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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)
        

Comments

Matt,

What is the latest with Goins? Is he stll a Terp, and if so do you think he will remain one?

On Stephenson, why is Gary going so hard after this kid? Granted he is a great talent, but the potential down side seems to be far greater. Why would we want a one year me player? Does he help your recruiting efforts, doubtful. This kid has such a bad rap that even Kansas and Kentucky decided to stay away...what does that tell you? Even the fact that he and his dad say that they what to clear his name makes me sick. What high school girl is going to go through the ridicule of a sexual harassment case? Our pursuit of him reeks of desperation and points to further problems with our program. Stephenson should go to FL, better correctional systems down there.

Sounds like Regan is the real deal and a quality person. Much rather see someone like him on our roster. Same with Jones.

As Barton moves up our chances of landing him go down. This guy should be a Terp since Gary has been recruiting him forever. This one will hurt if we let him get away. Hopefully Barton sees the advantages of playing for the home team and that he and his brother light up Comcast.

Rob -- Jeff Barker reported that Goins will likely remain with the Terps next season. I'd expect him to give it another year, and if it doesn't work out, he'll follow Dupree's lead elsewhere. On Stephenson, the UM staff must feel that his potential on the court is worth the theoretical headaches off it. You can't deny his talent. I agree on Regan -- he'd be a nice get for UM. When Barton says he likes Maryland, I don't think that's lip service. He may not end up in CP, but I do think he'll give them a fair shot.

Matt--Re your response to Rob on UM's pursuit of Stephenson. You mention how Gary must think that his potential on the court outweighs the potential problems off it.

While I agree, I would go further and say that this could also have to do with Gary wanting to vindicate himself after he was bashed so hard for not being able to recruit blue chip players. Frankly, I think just Williams and Padgett make a fairly convincing case that he can get good players to come to UM, but he must think Stephenson would be the exclamation point.

Maybe. But I can see the bashers try to make even that a negative by saying that: 1. Gary got him because Stephenson's rep is so bad that many schools who'd normally be interested, chose to sit this one out; 2. Gary got a bad apple; and/or 2. Gary got a one-and-done player who won't do that much for the Terps anyway.

I'm sure Gary knows those sort of may come and knew it when he was in the midst of hotly recruiting Stephenson, but weighing the pros and cons believes that with the current talent (Greivis obviously being the wild card) and the incoming additions, Lance could very well help propel the team back into the Top 25 and towards elite status once more.

And even if Stephenson goes pro after just a year, his coming to UM may be looked upon by Gary as an important card to play when going after other top recruits next year and beyond. A calculated risk, to be sure, but one he obviously feels is well worth it.

Me being a city guy myself always loved the terps and a big fan of Gary Williams. I beleive the problem begins with Gary recruiting in his surrounding areas early and often. Lance Stephenson is a good ballplayer but Baltimore and the beltway D.C. area will always produce outstanding players.

Ken,

Why would Gary want to even take that risk when he has worked so hard to keep our program clean? He stands behind that and with good reason for his dislike of working with AAU coaches. To me this reeks of hypocracy. We wont deal with corrupt AAU coaches, but we will take problem players. Where there is smoke there is fire and this kid Stephenson has smoke all around him. Not so sure it is a calculated risk by Williams or a desperate move on his part to say he brought is a blue chipper. He needs something to stand on should he get chastised on his lack of recruiting prowess. Love Gary as a coach, but he is great at taking something and using it for a long time excuse to warn off his critics. I can hear it now..."what do you mean we have a recruiting problem...we brought in Stephenson who was considered in the top 10." Meanwhile ever top recruit in MD is going to Kentucky, Villanova, Cuse, UCONN or UNC.

If Stephenson really wanted to play for MD and wanted to cleanup his act; then I could see why Gary would go so hard. You want great team, then recruit good kids that are good players and have great character and they will recruit for you. Terrence Ross is a good example of that type of recruit.

Rob, I agree with most of your post. What I wrote was meant neither as a defense or attack on Gary. Rather, it was just my perception/speculation of what might be motivating him to make this risky.

