baltimoresun.com

« May 2009 | Main | July 2009 »

June 30, 2009

Calvert Hall's Jackson headed to Navy

The odds were stacked against Donya Jackson from the start.

That the Calvert Hall small forward is still in high school, let alone excelling on the court and off, is an unbelievable achievement. That the 6-foot-4, 200-pound rising senior is going to college, let alone an institution like the Naval Academy, is borderline miraculous.

Jackson, who committed to Navy two weekends ago, was born in Baltimore, spent several years in New York and returned before middle school to the Pumphrey section of Anne Arundel County and later South Baltimore. As a seventh grader at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Brooklyn, Jackson said he was skipping school and staying out late.

“All the guys in my family have went to jail or sold drugs,” Jackson said. “A lot of women in my family used drugs. ... Right now I should be somewhere dealing drugs or in jail, because that’s the path that was set up for me.”

In Jackson’s seventh-grade year, a chance meeting changed everything. William Russell, the basketball coach at Benjamin Franklin (now called Masonville Cove Community Academy), saw Jackson in a sparsely attended middle school play. The two met after the show and struck up a friendship. Russell invited the 5-7 Jackson to join his team.

“It was the first time he ever played. He couldn’t dribble the ball and he couldn’t shoot,” Russell recalled with a laugh.

Jackson bought in to Russell’s philosophy and made his mark early on defense. Off the court, Russell began to discover the harsh realities of Jackson’s upbringing. At the time, Jackson was living in Brooklyn with his aunt. Russell offered to take the 12-year-old Jackson into his home. The arrangement suited both parties well, and Russell adopted Jackson the following year, subsequently changing the course of his life.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do right; it was that I didn’t have anyone pushing me, somebody with their foot in my butt,” Jackson said. “When I went with my father, he had a lot of structure. There was no coming home in the wee hours of the night. He had to know where I was, who I was with, when I was there. He had to know everything. ... So going with him helped me a lot. The will to do right was always there. I just needed someone to guide me on the right path.”

Jackson spent his freshman year of high school at Northwestern, where he played on the junior varsity team. He transferred to Calvert Hall the following year. As a junior, Jackson averaged 11.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. He was honored as the Baltimore Catholic League’s Defensive Player of the Year for his efforts.

Loyola and St. Francis (Pa.) offered scholarships, while Mount St. Mary’s, UMBC, Quinnipiac, Niagara and several others were interested, according to Russell. Navy, meanwhile, was always involved. At a team camp earlier this summer, Russell said Jackson connected with Midshipmen guards Jordan Sugars and Romeo Garcia. Father and son “fell in love with the style of play,” Russell said.

“We were actually at a regional track championship, and Donya said, ‘Pop, I’ve been thinking a lot about Navy. Nobody’s going to offer me what Navy can offer me.’ And I said, ‘You’re exactly right, son.’ He’s going to have a career after basketball, and that’s what has been important to us.”

Said Jackson, “At first, I was kind of scared going to Navy because of the war going on right now. I’m really not a military guy, but when I sat back and looked at the whole picture, the education that I will get when I’m there is tops in the country, I’ll graduate an officer in the Navy and I’ll get to choose any field I want to be in. Me and my father sat down and talked about it, and he said ‘you’ll go there, and doors will open.’”

From a basketball standpoint, Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld thinks Jackson and Navy are a perfect match. Jackson’s improved shooting and defensive intensity make him an ideal player for the frenetic pace of Navy’s system.

“It’s a great fit and it’s 100 percent his decision,” Bauersfeld said. “Nobody pressured him in any way to go there. He said it was the right place for him. ... They’re very excited to have a kid with the quality of character and also the talent and tremendous upside Donya has. They’re very excited to have him.”

Before middle school Jackson had never played organized basketball. Now he’ll receive a free education because of the sport. Russell said Jackson’s hard work and dedication to the game made this all possible. But Jackson says his father is the one to thank for his good fortune.

“He’s just been so happy,” Jackson said. “I actually just got him a card because we had a little argument and I didn’t get my way and I acted like a brat. I wrote him a big apology in the card because I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for him. All of this is because of him. I look at him and he’s so happy and proud of me because I’m doing the right things. And I have to think about all of that. But he’s definitely extremely happy. I can see it in his face every time he looks at me.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:58 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 29, 2009

Weekend wrap — Regan makes his choice

One week after attending the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp in Charlottesville, Va., Will Regan decided to make that location his home for the next four years.

The Buffalo, N.Y., power forward committed to Virginia this weekend. Regan’s other finalists were Arizona State, Maryland, Providence and Stanford.

"The coaching staff made the basketball side a good fit beyond being in the ACC," Regan said. "I was basing my decision first on academics and they have a really good business school, so that's a huge attraction to me."

• Former Maryland target Lance Stephenson could be close to finally picking a school. The Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard took a visit to Cincinnati over the weekend, according to Adam Zagoria.

“Word is Lance is signing with Cincinnati,” one Big East assistant coach said. “I think he will on Tuesday from what I’m being told.”

Stephenson’s legal troubles could be resolved today. The five-star prospect will appear in a Brooklyn court room as part of his sexual assault trial.

He and Lincoln teammate Darwin (Buddha) Ellis were charged with groping a 17-year-old female student outside Lincoln High.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:32 AM | | Comments (15)
        

June 26, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Last weekend's National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp served as an introduction of Richmond, Va., shooting guard Justin Coleman to the college basketball recruiting world.

NBE Basketball Report’s Ron Bailey checked in with Coleman, who explained his under-the-radar status.

“I just recently got on the map about a month ago” confided Coleman. “I sat out my whole tenth grade year and half my 11th grade year”. That respite from hoops was due to friction with the coach at his previous high school, Louisa. This year, after moving, he transferred to Henrico.

CharlottesvilleNewsPlex.tv conducted a video interview with Maryland small forward target Mychal Parker during last weekend’s NBPA camp.

When asked about his interest in the University of Virginia, Parker confirmed that they are on his list of schools that include Maryland, Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Clemson and that everything, "Is still up in the air." Parker will visit other schools as the summer goes along.

• Christchurch, Va., shooting guard Michael Gbinije -- a rising junior who was named Most Promising Player at the NBPA camp -- took a recent trip to College Park.

Frank Gbinije, Mike’s dad, shared his son is being recruited by “Georgetown, Texas, UVA, Virginia Tech, and Florida”, most if not all of which called him June 15th, the first day college coaches can call the homes of perspective Class of 2011 recruits, per NCAA guidelines. Mike also unofficially visited Maryland several weeks ago. Other colleges will be evaluated.

• DeMatha point guard and Terps target Quinn Cook led the United States’ U-16 National Team to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championships in Argentina last weekend.

Cook was the 10th-leading scorer in the eight-nation tournament, averaging 15.6 points per game, and he led all players in assists with 25. He also averaged 3.6 rebounds per game.

SLAM Online took a look at Maryland’s 2009 class this week in its ACC recruiting breakdown. (Thanks to Testudo Times for the link)

At 6-10 245 pounds, [Jordan] Williams will take up plenty of space in the paint and should be able to establish position fairly well from the early part of the season. He has a fairly polished post game, has a soft touch and rebounds the ball effectively. There is lots of potential for Williams to be a quality player in the ACC, but there have been a few question marks surrounding his conditioning.

• On the eve of the NBA draft, Adam Zagoria wrote a story on how the ‘one-and-done’ rule has affected former Terps target Lance Stephenson.

"Late lottery," said draft expert Chris Monter of Monter Draft News, referring to where Stephenson would have been picked if he were eligible. "He's talented but he has a lot of baggage and is perceived as a selfish player."

The Washington Post dug up three interesting things about Newark, N.J., shooting guard Laurin Mincy, who committed to the Maryland women’s team this week.

3. She's been a star since she was in elementary school.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Mincy scored more than 2,800 points "in her grammar school career, and became the first player to have her jersey retired by St. Joseph Elementary School in East Orange."

Football recruiting

• Last weekend Maryland became the first Football Bowl Subdivision program to offer Atholton athlete Matt Robinson, according to Rivals.com.

“I got an offer on Saturday from Maryland,” he said. “They really liked me film and wanted me to come to camp and run well. I did and then did well in one-on-one drills.

“That’s when I met with Ralph Friedgen. He just said he really liked my film and they had questions about my speed, but figured them out. They are looking at me as an athlete, with 20-pounds I could be an H-back, if not I can be a special teams guy and a safety.”

• Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Johnson -- who listed Maryland, Miami, Michigan and Michigan State among his top schools -- has reached a decision.

“I feel like I have already come to my decision [and] it’s Miami,” Johnson reported. “I told my coaches this week and they said I couldn’t go wrong with any of my choices, so they were fine with it.”

Johnson has not yet made the commitment official with the Miami coaches, but he does not plan to wait much longer to let them know.

• Several reports last weekend had Paterson (N.J.) Catholic defensive end and Maryland target T.J. Clemmings committing to Pittsburgh, but according to Adam Zagoria, Clemmings is still on the market.

Paterson Catholic defensive lineman Trevor “T.J.” Clemmings is not committed to Pitt, according to PC head coach Benjie Wimberly.

“He went out there and made a hasty decision [to commit] without any input from his parents or me,” Wimberly said Monday night. “He’s going to rethink it and continue the recruiting process.”

• Pemberton, N.J., wide receiver Corey Reeder told Rivals.com that Maryland and Iowa make up his top two, but he still has to earn an offer from the Terps.

“They’re (Maryland) saying I should come out for one session of their camp. I’ll do that and then tour the campus and everything. I always talk to the running backs coach from Maryland.”

• Good Counsel safety Frank Tamakloe committed to Wisconsin on Monday, picking the Badgers over offers from Maryland, Northwestern and several others.

Tamakloe, 6-foot-2, 172 pounds, has most of the measureables to be a top safety prospect in this year’s high school senior class. He is on the ESPNU 150 Watch List, meaning he is under consideration to be among the top 150 players in the nation, regardless of position. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds.

• Thomas Johnson linebacker Nick Forbes sported an early Maryland offer but recently narrowed his list of schools to Cal, Duke, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia. Last weekend Forbes pledged to the Golden Bears.

"I had the opportunity to go to the No. 1 public school in the country and compete on a top-10 caliber team. This year, they are rated No. 11 in the country," Forbes said.

• Maryland incoming freshman Nick Ferrara helped Long Island to a 31-14 win over New York City in the Empire Challenge on Tuesday.

