is hearing from a wide variety of schools.

“Pretty much the whole Big East, the whole Big Ten, Atlantic 10 and a lot of the SEC and ACC schools,” Glaze said. “Anyone that’s going to give me a good education and give me a chance to compete right away is the school I’m going to go to. Right now I’m really young and the process is just starting, so I don’t really have to think about that.”

• St. Frances center Greg Lewis was another notable standout in the post for Baltimore. The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder scored nine points, demonstrating an ability to play inside and out.

Lewis said he’s used the memory of his late cousin, former Boston Celtics star and Dunbar legend Reggie Lewis, as motivation throughout his young basketball career.

“I was about five when he died, so I didn’t really know him that well,” Lewis said. “But I just watched all his tapes and [have] seen a couple of his games. I’ve always admired him and the way he played. He was a leader on the floor. I’ve just admired him all through my life.”

Lewis said he’s paid very little attention to recruiting thus far. St. Frances assistant Nick Myles told Recruiting Report last month that Lewis is "definitely going to be an ACC, Big East type" of player.

• Arguably the quickest player with the ball in his hands Saturday night was St. Frances point guard R.J. Williams, who scored nine points for Baltimore. The 5-foot-9, 155-pounder may have been the smallest guy on the court, but it didn’t matter. With his speed, ball-handling and ability to drive to the hoop, Williams certainly looked the part of a future high-major Division I player.

Like his Panthers teammate Lewis, Williams hasn’t put much thought into recruiting just yet. That will likely change after this summer, which he’ll spend with Nike Baltimore Elite.

“I’ll just try and make myself better, try and improve on everything so I can go to a top DI, just like everyone else,” Williams said.

• Baltimore Freedom Academy point guard Kevin Smith teamed with Williams to give Baltimore a potent combo at the 1 and 2. Smith, 6 feet, was his usual flashy yet efficient self, scoring 14 points.

Smith, who averaged better than 27 points and eight assists per game as a sophomore, is still deciding on which prep school he’ll attend for his junior season. Monteverde (Fla.) Academy, Brewster (N.H.) Academy and Findlay Prep (Nev.) are all under consideration. On the recruiting front, several ACC and Big East schools are keeping tabs on Smith.

“Virginia Tech, Florida State, Syracuse, Villanova [and several others] right now,” Smith said. “When school starts up [recruiting will pick up], but right now everybody’s quiet.”

For more on Smith, check out this Recruiting Report profile from February.

Click on the YouTube player for highlights of the I-95 Elite Challenge, courtesy of CapitolHoops.com.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:46 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 5, 2009

Tyler Smith discusses Terps commitment

Tyler Smith often found himself distracted during the recruiting process.

Smith, a 6-foot-5, 198-pound quarterback from Wilson Area High School in Easton, Pa., would listen to college coaches throughout the spring. Akron, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn all came calling. But Smith’s mind had a habit of drifting to the sixth school on his list during those visits.

“I mean Maryland’s been number one for awhile,” Smith said. “And I’ve been thinking about it for awhile. All these coaches were coming in and talking to me. The whole time they’re talking, [I’m just thinking] Maryland, Maryland, Maryland. I thought I’m not going to like anyone better than Maryland, there’s no doubt in my mind, so why not verbally commit early?”

Smith pledged to the Terps on Sunday night. He’ll have an opportunity to compete with Jamarr Robinson, C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien to replace Chris Turner in 2010.

“They have two quarterbacks in spring ball right now, which is good,” Smith said. “They signed two in this upcoming class and they’re probably going to sign two in my class, so the job’s pretty much wide open after this year, so we’ll see. ... [The Maryland staff] told me it was a great quarterback situation and the best player is going to play. I know I’m going to compete and maybe [I’ll come in and play] or maybe I’m going to have to sit a couple years and wait my turn. But no matter what, I’m going to compete and do my best.”

In addition to the Terps’ attractive depth chart, Smith said he hit it off with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Franklin, who backed up Wilson coach Bret Comp at quarterback in the early 1990s at East Stroudsburg (Pa.). There are some similarities in their coaching philosophies, Smith said.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say we run the same type of offense,” Smith said. “But going over plays and coverages, they use the same terminology and everything. [Coach Franklin and Comp have different personalities], but they’re both really serious about winning and they expect a lot out of the quarterback position.”

Smith, who led Wilson to a 12-1 record last fall, said he’s focused on his senior season and happy to leave recruiting behind. He intends to arrive in College Park next fall with the highest of expectations in mind.

