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July 31, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

After Tony Mitchell backed out of his commitment to Kansas State last month, Maryland was one of many schools to offer a scholarship to the three-star forward from Grand Prairie, Texas.

The Terps hope to receive a visit from Mitchell, whose stock is on the rise, according to Rivals.com’s Jerry Meyer.

There are similarities between Mitchell and Perry Jones. Both are elite athletes with size and talented but raw skill games. They both have helped their stocks tremendously in Vegas. Jones has gone from borderline elite prospect to potential No. 1 prospect. Mitchell has established himself as a five-star prospect and bona fide NBA prospect.

At 6-foot-7 and with a live body, Mitchell is a legitimate small forward with an explosive first step. He is a developing three-point shooter who also has a post up game. And on the glass, he can rebound with the best of them.

MaxPreps.com’s Jason Hickman had good things to say about Terps point guard commitment Terrell Stoglin after seeing him in Las Vegas last week.

Saw Stoglin just once, but the Arizona guard kept Pump-N-Run Elite in the game against Grassroots Canada with big threes and competent ballhandling against unrelenting pressure in pool play. The Maryland verbal is more combo guard than true point, but his scoring comes within the flow of the game and he does look to set up teammates.

Testudo Times’ Ben Broman introduces Terps fans to 2011 shooting guard prospect Deuce Bello, who he would like to see paired with California point guard Cezar Guerrero.

Bello is, like Guerrero, a top 2011 prospect, only this time from North Carolina instead of LA. Maryland is generally mentioned in connection with Bello, though I must admit I have no idea how far in the Terps are with him. I would disregard the Rivals, Scout, and ESPN lists (even though ESPN has him listing the Terps) - they are becoming more inaccurate by the day. I would be fairly surprised, however, if Maryland hasn't had a decent amount of contact with him yet.

• South Carolina leads for Fayetteville, N.C., power forward Damontre Harris, but Phil Kornblut reports that the four-star prospect is still considering several other programs, including Maryland.

Harris is looking to make a decision before his season. He has visited USC and Wake Forest and wants to visit Connecticut, Maryland, VCU and Boston College.

• Adam Zagoria reports that Queens, N.Y., shooting guard Omar Calhoun Jr., a 2012 prospect, is already hearing from the Terps.

“He’s getting a lot of college interest,” said Omar Calhoun Sr. “Villanova and St. John’s have offered. He has interest from Maryland, Pittsburgh, Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana and Rutgers.”

Football recruiting

• Georgia’s decision to pull their scholarship offer to Columbus, Ga., athlete Devin Burns (which resulted in Carver High banning Bulldogs coaches from their school) could benefit Maryland.

But Burns will definitely land on his feet. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound quarterback is still holding scholarship offers from Maryland, Vanderbilt, Miss. State, Southern Miss, UAB, Louisville and Troy and remains on the radar screen of numerous other major Division I teams.

• DeMatha safety Lorenzo Waters told Rivals.com that he’s most interested in Miami, Michigan, Wake Forest and Maryland.

“As for Maryland and Wake Forest. I’m interested in Maryland because it’s close and people can get there. Wake Forest is smaller and I like that.”

• Corky Blake of The Express-Times in Bethlehem, Pa., thinks quarterback Tyler Smith made a good choice in committing to Maryland.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Tyler Smith's decision to attend Maryland was right on. I don't know how it will play out, but at least there's a connection in College Park, Md. James Franklin is the Terps' offensive coordinator. He's a former East Stroudsburg University quarterback, just like Wilson coach Bret Comp.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:52 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 30, 2009

AAU recap: Baltimore Assault

Baltimore Assault was the new kid on the block during AAU play this summer. But it didn't take long for the first-year adidas-sponsored program to make a name for itself.

Led by St. Frances coach Mark Karcher (a former DC Assault player), Baltimore Assault was first recognized as a national player after making it to the championship game of the adidas It Takes 5five Classic in Cincinnati earlier this month.

After Assault’s success in Cincinnati, a couple of five-star players from Baltimore signed on for the team’s trip to Las Vegas for the adidas Super 64 Showcase. Oak Hill (Va.) Academy small forward Roscoe Smith and Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby both brought athleticism and leadership to the team, according to Nick Myles, Baltimore Assault’s director of basketball operations.

“It’s like when you go on the circuit, you just have to have that marquee name,” Myles said. “With Josh and Roscoe, it gave us two nationally ranked players. We had really good players all summer, but we didn’t have those two. ... It took us from pretty good up to that next level.”

Scores of college coaches tracked Assault throughout the tournament, starting with their 60-plus point opening round win and ending with their loss to the New England Playaz in the championship bracket.

While Smith and Selby were added bonuses for Assault in Las Vegas, the core of the team more than held its own throughout the summer. Two post-grad players, in particular, stood out for Assault: Derrious Gilmore, a point guard from Princeton Day Academy, and former Aberdeen shooting guard Devon Saddler (Delaware).

Myles said Gilmore has scholarship offers from UAB and Morehead State. He’ll visit both schools next month. Because Gilmore’s a partial qualifier and will have to sit out his first year of college, he’s also considering an offer to play for JUCO power Chipola College in Florida. Saddler, meanwhile, will spend a post-grad year at Winchester Prep in Massachusetts.

“I think Saddler is the most underrated kid in this town at that age group,” Myles said. “I don’t think people know how good he is. He never takes plays off. I think Delaware’s getting a real steal with him.”

Karcher and Myles’ St. Frances squad was well-represented this summer, as senior shooting guards Wayne Sparrow (Richmond) and Dante Holmes, plus junior center Greg Lewis, all spent time with Assault.

Myles said Lewis is receiving interest from many ACC and Big East schools. Sparrow, like Saddler, is still a committed prospect. But both players continue to hear from high-major programs, according to Myles.

“I always tell the kids to stick with [their commitments], unless they really don’t want to,” Myles said. “[I tell them to] remember the reasons why they committed and stick with it. All our guys are still committed. Wayne’s still committed to Richmond [and Devon’s still committed to Delaware]. But they just had great summers. Those schools just did their homework early, and that’s what mid-major [schools] have to do to get players like that. Both those kids have been getting ACC and SEC looks right now.”

Thanks to his strong summer play, Holmes added an offer from South Florida to go along with scholarships from George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth, according to Myles. Temple continues to follow the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder. But Myles said Holmes’ first high-major offer, from the Bulls, was long overdue

“Sometimes Baltimore just looks at the guys who are maybe one-and-done,” Myles said. “But Dante can go and be a very solid four-year high-major guy. If Wayne wanted to, he could do that, too. Stay four years, get better and be those leadership guys junior and senior year.”

Other notable Assault contributors this summer included Milford Mill combo guard Anthony Goode, St. John’s Catholic Prep point guard Cedrick Johnson and Douglass junior forward Lamont Huggins. Myles said Goode’s hearing from Mount St. Mary’s, Campbell and Robert Morris, while Johnson has an offer from Loyola.

Huggins, 6 feet 8, 210 pounds, was one of the youngest members of Assault. Myles said Morgan State was the first school to show interest in the rising junior, while Norfolk State followed suit. Interest in Huggins, who averaged around 15 points per game as a sophomore, will likely increase after this season.

“He’s probably going to be one of the best players in the city this year,” Myles said. “He reminds you a lot of the kid Kevin Thompson that’s there at Morgan now. [Lamont’s] the same size but he’s a little leaner. He’s athletic, he blocks shots. He’s definitely a lot better offensively this year. He’s only a junior.”

Any AAU program’s goal is to get as many players noticed by colleges as possible. With that standard in mind, Myles said it’s safe to say Baltimore Assault’s first summer on the circuit was a success.

“For us to be a first-year program and go out there and have some top-notch kids [was really important],” Myles said. “Just getting our name out there for real [was huge].”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 29, 2009

Local lineman Clarke talks Terps commitment

Growing up just a few miles away from the University of Maryland campus, Nate Clarke would occasionally spend his days dreaming of what it would be like to one day become a UM athlete.

Basketball was the Archbishop Carroll lineman’s first love, but a trip to Byrd Stadium at age 10 left a lasting impression.

“I thought just to walk [in the stadium and see] the field was amazing,” Clarke said. “I remember as a kid and having that feeling that it was like the pros. It was amazing especially when you saw the players and the jerseys. Just seeing them, it was like the NFL. It was a dream come true.”

Now the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder has a chance to realize that childhood dream. Clarke, a four-star prospect, committed to Maryland yesterday, picking the Terps over Kansas State. He also fielded interest from Illinois, Michigan State, Boston College, Virginia, Louisville and several other programs.

Clarke was in awe of that first trip to Byrd Stadium nearly seven years ago, but it wasn’t until high school that he got his own taste of football. Archbishop Carroll offered Clarke a football scholarship as an eighth-grader. He promptly accepted and enrolled in the Washington D.C. school as a freshman.

The Lions went 3-16 during Clarke’s first two years of high school. Visiting the weight room and going through offseason workouts were foreign concepts to Clarke at that point. He was big and talented, but needed someone to hone that potential. After Clarke’s sophomore season, Archbishop Carroll hired former Eleanor Roosevelt coach Rick Houchens. While the Lions went 1-9 last fall in Houchens’ first season, the coaching change proved advantageous for Clarke.

“It was life-changing. Rick Houchens was an inspiration to me,” Clarke said. “I remember the first time I saw him, I was kind of upset about my old coach leaving. But the way he talked to us, it was an inspiration how he didn’t want to lose. He knew he could turn this program around and he definitely has turned it around.

“Before he came it was more lackadaisical. He really changed us. He knows how to prepare you for college to succeed ... I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for him.”

Houchens said Clarke emerged as a leader for Archbishop Carroll right away, especially in the weight room. Clarke embraced his new coach’s weight training techniques and shed at least 10 pounds of “baby fat”, according to Houchens.

“When I first took over and met the kids ... Nate was just one of those kids that stuck out,” Houchens said. “I said, ‘you’re going to be my man child,’ because he just looked like a child in a man’s body. ... He’s just one of those guys that has a bunch of potential and is really willing to pay his dues work wise and really do what it takes. His best football is still way, way ahead of him. He’s just beginning to touch the tip of the iceberg. If the kid is willing to make his sacrifices and commit, he can be pretty special.”

Rivals.com rates Clarke the No. 11 offensive guard in the country. Houchens said parts of Clarke’s game remind him of former Terp and current Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither. But there’s still a debate on Clarke’s best position at the next level. Clarke said he prefers to play defensive tackle, and will get that chance at Maryland. But it doesn’t mean the UM offensive coaches will stop lobbying for him to play guard, Houchens said.

“When [Maryland offensive coordinator] James [Franklin] saw him, he said, ‘Oh, he’s definitely a tackle. He can be a great tackle. He’s got great feet,’” Houchens said. “And then of course, two days later Coach [Don] Brown, the defensive coordinator, came over. He’s looking at [linebacker] Jeremiah Attaochu (who Maryland has offered). And when he saw Nate, he came over and said, ‘What about him? You didn’t tell me about Nate Clarke.’ So they offer him that day.