[Miguel Maysonet] bolted 19 yards for a touchdown that gave his team a 13-0 lead after Nick Ferrara's PAT. Ferrara, of St. Anthony's, kicked a 35-yard field goal two seconds before halftime for a 16-0 edge.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:58 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 25, 2009

Century QB Bordner headed to Boston College

Josh Bordner knew the odds were stacked against him.

joshbordner.jpg

The Century quarterback was well aware that Carroll County schools were off the radar of most college football recruiters. Bordner planned on hitting the combine circuit this summer, hoping to land a Division I offer before Signing Day in February.

“I knew I was going to have to get my name out there,” Bordner said. “They weren’t going to know me.”

Last weekend Bordner’s timeline got moved up considerably. After spending four days at Boston College’s camp, the Eagles offered the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder a scholarship, and he promptly accepted.

“I didn’t really expect it because I [wasn’t sure I’d] go to a huge program like that, and such a good school,” Bordner said. “But then it ended up happening, so it was really exciting and it caught me by surprise.”

Bordner, who threw for 2,217 yards, 18 touchdowns and rushed for 10 scores as a junior, said the Eagles’ staff was tipped off to him by DeMatha offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chris Baucia.

Baucia, a former Virginia Tech signal-caller and punter, runs a “quarterback factory” in Southern Maryland. Bordner has studied under Baucia for months, and credits him for increasing his recruiting interest.

“He knows everybody,” Bordner said. “I’m pretty sure he originally was the one who talked me up and got [Boston College] more interested. So a lot of credit goes to him. Honestly, if I didn’t run into him through this program, I know that I would not have this [scholarship] right now. A lot of thanks goes out to him.”

The Eagles coaches were receptive to Baucia’s sales pitch on Bordner, and extended an invitation for him to attend the Eagles’ camp. Once he arrived in Chestnut Hill, Bordner realized just how many quarterbacks he was competing with to earn an offer. After some time, however, he noticed members of the Eagles’ staff paying him more attention.

“They liked my arm strength and the way I put the ball on people,” Bordner said. “They said there’s a lot of potential. But I’m definitely going to have to work on some things. They said I have a lot of raw talent.”

On Sunday afternoon, Boston College offered Bordner a scholarship. Later that day, he accepted. Now a summer filled with football camps and baseball showcases has been reduced to an occasional baseball tournament and tons of time in the weight room, preparing for senior year at Century and beyond.

“I’m just going to lift and get bigger and faster,” Bordner said. “And hopefully up in Boston, I’ll get better ... [and become a] big-time quarterback.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Josh Bordner by Gene Sweeney Jr. / November 7, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 24, 2009

Nermin Delic discusses Terps commitment

When Nermin Delic puts his mind to something, the Maryland-bound defensive end-tight end gives nothing less than 100 percent.

It’s a quality that has served the 6-foot-5, 240-pounder well throughout his high school career at Northwest Whitfield in Tunnel Hill, Ga. But Delic’s well-known work ethic is also one of the reasons he’s headed to College Park instead of an SEC school.

After the Bruins’ 6-4 season last fall, Delic went straight into basketball mode, working out like a maniac in order to improve his quickness and agility. By January, Delic was down to 215 pounds. As Northwest Whitfield’s starting center, Delic averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.

While basketball couldn’t have gone much better, the slimmed-down Delic began to think his weight loss limited his recruiting. Marshall, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State offered scholarships, but most of the SEC and ACC schools -- other than Maryland -- were taking a wait-and-see approach.

“When I went to Georgia, they were planning to offer me that day when I went to Junior Day,” Delic said. “I showed up at 215 pounds, and they were like ‘go home.’ But I deserved it. I was pretty mad, but when I got home, my dad told me ‘you look like a receiver or a [defensive back].’ ... That’s when I really decided to get committed to football. So I’ve been hitting the weights hard and eating right.”

Since those winter Junior Day visits, Delic has added 25 pounds of muscle onto his frame. Northwest Whitfield coach Mike Falleur said it’s pretty clear Delic’s weight made the difference in his recruitment.

“Georgia had him up [earlier this month] and they loved him, but they’re in the race for two of the best [defensive ends] in the country,” Falleur said. “But they told me on the phone Monday, ‘Coach, he can play in the SEC.’ There’s guys out there right now that weigh 250, 260. If he weighed that right now, he’d have offers from [the biggest programs in the country].”

As a junior at Northwest Whitfield, Delic recorded approximately 75 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also caught about six passes for 100 yards and one touchdown, while grading out in the mid-80s on his blocking assignments.

Most of the attention Delic received from recruiters was for defensive end, but Falleur noted that he’s a promising tight end prospect as well. Falleur recalled the time Delic squared off against a Georgia-bound defensive lineman last fall. On the first play of the game, Delic, playing tight end, promptly blew the future Bulldog “12 yards off the football. He just manhandled him,” Falleur said. So with that in mind, the Terps’ coaching staff has a decision to make on Delic’s future position.

“I think [Maryland’s offensive and defensive coaches] are really fighting over him. I think both sides want him,” Falleur said. “I think wherever they put him, he’s going to be pretty good at either one. I think he has a defensive mentality, but he’s a great blocker and he’s never off his feet. But at the same time, he loves rushing the passer and getting after folks.”

Delic was born in Bosnia, but his family fled the war-torn country when he was 6. The Delic family spent their first year in the United States in Seattle, but after a year they relocated to Dalton, Ga., where they’ve been ever since. Delic grew up following Georgia closely, but has been a close of observer of college football in general for the majority of his life. So while Maryland may not get a lot of attention around his hometown, Delic was very familiar with the Terps’ program even before they started recruited him.

“I follow college football real well ... and I know what kind of program Maryland is,” Delic said. “They’re trying to get back to where they were in [the early parts of this decade] when they contended in the ACC every year. I knew about guys like Vernon Davis and Shawne Merriman, and how Davis came in and put on 40 pounds in four years, dropped his 40 time by two-tenths of a second and improved his vertical about seven inches. Right away I knew they were doing something right in the strength and conditioning program. So I was real impressed by that. I knew Coach Friedgen had a good reputation of being a man of integrity, so I pretty much knew about the school [before visiting]. But when I went there [last weekend] I was blown away. It was amazing. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like. Everything was awesome.”

Delic’s playing basketball in a summer league with his high school team right now. He’s also spending ample amounts of his time in the weight room, making sure he at least maintains his current weight. Meanwhile, Falleur continues to receive calls from other programs about the future Terp.

“Maryland’s getting a dang good football player,” Falleur said. “Don’t think because he didn’t have the big ones offer [that he‘s not a great player], because he can play. I think Clemson was fixin’ to pull the trigger, I think NC State was fixin’ to pull the trigger, and Vanderbilt and Kentucky were right there, too. But when he went up [to Maryland] he said he loved it. ... I’d say [Maryland fans] are going to be very excited when he lines up.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:06 AM | | Comments (2)
        

June 23, 2009

Terps women land N.J. shooting guard

The first time Laurin Mincy thought basketball might lead her to College Park was during Maryland Madness last October.

The Newark, N.J., shooting guard met the team, chatted with other recruits and saw Terps coach Brenda Frese work the Comcast Center crowd into a frenzy.

Still, the 6-foot Mincy was deliberate with her recruitment and didn’t want to make a hurried choice.

“I wanted to make sure [I was comfortable with] my decision,” Mincy said. “I just wanted to make sure it was right because it’s a lifelong decision.”

Eight months later, Mincy followed through on that gut feeling, committing to Maryland on Monday. The New Jersey girls basketball Player of the Year picked the Terps over Georgia and Rutgers.

Maryland began recruiting Mincy during her freshman year and never ceased in its pursuit.

“I think with Coach Frese, she recruited me the hardest out of all the coaches,” Mincy said. “She made the phone calls when she needed to. The coaches e-mailed frequently to keep me informed on how the team was doing [on the court] and outside of basketball. ... [Frese is] also close to my parents. Just the other day, she just wished my dad a happy birthday. My mom’s a newlywed, so she e-mailed my mom, asking her how she felt having my stepfather [experience] his first Father’s Day. A connection with my family is very important, so I took that into account in making my decision.”

Mincy, a five-star player according to Rivals.com, averaged 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and two and a half blocks per game as a junior, leading University High to the North Jersey Section 2 quarterfinals. A three-year starter, Mincy has scored 1,843 career points.

University head coach Felicia Oliver called Mincy a “go-to player” and leader, but noted that her game goes beyond the box score.

“Her strengths are the intangibles that you don’t see,” Oliver said. “Her will to win, her drive, her unselfishness, and her willingness to make players around her better; those attributes make the kid a coach’s dream. She’s not worried about making herself better; she’s worried about making her teammates better. And you don’t find that in every kid, especially those kids that are considered future great players.

Oliver first saw Mincy play as an eighth grader. She recalled walking into the gym and seeing four girls draped all over Mincy, who then proceeded to lose the quartet with a crossover dribble, drive just inside the 3-point line and bury a long-range jumper. Oliver has seen more of the same during Mincy's three years at University.

“The kid just rises to the occasion," Oliver said. "There’s no quit in her. She can erase a 10-point deficit by herself in a matter of seconds. ... What can you say? She’s like a mini Candace Parker.”

Mincy hurt her knee last weekend and is awaiting the MRI results. While the rest of her summer depends largely upon those results, Mincy said she’s excited for her 2010 arrival in College Park, when she’ll try and live up to Frese’s expectations.

“She told me that she wants me to come in, potentially start and help them win a national championship,” Mincy said. “We have [point guard] Dara Taylor, that’s coming in now as a freshman. We have all the pieces, so she just told me that she’s putting the pieces together to win a national championship, and I can help them do that.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:38 AM | | Comments (13)
        

June 22, 2009

Recapping the NBPA Top 100 camp

I wasn't able to make it down to Charlottesville this weekend for the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp, but the PR folks at the event were kind enough to orchestrate some phone time with a few participants of interest.

Camp director Tim McCormick, who started the NBPA Top 100 camp 17 years ago after the conclusion of his eight-year NBA career, has seen a few notable Baltimore players come through the camp during his tenure. But this year, with seven Baltimore natives in attendance, was unlike any other.

“It varies from year to year,” McCormick said. “Obviously the Baltimore area is loaded with great talent this year. And it does vary from year to year, because we are targeting only the best 100 players in the entire nation. We don’t do any favors. For instance, to get the No. 1 player in the country, we’re not going to take the point guard on his AAU team [just to have a chance to land him]. If one player can’t come, we’re going to the next player on the list. [But] Baltimore is really a hotbed of high school basketball. It always has been. It’s one of the best years we’ve seen.”