“Well I’m pretty much going to stay focused on academics right now,” Smith said. “Coach Franklin talked about helping him recruit, just to help surround myself with the best players possible and help win a national championship at Maryland.”

Click here for Wilson coach Bret Comp’s take on Smith’s decision.

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

May 4, 2009

Terps pick up QB commitment

A new challenger has entered the competition to replace Maryland quarterback Chris Turner in 2010.

Easton, Pa., quarterback Tyler Smith committed to the Terps last night, according to Wilson Area High School coach Bret Comp.

The 6-foot-5, 198-pounder will compete with Jamarr Robinson, C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien to take over for Turner in the fall of 2010. Smith chose the Terps over offers from Akron, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn.

“He and his parents sat down last night and obviously had a conversation, and they came to the conclusion that Maryland’s what they felt would be best for Tyler,” Comp said. “He called me up shortly thereafter, and we went ahead and gave Maryland the call. ... It’s a great fit for him. He went down to see the campus. He was down for the spring scrimmage to check things out, and he just really enjoyed what he was seeing.”

As a junior, Smith was 156-for-300 for 2,952 yards, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In its first season as a Pennsylvania AAA school, Wilson finished 12-1, winning a conference championship and a District 11 title. Comp said Smith took a dramatic step forward in his 11th grade campaign, both as a dropback quarterback and as a runner.

“He’s more of a pocket passer in my opinion, but he also rushed for 500 yards last year too, which is pretty good,” Comp said. “We don’t necessarily have a dual-threat type of offense. We actually throw the ball a little bit more than most of our competition does. ... So he’s not your typical dual-threat, slash and burn type of guy. He’s more of a physical, efficient runner that moves in the pocket very well. He can get those three or four yards if you need them. ... He runs well. But he’s got one of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen or heard of. I’ve been coaching quarterbacks for about 16 or 17 years, and I’ve never run into anybody like him for quite awhile.”

When Smith arrives in College Park in the fall of 2010, he’ll go from playing under one former East Stroudsburg (Pa.) quarterback to another. Comp was the Warriors’ starting quarterback in the early 1990s, finishing his college career in 1992. Maryland offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Franklin served as Comp’s backup before taking over as the starter in 1993.

“James is a tremendous football coach, he was a tremendous football player and he was an even better teammate,” said Comp, noting that the two reconnected after Franklin came to College Park from Kansas State. “There’s a familiarity we have with each other. Even offensively, there are some things that both of us understand [and teach].”

Comp said he was a little surprised Smith committed so early in the recruiting process, but his choice makes a lot of sense.

“I could definitely see it going in Maryland’s direction,” Comp said. “I didn’t think he or his family would pull the trigger so soon, but they’ve obviously went and saw all these places and they also know what they like. Honestly, I don’t think the kid had any bad choices anywhere. It just comes down to where you see yourself the most happy, and Maryland was the place [for Tyler], without a doubt.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:08 PM | | Comments (10)
        

Will Barton updates his recruitment

In a year where everything has gone right for Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton, Saturday night couldn't have been more appropriate.

The 6-foot-6 junior led the Baltimore All-Stars to a 104-79 win over the D.C. team at the I-95 Elite Challenge at St. Frances Academy.

willbarton.jpg

Barton, The Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year, won game MVP honors, scoring 18 points to lead Baltimore.

“It felt good, playing out there with the top guys in Baltimore,” Barton said. “We’re all on the same team. Instead of having to compete against each other, we’re competing with each other against a pretty good D.C. team that’s loaded. ... I think we have the best class in America in the 2010 class. We have a very deep class with me hitting it off, Roscoe Smith, C.J. Fair, Antonio Barton. We have a lot of big names, so it’s fun to get out there and put it all together.”

Saturday night was one of Barton’s last opportunities to play in front of a hometown crowd. The five-star prospect, who led Lake Clifton to an undefeated season and the Class 3A state title after transferring from National Christian Academy, is headed to prep school for his senior season. Barton said he’s considering Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and Mountain State Academy in West Virginia.

Both major recruiting services have taken note of Barton’s play last winter with Lake Clifton and during AAU ball this spring with Nike Baltimore Elite. Scout.com ranks Barton the No. 1 shooting guard in the country and No. 10 player overall, while Rivals.com rates him the No. 24 junior nationally. Needless to say, Barton has plenty of schools to choose from.

“Oh, man. [Recruiting is] crazy,” Barton said. “I’m gonna try to remember all of them. Kentucky, Arizona, Memphis, Texas, Florida, South Florida, Central Florida, Xavier, Duke, Oklahoma, Indiana, Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, of course Maryland, Georgetown. I’m trying to remember them all. I think that about sums it up. I might be leaving a couple off, but those are the ones I can think about off the top of my head.”

Kentucky began recruiting Barton when Billy Gillispie was the coach. Since Gillispie was fired and former Memphis coach John Calipari was hired, the Wildcats’ pursuit of Barton has only increased.

“They’re recruiting me very hard. I’m their number one option in the class,” Barton said. “Coach Calipari, I’ve talked to him numerous times. He’s a great guy. Everyone knows he’s a great coach. That dribble-drive offense is very attractive to a player like me, being 6-6 and [being able to] play the 1, 2 and 3 and put it on the floor the way I do and shoot and pass. So it’s a good fit for me, and we’ll just see how it turns out and where I go.”

Maryland started pursuing Barton even before his time at National Christian Academy, back when he was an unknown reserve at City College. Barton said he’s appreciative of the Terps’ dogged pursuit.

“I like Maryland, too,” Barton said. “They’ve been recruiting me since 9th grade and they’ve been recruiting me hard. They’re definitely up there at the top of my list, too. I like coach Gary Williams. They get up and down, play aggressive defense. And he lets the guards go. So I’m definitely taking Maryland seriously, too.”

Another possibility for Barton is going to school with younger brother Antonio Barton, a 6-foot-2 combo guard who’s also a junior. There is some overlap on their school lists. Will said they’d like to play together, but both brothers will do what’s best for themselves.

“Oh yeah, we talk about [playing together in college] all the time,” Barton said. “I just want to say that Antonio, he’s a great player by himself. He doesn’t need me. He has schools that are recruiting him that aren’t recruiting me, so he’s proven that he can do it by himself this year. We would like [to play together], but whichever situation is best, that’s the one we’ll take. Him playing by himself, me playing by myself ... playing together ... whichever the best situation is, then that’s what we’re going to roll with.”

While Barton’s list of schools is lengthy, that may not necessarily mean he’s far off from making his choice. A decision could come sooner than one might expect.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a ways off [from making a decision],” Barton said. “But I’m just enjoying recruiting right now and being recruited at a high level because it’s a blessing. It’s very exciting, so I take it day by day and I’ll never take it for granted.

“Everybody’s asking when I’m going to make a decision and I don’t know yet. It could happen tomorrow, it could happen next week. Whenever it happens, it happens.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Will Barton by Gene Sweeney Jr. / March 18, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:15 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 3, 2009

Strong in-state haul for St. Mary's

Plenty of Division I and II programs recruited Towson Catholic guard Devin Spencer throughout his high school career.

The 5-foot-11 senior, who averaged 20 points per game this season, heard from several Ivy and Patriot League schools, plus Div. II programs like Wingate (N.C.), Pfeiffer (N.C.) and Slippery Rock (Pa.).

But Spencer, a first-team Baltimore Catholic League selection, has decided to continue his basketball career at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a Div. III program.

“They followed him through the whole season, which I think impressed Devin a lot,” said Owls head coach Josh Pratt. “The academic side along with the basketball program [was attractive to Devin]. [St. Mary’s head coach Chris] Harney does such a great job with that program. I think he really liked the whole package.”

Combo guard Trey Quinn will join Spencer on the Seahawks after a standout career at St. Mary’s High School. Saints head coach Brian Konik said Quinn, who averaged about eight points, four assists and four rebounds per game for the MIAA B Conference champs, fielded interest from several Div. I and II programs.

“He’s just one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” Konik said. “He’s a tremendous competitor and he has great size to complement his ball-handling. Being 6-3, 200 pounds and handling the ball like a point guard, and being a top passer in the area with several 10-assist games in his career, he’ll just be a great asset to the St. Mary’s College program.”

St. Mary's has also landed commitments from Howard center MacGyver Biniak and New Town shooting guard Chris Hutchinson.

Biniak, 6-7, 210 pounds, was named to The Baltimore Sun’s All-Howard County team after averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds per game. Hutchinson, 6-2, was a first-team All-Baltimore County selection by The Sun.

St. Mary’s finished 21-5 this season, falling to Marymount (Va.) in the semifinals of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament. The Seahawks were conference champions in 2007-08 and made it to the Sweet 16 of the Div. III NCAA tournament.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:38 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

I-95 Elite Challenge news and notes

The Baltimore All-Stars cruised to a 104-79 win over the D.C. team Saturday night in the I-95 Elite Challenge at St. Frances Academy.

Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton earned game MVP honors, scoring 18 points in the win.

Check back later this week for more on Barton and notes on a few class of 2011 performers. Here are some news and notes from the 2010 game.

Terrence Ross lived up to the hype in his first game since committing to Maryland last month. The 6-foot-5, 180-pounder scored 15 points and showcased his well-documented range and athleticism. While Ross was arguably D.C.’s most impressive player, the four-star prospect said he wasn’t satisfied with his strong individual performance.

“It was an exciting game, with all the dunks and all the shots,” Ross said. “But we should’ve done a lot better on defense.”

Ross, a Portland, Ore., native who transferred to Montrose Christian for his junior year, said his commitment to the Terps left some West Coast college coaches disappointed. But the reaction around the Beltway has been nothing but positive.

“It’s just nice to kind of ease my mind and relax, and not think about where I want to go,” Ross said. “I’m glad I’m going to Maryland. It’s a good school for me. I’m just ready to go to college.”

Ross doesn’t intend to play AAU this summer, choosing instead to work out at Montrose and get ahead in his academics. The Maryland staff has given him instructions for the coming months.

“They want me to improve my game all around, but they really want me to improve my defense and ball handling.”

• Miller School small forward Mychal Parker came up from Virginia for the game and scored eight points for the D.C. team. After the game Parker listed Miami, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State and Arkansas as the schools he’s considering.

Parker, 6-6, 195 pounds, is originally from Washington, N.C., but he attends high school in Charlottesville. New Virginia coach Tony Bennett has made a concerted effort to keep Parker in town for college.

“He’s a good man,” Parker said. “He’s a good Christian, and I like that a lot. It shows good character. The University of Virginia, I hope they turn it around real soon.”

Parker came up to College Park for a couple games this past season and liked what he saw.

“I like the coaching staff,” Parker said. “It’s real good. Coach [Chuck] Driesell, I like him a lot. He’s a good man. And Gary Williams, he’s a legend. I like him a lot.”

Antonio Barton’s transfer to Lake Clifton from National Christian Academy for his junior season proved to be a great decision for recruiting purposes. The 6-foot-2 combo guard, who helped lead the Lakers to an undefeated season and the Class 3A state title, is hearing from a host of Big East and ACC schools.

“Right now I’ve got Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Villanova, Temple, Rutgers and a lot of other schools,” Barton said.

Barton, who’s splitting his AAU time this summer with the Baltimore Stars and Cecil Kirk, has plans to visit Miami soon. Syracuse is a recent addition to Barton’s list. The Orange started recruiting Barton last month after seeing him at an AAU tournament in Ohio. Barton’s coach at Lake Clifton, Herman Harried, is a former Syracuse standout.

“He’s giving me advice,” Barton said. “[I think] he wants to see me in that [Orange] jersey. It would be a good place for me because my cousin, [City College small forward] C.J. Fair will be up there. So it would be a good thing for both of us to be up there.”

• Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith spent most of last summer away from the AAU circuit, focusing instead on individual workouts and his academics. A summer away from the scene had no effect on his rating or recruitment. The five-star prospect and No. 11 player in the country, according to Rivals.com, sports offers from nearly every major program in the country.

“I’m narrowing it down this week,” Smith said. “With my top 10, I’m going to give the coaches [a call].”

Smith, who’s playing with Nike Baltimore Elite this summer, declined to reveal which schools compose his top 10.

“I haven’t made my decision,” Smith said. “I’m still taking it one day at a time.”

• Recruiting got off to a slow start for Mount St. Joseph forward Ryley Beaumont. The 6-foot-6 prospect broke his arm and missed most of his sophomore season. But after a junior year in which he averaged better than 14 points per game for the Gaels, interest in Beaumont has increased significantly.

“I really just started off slow, but it’s starting to pick up now,” Beaumont said. “Navy, Princeton, Penn State, Davidson, UMBC, Vermont, a bunch of mid-majors like that [are recruiting me].”

Beaumont, a second-team Baltimore Catholic League selection, is playing for the Baltimore Stars this summer.

• For the sake of roster balance, Dunbar point guard Corey Spence was placed on the Washington team Saturday night. The 5-foot-11 prospect, who plays AAU ball with D.C. Assault, fit in just fine.

“It was kind of confusing at first but I had to adjust to it with my teammates,” Spence said.

Spence said he’s hearing from Quinnipiac, Navy, Army, UNC Greensboro and UNC Wilmington.

“I’m just taking it slow right now until the end of the summer,” Spence said. “I should probably be committing by the end of my senior year.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for a story on Will Barton and a look at a few 2011 prospects.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

May 1, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

The word on Will Barton's game is officially out.

The Lake Clifton shooting guard and Maryland target is now the No. 10 player in the country according to Scout.com’s class of 2010 rankings, which were released earlier this week.

Speaking of jumps: Will Barton. Maybe everyone should have seen this coming? Either way, his state championship at Lake Clifton was legit and so was his exhilarating performance at the Boo Williams earlier this month.

Other Maryland targets on Scout.com’s top 75 list include: Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith (17), Long Island, N.Y., power forward Tobias Harris (31) and Miller School (Va.) small forward Mychal Parker (32). Maryland shooting guard commitment Terrence Ross checked in at No. 68 on the list.

Barton, Smith, Ross, Parker and a host of other Maryland targets will take part in Saturday’s I-95 Elite Challenge at St. Frances Academy in East Baltimore. The four all-star games pit Baltimore’s best against D.C.-area players. The class of 2013 game tips off at 3 p.m. The 2010 contest starts at 7 p.m. Click here for rosters and additional info on the event.

• New Virginia coach Tony Bennett is making the AAU rounds in the Old Dominion state, with Mychal Parker’s program near the top of his list.

Standouts in [Tony] Squire's program include Mychal Parker, a 6-5 junior at the Miller School near Charlottesville. U.Va. is among the schools pursuing Parker.

• Maryland power forward target DeShawn Painter updated The Virginian-Pilot on his recruitment this week.

Painter visited Virginia Tech last weekend. He’s scheduled to visit N.C. State this weekend and Maryland May 8.

“Florida just wasn’t the best fit for me,” he said Wednesday night. “I’m just trying to find the right fit and stay close to home, near my family, so they can actually see me play.”

• There appears to be no end in sight in the Lance Stephenson recruitment. The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard is still figuring things out, according to SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria.

“They’re not close to making any type of decision. It’s not even close,” said a source with direct knowledge who had communicated with the Stephenson family. “There’s no timetable.”

Arizona’s the latest school to try and get involved in the Stephenson sweepstakes, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

There's also an outside chance that the Wildcats will get a look from top-10 wing Lance Stephenson of New York.

• Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News has a few additional tidbits on the Stephenson recruitment.

The longer the Lance Stephenson sweepstakes goes on, the less we like St. John's chances to land the 6-6 McDonald's All-American from Lincoln. We know Lance's people contacted Kentucky after Xavier Henry chose Kansas over the Cats and Memphis and Arizona are also involved, along with Maryland.

Football recruiting

Ralph Friedgen and the Maryland staff have apparently been spending a lot of time around the DeMatha football program. According to The Washington Post’s Josh Barr, Maryland has offered eight Stags players.

"We've never had anything like this before," [DeMatha coach Bill] McGregor said. "Truthfully, if you get one or two from the University of Maryland, that's a lot."

The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan is also involved with several DeMatha juniors.

Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha is one of the top talent-producing programs on the East Coast. U-M went to the school last week and offered four prospects: safeties Jeff Knox, Lorenzo Waters and Michael Coley and offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio.

Kouandjio’s younger brother Cyrus, a 2011 prospect, picked up an offer from the Terps recently.

“Maryland just offered me a verbal today,” Kouandjio said. “They are like five minutes away from my house. I like that there are players I know up at Maryland, Pete DeSouza and Kenny Tate.

“I actually visit there twice a month.”

• Pittsburgh Penn Hills wide receiver Brandon Ifill told ESPN.com last week that the Terps are at the top of his list.

"I really liked Maryland," Ifill said. "I was really impressed with what I saw. I was impressed with the coaching staff and the campus. Right now my favorite would probably be Maryland."

• Magruder wide receiver Karim Jones took a recent trip to College Park, according to Rivals.com.

“I went to Wake Forest, Maryland and Towson,” he said. “They were all great.

“Wake Forest made the biggest impression on me because I was sold on their graduation rates for the players.

PennLive.com reports that State College, Pa., offensive tackle Jack Deboef sports an offer from the Terps.

Offensive lineman Jack Deboef owns five offers: Maryland, NC State, Purdue, Temple, and Buffalo have offered the 6'8, 265-pound lineman. Iowa, Penn State, and West Virginia are also showing interest in Deboef, who runs a 5.3 40-yard dash, Rivals.com reports.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:15 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        
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About Matt Bracken

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

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