“They’re going to let him play defensive tackle, but also look at him for offensive tackle as well. He can excel and contribute on each side of the ball. He’s kind of a two-for-one guy. You have a guy you can plug in [on offense or defense]. It’s a great opportunity for him.”

Clarke said he can’t wait to get back on the field this fall. Archbishop Carroll’s fortunes won’t change overnight, Clarke said, but he expects major improvements to be evident immediately. After his senior goals are met, Clarke said he’s excited to suit up for the program he grew up following.

“I live right down the street and I love this school,” Clarke said. “We’re going to win championships as soon as I get there or before. I can’t wait to actually start the first day of practice, put on the uniform and show everybody what I have to offer.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:03 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 28, 2009

C.J. Fair headed to prep school

While the City boys basketball team prepares to defend its Class 2A state championship, C.J. Fair is readying for a senior season in New England.

The Syracuse-bound small forward has decided to spend his final year of high school at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H.

Fair -- who missed his junior season with the Knights rehabbing a torn ACL -- is one of at least four Baltimore seniors with high-major college basketball futures that will attend prep school this year.

“It’s basically for basketball purposes,” Fair said of his decision. “It’s basically to get ready for college so I can focus more and get away and have no distractions.”

Fair will team up with another Baltimore native during his senior season at Brewster. Lake Clifton small forward Will Barton decided to attend the New Hampshire prep school earlier this summer.

“I told him [I was going to Brewster] and he was happy to know that I’m going up there with him,” Fair said.

Antonio Barton, Will’s younger brother, will spend his last year of high school at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. The Bartons, who committed to Memphis in June, spent their first two years at City before transferring to National Christian Academy in Fort Washington. The brothers led Lake Clifton to the 3A state title last spring. NCAA rules required both Bartons to spend their fifth years at prep schools.

“I mean it’ll be OK, but I’ll miss [Baltimore] a lot,” Antonio Barton said. “If I had a choice, I wish I would still [be able to attend Lake Clifton]. ... [But Notre Dame Prep] was a good place where I could get prepared for college. I just feel it fits me pretty well.”

Former Walbrook small forward Roscoe Smith will also spend his senior year away from Baltimore. The five-star prospect told Recruiting Report last month that he’ll suit up for Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., this fall.

Fair said he consulted with former Owings Mills center Andrew Fitzgerald before making his decision. Fitzgerald, an Oklahoma commitment who spent last year at Brewster, gave the prep school a good recommendation.

While Fair said he’ll miss certain things about living in Baltimore, he’s comfortable with his choice.

“Everybody that really cares about me thinks it’s a good decision,” Fair said. “... Brewster’s got a lot to offer.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:39 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 27, 2009

Weekend wrap — Graham steps up

Calvert Hall forward Jonathan Graham has given Nike Baltimore Elite an added boost the past few days at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando.

Graham made the play of the game during Baltimore’s win Friday over the Georgia Stars.

As always for Nike Baltimore Select [sic] Will Barton was good, but it was teammate Jonathan Graham that made the biggest play of the game in their win over the Georgia Stars. With Baltimore Select [sic] down one and under five seconds to go, Barton drive and attempted a floater in the lane. The shot fell off, but Graham tipped the ball in as time expired to get the win. The tip in gave Graham 12 points for the game. Not to be out done, Barton was his usual offensive machine with 22 points.

NBE Basketball Report got an updated recruiting list from Graham.

Baltimore Elite has Syracuse commitments Bae Moussa-Keita and C.J. Fair in action. Their uncommitted teammate, Jonathan Graham, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Calvert Hall in Maryland, listed offers from Providence and Seton Hall with interest from Villanova, Maryland, West Virginia, VCU, Miami and Georgia Tech.

Newsday profiled Long Island, N.Y., power forward Tobias Harris recently. Throughout the summer, some of the most high-profile coaches in the country have tracked Harris.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun traveled to watch Harris play soon after breaking several ribs in a bicycle mishap. Kentucky coach John Calipari jumped in quickly, and Notre Dame scored points because Harris enjoyed working with two former Irish players, former NBA forwards John Shumate and Orlando Woolridge, at two camps.

In Orlando at the AAU Super Showcase, Harris continues to stand out for the Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks.

The star of the show for City Rocks as usual was Tobias Harris. Harris did a good job of facing up 2011 big, Mikael Hopkins, and taking him to the rack. Also Harris rebounded the ball well and showed a good feel for how to pass. Beyond that, Harris had the game winning floater down one with only seconds remaining.

NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith was impressed with Terps target Roscoe Smith at the adidas Super 64 AAU tournament in Las Vegas.

[Josh] Selby's teammate 6'7" senior Roscoe Smith was also impressive in this game, as he showed nice leaping ability and size for the SF/PF position. Coach K was in attendance observing Rosco [sic] during this game. He has nice moves in the open floor, and had a couple rim shaking dunks, and while he's not that skilled, he does have elite level athleticism. The question is whether he can improve upon the tools he's got. He uses his athleticism to score right now, but that won't make him effective forever. He'll eventually need to tune-up his game.

• Maryland remains in the mix for Los Alamos, N.M., center Alex Kirk, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Alex Kirk is a 6-foot-10, 230-lb center in the class of 2010 from Los Alamos (NM). He is looking at offers from USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt and Maryland. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech are also showing interest.

• DeMatha shooting guard Victor Oladipo gave NBE Basketball Report a list of schools sans Maryland.

Team Takeover wing Victor Oladipo gave NBE his school list of Indiana, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, George Mason, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Clemson, UNC-C and Missouri after the contest.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:37 AM | | Comments (1)
        

July 26, 2009

Newest UM recruit Mario Rowson talks Terps

Word traveled fast Friday of Mario Rowson's commitment to Maryland

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound cornerback left his Norfolk, Va., home for College Park on Friday morning. When he returned home later that day, word of his choice had already tricked back to friends and family.

“They knew before I could even tell them,” Rowson said. “I committed at like 3 [on Friday] and by 4 o’clock people were calling me. I was getting phone call after phone call after phone call.”

Maryland offered Rowson shortly after he participated in a one-day camp in College Park last month. Friday’s return trip gave Rowson and his mother, Cheryleen, a closer look at the campus and football program. Mother and son both came away from the visit impressed.

“Man, she loved it way more than I do,” Rowson said. “[She liked] that you get an education there. You come there to work and you leave with a degree if you work hard. The coaches were like, ‘keep working hard and get your grades up.’”

Rowson’s first and only scholarship offer came from the Terps. Other programs -- most notably Virginia and Virginia Tech -- wanted him to come to camp to earn an offer, but Rowson said there wasn’t much incentive to do so after he saw Maryland.

“I’ve never been to a school like that,” Rowson said. “There’s a lot more to do up there [than there is in Norfolk]. You’ve got the Washington DC area and the Baltimore area, so there’s a lot more to do.”

While the campus was a major selling point for Rowson, he also was intrigued by the UM staff’s plans for him. Rowson said Terps defensive coordinator Don Brown wants to utilize his size and play a lot of press coverage so he “can jam somebody up.”

“Coach Brown was the one that’s really cool with me,” Rowson said. “He’s the one who really got me the offer. He [coaches the corners] and that’s what they’re recruiting me for. He was fired up.”

Rowson said he’s entirely focused on preparing for his senior season now that the recruiting process is finished. Until then, Rowson’s ready to represent Maryland in Norfolk.

“I’m all about it, ” he said.

Click here for Lake Taylor coach Hank Sawyer’s take on Rowson’s commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:44 PM | | Comments (3)
        

July 25, 2009

Terps land Va. cornerback recruit

Maryland picked up its 12th commitment of the 2010 recruiting class Friday when Norfolk, Va., cornerback Mario Rowson committed to the Terps.

“Maryland was the first offer,” said Hank Sawyer, Rowson’s coach at Lake Taylor High. “North Carolina was very interested and of course Virginia Tech and Virginia. But Maryland does some things that we do, maybe at a more sophisticated level. We do a lot of man-to-man coverage, and Maryland has a new defensive coordinator that does play man coverage. I think [Don Brown] kind of fell in love with Mario.”

Sawyer said the Maryland staff was impressed with Rowson’s size (6 feet 4, 190 pounds) and speed (4.43 40). That type of height is rare in a corner, Sawyer said, and Rowson makes sure to use his length and reach to his advantage.

“With all the tall wide receivers now, you can get some tall defensive backs to check them,” Sawyer said. “You don’t have to worry about them jumping over him. A lot of 6-4 kids think they’re basketball players, whereas he knows he’s a football player. It’s kind of rare to find a kid like that playing defensive back.”

Rowson earned his Maryland offer on a visit to College Park last month. Sawyer said other schools were close to pulling the trigger, but the Terps were already in a secure spot at the top of Rowson’s list.

“He was supposed to visit some other camps, but he just really liked Maryland,” Sawyer said. “We got out of school [June] 18th. On the 19th, we went to Maryland. Sometimes kids remember what they see first. ... He kind of fell in love with the place.”

Rowson, who’s also a standout track performer for Lake Taylor, has spent two years on the Titans’ varsity. Sawyer said there’s been plenty of improvement already in Rowson’s game throughout the past three years. He expects more of the same for the future Terp.

“Actually where he’s improved is his ability to check people one-on-one, but offensively he kind of stepped up and caught the ball for us also,” Sawyer said. “He’s a double threat for us. He could play wide receiver [in college] also. The thing about him is that not only can he play corner, he can play free safety as well. We play so much man coverage that we just tell him to check ... whatever team’s best receiver.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:39 AM | | Comments (7)
        

July 24, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Terrell Stoglin was somewhat of an unknown commodity when he committed to Maryland last spring.

Those days of national anonymity are officially over thanks to the Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita point guard’s play at the adidas Super 64 AAU tournament in Las Vegas this week. During the first day of play, Stoglin earned rave reviews from MaxPreps.com.

Maryland is getting a good one in Stoglin. The Santa Rita High School (Tucson, Ariz.) guard kept Pump-N-Run in the game against Canada Grassroots Elite when it looked like things could get ugly. Stoglin drilled four big 3-pointers, teamed up for the play of the day on an alley-oop to teammate Erik Swoope and never let the defensive pressure of the Canadians take him out of his game.

The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy singled out Stoglin as a name to remember.

Committed to Maryland, Stoglin insists he's a point guard. He doesn't have the same elusiveness as the best at that position, but Gary Williams' flex offense makes it less necessary.

"I felt like that would be the best place for me to go," Stoglin said. "I like the way they play. I like the enthusiasm Coach Williams brings to the team. I like how they run, how they play hard."