• Richmond, Va., small forward and Maryland target Justin Coleman went from a little-known prospect to one of the hottest players in the country after scoring 23 in his first game of the camp. He also ended on a high note with a 22-point outburst in his team’s final game. McCormick said Coleman, who averaged 10 points per game, came into the camp looking to prove himself.

“Well in many ways, to be a top 10, top 15 player in high school basketball is a disadvantage for a lot of kids because they think they’ve made it,” McCormick said. “They expect superstardom to eventually happen. But for a kid like Coleman, he’s a guy that you watch because he comes into the camp with a chip on his shoulder. [He thinks] ‘I know how good I am. I’m going to show everybody else.’ He can’t wait to play against the highest rated players, because he feels like he’s better. So this has been a really good opportunity to showcase his skills. And I think everyone now knows about his ability.”

Coleman won the dunk contest and was named the camp’s surprise prospect.

• Former Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith made some waves this weekend when he announced his intention to transfer to Oak Hill Academy in Mount of Wilson, Va., for his senior year.

“Me and my parents, we sat down and discussed it,” Smith said. “It was a long thing, but at the end of the day, we made the decision to go to Oak Hill.”

Smith averaged 6.4 points in five games this weekend. The five-star prospect isn’t ready to reveal which programs comprise his list of top schools, but playing with the top 100 players in the country helped him focus his criteria.

“I had Lenzelle Smith, [who’s] going to Ohio State [on my team],” Smith said. “I liked his game because he’s a point guard that can penetrate and distribute. So, OK, I like that. I could see myself playing [with a point guard like him]. But ... if you’re a wing forward, why would you want to go somewhere with a point guard that’s shoot first, not pass first? But it’s all about having fun here. You’ve just got to really get on your toes, because they’re going to test you. They’re going to push up on you. You just gotta step up and man up.”

• Calvert Hall forward Jonathan Graham saved his best for last, scoring 10 in his final game to finish with a 4.2 points per game average. Graham said he’s been limited by his knees -- the 6-foot-9, 218-pounder is laboring through growing pains at the moment. Still, Graham said the camp was very beneficial for his development.

“It’s been a great experience, just playing with the best high school players in the country right now in my class,” Graham said. “I feel honored to have been invited here, to be honest.”

Graham said the camp directors gave him tips for working on his strength and quickness. As far as his recruitment is concerned, Providence has offered a scholarship while many other high-major schools are monitoring his progress this summer.

• Former DeMatha and soon-to-be Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby (Tennessee) led the camp in scoring at 16.2 points per game. Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer wrote on Saturday that “no one has been better than Josh Selby.”

Selby has gotten into the lane with more regularity than any other guard in camp. His speed, power, skill level and competitive drive make him a terror to defend. And he is not just scoring. His passing and gamesmanship have been equally impressive.

• Mount St. Joseph point guard Eric Atkins wasn’t on the initial list of invitees, but the Notre Dame commitment ended up in Charlottesville after others backed out. The three-star prospect averaged 3.8 points per game, scored 10 in his last game and acquitted himself well early according to Jerry Meyer.

Atkins isn't going to beat anyone with athleticism, but he has passed the ball at a high level during the first two sessions and has knocked down three-pointers off the catch when open.

• Former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton continued his strong summer play at the Top 100 camp. The Memphis commitment finished 19th in scoring at 11 points per game. Barton scored a game-high 22 in his second game.

Stats: Maryland targets

Tobias Harris, Glen Head, N.Y., power forward: 13.3 points per game
Michael Gbinije, Christchurch, Va., shooting guard (2011): 13 points per game
Terrence Jones, Portland, Ore., power forward: 9.1 points per game
Will Regan, Buffalo, N.Y., power forward: 6.7 points per game
C.J. Leslie, Holly Springs, N.C., power forward: 6.0 points per game
Mychal Parker, Washington, N.C., small forward: 5.7 points per game

Stats: Baltimore players

C.J. Fair (Syracuse), City small forward: 5.4 points per game
Jordan Latham (Xavier), City center: 4.4 points per game

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:01 AM | | Comments (6)
        

June 20, 2009

Reports: Terps land Georgia DE

Multiple media outlets are reporting that defensive end Nermin Delic committed to Maryland today.

Delic, a three-star prospect who also plays tight end for Northwest Whitfield in Dalton, Ga., pledged to the Terps at their summer football camp.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder told Rivals.com he could play defensive end or tight end in college.

“I don’t have a preference as far as position,” he said. “I’ve played more at defensive end but I will be playing more tight end this season. I picked Maryland for all the other reasons aside from football, life after football and the people I met.”

Delic, who was born in Bosnia and came to the United States at age 6, picked Maryland over offers from Marshall, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State.

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Delic’s commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:00 PM | | Comments (2)
        

June 19, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Justin Coleman entered Wednesday’s National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp as one of the lesser-known prospects in attendance.

Unlike [Wake Forest-bound Travis] McKie, Coleman is still waiting for a scholarship offer. Coleman, who said he's not sure which high school he'll attend in 2009-10, sees the camp as an opportunity to raise his stock.

After the first day of play in Charlottesville, Va., the Maryland target and three-star prospect from Richmond did just that. Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer gave Coleman rave reviews for his play at the camp.

Whether he was dunking, finishing difficult layups or nailing jumpers from well behind the arc, Coleman was constantly on the attack offensively. He is a high-level athlete with a impressive motor who has a skill game that will continue to develop. Mark him down as a four-star when the rankings are reshuffled before the July evaluation period.

• Holly Springs, N.C., power forward C.J. Leslie, another NBPA Top 100 camp participant, still has the Terps under consideration.

Leslie, who said he admires the game of Boston's Kevin Garnett, is still deciding what other schools he will visit this year. Florida, Maryland, Kentucky and Wake Forest are on his short list.

• Between attending Maryland’s elite camp last weekend and the NBPA camp now, Washington, N.C., small forward Mychal Parker took some time to stop in at Virginia’s camp.

The Cavaliers' coaches watched Mychal Parker with particular interest. A 6-5 swingman who attends the Miller School in western Albemarle County, Parker is one of the top prospects in the nation's Class of 2010. The schools he's considering include Maryland, Virginia, Miami and Florida.

• DeMatha point guard Quinn Cook, a 2011 UM target, scored 22 points to lead the United States’ U16 men’s national team to a 102-76 win over Venezuela in the FIBA Americas Championship tournament Thursday.

"I just wanted to come out aggressive," Cook said. "I wanted to throw the first punch. I was lucky enough to get a couple baskets to get some momentum. I just wanted to be aggressive."

• Delaware shooting guard Trevor Cooney earned solid reviews from NBE Basketball Report for his play in last weekend’s Rumble in the Bronx AAU tournament.

His current schools of interest include Boston U, Delaware, Syracuse, Villanova, Ohio State, Rutgers, Texas and Maryland. He has been to Delaware and ‘Cuse, ‘Nova and Maryland and would like to see Ohio State and get a sense for what a Big 10 school is like.

The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Barker broke the news Monday that Maryland had stopped recruiting Lance Stephenson. According to the New York Daily News, Stephenson’s father was caught off guard by the report.

As of Wednesday night, Lance Stephenson Sr. had no knowledge that Maryland has stopped recruiting his son.

"As far as we know Maryland is still an option," the father said.

With the Terps bowing out of the Stephenson sweepstakes, Adam Zagoria writes that Memphis could be “the last team standing.”

One source with knowledge went so far as to say Stephenson was planning an upcoming visit to the Conference USA school.

“I think he is taking a visit. I think Memphis is leading,” the source said. “They are two feet in on Lance.”

Football recruiting

• Defensive end Nermin Delic, a three-star prospect from Tunnell Hill, Ga., has the Terps at the top of his list, according to GoUpState.com.

Delic will visit Maryland this weekend and says he may commit. "I'll be there all weekend with my parents and if it feels right, I'll might commit," he said. "I've talked to my dad about it. He was supportive." Delic says that if he does commit, he will not shut down recruiting completely. "I will listen to schools if they offer me. If Georgia or Clemson were to offer, I would have to listen."

The Washington Post’s Josh Barr reports that Dunbar (D.C.) linebacker Javarie Johnson picked up an offer from Miami last week.

[Dunbar coach Craig] Jefferies said Johnson has pared his list of nearly two dozen offers to four schools with a common thread: Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State and Miami.

• Jacksonville, Fla., offensive lineman Tramell Williams told Rivals.com that he “will likely commit to Illinois or South Carolina” before the end of the month, but he also discussed where Maryland stands in his recruitment.

“Maryland has offered me,” Williams said. “I talked with them early this morning and they said I had an offer. They emailed me a few days ago and said they wanted to offer me as a defensive tackle. They are the first school that has offered me as a defensive tackle. UCF may as well. At this time I don’t know too much about Maryland and I likely not get up there this summer, maybe take an official visit this fall.”

• New Jersey wide receiver Shakim Phillips, a four-star player according to Rivals.com, plans to check out College Park this summer.

“I’m going to Pittsburgh, Boston College, Maryland, West Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. Those are the schools I know off the top of my head I’m going to see.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:44 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 18, 2009

A few things

Here's a shameless plug alert. The guys at In the Bleachers, a must-read college football blog, had me as a guest on their weekly podcast last night. Click here to listen.

The podcast includes lots of local football recruiting talk, a discussion of the Terps’ 2009 prospects, and a look at outside-the-area schools who regularly recruit the state. The co-hosts, Adam Nettina (a Mount St. Joseph grad and GoMids.com writer) and Brian Sakowski, also bring up Michigan football near the end, and I fight back tears as we discuss the 2008 debacle.

• There’s been a big push here at The Baltimore Sun to embrace social media, so a couple weeks ago I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. It’s been an admittedly lackluster debut, but I’ll try to pick it up in the coming weeks. Click here to follow my updates.

• We also launched a local high school recruiting database recently on the site. You can search for any area athlete in almost any sport, starting with the 2008 class. Click here to check out the database.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:38 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Maryland Crab Bowl rosters unveiled

The inaugural Maryland Crab Bowl could be tough to top from a talent standpoint.

“Last year’s talent was the best the state’s ever seen,” admitted Chuck Harmon, the president and co-founder of the Baltimore vs. Washington high school football all-star event.