Let's be fair. Gary's critics didn't want to run him out of town on a rail; they wanted to draw and quarter him, then stick his head on a pike. Some of the attacks on him were among the most rabid and mean-spirited that I can recall being leveled at any area sports figure in recent memory.

Then he initially caught some flak from his Athletic Department, which should have supported him from the get-go. All this occurring in the midst of a season where he's intensely focused on finding ways to lead his undersized, outmanned team to victories in what is night in, night out, the nation's toughest conference.

Naturally, Gary fought back. That's Gary's nature. That passion is part of what makes him such a great coach. He defended his record at UM, a school whose program was on life support when he arrived on the scene, then raised it up out of the ashes and to the very pinnacle of basketball excellence.

The criticism subsided considerably after the Terps made it to the NCCA Tournament, but nevertheless stung Gary badly.

And after the season there was still Stephenson trying to make up his mind. That he expressed a fair amount of interest in Maryland helped motivate Gary and his assistants to put a full court press on "Born Ready" in the form of multiple visits to New York.

Those visits also could serve the purpose of seeing up close what Stephenson was like, whether he was worth the risk despite his personal problems, whether he is willing, as you put it, "to cleanup his act."

But even with this screening process, there are going to be naysayers if Lance signs with UM. I don't think this is willful hypocrisy from Gary as much as it is something more closely akin to desperation in a move to silence his critics.

Really, consider it from Gary's side. Stephenson must produce mightily on the court and keeps his nose clean off of it, to keep the Gary bashers at bay. In a sense, it could be a no win situation anyway. Consider.

One the one hand, should Stephenson not sign with the Terps, Gary will once again be raked through the coals for not being able to snag a blue chipper (this overlooking the fact that this year's incoming player already guarantee a solid recruiting class, whether or not Lance comes).

On the other hand, should Stephenson come to UM, Gary will be accused of trying to turn the school not into "the UCLA of the East," to recall Lefty Drisell's famous goal for the Terps, but rather "the UNLV of the East, " with Gary taking the role of Jerry Tarkanian, whose considerable success was tarnished by what the NCAA referred to as "questionable practices."

I think if Lance can come to College Park, perform without incident for a year, and help put Maryland back on the national hoops map for both Power Rankings and future recruits, then Gary Williams will have the last laugh on his critics. That "if," however, is a very small word upon which a great deal depends. It certainly will be interested to see how this collegiate soap opera finally ends.

You guys think too much- This guy is a flat out beast. Sign him because he makes the team better.

Thanks for you reply Ken. I was just trying to kill some time until Matt provides us the next recruiting update. If Gary is willing to take this risk with certain players then give the AAU coaches a shot. I work with an AAU coach and he is a good guy, not all of them are bad or corrupt. He said Gary does not even return his calls about players on his team and he is very condescending. Our local high schools should be feeder systems for our program...no excuse. Gary still has rubbed a lot of the high school coaches the wrong way as well...thank God for Stu Vetter or we might be skunked in our own state. Gary and UMD need to put on a full court press to change the perception of playing basketball for UMD. The coaching staff can not alone do it. Hopefully we are getting back on track.

Wes...no doubt the kid can play. Where the Denver Nuggets better with A.I. or without him this year? How about Philly with T.O or without him? Does Stephenson win you a championship?

Matt,

I surely do not know the whole story about the sanctions possibly coming down on Memphis; but how does Calipari walk away from that unscathed? When will they ever catch up to this corrupt son of a gun? It won't be long till Ketucky and Kansas both find themselves in hot water. Once the NCAA does the right thing and starts looking to help all of their members and not the ones who bring int he most money, will we be able to address the recuiting problems. Memphis danced with the devil and will pay for it...next up, Kentucky.

Rob -- If the allegations are true, then I would certainly agree with you regarding Calipari walking away unscathed. As I wrote in response to Ryan in another post, Steve Fisher never faced sanctions at San Diego State while Michigan got hammered by the NCAA. It's a fairly ludicrous way of doling out punishment.

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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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