• According to numerous reports, Portland, Ore., power forward and Terps target Terrence Jones has been one of the most impressive players in Las Vegas thus far.

With 20-plus major college head coaches looking on - including UCLA's Ben Howland, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Washington's Lorenzo Romar and Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh - Terrence Jones put up a pretty good argument as to why he could be the No.1 prospect out west next season.

The 6-foot-8 left hander helped lead the Portland-based I-5 team to a 103-43 victory over the North Carolina's D-One team during Grassroots Basketball Organization of America's Challenge of Champions.

USA Today caught up with Jones, who explained his unique skill set.

He played point guard throughout middle school because he was one of the shortest guys and credits his aunt Ava, who played at Washington, with teaching him the game.

"In high school, I just kept growing and kept the skills that I have," said Jones, who is related to former NBA point guard Damon Stoudamire and current NBA guard Salim Stoudamire.

While Maryland’s been linked with Jones in the past, the five-star prospect gave Rivals.com a list of schools that didn’t include UM.

Terrence Jones is wide open and has a plethora of schools recruiting him, but he did name Kentucky, Arizona, Duke, North Carolina, Connecticut and Oklahoma as the six schools at the top of his list. Duke and North Carolina are the only schools recruiting Jones who have not yet offered.

• Memphis coaches were on hand to check out Baltimore Assault -- featuring Roscoe Smith and Josh Selby -- on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Smith, ranked 24th by Rivals.com, has really long arms and gets in the middle of everything. He's also got nice skills at his size, so he's definitely a big-time prospect from Baltimore. Tigers assistant Jack Murphy has an NBA connection to someone close to Smith, so Memphis will definitely be involved.

• San Diego power forward and Terps target James Johnson caught the attention of NBADraft.net’s Joshua Motenko during day two of the Las Vegas tournament.

The Pump N Run Elite team had one player who looked solid in 6’9” James Johnson impressed with excellent post position and some veteran back-to-the-basket moves, and had a monster jam after cutting down the lane and taking off from a step and a half inside the free throw line. He is a little bit clumsy, but with a 7-foot wingspan, and toughness, he makes things challenging for opponents.

SLAM’s Aggrey Sam was impressed with DeMatha junior power forward Mikael Hopkins during a recent stopover in Washington.

If players were stocks, this would be the time to buy Hopkins, as his potential is turning into production right in front of observers’ eyes–always long, athletic and agile, he’s now a more authoritative rebounder and defensive presence, he finishes strong post moves with a flourish and he continues to expand his ball skills–in a recession-proof fashion.

• Maryland women’s commitment Alyssa Thomas was a standout performer at the 2009 Summer Showcase in Elgin, Ill., according to ESPN HoopGurlz analyst Kelvin Powell.

Thomas can play every position and did. Her guard qualities consisted of great decision making skills and solid ballhandling. Both of these traits make her an instant playmaker. Couple that with her 6-foot-1, ultra-athletic frame and opponents are looking at trouble with no real solutions. As a forward, Thomas can post or slash to the rim and finish with either hand effectively. The Maryland commit can play the point, wing and post all in one possession.

Football recruiting

• Maryland’s first commitment of the 2010 class is now its most highly rated recruit. Wise safety Titus Till is now a four-star prospect, according to Rivals.com.

There were numerous additions at defensive back and athlete, as well. Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise safety Titus Till moved into the 250 at No. 129 after an outstanding performance at the Virginia Nike Camp. He has committed to Maryland.

• Terps commitment Nermin Delic was named one of the top tight ends in Georgia by Scout.com.

Delic is a really good blocker and may be the most physical tight end of the state. He may play defensive end on the next level. Already committed to Maryland.

• Alabama is a recent entrant into the sweepstakes to land DeMatha offensive tackle Arie Kouandjio.

A new name emerging on the Tide’s wish list is Arie Kouandjio, Scout.com three-star offensive tackle from Dematha Catholic School in Hyattsvillle, Md. Koudandjio is a 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle who holds scholarship offers from schools across the country. He has not trimmed a list of favorites, but has strong interest in Alabama, LSU and Miami.

• The Maryland staff wants to see more film of H.D. Woodson (D.C.) cornerback Don Hursey before offering a scholarship.

“Virginia Tech, West Virginia, NC State and Maryland want to see them this season, so I’m open right now for anyone.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:56 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 23, 2009

Former Terps recruit finds a home

Eteyen Edet's long post-high school journey to college football is finally coming to an end.

The former Maryland linebacker commitment signed with North Carolina A&T earlier this month. The Football Championship Subdivision school, which is located in Greensboro, N.C., competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

“I feel great,” Edet said. “I feel like I have a roof over my head. I’m not a lost child in the streets no more. I know where I’m going. Everything is there for me -- a great school, a great program and a great coaching staff. Everything is there for me to succeed. I just have to exercise that opportunity.”

Edet, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, committed to Maryland in Jan. 2008 after a standout senior season at Friendly High in Fort Washington. He signed with the Terps one month later, but came up short of NCAA qualifying standards and was placed at Milford Academy in New York for a year of prep school. Edet’s Milford stint was short-lived thanks to a disagreement with an assistant coach. Maryland cut ties with Edet shortly after he left Milford.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder ended up at North Carolina Tech in Charlotte and had a successful post-grad year on the field. But Edet still came up short on achieving a qualifying SAT score. He returned home to New York after the semester. As Signing Day 2009 came and went, Edet remained in limbo.

“[After that] I went back to Maryland and studied for the SAT,” Edet said. “I bounced back and forth to Maryland (where his aunt lives). A lot of the coaches from my senior year [at Friendly] helped out a lot. New York is my family, but down there is where I take care of a lot of my business.”

After months of preparation, Edet finally received some long-awaited good news. In late April, he received a qualifying SAT score.

“I was at a loss for words,” Edet said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was joyful. I thanked God and moved on to the next step. And that was finding a home.”

Edet said several Division I schools -- including Ohio, Akron, East Carolina and North Carolina -- kept tabs on him throughout his academic ordeal. But by the time he was fully qualified, he “couldn’t get in contact” with any of those coaches. By the end of June, it became clear that Edet was running out of options. Thankfully for him, North Carolina A&T got in contact and Edet was impressed with what the program had to offer.

“The head coach called me and he’s a real humble, sincere man,” Edet said. “He’s a deacon in his church, and I don’t know. It just felt right.”

Edet is spending the remainder of his summer working out in Staten Island. He reports to North Carolina A&T on August 2, and said he couldn’t be more excited to finally begin his college career.

“I know I’m going lower than a lot of people expected after committing to an ACC school out of high school,” Edet said. “But it’s not even about that. It’s about getting a free education, playing football for four years and advancing as a man in life.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 22, 2009

Q&A with Navy coach Billy Lange

Billy Lange has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

billy_lange.jpg

That attitude will come in handy this year as the Navy men's basketball coach attempts to replace the production of graduated Midshipmen Kaleo Kina, Clif Colbert, Brian Richards and Adam Teague. The seniors guided Navy to a 19-10 record last season.

In their place will be a five-man freshmen class, which Lange unveiled Monday.

Pete Banos, a 6-10 center from Trumbull, Conn, Montez Blair, a 6-3 shooting guard from Erial, N.J., Jordan Brickman, a 6-0 point guard from San Antonio, Texas, Troy King, a 6-7 forward from Gaithersburg, and Alex Newsome, a 6-9 center from Denver, N.C., compose Navy's 2009 recruiting class.

Two of Navy's plebes have completed a post-grad year -- Banos at the Naval Academy Preparatory School and Newsome at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. Blair was a basketball and track star at Timber Creek High, Brickman was the No. 46-ranked senior in Texas last year, and King was an MIAA A all-conference pick at St. John's Catholic Prep in Frederick.

Lange spoke with Recruiting Report earlier this week about Navy's 2009 class.

You came into this recruiting period knowing you were losing Kina, Teague, Richards and Colbert. What were your plans to address those losses?

The first thing we wanted to do -- and I always try to do this -- but we were very gung-ho on not settling for anything. We wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity to get the best players we could possibly get. We wanted a good blend of guys with upside and guys that could contribute right away. I don’t want to make it seem like we don’t try to get the best players. But with this group of guys, not that we had staff arguments, but we debated and dissected this class more than any class we’ve ever brought in because we realized the importance of it. And it was fun. It was enjoyable, but we were very, very picky. After being here five years, we kind of know the type of player capable of [succeeding academically], the type of person capable of being a successful Midshipman and basketball player. And we tried to hit that 100 percent.

Banos spent last year at the Naval Academy Prep School. When did he commit to you?

He committed in the summer of 2007. So we had him secured during the 2007-08 season and he prepped during the 2008-09 season.

How did he fare at the prep school?

He had two knee surgeries when he was there. He had a torn meniscus and then after his rehab, he had some complications with it and had to get it done again when the season was over. So he didn’t have a full season to focus on his skills because the injuries held him back. With that being said, he had a fairly good season. When you’re away from home for the first time, those circumstances can break your spirit a little bit.

Is he 100 percent healthy now?

He’s healthy right now, but he’s not [100 percent] healthy. He’s cleared to play, but he’s not at the physical level that he’s going to need to be to compete for us. We’re going to be patient with Pete. The long-term vision here is getting him right, strengthening his legs and getting his weight to where he can compete at Division I practices and games. That curve has started to accelerate. Pete, because of his size -- he’s 6-10 and probably 275 now -- he’s got to get in that 260 range. He put on a lot of weight [because of the injury]. But he can shoot. You’ve got to see this kid. He looks like he’s straight out of the WWF, old-school wrestling. He’s a big, big guy. He’s skilled, he can reverse the ball around the perimeter, he can knock down the mid-range jump shot, he’s got great hands and a great nose for the ball. He’s not a great back-to-the-basket player yet, but he’s good around the basket. I’m not putting any undue expectations on him until we can get his body ready to compete.

How did you get involved with Blair?

[Navy assistant] Eugene Burroughs went to an event in Kansas City. He saw Montez at the event. Eugene and I have been together for five years, and he has an idea of a guy that he’s going to like and I’m going to like. [Blair] comes from my home area in South Jersey, so I did some homework and called some coaches I know there. No one was ready to sell him, but they all said he works hard, he’s very intriguing, has great upside and is a great kid. But he really exploded on the scene late in his junior year of high school.

In Las Vegas, we were going around this tournament and had other guys that were higher priority guys, just because we had seen them for six months. We had an open game slot, so we thought, ‘lets run over to this gym and catch this kid Montez Blair.’ It took about five minutes [to convince me]. I remember thinking, ‘We’ve got to get this kid.’ We contacted his high school coach, who I had known for years, we checked him out at an open gym at his high school, fell in love with him and the rest is history. Of all the guys [at his position] we were looking at, it was a no-brainer that Montez was exactly what we needed. And we fit him as an institution. The Naval Academy is exactly what he was looking for. He fit us, and I think our institution fit him to a “T.”