But Harmon is confident the second annual Crab Bowl — which is scheduled for Dec. 19 at Johnny Unitas Stadium — will hold just as much attraction for local football fans as the first game. Harmon announced the rosters during a news conference Wednesday at Towson University.

“Maryland in the past has not had that national reputation that other states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, California and so on has in the nation,” Harmon said. “[But] Maryland is quickly rising. We’ve got some athletes in this state that can play for any university in the United States.”

City wide receiver Adrian Coxson and Thomas Johnson linebacker Nick Forbes were both on hand to represent the Baltimore team.

Six Penn State commitments played in last year’s Crab Bowl. Coxson, who pledged to the Nittany Lions earlier this spring, said he’s happy to continue that new tradition.

“It’s fun. This is all part of me trying to reach my goals,” Coxson said. “I’m just taking the next step. ... Now that I’ve committed, I’m just working hard to get to that next level.”

Forbes, a four-star prospect, heard about the Crab Bowl last season from former teammate and Central Michigan-bound defensive back D.J. Scott. Scott and the Baltimore squad suffered a 32-21 loss to D.C. in 2008, but things could be different this year.

“I feel like this year, [Baltimore has] a lot of talent,” said Forbes, who has narrowed his list of schools to Cal, Duke, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia. “I’m playing to win.”

While Coxson’s college future is set, and Forbes will likely make his decision later this summer, Harmon said the Crab Bowl is all about creating an opportunity for overlooked players to have a chance at landing a college scholarship.

Harmon said he and Crab Bowl co-founder Sean O’Connor hoped that “five or seven kids” would receive scholarship offers after playing in last year’s game. Those expectations were easily surpassed.

“Last year, the first annual Maryland Crab Bowl, we were fortunate to have 88 kids involved in the game,” Harmon said. “Out of those 88 kids, 83 student-athletes received college scholarships. ... When I say college scholarships, that’s Division I, IAA or Division II; not Division III or a prep school. ... We had 27 kids, as a result of playing in the Crab Bowl … get a chance to play and earn college scholarships.”

Wednesday’s Super 60 roster announcement was just the initial list of kids who made the cut. Harmon intends to add 14-15 players to each team before December’s game. While most of the skill position slots have been filled, there’s plenty of room for offensive and defensive linemen. Kicker and punter will most likely be addressed after the high school season.

Meanwhile, the Washington squad needs two additional quarterbacks. Baltimore has Century’s Josh Bordner, Loyola’s Connor Bruns and Arundel’s Billy Cosh on its roster. Players from the Eastern Shore are generally placed on the Baltimore team, but Taylor Henry from Cambridge-South Dorchester will suit up for D.C. due to the District’s lack of numbers at the position.

Listed below are the initial rosters for the 2009 Maryland Crab Bowl. Click here for more information.


Baltimore

Josh Alaeze, Parkville linebacker-defensive end
Nathan Ayers, Dunbar defensive back
Hansen Barrick, Tuscarora offensive lineman
Josh Bordner, Century quarterback
Connor Bruns, Loyola quarterback
Tyrek Cheeseboro, Milford Mill wide receiver
Devin Clark, Dunbar offensive lineman
Tuswani Copeland, Meade wide receiver
Billy Cosh, Arundel quarterback
Adrian Coxson (Penn State), City wide receiver
Ryan Dixon, Linganore wide receiver
Anthony Ferguson (Iowa), Gilman defensive end
J.R. Ferguson, Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy defensive end
Nick Forbes, Thomas Johnson linebacker
Kyle Fuller, Mount St. Joseph cornerback
Josh Furman, Old Mill defensive back-running back
Emmanuel Gbor, Eastern Tech running back
Jeremy Grove (East Carolina), Thomas Johnson linebacker
R.J. Harris, Arundel wide receiver
Robby Havenstein, Linganore offensive lineman
Kevin Johnson, River Hill defensive back
Nick Marth, Linganore defensive lineman
Jake McGinnis, Joppatowne linebacker
Hassam Ouri, Broadneck offensive lineman
Bobby Partilla, Arundel linebacker
Mike Pitz, Hereford offensive lineman
Jim Poggi (Iowa), Gilman linebacker
Matt Robinson, Atholton athlete
Delonte Tate, Stephen Decatur defensive back
Kyle Tucker, Linganore offensive lineman
Willie Williams, Hereford running back
Zach Zwinak, Linganore fullback

Washington

Marcus Anderson, Westlake linebacker
Antonio Belt, Forestville wide receiver
Brian Blue, Gwynn Park linebacker
Marcus Coker, DeMatha running back
Brandon Coleman, Bishop McNamara wide receiver
Michael Coley, DeMatha safety
Malik Cross, Oxon Hill linebacker
Bisi Ezekoye, Kennedy athlete
Troy Gloster, Good Counsel linebacker
Devin Goode, Riverdale Baptist wide receiver
Jordan Haden (Florida), Friendly safety
Taylor Henry, Cambridge-South Dorchester
Shane Johnson, DeMatha offensive lineman
Jerome June, Gwynn Park defensive end
Jeff Knox (Pittsburgh), DeMatha safety
Arie Kouandjio, DeMatha offensive tackle
Axel Ofori, Gaithersburg defensive back
Paul Phillips, Georgetown Prep tight end
Chris Pitsenberger, Good Counsel linebacker
Mitchell Pollard, Springbrook wide receiver
E.J. Scott (Virginia), Good Counsel defensive back
Arlando Scott, North Point running back
Khalek Shepherd, Gwynn Park running back
Devonte Stamps, McDonough linebacker
Devonta Tabannah, Potomac wide receiver
Frank Tamakloe, Good Counsel safety
Titus Till (Maryland), Wise defensive back
Oswaldo Velasquez, Magruder offensive lineman
Lorenzo Waters, DeMatha safety
Louis Young, Good Counsel defensive back

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:27 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 17, 2009

Where are they now: Teddy Dargan

When Teddy Dargan came up short in the classroom senior year, the plan for the talented Milford Mill defensive tackle was to get as far away from the area as possible.

Mission accomplished. The one-time Maryland commitment has resurfaced 2,550 miles away from Baltimore in Yuma, Ariz., as a member of the Arizona Western College football team.

teddydargan.jpg

Dargan, a former Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, was the Terps’ second commitment for the 2008 class, pledging midway through his junior year. When the 6-foot-3, 280-pounder fell short of NCAA qualifying standards, Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick was happy to welcome the four-star prospect to Yuma -- even though it meant waiting another year for Dargan to take the field.

“He actually grayshirted for us in the fall because he didn’t have a diploma from high school,” Minnick said. “So he had to take 11 hours in the fall and he took 12 hours and was eligible after the spring semester here. So his [eligibility] clock started in January. But he had a great spring and he’ll be ready to play this fall, so we can’t wait to see him go.”

Minnick said there’s no question Dargan was disappointed to sit out his first season of junior college football, but over time, he came to understand why he was in that situation. Dargan handled his business in the classroom, and lived up to the hype when he was finally able to suit up for the Matadors in a practice setting.

“He really looked good,” Minnick said. “He’s got that body, 6-3, 6-4, and he can run. He’s got good bounce in his step. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with if he comes in shape and does what he’s supposed to do. That’s the biggest thing because it is hot out here, and it takes a while for kids to get used to the heat, even though we practice and play our games at night. ... It takes some time to adjust, but being here, the key is it keeps him out of trouble. Here you concentrate on your academics and playing football, and then lifting weights and doing everything he needs to do to prepare for the next level. It’s a great opportunity in Yuma to take care of your business.”

Because of his year-long hiatus from the football field, there isn’t much to speak of regarding Dargan’s recruitment. But that should change in a hurry come fall.

“They’ll know about him as soon as he plays,” Minnick said. “And all those people that recruited him in high school, they know where he went. ... So it’ll be up to him if he wants to go back east or have the Pac-10 schools all over him. If he plays well and takes care of his academics, he can go anywhere he wants.”

Dargan’s back in Baltimore for the summer, but will return to Yuma by Aug. 6. He’s penciled in to start for Arizona Western at defensive tackle, provided he spends quality time in the weight room and returns to school in good shape. For Dargan and his coach, a return to the field can’t come soon enough.

“He’s anxious,” Minnick said. “Sitting out last year bugged him, I know it did. It bugged me. ... I just can’t wait. Just another month and a half.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Teddy Dargan by Karl Merton Ferron / Sept. 13, 2006


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

Basketball: Latay Darden (Progressive Christian Academy)

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

Basketball: Omar Strong (Douglass)

Basketball: Jeremy Robinson (Northwestern)

Football: Eteyen Edet (Friendly)

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:12 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

June 16, 2009

Cheeseboro headlines Milford Mill's 2010 class

After a junior season in which Milford Mill wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro caught 38 passes for 732 yards and 13 touchdowns, it was clear he would become a legitimate Division I recruit.

But did Cheeseboro, 6 feet, 180 pounds, see any of this recruiting hoopla coming?

“No, no, no. Not at all,” Cheeseboro said. “It really caught me off guard. ... I know it’s always been a lifelong dream to play college football. But it’s rolling now and sitting there in front of me, so I just want to make the best of it. Everything’s just going great. It’s a tremendous blessing.”

Cheeseboro holds offers from Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia, West Virginia, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, Temple, Buffalo, Towson and Villanova. The Terps were the first program to offer Cheeseboro.

“It was tremendous,” Cheeseboro said of receiving the UM offer. “I was smiling from ear to ear. I was just excited about me potentially playing college football. I just couldn’t stop smiling when I went home to my parents. Just to know I could play college football [was unbelievable]. [Maryland offensive coordinator James] Franklin sat down and talked to me and said that I had a full scholarship to the University of Maryland. It was a tremendous day.”

Cheeseboro visited Virginia last weekend and has also tripped to Pittsburgh. He also plans to check out UConn, Syracuse, West Virginia and Rutgers at some point this summer. Cheeseboro, who will likely make his decision during the season, said he’d like to stay within a five- or six-hour drive from Baltimore for college.

“Once I visit all my schools, that’s when I’ll narrow it down to my top five,” Cheeseboro said. “Right now I’m just visiting all the colleges to see what they’re offering and how much I can contribute to their team.”

Milford Mill coach Reggie White said it’s no surprise that Cheeseboro has developed into such a coveted recruit.

“We knew when he was a ninth grader [that he had DI potential],” White said. “He was just so fast. [We thought], ‘this guy’s got a chance.’ ... He gets to full speed very, very fast. ... We’ve had some good skill players in the last couple years, but this guy, we kind of knew. His personality is just so good. He’s just a good kid. A lot of coaches see it in him and gravitate towards him.”