Blair was a track star in high school. Talk about his athleticism and what he’ll bring to your team.

There are good athletes and there are guys that are athletic. He’s both. He’s got great timing, has great hands, great coordination and change of direction. He’s a very good athlete. He’s athletic in terms of his jumping and his agility is very, very good. He’s doesn’t have to jump over high bars for us, but he can swoop to the rim; he has the ability to finish above the rim. He can go get the basketball. His quickness is very good. As he gains strength and confidence and experience, he’s going to compete. He is maniacal in his approach to basketball. His intensity in getting better is like [his approach] to everything in his life. He’s not going to leave the gym until he’s finished what we’re trying to teach him. It’s the same thing with the classroom. He’s the exact same way.

What type of point guard is Brickman?

He can score. That’s what I like about him. He has the ability to make shots from that position, but the best thing is his court vision and his creativity. He has the ability to deliver passes on time. He doesn’t even have to think about it; it’s so seamless to him. It was important for us to get a point guard last summer, and when it was all said and done, he stood head and shoulders above [every other point guard] we were involved with. It wasn’t even close.

How do you envision him and O.J. Avworo coexisting? Will they play together?

We’ve started two point guards every year since I’ve been here. I’m not saying those two will start together, but in terms of playing together, I’ve got no problems doing it. Both play bigger than their size and have a nasty streak to them. Jordan has better scoring ability than O.J. at this point, but he’s still going to play his game. There’s no doubt they’ll both be on the floor together. How much is yet to be determined, but there’s no doubt in my mind [they’ll play together].

How important is it to land a local guy like King?

It’s been a priority ever since I’ve been here. This year we’ll have [four local guys], between Chris Harris from Richmond, Greg Brown from St. Mary’s Ryken, Jordan Sugars is from Winchester, Virginia and Troy next year. It’s been a priority and we’re just trying to see [local recruiting efforts] come to fruition right now. It helps that we’re located [close to where] Troy [is from]. But it wouldn’t have mattered if he was from anywhere in the country, [because we still would have recruited him]. Being able to land Troy and his versatility and scoring punch was critical for us.

What are some things you’re looking for from him immediately? Will it be his shooting?

The biggest thing that we look for now -- and it didn’t happen by design; it kind of happened by accident -- is we ended up with a majority of players on our roster that are multifaceted. I would use the word ‘versatility.’ It’s funny, we kind of look for it with new recruits. I swear it wasn’t the plan. You’re starting from scratch, baking a cake, you end up with something else and man, it tastes pretty good. It kind of happened this year and we looked for it. With Troy, when you say skill set, I can’t tell you any one thing he does great, but I know he does many things really well. And that kind of lends itself to how we want to play.

When we were recruiting him, we’d talk to his high school coach and he’d say, ‘Oh man, he can really shoot. He’ll fit in great.’ I [also] like his ability to drive, he posts up and he slashes, and he can guard [bigger guys]. I saw him in an AAU game guarding a 6’10 guy and being able to push him around. He’s just so physical. So I never looked at him as this great shooter, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take it.

How beneficial was Hargrave for Newsome in terms of competition and development?

Huge. The coach at Hargrave was keeping us updated daily on him. He was talking about how much he developed. He developed the physical maturity, but I sensed in the past year how much more emotionally mature he became also. He’s in a position to lead and he’s very, very confident. The experience at Hargrave he gained from the competition he was getting, and a year more of maturity lends itself to him playing right away. I expect him to compete immediately for minutes. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be because our other guys have improved that much. If he can stay healthy and adapt to what we do from a skill-set standpoint, my expectations are that he plays.

Talk about Newsome’s game and what he brings to the table.

He knows exactly what he does and he does it very well. He’s going to post you up deep. He doesn’t wow you with a million moves, but he’s quick on his feet. Being left-handed makes it a little awkward for the defense. With that being said, he’s still a freshman. But of all the kids that we’ve recruited that are 6-9 or bigger -- probably six or seven guys in that range -- he has come more ready to play from a low-post scoring standpoint than anybody else. He’s got a good pedigree for scoring the basketball.

Which of these freshmen will you expect to contribute immediately?

I think just by what we’ve lost in Adam and Clif, which were the forward positions, Troy’s got a chance to contribute right away. You just look at what you need. With that being said, I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic. I just feel that this class, talent-wise, all of them are going to be able to push for minutes. It would not shock me if four of these guys are playing a lot. What I enjoy is that it’s not like we have to count [on them for sure]. Five years ago, with Teague and Colbert, those guys were going to play for better or for worse. With this group, I feel like they’re going to compete and push guys to play, and it’s going to strengthen our basketball team.

Last year you lost Greg Sprink but still posted Navy’s best record in 10 years. Now you’re losing Kina, Teague, Colbert and Richards. So will this recruiting class help make up for that lost production?

I remember talking about this last year and I didn’t know how to answer. Kina’s a great scorer, but you’re talking about Greg Sprink who had [multiple] 35-plus point games during his senior year. I think what this group has going for us is that you ask who’s most ready to play, and I really have a hard time answering. And that’s a good thing because I think they all can. I think this group has an opportunity to be the deepest group we’ve had. I think we have an opportunity to make up for the production we lost.

We can play big, we can play small. We’re very quick and versatile. [It will be] more than maybe one guy stepping in and getting Kina’s 20 points per game. Their versatility mixed with the guys we have coming back, I think we’ll be able to make up some of what we lost. Is it going to be all of it? It’s tough to put that on freshmen with so many seniors graduating. But I’m very confident in these guys. I’m just confident that they’re going to push for playing time. To me, I think it makes us deeper and gives us more options. That’s the way I look at it.

Sun photo by John Makely / January 22, 2006

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:16 AM | | Comments (1)
        

July 21, 2009

Tyrek Cheeseboro talks Terps pledge

One day after making his college selection, Tyrek Cheeseboro received all the affirmation he needed.

On Saturday, Cheeseboro committed to Maryland. On Sunday morning, the Milford Mill wide receiver was unveiled as a Terps recruit during services at the Transformation Church of Jesus Christ on Baltimore National Pike.

“[The pastor] just said that I was going to be a Maryland Terrapin and everybody was real happy,” Cheeseboro said. “The church family gave me a standing ovation, gave me applause and everybody walked up to me and said I made a great decision. ... I was happy I was getting the support that I did. I thank God for it.”

Cheeseboro, 6 feet, 180 pounds, picked Maryland over offers from Pittsburgh, Virginia, West Virginia, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, Temple and several others.

Church and family are two of the most important things in Cheeseboro’s life, but he went into the recruiting process with an open mind, removing distance as a relevant factor in his choice. But over time, Cheeseboro said he realized that UM met his three most important criteria.

“I was really looking for a school that can help me with three things I would need to be successful in college,” Cheeseboro said. “Those three things were, a school that can fit me athletically, academically and socially. And Maryland, over time, proved they can do all three real well. Me being a Maryland guy, I can go into Maryland socially and fit in real well. I know I won’t have to be timid about my decision. Athletically, Maryland is a football school and I can see myself doing great things. Academically, with my major being criminal justice, it really pushed Maryland over the top.”

Cheeseboro, who caught 38 passes for 732 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior, joined the Milford Mill varsity during his ninth-grade year. Millers coach Reggie White had a memorable first impression of the future Terp.

“That first conversation me and my assistant had was, ‘Boy, he’s fast,’” White said. “They don’t get slower when they go to college, they get faster. So we knew we had something special.”

White said Cheeseboro’s 4.3 speed was evident on the field from the beginning. Each year has been better than the last, and while Cheeseboro’s junior season will be tough to top, White thinks he’s up to the challenge.

“His junior year was just his coming out party,” White said. “This year we expect humongous things from him. I’m figuring he’s going to get double-teamed anywhere he goes. So he’s going to have to be the guy.”

According to White, Maryland intends to use Cheeseboro at slot receiver, where he’ll be able to stretch the field most effectively. The plans for Cheeseboro in College Park are intended to mirror those utilized with the No. 7 overall pick in April’s NFL draft.

“At Maryland, the same things that they ran with [Darrius] Heyward-Bey is the same way they’re going to use me,” Cheeseboro said. “[The UM coaches said I’m] a guy that can get into the open field and make plays. They’re going to set me up with the screen and go for the deep ball. I have the same type of [style] as Heyward-Bey; not as fast as him, but I can get into the open field and score touchdowns.”

Sifting through his double-digit scholarship offers was a difficult process at times. But with the support of his family, church, coaches and teammates, Cheeseboro said he’s confident he chose the right school.

“It feels awesome,” Cheeseboro said. “I think I made an excellent decision for my football career here in the state. I feel great right now.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:28 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 20, 2009

Weekend wrap — Selby on the market

After spending the last 10 months as a Tennessee recruit, Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby is back on the market.

The five-star prospect, who transferred from DeMatha, withdrew his commitment to the Volunteers on Sunday, according to CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish.

Still, industry sources told CBSSports.com two schools that will almost certainly be involved are Kentucky and Oregon -- both of which have obvious connections to William Wesley, a major person of influence in the sport. Wesley (more commonly known as "Worldwide Wes" or simply as "Wes") has a close and very public relationship with Kentucky coach John Calipari, Oregon assistant Kenny Payne, and Nike Basketball.

GoVolsXtra.com insinuates that Selby’s change of heart could be shoe-related.

Kentucky, a school with a Nike contract and John Calipari as head coach, has already landed the No. 1 and No. 2 rated players in the Class of 2009. Calipari, who enjoyed a strong relationship with Nike at Memphis, is believed to be involved in Selby’s recruitment. Tennessee’s contract is with adidas.

• The Maryland football program picked up a commitment from Milford Mill wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro. The three-star prospect picked the Terps over offers from Virginia, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Syracuse and UConn, among others. Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Cheeseboro’s choice. Click here for video of his announcement.

• The NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio caught up with Terps power forward target J.D. Weatherspoon over the weekend for an update on his recruitment.

Weatherspoon also is listing Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Florida, Missouri, VCU and Cincinnati along with Xavier and Ohio State. Many analysts still believe his choice eventually will come down to XU and OSU, but he doesn’t know what to think at this point.

• Fayetteville, N.C., power forward and Terps target Damontre Harris favors an SEC school, according to Phil Kornblut.

[South Carolina] is the leader for 6-9 Damontre Harris, according to his coach at Trinity Christian Academy in Fayetteville, N.C. “Coach (Neill) Berry and coach (Darrin) Horn have done a tremendous job,” said Trinity coach Heath Vandevender. “They were the first big time program to offer.”

• Terps women’s combo guard recruit Natasha Cloud had a double-double in a loss in the 16-and-under AAU nationals.