Timothy Adams will be Milford Mill’s featured running back after spending his first three high school seasons at St. Paul’s.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder said he rushed for eight touchdowns as a junior, playing running back and slot receiver. He said he transferred to Milford Mill, in part, to raise his recruiting profile.

“I’ve talked to a good bunch of schools. They want me to come to one-day camps,” Adams said. “I’ve talked to Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, Temple, Villanova and a couple other IAA schools.”

Adams, who plans on joining Cheeseboro for several visits this summer, said a couple Big East schools have particularly piqued his interest.

“The ones that stood out so far [are] UConn and Pitt,” Adams said. “[Wide receivers] coach [Bryan] Bossard at Pitt is really cool. He just wants to see my speed [at camp].”

• Wide receiver Jamar Atkinson, 5 feet 8, 175 pounds, tore a ligament in his leg during training camp last August and missed his entire junior season.

With no 11th-grade film, Atkinson said this year will be crucial for him in terms of landing a scholarship.

“I just have to give it my all,” Atkinson said. “Last year hurt everything. But my coach said I’m capable of going DI, easily. So I’m just going to work hard.”

Atkinson plans on attending camps at Rutgers, Maryland, West Virginia and Bowie State. He projects as a slot receiver in college, but he’s also excited to play free safety for Milford Mill.

“I’m a small guy,” Atkinson said, “but I like to hit.”

Telvin Peterson, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive guard prospect also starts at defensive tackle for the Millers. White said Peterson’s receiving mail from Louisville and several other Division I schools.

“He’s going to play left tackle for me this year,” White said. “He’s athletic for a big guy. He’s strong, and he’s got a little nastiness to him. That’s what I really like.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Cutting ties with Born Ready

Crazy day for the Maryland men's basketball team yesterday.

First, Greivis Vasquez announces that he'll return to College Park for his senior season.

Hours later, The Baltimore Sun's own Jeff Barker broke the news that the Terps have stopped recruiting Lance Stephenson.

But officials at Maryland are wary of the recruit in part because of an Internet reality series called Born Ready that says its aim is to follow "the life and pursuit of basketball glory by high school phenom Lance Stephenson." Some schools worry the NCAA may question an athlete's involvement with such a site.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the story, which Barker brings up in this Tracking the Terps blog entry, is that Maryland dropped out of the Stephenson sweepstakes before Vasquez's decision.

My sources say Stephenson hasn't been in the recruiting picture for about three weeks. One source said flatly that Stephenson will not be a Terrapin.

What do you think? Did Maryland make the right decision in stopping its pursuit of Stephenson?

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:47 AM | | Comments (15)
        

June 15, 2009

Weekend wrap — Terps' elite camp

The Maryland men’s basketball program held an elite camp at Comcast Center over the weekend, and InsideMDSports.com’s Seth Hoffman was on hand for the action.

Terps shooting guard commitment Terrence Ross scored 31 points during a Saturday night game. Hoffman caught up with Ross and later small forward target Mychal Parker, who said this about Maryland.

“They really are at the top of my list, they’re really number one really,” [Parker] said. “I’ll make my list in the middle of July but Maryland is in good position now.”

• Oak Hill point guard Pe’Shon Howard gave NBE Basketball Report’s Jeff Borzello an updated recruiting list during the the Rumble in the Bronx AAU tournament.

Pe’shon Howard, who plays for Oak Hill during the school season, listed Stanford, Arkansas, Harvard, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Virginia, Rutgers, South Carolina, Arizona and Xavier as colleges of interest.

Borzello also has updates on Buffalo, N.Y., power forward Will Regan and Delaware guard Trevor Cooney, a 2011 UM target.

• Two in-state football recruits with reported Terps offers made commitments over the weekend. On Saturday, Good Counsel athlete E.J. Scott pledged to Virginia.

Scott, who had 18 catches for 475 yards and seven touchdowns last season, also considered offers from Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Louisville, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Iowa, East Carolina, Rutgers and Akron. Cobb had an appointment from Navy, and also had invitations to join the football teams at Harvard and Yale. U.Va. was the first school to offer a scholarship.

On Sunday, DeMatha defensive back Jeff Knox, a Pittsburgh native, pledged to the Panthers.

Knox chose the Panthers over offers from Penn State and Michigan as well as Wake Forest and Maryland.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:06 AM | | Comments (5)
        

June 12, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

When Lance Stephenson was scheduled to announce his college choice in March, Kansas, St. John’s and Maryland were the three schools on his list.

Nearly three months later, only the Terps remain from that trio. Meanwhile, other schools that got in the mix after Stephenson’s non-announcement at the McDonald’s All-American game have also fallen by the wayside.

This week CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish quoted a Florida source who said there’s a “zero [percent] chance” the Gators take the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln shooting guard.

And when you consider that Arizona's Sean Miller also seems skeptical, that leaves Maryland and Memphis as the lone schools still believed to be genuinely open to taking Stephenson, although sources close to the Memphis progam have long insisted Josh Pastner and his staff do not have a good feeling for where they stand, don't really know what's happening with Stephenson or what he's thinking.

In a story on basketball one-and-dones this week, YahooSports.com’s Jason Cole touches on the two schools that apparently remain on Stephenson’s list.

One is Memphis, which has continued to court Stephenson while dealing with the NCAA investigation into who at the university knew about Rose’s allegedly fraudulent SAT score. The other is Maryland, where for years coach Gary Williams touted his ethical standards in recruiting. But now he’s also trying to right a program that has struggled since winning the 2002 national title and could use a young star.

Adam Zagoria, meanwhile, speculates that almost by process of elimination, Maryland could be Stephenson’s leader.

That leaves Gary Williams at Maryland, assuming Stephenson ends up in college.

I know I have gone on record before saying Maryland was out of it, but Williams has now been in this thing the longest of any of the coaches involved.

• City center Jordan Latham recommitted to Xavier on Wednesday. Now the Musketeers are hoping to land another former commitment in Columbus, Ohio power forward J.D. Weatherspoon. Examiner.com’s Clint Spaeth weighed in on Weatherspoon’s list.

It is believed that Ohio State or Xavier are the likely destinations for Weatherspoon, but Maryland is drawing interest as well.

The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer this week profiled Holly Springs, N.C., power forward C.J. Leslie, who still has a lengthy list of schools under consideration.

“To be honest with you, it’s impossible to say,” Leslie says. “I’m wide open. Seriously. Right now, I’m wide open.”

Football recruiting

• Christchurch, Va., tight end Josh Lovell told Rivals.com this week that “Maryland is No. 1 by a long shot.”

"Maryland is up there because they talk about playing time and how easily I could start my freshman year. They've talked about how they can use me and I like my recruiter, Coach Brattan. Coach Friedgen is cool too. I like them a lot."

• Midlothian, Va., offensive guard Matt Arkema told Rivals.com he plans to visit College Park on the 15th.

"I've never been to Maryland. I'd like to see it. As for [Virginia] Tech, I want to see a couple more things. I haven't seen the campus and definitely want to spend more time with the coaches."

• St. John’s College (D.C.) defensive tackle Andre Monroe picked up his fourth scholarship offer this week.

"I got my third offer from Akron and fourth from Ohio recently," he said. "I also have offers from New Mexico and Maryland.

The Washington Post’s Recruiting Spotlight featured Linganore offensive tackle and Maryland target Robby Havenstein this week. Click here to see the video.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

City's Latham picks Xavier again

When Sean Miller left Xavier for Arizona, City center Jordan Latham was left in a bit of a bind.

j_latham.jpg

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder loved everything about the Atlantic 10 school. But Latham was excited about playing for Miller and he had developed a special relationship with Musketeers assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who also left Cincinnati for Tucson.

Latham opened his recruitment after Miller’s departure but kept Xavier high on a list of schools that also included Marquette, Virginia Tech, Texas and Pittsburgh, among others. Earlier this week, Latham decided Xavier was still the best fit for him.

“I made [my commitment Wednesday] night,” Latham said. “It just came down to the school situation, where I was going to find the best fit and coaching staff. Everything was in place. Everything stayed perfect with Xavier, so it was a done deal after that.”

Latham said he was comfortable with new Musketeers coach Chris Mack, who served as an assistant under Miller. He also grew close to new assistant Orlando “Bino” Ranson. Ranson, a Baltimore native who coached at St. Frances earlier this decade, recruited Latham when he was an assistant at James Madison.

“He’s recruited a lot of kids from here when he was at James Madison, when he was at [Marist], and now that he’s at Xavier he’s recruiting [Baltimore] real hard,” Latham said. “Since he went there, it was an easy choice for me now. I had someone there to take care of me. He replaced Coach Book’s spot. ... We talk on a daily basis. I call him all the time. We just talk about basketball and life. Plus, he’s from Baltimore. That made everything better.”

Latham sprained his MCL during his first AAU tournament this spring with Nike Baltimore Elite. He’s close to full strength now and gearing up for the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., which runs from June 17-21.

Latham will be one of six Baltimore natives attending the NBPA camp. Latham hopes he and Ranson can convince a few more Charm City natives to join them at Xavier.

“I think it’s going to be an opportunity to get more kids from Baltimore ... to Cincinnati and make the Atlantic 10 better,” Latham said.

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:08 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 11, 2009

City's C.J. Fair back in action

As C.J. Fair slithered through the Washington defense to score two of his 15 points during last month's I-95 Elite Challenge at St. Frances, enthusiasm erupted from the Baltimore supporters.

“That’s smoooooooooth C.J. Fair!” proclaimed Troy Franklin, a longtime Baltimore Stars official and the public address announcer for the evening’s events. “He’s so smooooooth!”

With that excited declaration, Fair was officially back. The Syracuse small forward commitment tore his ACL last spring and was forced to sit out his entire junior season, watching from the bench as City won the Class 2A state championship. While Knights coach Mike Daniel said Fair was like “one of my assistant coaches”, the 6-foot-7, 200-pounder had trouble watching instead of participating.

“It was tough,” Fair said. “It was just walking down the court and having to sit down and watch the other team warm up. During the game it was hard watching. But then ... halfway through the season I got used to it. I wanted them to be the best they could be, even though I wasn’t out there.”

Fair first stepped on the court about two weeks after City’s high school season ended. His first game back was with his AAU team, Nike Baltimore Elite, at the Boo Williams Invitational in Virginia in April. The I-95 Elite Challenge was a homecoming of sorts that punctuated his return to basketball.