Erin Shields scored 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Comets to victory against the New Orleans Dominos in Orlando. The Dominos prevailed, 56-50, but Natasha Cloud scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:58 AM | | Comments (6)
        

July 17, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Very few class of 2010 recruits have had a better July on the AAU circuit than Tobias Harris.

The Long Island, N.Y., power forward and Maryland target was a clear standout at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., this week.

Speaking of forwards who are difficult to guard, no four man in the class scores like Harris. Composed and efficient with the ball in his hands, Harris puts up points that will easily translate to the next level. His stock is rapidly rising.

One Big East assistant told Adam Zagoria that Harris is "the story of the summer."

“He’s the best offensive forward in the country,” the coach said. “He can face up, he can post up, he can drive. He can do everything. If they took a picture of his body from last year and compared it to this year, he can make millions of dollars doing body sculpting or weight loss ads. He looks thin, quick and bouncy.

Harris told USA Today this week that he models his game after a Baltimore native.

Harris would like to pattern his game after Carmelo Anthony, another big player who made a name for himself in New York state and can play every position on the court.

"I just like the way how he's 6-8 and he can shoot and do everything," Harris says.

Maryland remains on Harris’ lengthy list of schools, which he plans to trim to five next month. Harris’ father, Torrel, mentioned one piece of criteria to Zagoria that will be used in narrowing the list.

The family values loyalty and thus the coaches who have attended most of Tobias’ summer games will have the edge.

“If the head coach ain’t recruiting Tobias, they don’t have a chance,” Torrel said.

• Portland, Ore., power forward Terrence Jones -- who was tracked by head coaches from Memphis, UCLA, Maryland and Washington, among others, during the Peach Jam -- received praise during the AAU event for his toughness.

Forward Terrence Jones of Jefferson in Portland, Ore., playing for the I-5 Elite AAU team out of Portland, showed toughness after going down with a bloody nose when he took a blow to the face late in a 73-66 loss to the Georgia Stars. He stayed out briefly, was looked at by athletics trainer Amy Brown and went back in. He's averaging 15.4 points and 9.4 rebounds. "He's very tough," I-5 Elite coach Kumbeno Memory said. "He broke his hand in the NBA Top 100 camp and kept playing."

MaxPreps.com’s Pat Stevens wrote a July evaluation period recap, with news and notes on Maryland targets Harris, Jones, San Diego forward James Johnson and Holly Springs, N.C., power forward C.J. Leslie, who didn’t list UM among his favorites.

C.J. Leslie (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) is a game-changer who’s as passionate and versatile as Barnes and is continually improving as he tightens up his focus. His crowd of coaches backs it up as he said Connecticut, Oregon, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Kentucky were definites along with Florida, who he wants to visit in August.

SLAM’s DeMarco Williams had good things to say about DeMatha shooting guard Victor Oladipo after his Peach Jam performance.

It’s hard to peg Oladipo’s game exactly. Just know that it’s darn good and only going getting better. Kind of like a sweet-dribbling Troy Polamalu, Vic roams the court until he finds what he’s looking for. (Come to think of it, he’s doing the same thing with his college selection. Indiana, Marquette, Maryland, Providence and UMass are anxiously awaiting his decision.) Still, the fast-maturing Maryland native (6-5, 180) appears poised. When he finds a consistent jumper, we’ll all know how to properly spell his name too.

• Delaware junior shooting guard Trevor Cooney was lights-out from long range at the Peach Jam.

By the end of the week Cooney had his shot dialed in and had some very impressive playoff performances with his dead-eye jumper. Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Virginia, Ohio State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Delaware and Maryland are on his list. He has seen them all but Ohio State, but plans on checking out the Buckeyes soon.

• Philadelphia shooting guard Juan’Ya Green has Maryland under consideration, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Juan’Ya Green told NBE this week that he has an offer from Villanova and they are his current favorite. The 2011 lead guard also has offers from Maryland, Temple and St. Joseph’s with Big East schools such as Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Georgetown and Providence showing interest.

Football recruiting

• Terps quarterback commitment Tyler Smith would have probably been considered for the Elite 11 camp had he attended a qualifying event.

Keep in mind that in order to qualify for the final Elite 11 invitation, players needed to attend either an Elite 11 regional camp or a Nike Football Training Camp and many quality prospects in this class chose not to participate. Guys like Notre Dame commit Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller), Zach Lee (McKinney, Texas), Maryland commit Tyler Smith (Easton, Pa./Wilson Area) and Anthony Gonzalez (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty), just to name a few, were not under consideration for this very reason.

• Maryland is in good position with Pittsburgh Penn Hills wide receiver Brandon Ifill, according to ESPN.com.

[Cullen] Christian's teammate, Ifill, has narrowed his list to Michigan, Pitt, West Virginia, Maryland and Rutgers. He has visited all but Michigan, and will visit the Wolverines on July 31.

When asked if he has a favorite school, Ifill said, "It's probably between Michigan and Maryland."

• Defensive end Justin Navarro, a former teammate of UM-bound defensive back Dexter McDougle at Stafford (Va.) High, hopes to hear more from Maryland.

“I’m a big fan of Virginia Tech and Maryland,” he said. “I’ve been watching them both since I was younger.

“I haven’t heard from Maryland yet. I plan on sending my tape to them this season.”

• Balllou (D.C.) offensive guard Michael Pearson camped at Maryland and is waiting for a Terps offer, according to Rivals.com.

“I’m waiting to hear back from Pittsburgh now. I think they are supposed to offer me,” he said. “Maryland wants me to come back to see me a bit more.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:29 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 16, 2009

Weekend AAU tourney in Baltimore

Anyone looking for a mid-summer basketball fix can head over to the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center on Saturday for the Bring it to Baltimore AAU event.

The one-day tournament will feature several Baltimore-based teams in two age groups (class of 2012 and 2013 players). Team Melo, Cecil Kirk and WPC Elite have all signed on to play, while D.C. Assault, Triple Threat (D.C.), Maryland 3D (based in Severna Park), Team Philly, Delaware Cougars and Team Blacktop (Va.) are also scheduled to appear.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top players from Baltimore.

Daquan Cook, Team Melo: A 6-foot-1 sophomore guard and member of City’s 2A state title team. Cook has transferred to St. Frances, where he’ll suit up for Panthers coach Mark Karcher, a cousin of his. Cook scored 21 points in the Class of 2012 I-95 Elite Challenge last May.

Lionel Greene, Team Melo: A freshman standout at John Carroll last season, Greene is a 6-3 shooting guard. Teaming with Cook last May, Greene contributed seven points in the I-95 Challenge.

Akil Carr, WPC Elite: MidAtlanticHoops.com ranks Carr the No. 3 class of 2013 player in the region (which includes Maryland, DC, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York). Carr led the 2013 Baltimore team with 11 points in the I-95 Elite Challenge.

Warren Powers Jr., Team Melo -- Son of the former Maryland and NFL player with the same name, Powers is a 6-foot-5 forward and No. 6 prospect in the region. He’ll play for Glenelg Country this fall.

Myreek Fowlkes, WPC Elite -- The No. 14 prospect in the region for the 2013 class, Fowlkes is a 6-4 wing.

The games tip-off at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center is located at 1100 E. Fayette Street in Baltimore.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:19 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 15, 2009

Gaels' Kyle Fuller picks Virginia Tech

For Mount St. Joseph cornerback Kyle Fuller, his college choice boiled down to this:

Play for the hometown team, join one older brother currently on campus, or follow in another brother’s collegiate footsteps.

Last night, Fuller chose the latter scenario. The 5-foot-11, 160-pounder committed to Virginia Tech, picking the Hokies over Maryland and Kansas.

“It feels good it’s over with,” Fuller said. “I don’t have to worry about it anymore, so it feels good.”

Corey Fuller runs track at Kansas, while Vincent Fuller was a four-year standout at Virginia Tech before being selected by the Tennessee Titans with the No. 108 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. Despite the obvious family ties, Kyle Fuller said his older brothers didn’t try to sway him in any way.

“I guess they were trying not to be biased about it,” Fuller said. “They were just telling me about their schools.”

Virginia Tech emerged as a strong possibility for Fuller during his sophomore year, when the Hokies became the first school to offer him a scholarship. Fuller started going to Hokies games on a regular basis in “fifth or sixth grade,” so the early offer was a welcomed surprise.

“I guess as I went more often, I got used to it,” Fuller said. “Seeing the campus [so often was nice]. I used to go in the locker room after the games. It was pretty cool. ... I went to a camp in the summer after my sophomore year. That’s when I guess it changed from Vincent’s little brother. And then they just started recruiting me from there.”

While the Virginia Tech staff highlighted the legacy angle in their recruitment of Fuller, they also made it clear they wanted him regardless of his brother.

“They go for the players that they want,” Fuller said. “I was the first corner that they offered, and I believe I’m the first one that committed.”

When Fuller decided he would commit to Virginia Tech earlier this week, he gave Vincent a call to deliver the news.

“He just said ‘if you feel comfortable, go ahead and make your decision,’” Fuller said. “He pretty much told me not to let them pressure me into doing it.”

Fuller helped the Gaels to an 8-2 record and a runner-up finish in the MIAA last season. He picked off four passes, forced three fumbles and scored two touchdowns. With recruiting out of the way, Fuller said he’ll focus on his final high school season before venturing down to Blacksburg.

The Hokies coaches told Fuller he’ll probably redshirt as a freshman, but that won’t stop him from doing everything in his power to continue and expand upon his brother’s legacy.

“I’m coming in to compete and work for a spot,” Fuller said. “I’m going to work hard to do that and have fun. I’ll be ready to play.”

Click here for highlights from Fuller’s junior season.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:26 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 14, 2009

Mount St. Joseph's Atkins on TV

Starting tonight on Comcast SportsNet, Mount St. Joseph point guard Eric Atkins and his DC Assault teammates will be featured on a weekly segment during SportsNite at 10 p.m.

The Second Season will chronicle DC Assault's summer season for 10 weeks, culminating with the AAU nationals.

Much of the show's focus will be on Atkins, a Notre Dame recruit, in addition to Duke commitments Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston.

Click here for more info on the show.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:38 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Q&A with UMBC coach Randy Monroe

It will be a new era of sorts for the UMBC men's basketball program this fall.

randymonroeumbc.jpg

Gone from the Retrievers’ roster are point guard Jay Greene, UMBC’s all-time assists leader, and forward Darryl Proctor, the school’s all-time leading scorer. Greene and Proctor were instrumental in guiding UMBC to an NCAA tournament appearance in 2008, and a runner-up finish in the America East tournament last spring.