“I was pretty antsy to get back,” Fair said. “Even though in my first game I didn’t look so good, I was just happy to be back on the court. ... I’m not going to say I’m back where I was at, but I’m close to it. I’m still working at it ... and trying to get back in the groove.”

Fair’s play on the spring AAU circuit has earned him invites to the Vince Carter Skills Academy in Orlando and the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. First up for Fair is the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va. The camp, which will feature six players from Baltimore, is scheduled for June 17-21 at the University of Virginia. Fair said he’s excited to take the court with his fellow Charm City natives.

“People are saying we’ve got one of the best classes in a while,” Fair said of Baltimore’s 2010 group. “We were close all the time [growing up]. “Me, Will Barton, and his brother Antonio Barton, we all grew up playing together. We were playing with each other since we were 8 years old. Josh Selby, he played with us. Roscoe Smith, I’ve played a few years with him in AAU. And Jordan Latham, he goes to City. He’s always been around. ... [So] we all stick together and hang around each other.”

Throughout his injury rehab, Fair and his father stayed in close contact with the Syracuse staff. Fair said “a lot of schools did back off” when he first tore his ACL, but the Orange remained persistent in their pursuit. The Syracuse coaches haven’t seen Fair in action this spring because the live period doesn’t start until July.

“They just [want to] look at my mobility,” Fair said. “They think the skills are going to stay there; they just want to see how my confidence is with my knee. ... My confidence grows each time I go on the court.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:34 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 10, 2009

Baltimore's NBPA Top 100 Camp representation

No city will be better represented at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp than Baltimore.

Six players from Baltimore earned camp invites: Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton (Memphis), Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith, City small forward C.J. Fair (Syracuse), former DeMatha point guard Josh Selby (Tennessee), Calvert Hall forward Jonathan Graham and City power forward Jordan Latham. The camp will be held June 17-21 in Charlottesville, Va.

Jide Sodipo of MidAtlanticHoops.com has been a scout and coach in and around Baltimore since 1997. In his 12-plus years on the job, Sodipo said he’s never seen a class in the city like this.

“In the country right now, Baltimore is the strongest city,” Sodipo said. “Scouts and coaches love Baltimore players for their toughness. When you look at [this 2010 class], there are at least six or seven top 100 players [nationally], depending on the list. I’d say you have seven guys in the top 100 in the country, and four of them with the potential to be McDonald’s [All-Americans] or Jordan [Brand Classic selections]. I would say that’s the toughest city in the country for 2010.”

Mount St. Joseph point guard Eric Atkins (Notre Dame) is the seventh local prospect mentioned by Sodipo that's worthy of top 100 consideration. In Sodipo’s top 75 class of 2010 rankings for Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, six other local players make the cut: Lake Clifton point guard Antonio Barton (Memphis), St. Frances shooting guard Dante Holmes, Calvert Hall small forward Damion Lee, St. Frances shooting guard Wayne Sparrow (Richmond), Digital Harbor shooting guard Davon Usher and Mount St. Joseph forward Ryley Beaumont.

Sodipo believes a few local players have NBA potential, starting with Selby. The five-star prospect played for John Carroll as a freshman, spent the past two years at DeMatha, and will suit up for Lake Clifton as a senior.

“I see four guys who have the potential to be NBA prospects. I don’t like to use the word ‘potential’ because nothing in life is guaranteed, but I think Josh Selby has great upside,” Sodipo said. “He’s a tough kid, he rebounds, he plays the point and he can play the two. … Will Barton, he’s a special kid. He can do it all. ... The third one I would say is Roscoe Smith. He has the potential to be pro one day. And the last one is C.J. Fair. C.J. Fair is a very, very interesting player. You really have to study him and understand basketball [to understand his potential]. But I believe his upside is going to happen when he gets to Syracuse.”

As for the NBPA Top 100 Camp later this month, Sodipo thinks the six local players will represent the city well.

“If you can make it in Baltimore, you can make it anywhere,” Sodipo said. “This is one of the toughest cities ever for basketball. The kids play with a chip on their shoulders.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:15 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 9, 2009

Loyola QB Bruns one of several Dons prospects

From an outsider's perspective, Loyola's hopes for an undefeated season and MIAA A conference championship appeared in jeopardy when quarterback Leon Kinnard went down with a broken leg in an October win over Mount St. Joseph.

The Connecticut commitment had led the Dons to a 7-0 record. They were outscoring opponents 301-42. But in Kinnard’s absence, junior Connor Bruns emerged.

The first-year transfer student from Fargo, N.D. threw for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading Loyola to wins in the final four games of the season, including a 35-0 victory over Calvert Hall in the Turkey Bowl.

connorbruns.jpg

Bruns will be back under center for the Dons this fall. Loyola coach Brian Abbott says he has all the tools you’d want in a Division I quarterback.

“He’s 6-3, 200 pounds,” Abbott said. “He’s a 4.7 kid speed-wise, he has a great, accurate arm, a big kid in the pocket. Those are the big things. After he goes to some camps, I’d suspect he gets offered.”

Bruns’ brother lived in Baltimore, and the rest of the family decided to relocate from North Dakota, in part so that Connor would receive better exposure athletically. While he’s only played in four varsity games, Bruns has popped up on several DI schools’ radar.

“Boston College, UConn, Rutgers and Maryland have been through,” Abbott said, “but everyone is pretty much waiting to see him at camp. He’ll probably hit five DI schools. He hasn’t really decided which ones to go to yet. He’s a kid that could go Ivy League also, because of his academics.”

Loyola also loses running back/safety Terence Garvin off its 2008 squad. The West Virginia-bound standout will be replaced in the backfield by Vince Snarski, who started last season at safety, while also seeing time at wide receiver, kick and punt returner.

“Vince is 5-9, 190 pounds,” Abbott said. “He does everything. He’s a 4.5 kid. But it’ll be his first year starting at running back. That would be the position he ends up playing in college.”

Snarski has received interest from several Colonial Athletic Association and Patriot League schools.

“At 5-9, 190, he packs a punch,” Abbott said. “He’s got great hands, so he can be a third down type of guy. He’ll return punts and kicks, so he’s kind of a jack of all trades.”

On the offensive line, the Dons will be led by center Ben Cranston. The 6-foot-1, 280-pounder, who also plays defensive tackle, will be a three-year starter for Loyola.

“Ben’s gotten a lot of Ivy League [interest] and some other higher academic schools because he’s a 3.9+ student,” Abbott said. “He’s really looking to go to an Ivy League school or the Patriot League because of his grades. Yale, Penn, Cornell; all those schools have inquired about him.”

While Loyola’s replacing plenty of Division I-bound talent, Abbott thinks the players in place are up to the task.

“I think they’re primed and ready,” Abbott said. “The big thing is we’re bringing up a lot of young guys. We’ll have a young team, with a lot of sophomores playing. It’s really going to [come down to] what we do the next nine weeks in the weight room.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Connor Bruns by Gene Sweeney Jr. / November 19, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:22 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 8, 2009

Weekend wrap — The Bartons' choice

Lake Clifton standouts Will and Antonio Barton flew to Memphis on Friday to attend the Tigers’ elite camp.

Later that night, recruiting ended for the brothers when both committed to the Tigers.

“It was always our plan to go to school together, but we were ready for anything, [even] if it was to split up and go to different schools,” Antonio said. “But going to school together was always an option.”

Antonio said Memphis, Xavier, Miami, Virginia and Syracuse were five schools that offered both brothers. Maryland offered Will long ago, but landed its point guard for the 2010 class in April when Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita prospect Terrell Stoglin picked the Terps over Texas A&M, Penn State and San Diego.

Testudo Times broke down how the Bartons’ decision affects the Terps, and also looked at UM’s top remaining targets.

• According to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, Maryland’s recruitment of Lance Stephenson is in a holding pattern until his legal issues are resolved.

Lance Stephenson is still out there for the taking, but Arizona isn't interested. Neither are a number of schools. Maryland isn't touching him while he and a teammate, Darwin Ellis, have a court case pending dealing with a sexual assault. The New York Daily News reported last week that Stephenson's attorney, Alberto Ebanks, claimed his client is innocent. The case won't be heard again until June 29.

The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins argues for making freshmen athletes ineligible, using Stephenson’s recruiting drama as an example to support her case.

Stephenson, arguably the nation's most overprized high school basketball talent, would have to decide whether a scholarship is a priceless gift or an unwanted obstacle; he'd have to either commit to an education or forgo the charade and play a year in Europe, where he could learn to insult his teammates and coaches in a foreign language before he skips to the NBA and becomes Commissioner David Stern's latest ward.

Gary Williams made a whirlwind trip to Connecticut last week, playing in a golf tournament benefiting Torrington High School -- better known as the school that produced Jordan Williams.

Flying up Tuesday morning, Williams was picked up by [former Torrington coach Tony] Turina and one of his former assistant coaches, Jay Reginatto, who also left the basketball program at the end of this past season, at an airport in Plainville. He was back in Maryland later Tuesday night, but not until he played 18 holes, had dinner and spoke to the appreciative crowd.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:05 AM | | Comments (4)
        

June 6, 2009

Barton brothers talk Memphis commitment

From the beginning, the Barton brothers were always inseparable.

Will, the oldest by 11 months, and Antonio were often mistaken for twins.

Basketball came naturally to the brothers. Their mother, Karen Bush, recalled days spent at the John Eager Howard Recreation Center in West Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill neighborhood. Later there was a stint at City, followed by a sophomore season at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington. Last fall, the Bartons returned home to Baltimore, where they led Lake Clifton to an undefeated season and the Class 3A state title. On and off the court, the brothers developed an uncanny chemistry.

bartonbrothers1.jpg

“They have always been very tight. And that’s the way they were raised,” Bush said. “They were raised by a lot of strong women. Me and my mother. And I had seven sisters.”

When it came to recruiting, Will and Antonio said they’d do what was best for themselves. But the hope was always that the right situation would develop for both, allowing them to attend the same school. This weekend, during a visit to Memphis for its elite camp, the Barton brothers found that situation.

“We came down [to Memphis on Friday] and just wanted to see what it was all about and it was everything we pictured and more,” Will said. “It’s a great atmosphere; a family atmosphere. They showed us a lot of support. It all just clicked and we pulled the trigger.”