In the place of Greene and Proctor will be six newcomers to Catonsville. Retrievers coach Randy Monroe will welcome four freshmen to the UMBC roster: St. Mary’s point guard Nick Groce, Windsor, Conn., small forward Adrian Satchell, Red Bank, N.J., shooting guard Brian Neller and Suffolk, Va., shooting guard Jamar Wertz. Groce averaged 13.6 points and 3.6 assists per game in leading St. Mary’s to the MIAA B conference championship, Satchell contributed 13 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per for Windsor’s Class LL state title team, Neller scored 14.2 points per game in helping Christian Brothers Academy to the New Jersey Non-Public South A sectional championship, and Wertz put up 14.2 points per game to guide King’s Fork to a Virginia state title

Monroe will also welcome two players who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. Robbie Jackson, a 6-foot-11, 255-pound center from Aberdeen began his college career at Marshall, and Chris De La Rosa, a point guard from the Bronx, played his freshman year at Siena.

Here are Monroe’s thoughts on UMBC’s incoming class.

You’re bringing in a four-man class (plus two transfers) after losing Jay Greene and Darryl Proctor. How do you feel about the class overall?

Well I’m very excited about this group. I think they’ve come from very successful high school programs under very good coaches and they have an idea of what it takes to be successful. And I think there’s something to be said for having youngsters from programs that have not just been good for one year, but have been good on a consistent basis. So I’m ecstatic with the young men we have coming into our program. Not only do I feel they’re good players, but I feel they’re high quality, high character young men, which is of extreme importance to me. It’s not just about the ability to play basketball, but it’s also about being a fine future representative of UMBC.

Was it the plan all along to make it a bigger class?

Well, I mean it’s a situation where we knew at some point in time we were going to have to bring in a big class. Those things happen. And once again, I think that’s the beauty of college basketball. Sometimes guys panic and ask, ‘Why are you bringing in all these kids?’ But you don’t bring them in just to sit them down. You bring them in with the feeling that they’re going to get meaningful minutes. And a lot depends on how they adjust to the college game, how they adjust to the academic rigors of college life and how they adjust to the social aspects of college. With that being said, I think at some point in time, we were going to have to bring in a big class, which doesn’t bother me. I just think, once again, it helps the program and that means the future will be bright.

Nick Groce committed last summer. How important was it to land someone of his caliber so early in the process?

I thought it was important because Jason Greene was in his junior year and we started recruiting Nick early. We followed him for a couple of summers and we liked his on-court savvy. I think he has high basketball IQ and I think he’s a passionate player. He’s a very cerebral type of player also. He doesn’t get easily rattled. I think he takes a lot of things in and studies the game. And I think he’s going to be a fine college basketball player.

Will he be expected to take over for Jay Greene?

I always look at it this way: I never say someone’s going to be the heir apparent to the next player. I never say, “He’s going to be the next Jay Greene or Darryl Proctor.’ I never mention it to these young men because I don’t think it’s fair. I want them to be who they are. If they are who they are, then we’re going to be a successful basketball team. I will never compare them to other players in our program, because I don’t think that’s a fair assessment.

Is Groce expected to compete for Greene’s spot?

Well I think he certainly has an opportunity to do that, as well as Chris De La Rosa, who sat out last year. I think there’s two guys who are certainly capable of running our basketball team.

What will Neller and Satchell bring to the table, and are you looking for one or both of them to log major minutes right away?

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t determine [if they’ll play right away]. That’s something that the players determine. It’s going to be up to them to see what happens. I’ll never promise a young man how many minutes he’s going to play. When I recruited Jason Greene, it was the same thing. The minutes are going to be up to you. You’re going to determine that. As far as what they will bring, Brian Neller can flat out shoot the basketball. He’s a young man who has a good feel [for the game], coming from a really good high school program in Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey. He’s always playing, always competing, so we’re definitely looking for Brian to come in and knock some shots down.

I think Adrian is a basketball player. I don’t think he has a completely defined position right now. Adrian does a little bit of everything. He goes to the offensive boards and does a good job rebounding on both ends. He’s improved his outside shooting and his ballhandling is getting better. He’s a young man who’s getting better [all the time]. We’ll look to play him in a couple different positions. He has that kind of ability.

Wertz was your last signee. Was he a guy you were monitoring throughout the year, or did he pop up on your radar late?

He was a young man that popped up on our screen later, and he was a young man I was very impressed with. He really loves the game of basketball. I don’t think you can have enough shooters in the game today. He also has very good athleticism. He’s a fiery guy, he’s got pretty good quickness and he’s hungry. He plays with a vengeance. I think he’s a young man who can definitely help us, especially when he gets going shooting the basketball.

What was your competition like on the recruiting trail for this class?

We signed most of these guys early. Adrian had some MAC interest and some America East interest. I know Nick, we jumped on him very early, and kind of got it done early. So there were some other schools in our league that liked him. But when he committed to us, he had some America East and Patriot League schools involved. And then Brian Neller had all kinds of interest. It was just a wide variety, from schools in the MAC, to some America East schools to some Division II schools. Jamar had schools like Rhode Island, and a school in Texas, Stephen F. Austin, that had shown a great deal of interest.

Talk about Chris De La Rosa and what you expect from him.

Chris De La Rosa transferred from Siena. He has three years to play. We actually recruited Chris when he was in high school at All Hollows in the Bronx. Chris is really someone who’s very, very quick with the ball. He’s very good in the open court. He can shoot the basketball from 15, 16 feet. And he’s really, really an effective player. He really knows how to win. I think he’s a winner. And I’m really excited about being able to have him possibly step in and fill the role that Jason did for us.

Talk about what you’ve seen from Robbie Jackson during this past year.

Well Robbie’s a big guy. He’s got a chance to be a very good player. He’s got terrific hands, a very good outside shot, and he can score and rebound the basketball. He likes contact, and he’s about 6’11, 255 pounds. He gives us a very huge presence in the middle, which I’m very excited about.

Overall, do you feel this class will fill your needs?

Yes I do. Once again, I’m excited about this group. They’re excited to get started. It’s also new blood, too, and I think that’s always a refreshing thing. New guys are coming in, and they kind of rejuvenate the coach, too. It makes both he and his staff look forward to getting started as well. Don’t get me wrong, [I’ll miss the departed players]. But it happens to everyone across the country, where players move on to future basketball careers or get started with their futures in other careers. So I’m totally excited about this group.

AP photo / Dec. 13, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:14 AM | | Comments (14)
        

July 13, 2009

Weekend wrap — Peach Jam, King City Classic notes

Nearly every major college basketball coaching staff is down in Augusta, S.C., today for the Peach Jam AAU tournament.

That includes Gary Williams and the Terps staff, according to NBE Basketball Report. The Big East-centric basketball site already caught up with UM target Tobias Harris today. The Long Island, N.Y., power forward said he hopes to narrow his list of schools to five or six by the end of the month.

As it stands, his list reads Connecticut, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Florida, Kentucky, Memphis, Notre Dame, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland and Louisville.

Check out InsideMDSports.com’s Twitter feed for Peach Jam updates throughout the day.

• Maryland targets Roscoe Smith, Trevor Cooney and Terrence Jones all drew high marks from NBE Basketball Report for their play at the King City Classic last week.

Roscoe Smith -- Really like his edge, but it also gets him in trouble when he tries to do too much. Played really well when he let the game come to him instead of trying to force the issue. Will benefit from elite coaching when he gets it. Still raw and needs to work on his decision making.

ESPN.com’s Reggie Rankin praised Holly Springs, N.C., forward C.J. Leslie for his King City Classic efforts.

Leslie played with energy, effort and intensity all week. He ran the floor with great urgency and finished above the rim on every opportunity. He hit the glass hard and scored in the post with quick athletic moves. He must develop his perimeter ballhandling and shooting to take his game to the next level, but you never have to look for this high-energy forward when he is on the floor.

Testudo Times has an introduction to Bellflower, Calif., point guard Cezar Guerrero, a 2011 point guard that may remind Maryland fans of Greivis Vasquez.

If you couldn't handle Greivis's "flair", you better pray we don't land Cezar Guerrero. I could see it happening, though - West Coast connections are improving (commits from Stoglin and Ross, and recruiting guys like Jones, James Johnson, and Alex Kirk), Maryland needs a PG (Quinn Cook is the only PG on the board right now), and the highest profile Hispanic basketball player in perhaps the last 20 years is currently at Maryland. These signs point to Guerrero being a legitimate possibility (okay, so the last one is a stretch).

• Two postgrad big men with Terps interest impressed at the Hoop Group Summer Classic over the weekend. Dallas center Waverly Austin and former Lake Clifton forward Cleveland Melvin have heard from Maryland, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Melvin, who currently stands 6-foot-8 and weighs about 230 pounds, will take his game to Notre Dame Prep next season and has offers from Missouri, Maryland, VCU, Towson St. [sic], George Mason and Xavier with Syracuse and Pittsburgh showing interest. He also hoped to visit Connecticut.

... [Austin] took an unofficial to Georgetown earlier this summer and has West Virginia trying to set up an unofficial visit as well. Maryland, Virginia, South Florida and Florida State are among the others calling on him.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:08 AM | | Comments (4)
        

July 10, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland's chances of landing an elite small forward to pair with point guard Terrell Stoglin and shooting guard Terrence Ross in the 2010 class could be rising.

At the It Takes 5ive adidas Classic in Cincinnati this week, The Miller School’s Mychal Parker told Rivals.com that the Terps are out front in his recruitment.

Four-star forward Mychal Parker said Maryland is at the top of his list with Virginia, Miami and Kentucky following in that order. All but Kentucky has offered. Arkansas and USC have offered and Alabama and Georgia Tech are showing interest.

Tobias Harris, a four-star power forward from Long Island, N.Y., gave Rivals.com a list of schools that didn’t include Maryland.

Tobias Harris quickly rattled off Tennessee, Connecticut and Syracuse when asked about his school list. He then mentioned Memphis and Kentucky as schools that have just started recruiting him. Kentucky has yet to offer. Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and West Virginia are still on his list as well.

In the same story, former Walbrook and soon-to-be Oak Hill small forward Roscoe Smith updated his recruiting picture.

Roscoe Smith said the recent scholarship offer from Duke is special because of the history and tradition of the program. He is also high on Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Georgetown and LSU, who have all also offered.

Smith was one of three Baltimore natives earning high marks for his play at the King City Classic in Cleveland.

Smith is a smooth jump shooter with 3-point range. He can also knock down one or two-dribble pull-ups. He has good length, and can shoot over smaller defenders with ease. He has a good looking stroke on spot-ups in transition, deep in the corners or in the open area on dribble penetration. His trigger is quick, and he has confidence in his jumper.

• DeMatha shooting guard Victor Oladipo told NBE Basketball Report that he has about 30 scholarship offers.

Some of those offers have come from Indiana, Clemson, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Providence, Xavier, Dayton, UMass, VCU and Cincinnati. He also indicated he is expecting an offer from Pittsburgh very soon and he has been to Georgetown.

• The Arizona Daily Star says Terrell Stoglin is the top hoops prospect in Tucson.

Stoglin -- the area’s most-wanted recruit since [Sean] Elliott -- committed to Gary Williams and Maryland right before Sean Miller signed at Arizona.

Testudo Times, meanwhile, unearthed a fantastic YouTube clip of Stoglin attempting to freestyle. The future Terp makes Bobby Maze look like 2Pac. Check out the video here.

• Terps shooting guard target Trevor Cooney, a 2011 prospect from Wilmington, Del., did what he does best at the LeBron James Skills Academy.

Best Shooter: Trevor Cooney could have been the shooting instructor at the camp. He has great shooting technique that is consistent no matter the situation. Cooney has the ability to swing a game in a hurry with his 3-point shot. Though his long-term NBA prospects are a question, he has the makeup of an excellent college player.

• Philadelphia point guard Tyrone Garland -- who received some Maryland interest last winter but no offer -- committed to Virginia Tech on Thursday.

"Virginia Tech just seemed like a good fit right now," Garland said. "I like the coaches. And it seems like it's a place I can focus at, and just focus on basketball and not anything else."

• For an extremely comprehensive look at Maryland’s 2010 and 2011 basketball recruiting efforts, check out InsideMDSports.com’s Guide to July. Testudo Times also broke down the Terps’ post and guard recruiting this week.

Football recruiting

• Southeast Raleigh (N.C.) linebacker Kendall Moore has narrowed his list to Notre Dame, Florida State, South Carolina, NC State, Duke and Maryland. The four-star prospect, who will announce his choice in the next few days, spoke to Rivals.com about all six schools.

Maryland: They are a good school. One of their linebackers, Demetrius Hartsfield goes there and he tells me good stuff and how they are on the right track. I used to play with him and he’s talked about how we can play together again. It’s a good opportunity for me and I like that.

• Virginia Beach safety Nick Dew, a three-star prospect with a reported Maryland offer, hopes to visit College Park soon.

“I plan on taking more trips,” he said. “I want to visit Maryland and West Virginia before the month is over. I think West Virginia may be on August 3rd or 4th. I’m trying to visit out-of-state. I’m working hard to get to Michigan State and Indiana too.

• Kent (Conn.) School linebacker Tyler Harris camped at Maryland but is still waiting on an offer.

While Harris had plenty of good things to say about Maryland, he did not leave town with an offer. Where do the Terps stand on that with him?

“I gave them film long before the school year ended. They said they loved my film. They’re just going to be keeping in contact with me.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:40 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 9, 2009

Two Terps recruits headed to prep school

Before David Mackall and L.A. Goree join the Maryland football program, they’ll team up at Fork Union Military Academy this fall.

Mackall, a defensive end from Edmondson, and Goree, a linebacker from C.H. Flowers, fell short of NCAA qualifying standards and will spend this fall shoring up their academics and playing football for the Virginia prep school. They report to Fork Union next month.

Goree said he was disappointed when it became clear he would need to go to prep school, but “it is what it is.” The Maryland coaches pointed Goree in Fork Union’s direction.

“They were understanding,” Goree said of the UM staff. “They were talking about me going since January, just to mature a little bit more before coming to Maryland and be focused on football and schoolwork, not girls and parties. ... [The Fork Union coaches are] strict as far as I know, but they seem like cool guys. But they’re no-nonsense with their players down there. It’s just business.”

Mackall said he came up about 50 points short on his most recent SAT attempt. While going to prep school isn't ideal, Mackall said he's comforted to know that other Maryland players have been in this situation before.

“I’m pretty mad that I’ve got to go through this, but whatever it takes, I’m going to do it,” Mackall said. “I wanted to go to Maryland [right away], but I’ll get there. Academically, I think it’ll [prepare me for college] better anyway.”

Edmondson coach Dante Jones said the Fork Union staff is “very excited” to have Mackall in the fold for the upcoming season. He and Goree should do well as teammates in Virginia, Jones said.

“It’s always good going somewhere where you have someone you know that you’ll be with for a lot of years,” Jones said. “So it’s definitely a good thing.”

Maryland defensive linemen Cody Blue (Wilde Lake) and Zach Kerr (Quince Orchard) spent last fall at Fork Union before enrolling at College Park in January.

“I’ve been talking to Zach Kerr all the time and he’s been telling me stuff about it,” Goree said. “[I just need to put in] my time and get good grades.”

Mackall said he's spoken to Goree a few times and they're both on the same page with regard to what they need to accomplish at Fork Union.

“We’ve both got that mindset that we have to help each other out and get this thing done together," Mackall said. "So I’m looking forward to it.”

• Click here for a recap of Goree’s senior season and here for a look at Mackall’s final high school campaign.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:45 AM | | Comments (8)
        

July 8, 2009

Updated 2010 basketball rankings

The month of July has been a busy one for basketball recruiting evaluators.

Three sets of rankings for the class of 2010 have been updated in the past week. The Rivals 150 and Scout.com Top 100 came out July 3, and the ESPNU 100 was updated today.

Here's a quick look at where local players and Maryland targets were ranked.

Baltimore natives

Josh Selby (Tennessee), Lake Clifton point guard

Rivals: 7
Scout: 10
ESPN: 24

Will Barton (Memphis), former Lake Clifton shooting guard

Rivals: 10
Scout: 9
ESPN: 12

Roscoe Smith, Oak Hill (Va.) small forward

Rivals: 24
Scout: 31
ESPN: 23

Eric Atkins (Notre Dame), Mount St. Joseph point guard

Rivals: 89
Scout: unranked
ESPN: unranked

C.J. Fair (Syracuse), City small forward

Rivals: 90
Scout: 86
ESPN: 41

Jordan Latham (Xavier), City center

Rivals: 112
Scout: 96
ESPN: 85

Jonathan Graham, Calvert Hall forward

Rivals: 125
Scout: unranked
ESPN: 61

Maryland commitments

Terrence Ross, Montrose Christian shooting guard

Rivals: 40
Scout: 62
ESPN: 25

Terrell Stoglin, Tucson, Ariz., point guard

Rivals: 140
Scout: unranked
ESPN: 71

Maryland targets

Terrence Jones, Portland, Ore., power forward

Rivals: 15
Scout: 34
ESPN: 15

Roscoe Smith, Oak Hill (Va.) small forward

Rivals: 24
Scout: 31
ESPN: 23

Tobias Harris, Glen Head (N.Y.) power forward

Rivals: 27
Scout: 29
ESPN: 19

C.J. Leslie, Holly Springs (N.C.) power forward

Rivals: 34
Scout: 13
ESPN: 11

Justin Coleman, Richmond, Va., small forward

Rivals: 42
Scout: 20
ESPN: unranked

James Johnson, San Diego power forward

Rivals: 60
Scout: 21
ESPN: unranked

Mychal Parker, Washington, N.C., small forward

Rivals: 70
Scout: 55
ESPN: 16

Damontre Harris, Fayetteville, N.C., forward

Rivals: 83
Scout: 65
ESPN: unranked

Alex Kirk, Los Alamos, N.M., center

Rivals: 106
Scout: 66
ESPN: 76

Victor Oladipo, DeMatha shooting guard

Rivals: 107
Scout: unranked
ESPN: unranked

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:07 PM | | Comments (3)
        

July 7, 2009

Suitland DB talks Terps commitment

Five minutes was all it took for Jeremiah Johnson to decide his college future.

The Suitland High defensive back was summoned to College Park shortly after participating in Maryland’s summer football camp. On June 30, Johnson and his parents met with the Terps’ staff.

“We sat down in the coach’s office and they explained to me that they were offering [a scholarship],” Johnson said. “I guess about five minutes later, I accepted the offer. ... Maryland was actually my first offer. And it’s amazing how one day I wake up with no offers, and then that same night I’m already committed to a school. So it’s very exciting.”

Word of the 5-foot-11, 154-pounder’s decision traveled fast. Johnson said Rivals.com ran a story on his commitment hours after it happened. By the next day, all of his teammates had read the story and offered their congratulations. None were surprised with his choice, which was obviously an easy one for him to make.

“I guess first off, because it’s the hometown team and I always root for the hometown team,” Johnson said. “I’ve been watching football since I was young, and my dad was a big Maryland fan. He actually lived right across the street from Maryland’s campus. A lot of my family [members are] Maryland fans. And I like Coach Friedgen and the program that he runs.”

Suitland coach Ed Shields was surprised Johnson didn’t have other scholarship offers, although he expected they would eventually come. Still, Johnson’s recruitment progressed in a somewhat natural fashion.

“I really think he was flying under the radar,” Shields said. “That’s just one where I think Maryland had seen the highlight film, they had seen his results from combines and stuff like that, so it’s just one of those things. And it’s really good, because Maryland should get the ones in their backyard that other people haven’t caught onto yet. That’s the way it ought to work, so it worked out very well.”

Johnson, who has started for Suitland since his sophomore year, had another theory for his low-profile recruitment.

“Well I think ... as far as the first offer, a lot of colleges might be scared to make that first one,” Johnson said. “They might like what they see, but they say ‘there might be a reason this kid doesn’t have any offers yet.’ But Maryland really liked what they saw in me, and they weren’t scared to take a chance. That’s another reason I really respect Maryland, because they didn’t second-guess me.”

Shields was the longtime head coach at Northwestern High in Hyattsville before coming to Suitland four years ago. After Rams coach Nick Lynch was tragically killed in an automobile accident last winter, Shields was tabbed as his replacement. Prior to his elevation to the top spot, Shields was the defensive backs coach. He recalled Johnson’s play as an undersized 10th-grader, noting his discipline and athleticism. From that year on, Shields expected big things from Johnson.

“Number one, he’s a fantastic athlete,” Shields said. “But more important, he’s very smart. He played for us in the 10th grade when we won the South region. He was one of the people that was helping us. He picks things up very quickly. And he just seems very mature … and that’s why we’re looking for big things from him next year. He just has this presence about him. He’s a good leader, a good athlete and a very good student as well. Sometimes you don’t get all of those things, but he’s the whole package.”

Johnson will spend the rest of this summer adding weight to his 154-pound frame. The UM coaches said they’d like to see him put on 15-20 pounds, so he’s been hitting the weight room on a regular basis.

While it’s been a week since Johnson made his commitment to the Terps, the excitement hasn’t subsided.

“I’m still very excited,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot to take in. I’m only 16 years old, and just having a full scholarship from a Division I university [is unbelievable]. But I’m so excited. Once I graduate and get ready to go to Maryland, I’ll put in a lot of work and hopefully we can win a national championship.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:47 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 6, 2009

Weekend wrap — Pilgrim makes choice

Maryland's whirlwind pursuit of former Hampton power forward Matt Pilgrim ended over the weekend.

The Kentucky transfer -- who was told he wouldn’t have a scholarship at UK this season -- visited College Park late last week. But on Saturday, the 6-foot-8, 225-pounder committed to Oklahoma State.

So Pilgrim started looking for a new school and had narrowed his choices to Oklahoma State, Maryland, Cincinnati and Memphis before picking the Cowboys Saturday.

“I just feel like I jelled with the team and (OSU coach Travis Ford) seems like a real focused coach,” Pilgrim said Saturday. “I really like the style of basketball he plays and I’m just the kind of player he wants. I’m a guy that’s going to give 100 percent and play hard no matter what position I play.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal caught up with Richmond, Va, small forward Justin Coleman, who gave a list of schools under consideration.

IU, Xavier, Charlotte, Marquette, Oklahoma, Duke, Central Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida have been in touch. He doesn't have an offer yet, but he's visited Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth and Maryland.

• According to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, small forward Roscoe Smith is on Tigers coach Josh Pastner’s wish list.

The Tigers have already made one successful foray into Baltimore with the Barton Brothers, so why not another? Memphis will certainly be pushing hard to get a visit from Smith, though he recently did not list the Tigers among his top five schools. The 24th-ranked player on Rivals' list is a presence inside and outside.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:45 AM | | Comments (3)
        

July 3, 2009

Weekly recruiting roundup

While the Maryland staff continues to focus its attention on the 2010 recruiting class, there could be a last-minute addition to the 2009-10 UM roster.

InsideMDSports.com reported that Matt Pilgrim, a junior power forward from Kentucky, was planning an official visit to College Park this week.

Pilgrim, 6 feet 8, spent his first two years of college at Hampton before transferring to Kentucky last year. After sitting out the 2008-09 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Pilgrim would have been eligible to suit up for the Wildcats this coming season.

When John Calipari was hired to replace Billy Gillispie in Lexington, Pilgrim -- according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal -- was told there wouldn’t be a scholarship available for him at UK.

According to a source close to the situation, Calipari and Josh Pastner are working together to bring Pilgrim to Memphis. Calipari, the source said, will support Pilgrim's case to the NCAA.

Though Pilgrim said he probably wouldn't make a commitment until he sits down with his family, he acknowledged the urgency of picking a new school so that he can start the appeal process. Pilgrim has also visited Oklahoma State.

Here’s a quick video clip of Pilgrim playing with Hampton against, coincidentally enough, Maryland in the 2007 CBE Classic at Comcast Center. The Terps edged Pilgrim’s Pirates, 70-64. Pilgrim finished with 11 points, five rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists.

Check out Testudo Times for more on Pilgrim.

• Former Maryland shooting guard target Lance Stephenson has finally found a home. The five-star prospect committed to Cincinnati on Tuesday.

"We are very excited about Lance's decision to become a Bearcat," head coach Mick Cronin said. "Lance has terrific talent as a basketball player and is also a fierce competitor on the court. His desire to win will help us compete for a Big East Championship.

"As a big guard, Lance brings playmaking ability and versatility to our team, along with his talent for scoring. We look forward to getting Lance here for summer school and building our team for the upcoming season."

• Terps point guard commitment Terrell Stoglin has fared well in the Tucson (Ariz.) Summer Pro League, according to league director and former Arizona player Corey Williams.

"I don't really follow high school basketball at all," he said. "There's some good, talented kids in town. It's been surprising to me to see these kids come out and play very well against grown men."

Over three games, Stoglin has scored 32 points on 56 percent shooting.

• Maryland power forward targets C.J. Leslie and Terrence Jones stood out at Nike’s Vince Carter Skills Academy in Orlando last weekend. ESPN.com’s Paul Biancardi listed Leslie as the No. 3 best scorer in camp.

Leslie is an explosive, active athlete who is a big-time finisher when he gets in the paint. He has a quick first step to the basket; he stays low on the drive to finish high above the rim. He gets points from finishing dump-off passes from his teammates' penetration along with climbing on the offensive glass.

Jones checked in at No. 1 on Biancardi’s best slasher list.

This lefty is a physical specimen who drives the ball with explosive strength and overpowers defenders on his way to the basket. A good percentage of his points come from the free throw line because he is so strong and attacks the basket on the drive and from the post.

MaxPreps.com ranked Terps power forward target Tobias Harris No. 8 on its list of New York male athletes of the year.

The 6-8 forward missed most of the first half of his junior season with a severe ankle injury but returned with a vengeance to lead the run to a victory over Triche and Jamesville-DeWitt for the Federation Class A crown. Harris averaged 23.5 points and 11.5 rebounds after arriving at Lutheran as a summer transfer. College suitors -- and just about anybody that matters would like to recruit him -- will find Harris back at Half Hollow Hills West, where he averaged 29 points as a sophomore on a 22-2 season; Harris transferred back there during Easter break.

Football recruiting

• Maryland defensive back recruit Avery Graham has been named The Gazette’s boys track Athlete of the Year.

Outstanding at Class 2A state meet, scoring or contributing to 40 of team's 76 points. Captured gold medals in 100, 200, two sprint relays, lifting Clarksburg to first state team title.

The Washington Post’s Recruiting Insider reports that Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) offensive tackle Earl Johnson was offered a scholarship by Maryland last week.

While he'll likely need to add plenty of weight to transition to a college tackle, Johnson also plays defensive end for Friendship, which has sent several players to low-level Division I programs the past couple of years, but hasn't been able to attract the attention of larger schools like Maryland.

• The Terps lost out on offensive guard Daquan Jones earlier this week when the three-star prospect committed to Penn State.

Jones (6-4, 300) is from Johnson City, N.Y. He also had offers from Pitt, Boston College, Syracuse, Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers and Connecticut.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 2, 2009

Monroe discusses Maryland pledge

After Maryland wrapped up its 2009 recruiting class, one of the Terps’ first junior scholarship offers went out to St. John’s College (D.C.) defensive tackle Andre Monroe.

The 5-foot-11, 290-pounder thought about making an early commitment, but decided to go through the recruiting process for a little while. That ended Tuesday night, when Monroe committed to the Terps.

“It feels great knowing that I’m committed and they were at the top of my list the whole time,” Monroe said. “It feels great and I feel relief, getting it out of the way before the season so I can concentrate on my senior year.”

After Maryland offered, New Mexico, Akron, Bowling Green, Miami (OH) and Ohio followed suit with scholarships of their own. Other major schools expressed interest, and Monroe took visits to Pittsburgh, Duke and North Carolina. But the Terps remained his only BCS-conference offer. St. John’s coach Joe Patterson thinks there’s a simple explanation for Monroe’s relatively low-profile recruitment.

“[Monroe’s height] was the only thing you ever heard anyone talking about ... as far as any issues he may have had,” Patterson said. “If he had been a couple of inches taller, I’m sure he would’ve been a national recruit.”

The Maryland staff first saw Monroe at a summer football camp before his sophomore year. Whenever a Terps coach went to a St. John’s game last season to check out offensive line recruit Pete White, Monroe inevitably played his way into their consciousness. Patterson said Monroe’s junior film led to the early UM offer.

“Andre is as productive as anyone I’ve ever had,” Patterson said. “Teams had to scheme around him. ... He reminds me, as far as being a playmaker, of Tony Tucker, who’s a defensive end for Pittsburgh. I think Andre brings a whole different range of skills just because he has such a tremendously low center of gravity and he uses his body so well. And he’s got incredibly strong legs. That package [is tough to come by].”

Monroe and White used to car-pool together to St. John’s, and the two are admittedly close. But Monroe said his former and future teammate never put pressure on him to commit to the Terps.

“He threw his input in there,” Monroe said. “But he wasn’t trying to do it really hard like all the coaches were. He explained to me that he went through the process, too. He showed me how sometimes the pressure can get to you, and he didn’t want [me to go through] some of the things that happened to him.”

When Monroe arrives in College Park in 2010, he’ll have a chance to go up against White in practice again on a daily basis. Monroe said he’s excited to suit up for the program that believed in him from the start. For the rest of the summer, he’s committed to making his senior season a memorable one.

“Right now I’ll keep working out and continue to get better, spend more time with my teammates to make sure we’re together to have a successful season and win a championship.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:53 AM | | Comments (8)
        

July 1, 2009

Atholton's Robinson talks Terps commitment

In June 1999, Derry (Pa.) Area offensive lineman Kyle Schmitt landed a scholarship offer from the Maryland football program and promptly accepted.

Ten years later, Atholton wide receiver-defensive back Matt Robinson found himself in a similar position as Schmitt -- his new coach -- once did.

On Monday, Robinson decided to follow in Schmitt’s footsteps and commit to the Terps.

“It just feels good to know where I’m going,” Robinson said. “I’ve been following the team for awhile. They’ve always been a big school in my mind that I wanted to go to.”

As a junior, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Robinson was a first-team All-Howard County selection after catching 15 passes for 210 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, he recorded 74 tackles, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Despite Robinson’s best efforts, Atholton struggled to a 3-7 season.

When Atholton decided to make a coaching change last spring, the 27-year-old Schmitt was tabbed for the job, fresh off a two-year stint as a Maryland graduate assistant. While Schmitt’s Maryland ties run deep, the former UM offensive line stalwart stayed impartial throughout Robinson’s recruitment.

“I didn’t try to sway him in any way,” Schmitt said. “Me being a Terp player and former coach, I didn’t want that to come into play. Obviously, I’m glad Matt chose Maryland. I think it’s a great program. But I’m happy he’s close to home. His family can see him play, and that’s why I’m thrilled with Matt. He’s ready to do it.”

For the past four months, Robinson’s received a free preview of what football might be like in College Park. Schmitt has adopted many of the Terps’ coaching and training methods in his brief tenure with the Raiders.

“It’s been really good,” Robinson said. “We’re running all the same stuff Maryland does, really. We’ve got this whole new workout plan. It’s really legit.”

It’s likely that Robinson will start his college career as an H-back, though there’s also the potential for him to play safety. Schmitt thinks that versatility is one of Robinson’s greatest strengths.

“Right know he’s open to playing anywhere, and I think that’s what Maryland liked about him, and that’s what I love about him,” Schmitt said. “I think he could grow to 230, 240 pounds. He’s one of the top five hardest workers on our team right now. ... I think Matt’s best football is in front of him; it’s not even close. Maryland saw that as well. The unknown with Matt might be his best quality. There’s a lot of potential there that’s untapped right now.”

With offers from Fordham, James Madison, Massachusetts, Old Dominion and Stony Brook, it’s safe to say Robinson floated under the radar of most college football recruiters. Schmitt, however, cautions Maryland fans to overlook recruiting rankings when it comes to Robinson’s game.

“I told Matt, ‘Maryland knows you better than any school in the country.’ ... The more they saw him, the more they liked him. ... He makes plays, he’s got excellent ball skills for a guy his age and he’s a smart player. Matt’s going to be a productive player. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Robinson’s similarly confident that he’ll live up to the Maryland staff’s expectations.

“I work hard and I can bring a lot to the table,” Robinson said. “I never quit.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:19 AM | | Comments (0)
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About Matt Bracken

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

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
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