Will, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard and The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year, and Antonio, a 6-foot-2 point guard and a second-team All-Metro selection, became the first commitments of Memphis’ 2010 class.

Tigers coach Josh Pastner began recruiting the Bartons as an assistant when John Calipari was at the helm. Pastner continued recruiting the brothers when Calipari left for Kentucky in April. Recent NCAA allegations of major violations under Calipari were immediately addressed by Pastner to the Barton brothers.

“They let us know what the situation is,” Antonio said. “He let us know it wouldn’t affect us or any future classes coming in. Nobody’s going to be penalized or anything.”

Last month at the I-95 Challenge, Will listed Kentucky, Arizona, Memphis, Texas, Florida, South Florida, Central Florida, Xavier, Duke, Oklahoma, Indiana, Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Maryland and Georgetown as schools he was considering, while Antonio mentioned Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Villanova, Temple and Rutgers. According to Antonio, the brothers narrowed their focus to Memphis, Xavier, Miami, Virginia and Syracuse in recent weeks. Both brothers clearly had their minds on the Tigers heading into this weekend.

“I’ve always had Memphis near the top of my list,” Will said. “I just figured out the pros and cons of each school. Just going to see it for myself, that really sealed the deal for me.”

Bush, who said she intends to see her sons play as much as possible, said she couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.

“I prayed for my sons and I believe this is the situation and place that God would have them be,” Bush said. “Basketball is their gift from God. He blessed them with basketball and [now they can focus on] academics. They know what they need to do. It’s not about the basketball; it never has been. They’ll always be able to play basketball. I just want them to focus on the books. The ball will take care of itself.”

During AAU play this year, basketball has been very kind to both brothers. Playing with Nike Baltimore Elite, Will has emerged as one of the top 10 players in the country and arguably the best shooting guard in the nation. Antonio, meanwhile, earned praise for his play with Cecil Kirk and the Baltimore Stars, and was receiving increasing recognition as a point guard who’s stock was rising. The Bartons feel the Tigers’ system suits both of them extremely well.

“Memphis likes to get up and down, lots of movement on offense,” Will said. “And they like to get after it on defense, a lot of man-to-man pressure. I’ve been following Memphis for awhile.”

Next fall Antonio will be back at Lake Clifton, hoping to lead the Lakers to a second straight state title. Will, who has already completed four years of high school, will finish his senior coursework at a prep school. He said he’s considering Brewster (N.H.) Academy, Mountain State (W.Va.) Academy, South Kent (Conn.) School, Findlay (Nev.) Prep and Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. Next year will obviously be a major change from the Bartons’ 2008-09 season with the Lakers.

“He’s like my best friend. ... It’s going to be tough because I’m used to him being around,” Antonio said. “But like I said, we’re going to adapt to the situation and going to adjust to it. But we’re excited to see what happens. He’ll always have my blessing and he’ll make sure everything’s good where he’s at.”

After a year apart, the Barton brothers will have the fall of 2010 in Memphis to look forward to.

“It’s just very, very exciting,” Antonio said. “I still can’t believe it now.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Will and Antonio Barton by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:12 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 5, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Months of silence and speculation ended Thursday when Lance Stephenson and his father, Lance Sr., spoke to the media after the Frankie Williams Charity Classic in Greenburgh, N.Y.

Adam Zagoria was on the scene and wrote a must-read story on the event, which included the Stephensons’ thoughts on the Terps.

“Maryland is going through their process where they want to pick a player and they’re not putting any rush on us,” Lance Sr. said. “They want Lance to be sure if he does want to go to Maryland, that he really wants to be there. Maryland has been really patient in working with the family.”

• Maryland shooting guard target Will Barton spoke to ESPN affiliate The Shiver.com, giving the Kansas fan site a list of schools he’s considering.

Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Texas, Miami, Georgetown, Arizona, Xavier, Marquette, Providence and Pittsburgh were just some of the schools ESPN.com's No. 12 ranked player listed.

Roland Cox, the godfather and advisor to Will and Antonio Barton, spoke with Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer about the brothers potentially playing in college together in this premium story.

The Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician speculates on the Orange’s chances at working the package-deal angle with the Bartons.

As for Antonio, he's no slouch. Rated three-stars by Rivals, he's got offers on the table from five schools, none of whom are SU, though the Orange have shown some interest. There is some overlap on both of their lists and many have wondered if the brothers are indeed a package deal, i.e. if you want Will you gotta take Antonio too.

Meanwhile, SLAM Online had this to say about Will Barton’s play at the Pangos All-American camp last weekend.

Barton, a slender wing with an incredible motor, handles and passes the rock well enough to play both guard spots, but with his tremendous quickness and athleticism, he’s too much for wings to handle. As he gains strength, his D and pogo-stick rebounding ability will be even more deadly, and while his shot didn’t always fall, he can keep defenders honest from the outside, as well.

Football recruiting

• Archbishop Carroll has at least two rising seniors with Maryland offers. The Terps were the first to offer defensive tackle Nathaniel Clarke, according to Rivals.com.

“He’s got one offer from Maryland,” Archbishop Carroll head coach Rick Houchens said. “Everybody is so consumed with Jeremiah, Nathaniel is waiting. He’ll have a lot more before summer is over.

Clarke’s teammate, linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, currently sports nine scholarship offers.

“He’s got nine offers already this spring from Illinois, Kansas State, Maryland, Virginia, East Carolina, Louisville, Akron, Ohio, Kent and there is one pending from Pittsburgh,” Archbishop Carroll head coach Rick Houchens said. “He is going to be a great one. We are really excited about him. He’s going to be a major guy on the next level.”

MaxPreps.com ranked DeMatha the No. 8 team in the country in its preseason rankings, which were released this week. As of last month, the Terps had offered eight rising seniors on the Stags. One of the eight, offensive tackle and Terps target Arie Kouandjio, told South Carolina fan site TheBigSpur.com this week what he’s looking for in a school.

“I will be looking at how well I work with the coaching staff, early playing time, and education will be important,” he said. “It’s going to be at the end of the year. I am taking official visits. I don’t have any top schools. I am just worrying about my football season coming up. I am completely open."

• Dunbar (D.C.) defensive tackle Charles Tillman picked up an offer from East Carolina last week but is hoping for more interest from the Terps.

“I’m hearing from New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Louisville, West Virginia and Massachusetts,” he said. “I do like Maryland and Pittsburgh. Both of them aren’t too far away from home and both have good football programs. I know Pittsburgh has a good academic program too. I also have developed a bond with their coaches and have visited both schools.”

• Maryland offensive line recruit Bennett Fulper took home a state championship last weekend.

Gretna’s Bennett Fulper won the shot put with a heave of 53 feet, 1¼ inches and the Hawks’ Niaya Griffin placed third in the girls high jump by clearing 5-1.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:42 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 4, 2009

Q&A with Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown

Mount St. Mary's won the Northeast Conference championship in 2008 to earn an NCAA tournament berth. In 2009, the Mountaineers finished second in their conference tournament, but received some consolation by getting an invite to the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

Mount coach Milan Brown hopes his 2009 recruiting class will help his program reach its third consecutive postseason tournament in 2010.

milanbrownmount.jpg

Paul VI power forward Raven Barber, a 6-foot-8, 220-pounder from Edgewood, and Wise combo guard Dave Golladay, a 6-foot-1, 180-pounder from Upper Marlboro, signed their letters of intent last fall.

Barber helped Paul VI to the Virginia Independent Schools state championship. Golladay, an honorable mention All-Met selection by The Washington Post, averaged 16 points per game as a senior, leading Wise to a runner-up finish in the Class 4A state finals.

The Mountaineers will also bring in Kristijan Krajina, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward from the Blue Ridge School in St. George, Va. The Croatian native fielded plenty of high-major Division I interest before tearing his ACL in January. In his first season in the U.S., Krajina averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game.

Krajina committed to the Mount last month. Per NCAA rules, Brown can’t comment on Krajina because his commitment came after the spring signing period, and thus no letter of intent has been signed.

Here’s what Brown had to say about the rest of Mount’s 2009 recruiting class.

You’ve made postseason tournaments in the last two seasons. Did you find this class to be more aware of your program and its success than in the past?

Brown: I think that these incoming freshmen had a better idea of who we were, there’s no question about that. Just because of the exposure that you receive during that championship. You can’t even measure how important that is to any program, especially [for programs] on the mid- to low-major level like ourselves.

While it wasn’t the NCAA tournament, how important was it to land the CollegeInsider.com bid, just in terms of being able to say you’ve made postseason tournaments in two consecutive years?

Brown: Well obviously it was different because we were disappointed. Our goal was to try to repeat [as Northeast Conference champs]. To come so close and not achieve that goal was obviously a huge blow. But to receive a postseason bid [was great]. What our guys were excited about was that [the CollegeInsider.com tournament bid] recognized that we had a good season. That was the thing that, sometimes in our situation because we’re a one-bid league, if you don’t make it to the NCAA tournament, you kind of look around and say, ‘did 11 other teams have bad seasons?’ But our guys were excited to play in the [CollegeInsider.com] tournament. It was a little more gratification for all the work we put in this year, [and it showed that hard work] hadn’t gone to waste.

Golladay was a guy who committed last spring right around the time you made the NCAA tournament. How instrumental was that success for you in landing him?

Brown: He probably popped right after we finished [last season], right around April. He had verbally committed right after that tournament run, which was great because we went into the summer knowing we already had one quality player already in place.

Is it rare to land one of your top targets so early in the process?

Brown: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve had that happen to us that early, even before July, only twice now. The other kid that did it was Jean Cajou. He liked what he saw and wanted to play [for us]. Most of the time, guys we’re trying to recruit usually have a lot of other schools buzzing around. They play the wait and see with us. Hopefully the more and more success that we have, the more opportunities we’ll have to receive some early commitments from guys who are quality players. So I don’t think there’s any question that us making our tournament run had a huge effect in us getting a commitment from Dave so early.

Did his stock really rise this year? Talk about his senior season and what kind of contributions you’re hoping to get from him.

Brown: I thought Dave had a very good senior season. It’s kind of funny how it played out. He basically ended up in the same boat we did, getting all the way to the championship game and coming up a little bit short. But he had an excellent career. He’s really competitive, which is great for us. He’s a very good slasher, has a very good mid-range game, and when he comes here, we’re trying to expand his [long-range] shooting, but we don’t want to take away from what he does best -- slashing to the basket and being a good, unselfish teammate. I think Dave’s going to step right in and do some things defensively. Because he’s such a competitive guy, that’s going to benefit him. We have some players still there [at the guard spots]. He’s going to have to compete, and I think he likes that idea.

What will that competition look like?

We actually have all six [guards returning]. Dave’s a good enough player that we’re definitely going to have him come in and let him compete. We try to do that as much as possible. We pretty much do open tryouts every year. But if he can come in and take minutes or take a job, by all means we’re going to give him every opportunity to take it. I think there’s going to be some competition for some minutes. It’s going to be hard because I know the guys already here aren’t going to let their minutes go without a fight. In the past we haven’t had so many home run, top 150 or top 200 players in the country. We go the other route -- stockpile our roster with as many quality players as possible and hurt people with our depth. I know he’s looking forward to [coming in and competing].

With Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell graduating, will Raven Barber be expected to step in fill that type of role?

Brown: Yeah, absolutely. Us losing Sam and Markus is going to be a huge blow to us. If nothing else, they were veteran guys. Those two were the [backbone] of our defense, and they were absolutely team leaders. I think what Raven’s going to be able to do right off the bat -- he’s more in the mold of Sam but he’s bigger than Sam -- is [use his athleticism] and block some shots. He’s definitely going to have the opportunity to step in and compete for some minutes and have a chance to contribute right off the bat. But again, we have one or two guys sitting out with a redshirt. But it’s a little more of an open door because we lose such quality players in Markus and Sam.

How important is it to you that Golladay and Barber both had great team success as seniors?

Brown: It’s always good and what we try to do as often as possible is recruit players from very good programs. We think we’ve done this with Dave coming in from Wise and Raven from Paul VI. They understand what it takes to win. Some of the things we ask them to do won’t be so foreign because they’re used to winning. We want to get as many guys as possible that have that experience because it’s so important. They kind of have a glimpse of what it’s going to take in order to be successful and some of that is going to come with some tough practices, some tough times, and like they say, when those things hit, the tough players last. [Dave and Raven are both] tough kids that reaped the benefits of playing for [championship contenders], and we loved that.

Overall, do you feel you filled all your needs in this class?

Brown: Yeah, I think so. We definitely [try to recruit] players for not only the here and now, but for the future as well. We’re very excited for what we think we have. Obviously we won’t know until we put the practice gear on and start banging around. But from what we’ve seen so far from these guys, we’re excited about where we are as a program right now and about where we’re going to go. We’ll continue to try and recruit quality players ... [and we hope to continue to] achieve quality results.

Baltimore Sun photo of Milan Brown by Gene Sweeney Jr. / March 21, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:32 AM | | Comments (0)
        

June 3, 2009

Pratt's legacy at Towson Catholic

There was a major shakeup late last week in MIAA A conference basketball when Josh Pratt resigned his position as Towson Catholic’s coach.

The current economic climate resulted in Pratt being laid off from his teaching job at the school earlier this year. He has since been hired at St. Vincent Pallotti to teach and coach the girls basketball team.

The Owls tabbed Reggie Williams to succeed Pratt. The Dunbar legend, former Georgetown star and NBA veteran got his coaching feet wet at the now-defunct Jericho Christian Academy in Landover. By all accounts, Williams is extremely well liked and respected as a person and coach. He should flourish at Towson Catholic.

But Pratt’s legacy at Towson Catholic should be remembered. On the court, Pratt compiled a 98-40 record in four years, which included two A conference titles and one Baltimore Catholic League crown. His tenure with the Owls didn’t start under the most ideal circumstances, but he quickly allieviated any concerns parents may have had.

“I just think Pratt came into a tough situation when they let [current City coach] Mike Daniel go. A lot of us were ready to [pull our kids from Towson Catholic] but he held the fort down,” said Larry Bastfield, the father of former Owls standout and current Toledo point guard Larry Bastfield Jr.. “He convinced us to give him a chance, so we gave him a chance and we had a hell of a run. The bond that he still has with the kids [is strong]. Those kids love Coach Pratt.”

joshpratt.jpg

Off the court, Pratt preached academics, doing everything he could to make sure his players were in good position to reach college. With one Owls player who faced his fair share of academic struggles, Pratt set up weekly progress reports and held a required study hall three or four days a week. The same player, who transferred to Towson Catholic from St. Frances early in his freshman year, lived with Vinny Breckinridge, whose son Vinny Jr. left SFA for TC at the same time.

Breckinridge Jr., who spent a post-grad year at The Patterson (N.C.) School and will join the Goucher men’s basketball team in the fall, had a seamless transition to Towson Catholic, developing into one of the Owls’ top players by his senior year. Breckinridge Jr.’s friend and housemate for eight years, however, struggled academically. Before long, Pratt offered to have this player move in with him so that he could ensure he made it to school on time and was on top of his schoolwork.

“[Pratt] offered that,” Breckinridge Sr. said. “He said he could try to help as much as he could, at least to get him through the rest of that year. [Pratt said] ‘if he could come and be willing to work, he can stay with me for the rest of the school year.’”

The talented guard ended up staying with the Breckinridge family for the time being. Unfortunately, his academics didn’t improve and his attendance rate dropped, forcing Towson Catholic to essentially expel him from school. He has since resurfaced at a school outside of the Baltimore area, and is reportedly doing well. His current coach said he has nothing but praise for Pratt and was sorry it didn't work out. Pratt told me recently that he was "a great kid" who he still hoped would be able to play college basketball.

“It broke [Pratt’s] heart when he got put out at Towson Catholic,” Bastfield said, “because he did everything possible to keep him at TC. ... The stuff he did with [this player] was above and beyond.”

When “Little Larry” wasn’t playing much in the early parts of his freshman season at Toledo, Pratt would offer encouragement and advice to Bastfield Sr., telling him things would improve for his son. And sure enough, they did, as Bastfield Jr. ended up starting 16 games for the Rockets and averaging more than 23 minutes per game.

“I definitely don’t think my son, personally, would be where he’s at today without Coach Pratt,” Bastfield said. “Sophomore year, Coach Pratt gave him the ball. He said ‘it’s your ball,’ and the rest was history.”

Whenever Breckinridge Jr., Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney, the Sacramento Kings’ Donte’ Greene or any other former Owls player was back in the area and wanted to play ball, Pratt was more than happy to open the gym. In the offseason, he took his kids to elite camps at various colleges to increase their exposure. Hosting open gyms for college coaches was another constant under Pratt.

“To me it says that he is willing to help his kids. He’s more than a basketball coach,” Breckinridge said. “He’s willing to help his kids that come through his program and extend himself beyond just coaching the team. Since Vinny Jr. went to The Patterson School, I’ve had dozens of coaches call me from all different levels. That’s all through Coach Pratt. He will just continue to help every kid [that’s come through his program] as long as the kid’s doing what he’s supposed to. He’ll help you if you’re helping yourself. He’ll bend over backwards.”

Towson Catholic should field a strong team next season, and its future is bright with Williams at the helm.

Soon enough, the Pallotti community will discover just how fortunate it is to have the Owls' outgoing coach.

Baltimore Sun photo of Josh Pratt and Vinny Breckinridge Jr. by Barbara Haddock Taylor / Feb. 24, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 2, 2009

Edmondson QB one to watch in 2009

The quarterback to watch last year in Baltimore City was Dunbar's Jonathan Perry, who signed with UAB last month.

This fall, all eyes will be on Edmondson’s Jerry Lovelocke, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound pro-style quarterback.

“Jerry’s a pocket passer that’s able to scramble,” Red Storm coach Dante Jones said. “He does a lot of things that kids in high school can’t do. His football IQ is so much higher than probably the majority of quarterbacks in this area. He’s a smart kid.

“Jerry always wants to learn more and always wants to get better. He always pushes himself at every opportunity he gets. He has a large upside. We expect big things out of him this year.”

Lovelocke, a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, threw for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior, leading Edmondson to an 8-4 record.

Jones said Lovelocke holds three scholarship offers so far, but declined to name the schools.

“We’re holding back on releasing that until he goes to the one-day camps,” Jones said. “He’s doing a lot of one-day camps. A lot of schools are expected to offer. So everything’s going real well for him.”

Lovelocke’s camp itinerary includes trips to Maryland, Rutgers, Temple, Towson, Virginia and West Virginia.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:58 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 1, 2009

Weekend wrap — Stephenson, Barton and more

While Lance Stephenson prepares to play in a charity game Thursday, his recruitment continues to drag on with seemingly no end in sight.

The Washington Post’s Steve Yanda took an extensive look at Stephenson’s recruitment, including how BornReady.tv could create eligibility issues with the NCAA.

According to compliance officers from multiple athletic programs, a school likely will look into any prospective athlete's affiliation with a Web site to determine whether the relationship produced compensation for the athlete or his family, whether a third party like an agent or financial adviser was involved and what prompted the company producing the Web site to form the relationship in the first place.

Will Barton had another big weekend on the court. The Lake Clifton shooting guard attended the Pangos All-American camp in Long Beach, Calif., scoring 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting in the top 25 game. Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer had this to say about Barton’s play over the weekend.

The wiry shooting guard is establishing himself as one of the best scorers in the class. Name a way to score, and Barton probably got the ball in the bucket that way during the first session. Barton, also, delivered some impressive passes off the dribble. There is a sense of passion and flair in his game that is enjoyable to watch. He does need to put on weight primarily for the defensive end, but his length for his position serves him well.

• The Terps remain on Long Island, N.Y., power forward Tobias Harris’ 11-team list, according to the The [Louisville, Ky.] Courier-Journal.

Harris, who made an unofficial visit to Louisville last spring, has cut his list to the Cardinals, Rutgers, Syracuse, Connecticut, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech and Maryland.

He'll make unofficial visits to Tennessee and Georgia Tech this week and hopes to narrow his list by the end of July.

• Oak Hill point guard Pe’Shon Howard has Maryland under serious consideration, according to Rivals.com.

Pe'Shon Howard listed Maryland, Stanford, Arizona, Arkansas and Virginia Tech as his top five schools. Alabama, Xavier and Virginia are also on his list.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:35 AM | | Comments (9)
        
Keep reading
Recent entries
Archives
Categories
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.

High school recruiting database
Area high school commitments -- 2009
Area high school commitments -- 2008
Maryland's 2012 football commitments
Maryland's 2011 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2010 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2009 football recruiting class
Maryland's 2008 football recruiting class
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Sign up for FREE local sports alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local sports text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Most Recent Comments

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Photo galleries
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com sports blogs  Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected