baltimoresun.com

« May 2010 | Main | July 2010 »

June 30, 2010

Quick decision for Terps women's hoops recruit

Lexie Brown isn’t quite certain which high school she’ll enroll at this fall. But the rising sophomore knows exactly where she’ll attend college three years from now.

Brown made the trip from her Suwanee, Ga., home to College Park last week for the Maryland women’s basketball program’s annual elite camp. On Saturday, the 5-foot-9 point guard was offered a scholarship by UM coach Brenda Frese. Seconds later, Brown was a Terp.

“I don’t even think she finished the sentence,” Brown said. “I think I kind of jumped in the middle of her question [and committed]. But after I said it, I was like ‘I think I’m going to cry.’ And she said, ‘I think I’m going to cry, too.’ We were just both really excited about it. ... It was surreal. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

The commitment to Maryland capped an improbable year for Brown, a 4.0 student who guided Dr. Phillips High in Orlando to a 30-2 record and an appearance in the Florida Class 6A semifinals. Brown, the daughter of former NBA point guard Dee Brown, was named a co-captain and led the Panthers with 15 points, four assists and three steals per game.

“I can remember Lexie from the first time she set foot on our high school campus,” said Dr. Phillips coach Anthony Jones. “She was nervous from the start, nervous about how she was going to be accepted in our program and what role she would play. … [Being named co-captain as a freshman] put a lot of pressure on her. But I know that putting pressure on Lexie helped her focus on playing at the varsity level. Every time she stepped on the court she was trying to prove how she can play with the seniors and juniors. We set out with a goal to get to the states, period, and we made it. We lost in the districts but won regionals. We made our team goal and a lot of history at our school at the varsity level.”

Brown cemented her status as a future Division I player almost immediately, earning a spot in the Panthers’ starting lineup right from the start. Jones said Brown demonstrated tremendous basketball IQ, constantly making the right decisions and flourishing in her leadership role.

“She has the background of her father playing point guard and teaching her the point guard role. Starting at four or five years old, or even younger than that, she’s been molded right into that player,” Jones said. “Today, her IQ is on the college level. So she’s going to be a pretty tall, long guard, which will be to her advantage. She’s probably 5-9 right now, and she can stop any guard. She’s long and can block shots. She led our team in steals this year as a freshman. I think at the college level, she will play the point guard. If I was a college coach, she’d definitely play point guard. She can set up her teammates, she can drive and dish, shoot the 3-pointer and mid-range jumper. And she can go left and right. She’s a strong player and a great finisher.”

The Brown family relocated from Orlando to suburban Atlanta after the school year in an effort to cut down on Dee Brown’s commute to Massachusetts, where he coaches the Springfield Armor of the NBA Developmental League. Lexie Brown, meanwhile, has kept busy this summer playing for the Georgia Ice AAU program, while keeping an eye on her college future.

“The first time [the Maryland staff] saw me was last [spring] in an AAU tournament at Boo Williams,” Brown said. “Then [Terps assistant coach David] Adkins came down to Orlando for a game. Coach Frese came down for a game, also. They had seen me a couple times in AAU this season. They kept in contact with my dad a lot.”

Maryland had been the top school on Brown’s radar since she was in elementary school. Over the past several months, the Terps’ interest in Brown became increasingly serious.

“I really started liking Maryland because Kristi Toliver was there,” Brown said. “I really liked the way she played and really could relate to her game. I started researching the academics, and they’re good. I’m really interested in business, and they have one of the top business schools. That’s a plus. I love the coaching staff. I talked to Coach Adkins before, and ever since he has started coming to watch me play. I felt a connection with [the coaching staff].”

At Maryland’s camp last weekend, Brown was pulled aside early on for extra instruction by Adkins. She later played pickup with members of Maryland’s team, toured the campus, and eventually made her commitment.

Brown’s early pledge surprised some who know her, but a plan was in place to commit just in case Maryland offered. Ending the recruiting process before it really got started was something Brown was happy to do.

“Most people were proud and happy,” Brown said. “But there were some people like, ‘Why didn’t you wait to get more offers on the table?’ But Maryland was always my No. 1 choice, so I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, let me see if someone else comes in and offers.’ If they’re my No. 1 choice, I’m going to take it because that’s where I want to be.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:48 PM | | Comments (2)
        

June 29, 2010

New Terps women's hoops pledge realizes dream

Chloe Pavlech's mind was made up.

The young point guard from Cincinnati met Brenda Frese, clicked with the Maryland coach immediately and was sold on suiting up for the Terps. There was just one minor hiccup preventing Pavlech from committing to UM on the spot:

She was still in middle school.

“The first time I met Coach Frese was at the [Women’s Basketball Coaches Association] games” in Cleveland in 2007, Pavlech said. “I asked for her autograph and she was so nice to me. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love her.’”

Pavlech, who grew up idolizing former Terps standouts Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver, attended Maryland’s elite camp before her freshman year and again last weekend. As Pavlech and her grandmother were driving back to Ohio from College Park on Sunday, she got a call from Tom Jenkins, the sponsor of her AAU team.

“He goes, ‘Where do you want to go to school right now?’” Pavlech recalled. “I said, ‘Maryland.’ And he said, ‘Where do you want to go to school two years from now?’ And I said, ‘Maryland.’ And he said, ‘Well, why don’t you call Coach Frese and tell her that, because she’s going to offer you a scholarship.’ ... I was just jumping up and down. I couldn’t believe it. I told my grandma and she gave me the biggest hug. My mom was in a huge shock.”

Pavlech, now a rising junior at Sycamore High in Cincinnati, committed later that day, becoming Maryland’s first commitment of the 2012 class.

“It still feels like a dream because Maryland has been my dream school since I was in the fifth grade, so it still hasn’t really hit me yet,” Pavlech said. “But it still feels great to be a part of the Terp family.”

A 5-foot-9 point guard, Pavlech averaged 11 points, six rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals as a sophomore starter for the Aviators. She had earned scholarship offers from a host of mid-major programs, which didn’t surprise Sycamore coach Paula Hayden, who also served as Pavlech’s fifth-grade physical education teacher.

“Right from the start, I knew she loved basketball,” Hayden said. “If she got her work done, she would come down with three guys and play 2-on-2 full court, every chance she got. She would come in my office and look at pictures of my former players. So it’s been exciting for me just to see her development.”

Pavlech dreamed of attending Maryland since elementary school, but admitted that she started to consider other colleges when she got to high school. Still, she held out hope for the Terps, treating last weekend’s elite camp as “an audition.” Pavlech sent text messages to Hayden throughout the weekend, giving her coach updates on a campus tour and playing pickup with current players.

While neither Pavlech nor Hayden expected a scholarship offer to be extended by Maryland last weekend, the Sycamore coach completely understood the rationale.

“I think what they saw was her improvement from her eighth-grade year to sophomore year,” Hayden said. “They’re thinking that by the time she’s a senior, we don’t want to let her go. She’s under the radar now, but at the end of July, she won’t be. ... She’s 5-9 and hopefully growing. She’s very physically strong -- thin but strong. She’s got that athletic build. Right when she walks in the gym, you just notice her. She’s very unselfish. She creates a lot for her teammates. She’s explosive.”

Pavlech, who plans on majoring in communications at Maryland, still thinks it’s “unbelievable” that her collegiate dreams have been realized. But that doesn’t mean she plans to rest on her laurels for her final two years of high school.

“I’m just going to keep working 10 times harder,” Pavlech said. “Sometimes, when people commit early, they stop setting goals because they’ve already committed. They’re like, ‘Oh well. It’s done.’ But I’m going to keep setting goals because I have even bigger dreams.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:14 PM | | Comments (5)
        

June 28, 2010

Weekend wrap – In-state Terps target picks U.Va.

Damascus athlete Brandon Phelps, a four-star prospect and the No. 3 player in Maryland according to Rivals.com, committed to Virginia over the weekend.

Phelps, the No. 180 player nationally, picked the Cavaliers over offers from at least 20 other BCS programs, including Maryland.

The Cavs also scored big this weekend with Brandon Phelps, the second recruit of the cycle to be rated four stars by the Rivals recruiting service. His father, Gary, also played football for U.Va. A cornerback and wide receiver, Phelps had received a number of Division I offers, a list that reportedly included Virginia Tech. He becomes the fifth player from Maryland in the 16-member U.Va. recruiting class.

• Gonzaga (D.C.) quarterback Kevin Hogan -- who had a Maryland offer but later narrowed his list to Rutgers, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Virginia -- has committed to the Cardinal.

"I visited a couple weeks ago and I liked it," Hogan said. "Then I went back out this weekend to camp with Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and I decided that was the place for me."

Basketball recruiting

• ESPN.com reports that the Maryland women's basketball team landed a commitment from rising sophomore Alexis Brown, a guard from Orlando.

It is a natural fit for Brown, a 5-foot-7 guard noted for her quickness: On the Georgia Ice's web site, Brown lists Kristi Toliver of Maryland as her favorite college player of all time.

Chloe Pavlech, a junior guard from Cincinnati, also committed to the Terps over the weekend. Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Maryland's commitments.

• DeMatha forward Mikael Hopkins showed well at the Nike Skills Academies last weekend in Chicago.

Mikael Hopkins was working hard to improve his hands working out with strength and conditioning expert Allen Stien. Stien was throwing tennis balls to him in a variety of ways to work on his hand-eye coordination. Hopkins has hit the weight room this spring and it shows.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:58 AM | | Comments (1)
        

June 26, 2010

New Terps running back recruit a 'home-run hitter'

An introduction to Brandon Ross nearly three years ago still resonates in the mind of Tyran Rice, The Charter School of Wilmington (Del.) football coach.

“My first impression was basically, ‘This kid is fast. He looks like an athlete.’ That was my first impression,” Rice said of Ross, then a freshman going out for the Lightning Bolts’ varsity.

Ross earned a spot on Rice’s team and didn’t disappoint. He served as Charter’s backup running back as a ninth-grader, and took over the starting job in his sophomore and junior seasons, showcasing that speed and athleticism Rice first noticed in the summer of 2007.

At Maryland’s one-day camp last Sunday, Ross had a chance to show the Terps coaches those very same qualities. Ross’ performance in College Park earned him a scholarship offer, which he accepted shortly thereafter to become the 12th known commitment of Maryland’s 2011 recruiting class.

“For him, Maryland was always in the picture. Other schools were interested in Brandon, but Brandon wanted to go to Maryland,” Rice said. “There were various schools interested in Brandon. Army had already offered, Delaware State offered on the spot at Maryland’s camp. Schools like Rutgers and Boston College were extremely serious. They were looking for him to come to their one-day camps. Maryland’s camp was first. The rest is pretty much history.”

Ross, the lone returning starter for Charter last season, rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns during the Lightning Bolts’ 2-8 campaign. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder had “at least eight” scores of 20 yards or longer. Big plays, Rice said, are a trademark of Ross’ game.

“There was a play last year, when he was a sophomore, where we were backed up, I want to say on our 5- or 10-yard line,” Rice said. “He catches a screen pass and he takes it to the house. I mean, it was like other people were standing still, as fast as he was running. He just kind of took off. I got accustomed to seeing that. When he gets in the open field, he’s trouble. There aren’t many people in Delaware that can run with him on the same page.”

Rice said Ross, a 4.0 student, is a versatile athlete who can excel in the spread formation or as the lone back. Rice isn’t sure how Ross will factor in to Maryland’s system, but he’s confident it’s a good fit for both parties.

“Brandon obviously can run. He can also catch and he’s added 15 pounds of muscle this year,” Rice said. “He’s getting bigger. He’s worked extremely hard. Whatever the coaches want to do offensively, I’m sure he can do. ... But he’s definitely a home-run hitter who can put the ball in the end zone every time he touches the ball.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:42 PM | | Comments (7)
        

June 25, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Maryland men's basketball program has entered the Maurice Harkless sweepstakes, according to the New York Daily News.

A four-star prospect and the No. 95 player nationally according to Rivals.com, Harkless -- a 6-foot-8 forward from Queens, N.Y. -- withdrew his commitment to Connecticut on Monday.

Harkless said he hasn’t heard from any schools yet, but [adviser Nate] Blue said his phone was ringing off the hook Monday. Blue said he received 16 scholarship offers from schools in high-major conferences, including St. John’s, Maryland and Memphis.

• Maryland point guard commitment Sterling Gibbs was one of four Americans selected to play in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in August.

Gibbs and [L.J.] Rose previously played together on the USA team that won the gold medal at the 2009 under-16 FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina.

• Adam Zagoria reports that Jermaine Sanders, a rising senior wing from Rice High in Manhattan, is considering the Terps.

Sanders says his college list includes Villanova, St. John’s, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Miami, South Carolina and Maryland.

Football recruiting

• The Washington Post reported Monday that former Terps linebacker Javarie Johnson could be headed to Albuquerque.

After leaving Maryland last week amid academic difficulties during his first semester on campus, former Dunbar linebacker Javarie Johnson has set his sights on New Mexico. Dunbar Coach Craig Jefferies said he was sending Johnson's transcript to the school via overnight mail Monday, while Johnson filled out his application online. Johnson hopes to be admitted in time to enroll for the second summer semester, which begins on July 6.

• Terps linebacker recruit Cole Farrand took part this week in the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

Cole Farrand, a junior from Pope John who recently gave a verbal commitment to Maryland for football, placed eighth in the emerging elite shot put with a 52-6 3/4.

• Maryland offensive lineman signee Sal Conaboy and quarterback pledge Tyler Smith teamed up last Saturday in the Pennsylvania vs. Ohio Big 33 Football Classic.

On Pennsylvania's third-quarter scoring drive, Conaboy threw a key block on a fourth-and-1 conversion by fullback Travis Friend. Alex Kenney hauled in a scoring throw from Tyler Smith to give Pennsylvania a 9-0 advantage.

• H.D. Woodson cornerback Aromire Adeboye has committed to Virginia Tech, according to The Washington Post.

"I really had them solid," said Adeboye, who is 6 feet and 185 pounds. "I was down to my top five between West Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, V-Tech and Buffalo. V-Tech always stood out for me. They were the first team to get in contact with me, the first school to come in and get my tape, the first school to offer.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:11 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 24, 2010

Q&A with Towson coach Pat Kennedy

pat-kennedy-towson-2010.jpg Pat Kennedy knows his seventh season as Towson’s basketball coach will likely be his most crucial.

The Tigers limped to a 10-21 record last season, but showed signs of life down the stretch. Kennedy, who hasn’t had a winning season at Towson, hopes those positive late-season moments carry over into the 2010-11 season. He will count on at least four newcomers to help the Tigers reach their goals.

Towson has signed two recruits for the 2010 class: Jamel Flash, a 6-foot-11 center from West Hempstead, N.Y., and Fredrick Conner, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Blanche Ely High in Pompano Beach, Fla. The Tigers will also add Cephas Oglesby, a 6-foot-1 guard out of Cape Fear (N.C.) Community College, and Braxton Dupree, a 6-foot-8 forward and former Calvert Hall star who transferred from Maryland after the 2008-09 season. Oglesby and Dupree will each have two years of eligibility remaining.

Kennedy spoke with Recruiting Report last week about Towson’s 2010 recruiting class.

Overall, what are your initial thoughts on the 2010 class?

Well, a few things. We really wanted to get size. We thought we’ve developed the program and obviously winning is paramount for us next year. And we really feel like our top, front-line guys are established: Troy [Franklin] at point guard, RaShawn Polk at the 2 guard, Erique Gumbs and Braxton Dupree. Finally we have a good group of seven guys that are going to get the bulk of the minutes. When you have a class like that, you’re not going to be able to sign many kids that are going to play right away. So we went for size and we went for position. You look at not just recruiting, but who are your new players in evaluating our team – newcomers and recruits. Obviously, Braxton Dupree will be a junior. He has two years to play, is 6-9, 275 and just looks fabulous. We’re looking for him to be a real force in our conference. We’re really excited about him.

The second guy is a redshirt [freshman], Erique Gumbs, a 6-9 youngster from Delaware. He was a Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware. He played in our first six or seven games and then blew out his knee. He’s totally recovered and will be in our freshman class. He’s looking real good. Another guy in our freshman class will be Jamel Flash, who’s 6-11. He’s a youngster out of Long Island who had a very, very good senior year. He can easily be a 7-footer. I don’t like the word ‘project’, because you don’t give full scholarships to projects. I don’t think my style fits with a lot of big, slow guys. Braxton is one of those big guys, but he moves pretty well. But Jamel can really run. He’s very athletic and has good feet. His high school team was just average, but we signed him early. After we signed him, Fordham, St. John’s, Iona, all the New York-area schools were interested, but we signed him early. So that’s a 6-9 and a 6-11 kid in the class.

We have a third guy who I really can’t say much about. He’s being processed as we speak, but he is 6-8 ... and is another kid who can really run the floor and block shots. So as you can see, it might be the biggest class in the history of the school, size-wise. And then Erique Gumbs will play right away, too.

We’ve also got a kid who’s from Pompano Beach, Fla., ‘Dreon’ Cummings [editor’s note: he’s also known as Fredrick Conner], who’s just a real winner. The kid’s team was 29-1, lost in the state championship game. The year before they went 27-2. He looks like a football player at 6-feet tall. Allen Edwards, one of my assistants, is from Florida and went to Kentucky. So those are the guys we’ve brought in, a group of four along with Braxton. Four or five of them bring good size for us.

Dreon’s coach told the Miami Herald that he was a kid who gave 110 percent and wore many different hats for a squad that had quite a few big-time guys. Is that how you view him, and what do you expect from him?

I think the coach meant that he’ll go through brick walls for you. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid. [He’s] a yes sir, no sir kid. A lot of good southern players are like that. He’s just a good, hard-nosed kid that puts his nose to the grindstone and plays really hard. He really defends the ball, doesn’t turn it over, makes plays and knows how to win. He’s really been the leader of that group the past two years on some really good teams.

Was it difficult assembling the class during a particularly trying season?

Well, interestingly enough, we got a pretty good response from kids, obviously with our early signings. Obviously to get a kid like Jamel Flash was a good step for us. But I think these guys, they came because they really, really like the university and the campus. A lot more plays into it than how much you win or lose. So we felt it was a group we needed to get.

What’s the status of Philadelphia shooting guard Will Adams, who signed with Towson in 2008 but battled Hodgkin's lymphoma and couldn’t enroll?

When we signed Will, once September of the following year hit, they’re no longer enrolled in that institution. The [national letter of intent] is no longer valid. So once Will was going into this year, he was still recovering from cancer and doing some academic work, he kind of had to be re-recruited again. He’s been re-recruited rather heavily. He’s in Philadelphia and his cancer is in full remission. He looks fabulous. At 6’4, 200 pounds, he’s a wing kid and [was] a good recruit for us.

[Editor’s note: Adams can’t sign another letter of intent. Towson has left a scholarship open for Adams, who told the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this year that he still planned on playing for the Tigers.

How did Oglesby fare as a sophomore, and is he ready for serious action right from the start?

Cephas is going to take the next spot [behind] RaShawn Polk, who played extremely well the last eight or nine games. Cephas is really going to be very important. He was a third- or fourth-team junior college All-American and had a terrific sophomore year. He’s 6-3 and very athletic. I’m talking about very athletic. He’s just extremely quick and really explodes to the rim. He can play the 2 or 3. If you look at our stats last year, our leading scorers scored 10 or 11 points a game. RaShawn, if you look at our last eight games, averaged about 17 and Troy averaged 14. My team has always been three-guard oriented with a lot of quickness and speed and pressure defense. Troy and Brian [Morris] at the point guard are going to be able to run with Cephas and Isaiah Philmore, a bigger wing guy at 6’7. So we’re going to have much more scoring power, and Cephas is going to be extremely important. Cephas has been here taking classes, but getting him along with Jamel Flash ... we felt really good about signing them.

What are you expecting out of Flash? Is he a still-developing big man?

He’s got tremendous potential. He’s a 6-11 kid who runs like a deer, loves the game and is a real good student. He’s going to be a freshman playing alongside the likes of Braxton Dupree and Erique Gumbs and Isaiah Philmore day in and day out, and Rob Nwankwo. He’s got real potential.

We were very surprised we were able to get in there early. He played for an extremely well-known AAU coach by the name of Gary Charles. He’s coached a ton of NBA players. That’s really the key Queens, Nassau County AAU program.

What did you see from Braxton this past year?

Braxton has just shown a great attitude. When guys make that kind of move, it’s a little tough initially. But he’s had a tremendous attitude. Two things: I didn’t realize how quick his feet were for a big guy, and I didn’t realize how crafty he is with the ball. Rob Nwankwo was a first-team All-Defensive player in the conference, and he just could not stop Braxton during practice. Braxton just really overwhelmed him in practice. That’s when I realized [his potential]. As a coaching staff, other than Gary Neal, we haven’t had a dominant player in our conference. The conference has grown so much that you have a kid like [Eric Maynor] from VCU in the NBA. So that’s going to be a big key. If we’re going to break out this season and really become a true player in the top part of the league, Braxton is going to be a huge key.

Were there any disappointments in recruiting this class?

Obviously, losing the youngster from Calvert Hall [small forward Damion Lee] who’s going to prep school who signed early [is disappointing]. He’s a terrific kid and we wish him all the very best. But having him not enroll and go to prep school was in his best interest and we support him 100 percent. He’s a terrific kid.

How will these new additions fill in for guys you have lost?

What you try to do -- and I’ve built some programs quicker than this -- is when you’re building a program, you try to get solid at every position and then get better at every position -- unless you get a Gary Neal, you’re not getting much better than him. But we’ll have a junior point guard in Troy, who played terrific. Troy was really a high-level point guard in the last seven or eight games. He played really well. We beat William & Mary, a team that beat Maryland and Wake Forest, on senior night there. Troy had 27 points and dominated the game. We had two good veterans in Josh Thornton and Jarrel Smith, who were 10- and 11-point guys. I think we have guys coming in that can put up pretty good numbers. We had to put Isaiah Philmore in the post because we lost Erique Gumbs early in the season. Now we can go really big, and Isaiah played really well down the stretch, averaged about 10 points a game. Rob Nwankwo had a good year, and then you throw in Braxton and Erique, we think we’re going to be better at every position. So it’s about recruiting new players, but we’ve also developed kids and added players like Erique and Braxton and Cephas. You talk about Cephas, obviously Braxton Dupree, and Erique Gumbs, for anyone in the conference that would be a pretty good recruiting year.

Is this a make-or-break year for Towson?

Since we’ve been here, and I’m not saying I underestimated the CAA, but it’s really become a strong conference – if you look at the postseason – in a short amount of time. I could probably write a book on what we’ve been through here. Going from where they were in Division II, to lower Division I, now moving it up to mid-major Division I. But it really is a high-mid-major league that’s producing NBA players and sending teams to the Final Four and beating Big East teams in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It’s three rebuilding rounds. You get to the Division I level and get us over the low level. And then you need to get the legitimate mid-to-high major players. What’s happening in college basketball is that it’s become four divisions. There’s still a low-major, still a mid-major, but now there’s a high-mid-major. That’s why you see Butler and George Mason get to the Final Four and see Old Dominion beat Notre Dame. If you put the shirts on the other side, you really don’t know who’s who. Towson is really now playing at a high-mid-major level, which was really exciting when I got here. But all of a sudden we’re a mid-major playing at the high-mid-major level, and our record reflects that. This third building step is where we have to be now. This group has to be able to win in the upper half of the conference. I think we finished seventh or eighth one year with Gary Neal, but getting up close to 18, 19 wins, that will really complete the building process. We’ve had to build this thing from scratch. Our hope is to get there, and if we do well and have a great [CAA] tournament, the following year we would be preseason ranked in the top two or three in the conference.

Baltimore Sun photo of Pat Kennedy by Karl Merton Ferron / Feb. 21, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:40 AM | | Comments (6)
        

June 23, 2010

Stock of Terps target Baru keeps rising

Much has changed for Adjehi Baru since his move from the Ivory Coast to Richmond, Va., a year and a half ago.

The 6-foot-9 power forward has lived a basketball-focused existence in the U.S., drawing praise for his play at the high school level, on the AAU circuit, and last week at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.

“The camp is alright,” Baru said last week. “I’ve practiced a lot. It’s always good to play against top players.”

Baru, who plays for the Under Armour-sponsored Team Loaded on the AAU circuit, more than held his own against the best. Rivals.com named Baru one of nine "eye-catchers" at the camp.

Currently listed as a power forward, Baru has some tools to play the position but center is most likely his short-term future. He's a high-energy insider who runs the floor, blocks shot, rebounds and competes at a very high level. His post moves and footwork lack refinement at this point which causes his production to be uneven offensively, but he's got good hands, soft touch on jump hooks and even made a few medium-range jumpers.

Dave Telep, Scout.com’s national recruiting director, said Baru’s play this summer has likely earned him a Top 50 ranking for the class of 2011. A relative newcomer to the summer hoops circuit, Baru hasn’t been seen by that many college coaches yet. Once they get a look, Telep said, Baru should move into “everybody’s first tier of big guys.”

“Baru is a sponge. He worked out as much as anybody at camp,” Telep said. “The thing about Baru, which really gives him a chance, is that he does play exceptionally hard, and he does have basketball IQ. He’s one of the better big-man passers at the camp, and his motor runs all the time. He’s in the place right now where he wants to keep learning. It’s pretty exciting to see that.”

Maryland was the first high-major program to get involved with Baru, but recruiting is the furthest thing from his mind at the moment.

“There are a couple schools [I like],” Baru said. “I [don’t] focus right now on schools yet because I’ve got time to think about what school I want to go to. I have got time to try and get ready to see what schools I would really be interested in. So I don’t know. There are a lot of schools looking at me.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:55 AM | | Comments (0)
        

June 22, 2010

St. Frances' Lewis holds his own at Top 100 Camp

greg-lewis-top-100.jpg When the initial list of attendees for the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp came out, Greg Lewis' name was conspicuously absent.

After a couple cancellations, however, Lewis got the invite to Charlottesville, Va. The rising senior center from St. Frances relished the chance to compete against the country’s best.

“It’s a lot of opportunity to be in the camp and it can take you a long way if you put the hard work in at the camp,” Lewis said. “It’s a lot of opportunity to work with former NBA players, and if you do the right things, I think it will take you a long way.”

Lewis, Rivals.com’s No. 106 player nationally and the 10th-ranked center, has spent the summer on the AAU circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite, battling most of the best big men in the country many times before last week's camp. Nervousness, Lewis said, wasn’t an issue.

“It’s like anything else. Basketball is basketball,” Lewis said. “I’ve been playing with these guys last year and the previous summer before that. So I know most of these guys. It’s basketball.”

Dave Telep, Scout.com’s national recruiting director, said Lewis demonstrated a strong work ethic at the camp, and he has always had plenty of potential. Now it’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together.

“I think Greg is just learning that it’s got to be the same effort every single time out,” Telep said. “Greg has the natural ability. It's about the intensity every single time. You want to play in the ACC or Big East or SEC and be a starter, you’ve got to come strong. I think Greg has it in him. I think learning to do it consistently is the next step. To his credit, he was up early for some early-morning workouts. At the camp, as far as big men, he kind of blended in, but it was the national Top 100 camp.

“... He’s going to have every chance [to be a high-major recruit] because it’s a very shallow pool of post players. The class of 2011 is not deep. The big schools are going to want to recruit Greg Lewis. It’s up to him to prove he’s more than just a guy that’s being recruited for his size and potential. It’s up to him to go out in July to make the next step in his game and start becoming a consistent contributing guy at the highest level.”

Lewis said several high-major programs have already offered him a scholarship, including Maryland, Xavier, South Florida, Villanova, Ohio State and Rutgers. A trip to College Park was planned for this week.

“I like Maryland,” Lewis said. “... [But] I’m considering everyone. I’m open to everybody right now.”

Baltimore Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby / Jan. 29, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:41 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 21, 2010

City's Nick Faust shines at Top 100 camp

Former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton had a few simple words of advice for Nick Faust before this summer. nick-faust-top-100.jpg

“He told me just to keep my head up and play well, keep my composure and just take the game easy,” said Faust, a rising senior shooting guard at City and a cousin of Barton’s. “I kind of followed his footsteps. He taught me a lot and I’m learning from it and putting it in my game.”

It was just one year ago that Barton tore up the AAU scene with Nike Baltimore Elite, impressed at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp, and parlayed his summer play into a high national ranking.

This summer, it’s Faust’s turn to try and duplicate Barton’s success. He’s off to a good start so far, emerging as Nike Baltimore Elite’s top player and turning heads in Charlottesville, Va., last Thursday through Saturday at the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

Faust, the seventh-leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, led his Pistons squad to an 81-73 win over the Hawks for the camp championship. For his efforts, Faust was named the Surprise Player of the camp.

“He’s just one of those guys that, as the summer evolves, he keeps getting better,” said Dave Telep, Scout.com’s national recruiting director. “He shot the ball exceptionally well this weekend. When you have a guy who’s as intelligent as he is, and someone who was already a good player but a late bloomer, it’s a pretty exciting combination. ... We kind of slipped him in to the Top 100, but he’s probably going to end up in the 75 range. That’s a really good summer for him when you think about the beginning of the spring, he wasn’t on too many folks’ radars. Now he’s walking out of the John Paul Jones Arena as the Surprise Player at the Top 100 Camp. That’s pretty cool.”

The 6-foot-5½ , 170-pound Faust came out strong from the start, scoring 17 points in the opener. Playing against the best competition in the country in front of current and former NBA players, scouts and media didn’t seem to faze Faust at all.

“I wasn’t nervous or feeling pressure,” Faust said. “I just went out and played my game. I just took my shots and stuff like that.”

Faust said he received one-on-one instruction from New York Knicks point guard Chris Duhon, who also coached the Pistons throughout the Top 100 Camp. While Faust was entirely focused on his game in Charlottesville, it’s hard not to pay attention to his ever-expanding recruiting picture.

“Penn State, UMass, Maryland, UNLV, FSU, Drexel [have offered],” Faust said. “I’m getting looked at by Duke, Kentucky. I’m taking a visit to Marquette next weekend and also Maryland. [I’m also hearing] from Virginia Tech, Clemson, Virginia, Xavier, George Mason.”

Faust said there’s a good possibility he waits until the end of the summer to make a decision so as many coaches as possible have a chance to see him on the AAU circuit. New scholarships continue to come in, including the offer from Maryland, which was tendered about two weeks ago.

“It was a great thing,” Faust said. “It’s the hometown school and they see a lot of potential in me. So that would be a good look.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Nick Faust by Gene Sweeney Jr. / March 16, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:30 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 18, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

It didn't take long for Nick Faust to get comfortable at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.

The City shooting guard and Maryland target scored 17 points in the first game Thursday and followed that up with an eight-point performance later that night. After the first day of play, Faust is tied for seventh in scoring at the camp at 12.5 points per game.

One wouldn't call the skinny 6-foot-5 wing's jumper conventional, but Faust gets it off quickly and has legitimate NBA range already. He can score in transition and isn't one to back down. Would like to see him attack a little more off the dribble.

• Maryland power forward target Adjehi Baru caught the eye of Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer at the Top 100 Camp.

Baru has that potent combination of length, athleticism and a relentless motor. He rebounds outside of his area and is an aggressive shot blocker. Offensively, he will continue to put the pieces together.

• DeMatha forward Mikael Hopkins gave Rivals.com an updated list of schools.

Finally, Mikael Hopkins mentioned Syracuse, Kansas, West Virginia, Ohio State, Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Texas, Miami, Villanova and Florida State.

• Maryland was one of many high-major programs to offer rising junior wing recruit J.P. Tokoto.

Just one minute after NCAA rules allowed coaches to call Class of 2012 prospects for the first time on Tuesday, [North Carolina coach Roy] Williams was on the phone with Tokoto, a 6-foot-6 wing from Monomonee Falls, Wis. Williams offered Tokoto a scholarship. By the end of the day, coaches from Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Miami and Texas also had called to offer scholarships.

• Testudo Times conducted a Q&A with Maryland point guard Pe'Shon Howard, who is already on campus.

Are there one or two aspects of your game you’re working on improving from now until the season tips off?

Conditioning and scoring because college guys are faster and stronger, so I have to be smarter in ways I score.

• Lakewood (N.J.) forward Jarrod Davis, who drew some Maryland interest, has trimmed his list of schools to three, according to NBE Basketball Report.

He will visit Seton Hall this weekend, and also plans on seeing Georgia Tech before the July recruiting period and Tennessee before he makes a decision. With that said, though, he’s not afraid to pull the trigger on making up his mind.

Football recruiting

• Maryland signees Tyler Smith and Sal Conaboy will represent Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Football Classic on Saturday in Hershey, Pa.

Smith agreed, saying: "I definitely want to do a good job to represent my school and my coaches back at Wilson. Without coach [Bret] Comp, I wouldn't be here. I go to Maryland on Sunday. So this is it for my high school career."

• Good Counsel cornerback Blake Countess told Scout.com that the Terps are one of four schools recruiting him the hardest.

“Louisville, Maryland, Wisconsin and Georgia Tech are recruiting me the most,” Blake Countess said. “They send me handwritten notes and letters and email a lot too. They just keep in touch more than the others. All of them have been to see me at my school this spring too.”

• Phil Kornblut's weekly recruiting update has notes on several Terps targets, including McDonough, Ga., defensive back Ra’chard Pippens.

[Pippens] has offers from USC, Northwestern, Maryland, Stanford, Harvard, Indiana, Wake Forest and Mississippi State. USC is his top school, Pippens said, followed by Northwestern, Stanford, Maryland and Harvard. He was scheduled to camp at Georgia this past weekend and will go to Tennessee and Stanford later this month.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr reports that Gonzaga (D.C.) quarterback Kevin Hogan is considering four schools.

Gonzaga quarterback Kevin Hogan has narrowed his college choice to four schools, including the first school to offer him, Virginia. The rising senior, who was a second-team All-Met last season, also is considering Rutgers, Stanford and Vanderbilt, Gonzaga first-year coach Aaron Brady said.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 17, 2010

Freshman LB Javarie Johnson leaving Maryland

One of the headliners of Maryland’s 2010 football recruiting class won’t suit up for the Terps this fall. javarie-johnson.jpg

Freshman linebacker Javarie Johnson has been granted his release from Maryland, an athletic department official confirmed Thursday. Johnson, who committed to Miami last summer, enrolled at Maryland in January and participated in spring practice.

“The big thing for him was to get out of town and get away from some of the distractions around home. Some kids just need to get away,” said Craig Jefferies, his football coach at Dunbar High in Washington. “This really wasn’t a great fit for him. I personally think he needed to be away. It wasn’t anything Maryland did or didn’t do. He wasn’t doing well academically there, but you really can’t fault Maryland and you can’t fault Javarie. It’s probably an even exchange in what happened.

“But that wasn’t the primary reason he wasn’t doing well. He was a kid that kind of needed a different environment away from his home. Maryland was really deep at the linebacker position, but he was ready to compete for that. But it was a lot of adversity that came in to play with that. Between him and Maryland, it was probably a consensus that they both kind of cut their ties early and let him go on and do what he needs to do and get him an opportunity to fend for himself a little bit. It wasn’t an ideal situation to come in, but Maryland gave him an opportunity and I guess he saw early that he wanted to go back to his original idea and really be away [from home]. I personally think that’s the best thing for him. [Maryland] tried and extended themselves and tried to make the best of it, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.”

Johnson, a four-star prospect and Washington’s top-ranked player, was the highest rated prospect in the Terps’ 2010 recruiting class. At Maryland’s Signing Day news conference, Terps coach Ralph Friedgen said Johnson was a candidate for immediate playing time as a true freshman.

“He is a kid that I fell in love with last year,” Friedgen said. “I was very disappointed when he signed with Miami. When you meet this kid, you'll see why -- he always has a smile on his face. He has a wonderful personality. He's also 6-3, 250 pounds and can run a 4.5, so that lights me up a little bit so I smile.”

Jefferies said Johnson has submitted a list of schools he might be interested in to the Maryland staff. Johnson probably won’t be allowed to enroll at any ACC school, or any school that the Terps have on future schedules.

“You just don’t release kids to those schools. That’s understandable. But they’re working on that as we speak,” Jefferies said. “We’ll try to find the best situation, where he’ll fit in academically and get away from the area where he can be successful.”

Photo of Johnson courtesy of the University of Maryland.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:55 PM | | Comments (19)
        

Video: Nike Baltimore Elite highlights from Portland

Here's the final video installment, courtesy of OregonLive.com, of Nike Baltimore Elite at the Rose City Showcase in Portland, Ore., last weekend. This clip features City shooting guard Nick Faust, St. Frances combo guard Sam Cassell Jr., St. Frances center Greg Lewis and Carver guard Daquan McNeil.


Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 16, 2010

Tom Lemming on Md.'s 2011 football class

Tom Lemming has seen his fair share of strong football classes come out of Maryland over the past several years. The 2011 class, collectively, may not live up to those past standards, but it’s still a solid group.

“Normally, Maryland is a very good state for football,” said Lemming, the CBS College Sports Network and MaxPreps.com football recruiting expert, who released his Top 100 rankings last week. “But there’s a lot of good ballplayers that just missed the Top 100. Last year there were a lot. It’s probably not a great year in Maryland, but an overall good year for talent.”

Leading the way in-state this year is DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, the No. 3 player nationally on Lemming’s list behind Tampa (Fla.) Plant athlete James Wilder at 1 and Rock Hill (S.C.) North Pointe defensive end Jadaveon Clowney at 2. Kouandjio, whose brother Arie signed with Alabama in February, is a dominant left tackle for the Stags.

“His brother was very good, and I think Cyrus probably learned a lot from being his little brother,” Lemming said. “But Cyrus is 6-7, 290 pounds and he looks thin. I’ve been to see him three times, and he’s going to play for us in the U.S. Army game. He’ll be 320 in another year or two. He has great feet and is a remarkable athlete for his size. He can bend his knees and is very flexible. He’s got what you want in a left tackle, especially 30 pounds from now in a year or two. He can slide out, is a really good stop-speed rusher, but he’s strong and dominant as a blocker. He has all the tools to be a No. 1 draft choice.”

Two rising seniors from the Baltimore area just missed the cut for Lemming’s Top 100. Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings and Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith are both on the cusp of All-American status. Lemming sees Jennings as a running back or slot back in college.

“He’s got great football instincts,” Lemming said. “The film he gave me was really remarkable. He’s not real big, but neither was Barry Sanders. At running back, he’s got a lot going for him. Once he gets out in space, he’s an exciting ball player to watch. I don’t really see him playing quarterback in college. I see him being an explosive ball player in college.”

Lemming said Jennings compares favorably with former Dunbar running back Tavon Austin, a three-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year who had a strong freshman campaign at West Virginia last fall.

“Tavon was a record-breaker, touchdown-wise and everything. But Darius might be a little bit bigger, and just about as fast,” Lemming said. “He’s electric in the open field as well. I think they’re very, very comparable. But I think Darius might have the upper hand right now because he’s a little bit bigger and just as fast.”

Smith burst on the national scene last fall, helping Owings Mills snap a 53-game losing streak en route to a three-win season. The Amityville, N.Y., native followed up his strong junior season with an impressive showing at the U.S. Army All-American Junior Combine in San Antonio, Texas.

“He’s an impressive-looking kid,” Lemming said. “He can put a lot more weight on, too. He’s very athletic, and again, on the offensive line he can play tackle or guard, so he’s versatile. It’s really difficult to find big guys that can move their feet like him and Cyrus. He’s a very good athlete, a good run blocker and improving as a pass blocker. He has long arms, quick feet, all the tools.”

Two other local seniors have impressed Lemming during his cross-country travels: Boys’ Latin defensive end Marco Jones, who committed to Virginia earlier this month, and Gilman offensive lineman Hunter Goodwin, a Wake Forest pledge.

“Hunter’s a smart, technically sound offensive lineman who’s shown real good lateral speed, moves well and is intelligent,” Lemming said. “He’s quick enough to block on the second level. He’s also a very good ball player. Big guys are tough to find that can move.”

Lemming’s Top 100 didn’t feature any of Maryland’s 11 commitments, but the Terps have at least one recruit that could claim a spot on that list before next year. Nigel King, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver from Wakefield High in Raleigh, N.C., was in the mix for Lemming’s list.

“Nigel King is an All-American, really,” Lemming said. “I might have him ranked as the No. 1 wide receiver in North Carolina. He’s got great size, great hands, is physical, can run and can play defense. He’s probably their top guy so far that’s committed. Nigel is a big-time ball player. He’s another one very close to being in the Top 100. It’s apples and oranges for 150 guys. I went out and saw 2,000, but Nigel is a big-time guy who could be an All-American by the end of the year.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Video: St. Frances' Sam Cassell Jr. in Portland

Check out video highlights, courtesy of OregonLive.com, of St. Frances senior and Nike Baltimore Elite combo guard Sam Cassell Jr. at last weekend's Nike Rose City Showcase in Portland, Ore.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 15, 2010

Loyola football players headed to college

Five recently graduated Loyola football players will suit up for college programs in the fall, Dons coach Brian Abbott said last week.

Quarterback Connor Bruns, who moved to Baltimore from North Dakota before his junior season, will play for St. John’s, a Division III power in Minnesota. connor-bruns-dons.jpg

“He’s had several family members go to the school,” Abbott said. “They’ve got a rich football tradition. When he didn’t land a DI scholarship, that’s basically where he wanted to go.”

Ben Cranston, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound center, placed a heavy emphasis on academics when it came to his college choice, selecting Division III Amherst of the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

“He was looking at Georgetown, schools like that,” Abbott said. “But he really fell in love with Amherst. He’ll go there and be one of their big-time players.”

Running back Vince Snarski will stay close to home for college. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound athlete will play for McDaniel in the fall.

“He looked at a lot of different schools and possibilities,” Abbott said. “He just knows that he has the ability to play as a freshman, and that kind of outweighs going to a [Football Championship Subdivision] school and waiting to play.”

Linebacker Matt Hnatiuk, meanwhile, is headed to Albright College in Reading, Pa., and defensive end Julius Charles will play at Kean College of New Jersey.

Abbott said Luke Ilardo, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive lineman, is probably the Dons’ top prospect for the 2011 class.

“He’s had contact basically with all the major DI schools, and he’s got some camps to go to,” Abbott said. “He’s going to have to ultimately decide if DI is the right approach for him. He can definitely play at that level. His father played at Maryland and he had a brother that played at William & Mary. Really, for him, it’s going to be about finding the right fit and the right environment.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Connor Bruns by Jed Kirschbaum / Nov. 26, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

City's Nick Faust dominates in Portland

City shooting guard Nick Faust made himself right at home last weekend at Nike's Rose City Showcase in Portland, Ore.

The 6-foot-5, 170-pound rising senior scored 93 points in three games for Nike Baltimore Elite. Faust updated OregonLive.com on his recruitment after a game.

"Schools that have offered me [are] Penn State, UMass, Oregon State, Delaware, Drexel, Maryland," he said. "There were several more, but I'm also getting recruited by Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette, Xavier, Virginia Tech and Clemson. It's a lot. It's been getting real heavy."

Check out video highlights of Faust, courtesy of OregonLive.com, below.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 14, 2010

Weekend wrap – Gibbs keeps producing

Maryland point guard commitment Sterling Gibbs had a big weekend for the New York Panthers at the Rumble in the Bronx AAU tournament at Fordham University.

Joining [UConn commitment Maurice] Harkless for the Panthers was Sterling Gibbs. Gibbs is just that steady force as a floor general who can get things done. He is a good shooter, and while that might be what he does best overall, Gibbs plays with a great pace to his game and knows how to control the flow of the action.

Gibbs' Panthers squad dropped a 73-67 overtime game to the Connecticut Basketball Club in the semifinals.

In the first half of the second semifinal game, the New York Panthers held on, outscoring CBC most of the way as DeShaun Wiggins and Sterling Gibbs were productive on offense.

• City shooting guard Nick Faust was arguably the best player at the Nike Rose City Showcase in Portland.

Your leading scorer for the tournament was Nick Faust of Baltimore Elite with 93 total points (over three days of competition) according to the announcing staff here.

Former Rivals.com analyst Justin Young called Faust the "best player" he saw in Portland.

• Maryland center target Desmond Hubert told Adam Zagoria that two schools should make his top five.

“‘Nova and Pitt,” the 6-foot-9, 205-pound Hubert said Friday night at the Rumble in the Bronx at Fordham. “Great programs, I like the head coaches.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

June 11, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Terps have claimed a spot on the six-school list for Dorian Finney-Smith, a small forward from Portsmouth, Va.

Norcom junior Dorian Finney-Smith has narrowed his list of colleges down to Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Wake Forest and Old Dominion.

• Los Angeles power forward Norvell Pelle continues to list the Terps.

Pelle hasn't even begun to narrow a list of more than 20 suitors that includes UCLA, Washington, Kansas, Syracuse, Maryland and Miami. But he said he likes the excitement that's surrounding St. John's.

• Rivals.com reported that Burlington, N.J., small forward LaQuinton Ross will narrow his list to five schools this summer and commit next spring.

Ross listed Maryland, Rutgers, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, South Florida, Baylor, Texas, West Virginia, Mississippi State and Ole Miss as schools of interest. Rutgers just hosted Ross on an unofficial visit, and he would like to get to Syracuse and West Virginia in the near future.

• City shooting guard Nick Faust is one of many recruits on Maryland's radar that earned an invite this week to the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.

• BoxOfMess.com conducted a Q&A this week with Terps target Jabari Brown. The shooting guard from Oakland, Calif., said he plans to visit College Park after the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

• Maryland women's small forward signee Alyssa Thomas would have missed her graduation at Central Dauphin High in Harrisburg, Pa., because of the U.S. 18-and-under team tryouts, but her school ended up holding a small ceremony for the future Terp.

Thomas said when she found out she was going to miss her graduation, she was upset, but didn’t want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience of trying out for the basketball team.

Football recruiting

• East Coast Recruiting caught up this week with Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings, who said he hasn't ruled out the Terps.

“Staying in state isn’t a problem,” he said. “Being close is a plus–my parents, family, and friends can come and see me play instead of watching it on TV.”

• The Pocono (Pa.) Record checked in this week with East Stroudsburg (Pa.) South cornerback Kyshoen Jarrett, a Terps target who was recently offered by Penn State.

"I just braced myself and gave them a call and the conversation between me and the coach just seemed different, a different type of atmosphere over the phone, and he said that the Penn State coaching staff was going to offer me," said Jarrett, who got the PSU offer June 1. "From there it was all smiles. For the rest of that day I was smiling and excited about the whole process."

• The State of Columbia, S.C., has updates on several Terps targets, including Sicklerville, N.J. wide receiver Damiere Byrd.

Byrd has visited [South Carolina] before, and he plans to visit Ohio State at the end of this month and also attend a team camp at Maryland. He has no favorites but plans to form a list by the end of the month. He feels USC will be on that list. Byrd has 25 offers. Some of the others are Louisville, Rutgers, Stanford, Duke, Maryland, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Florida, Purdue and Vanderbilt.

• Good Counsel defensive end Vincent Croce committed to Virginia on Sunday.

Croce, a 6-4, 260-pound recruit from Good Counsel in Olney, Md., had offers from Wisconsin, Michigan State, Stanford, Michigan, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Maryland, Purdue, Louisville, Duke, Central Florida and others. He played linebacker and tight end last season, but he projects as a defensive tackle at the college level.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:29 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 10, 2010

New Terps assistant Ranson a 'relationship guy'

Bino Ranson spent just one year at Xavier, but that’s all it took for the new Maryland men’s basketball assistant coach to make a good impression.

Rivals.com analyst Brian Snow, who covers Xavier basketball for MusketeerScoop.com, didn’t know much about Ranson when he arrived in Cincinnati. But it quickly became apparent to Snow that Ranson would connect with recruits.

“You can’t help but like Bino,” Snow said. “He’s one of those guys that will give the shirt off his back. That’s his personality. He’s a guy that’s always willing to do things for somebody. He’s going to put the players in front of his own self. That’s the kind of guy he is. He tries to make life easier for everyone else around him.”

Ranson, a Baltimore native and St. Frances graduate, immediately went to work on the recruiting trail last summer when he was hired. Priority No. 1 for the former Panther was securing a pledge from one of Baltimore’s top players in the 2010 class.

“Bino’s got great ties to the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area,” Snow said. “At Xavier, he was able to get [City center] Jordan Latham to commit, basically about a month and a half after he got hired. [Latham] was committed to Xavier, then when he decommitted [after Sean Miller left for Arizona], he wasn’t going to go back until they hired Bino. And Jordan was really about to be recruited by everybody in that part of the country. It was Bino’s relationship with [Nike Baltimore Elite] coach Carlton Carrington that really helped secure the commitment. One thing that he’s been able to do is get Baltimore guys like [St. Frances center] Greg Lewis to visit Xavier.”

Snow said he’s not familiar with Maryland’s scholarship situation, but he knows of one highly touted 2011 prospect that the Terps are involved with and Ranson had been recruiting to Xavier.

“I know Maryland just made the cut for [Norcom (Va.) small forward] Dorian Finney-Smith. He’s got a great relationship with him,” Snow said. “He’s a relationship guy. He does a great job of networking throughout the Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia, DMV area. He does a heck of a job and a lot of it ties back to when he was an AAU coach for the program that is now Nike Baltimore Elite. ... It all gets back to relationships. The guys in that part of the country are going to trust him with their kids. They know that if their kid would go out there, Bino would take care of them.”

Ranson started his college coaching career with a two-year stint at Loyola as an administrative assistant, followed by three seasons at Marist, one at James Madison and one at Xavier. Although his stay in Cincinnati was brief, Snow said people close to the Musketeers program wish him well in College Park.

“I think anyone would be crazy if they didn’t understand,” Snow said. “The guy’s from Baltimore. He’s going to be making more money. If assistant coaches are staying in one spot, you’ve probably got the wrong assistant coach because they should want to climb the ladder. I think personally and professionally, Bino is making a move they completely understand.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:18 PM | | Comments (5)
        

June 9, 2010

Aquille Carr steals show at 2013 I-95 Challenge

Aquille Carr may not have ended Saturday’s I-95 Elite Challenge with an ankle-breaking crossover and long-range jumper, like he did at the Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul’s in April.

But the Patterson point guard impressed once again at the Class of 2013 All-Star game at Baltimore City Community College. The 5-foot-6 Carr scored 20 points to lead Baltimore to a 63-49 win over Washington.

Carr’s play Saturday continued a strong start to the summer season. At the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Durham, N.C., earlier this month, Carr, playing for Team Melo, was named the top overall player at the event by North Star Basketball. He also received sterling evaluations from Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Did Carr, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection as a freshman, expect all this attention?

“Yes,” Carr said. “I got my name out there.”

Carr told Rivals.com last month that he has offers from Memphis, Texas, Texas Tech, USC, Villanova, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. He said Saturday that his list remains the same, although there’s a strong possibility that new suitors have made contact.

“[I have to] go back to school to get my other letters,” Carr said. “I gotta check my mailbox.”

With three more years of high school, Carr is a long ways from making a decision. But one program has caught his eye early.

“I want to go to Wake Forest. ... [I like] the school, the academics and how they run through their point guard,” said Carr, noting that Chris Paul and Jeff Teague are models for his game.

The rest of Carr's summer is booked solid with basketball, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

“Just work hard. We go to Rumble in the Bronx, [and] I’ll be in Memphis for a camp, the Jamboree Nike camp,” Carr said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

• Patterson will return Carr for his sophomore season, but the Clippers won’t be a one-man team.

Myreek Fowlkes, a 6-foot-3 wing, should take much of the pressure off Carr next season. Fowlkes’ freshman year was spent away from high school competition.

“At first I attended Poly, but then I transferred over to Patterson with Aquille,” said Fowlkes, who scored five points Saturday. “I didn’t play this year because of the transfer, but next year, Patterson champions.”

While he’s a new name for many local basketball followers, Fowlkes thinks he has already made a name for himself among diehard fans and his classmates.

“I mean, a lot of people know about me now at the school, because of open gym,” Fowlkes said. “Everybody knows what I can do. I got better now. So it’s going to be a nice one.”

Fowlkes hasn’t heard from any college programs yet, but that’s sure to change after a summer spent on the AAU circuit. He has big plans in store for the coming year.

“Trying to get that college recruitment up and enjoying myself really,” Fowlkes said. “Coach [Harry] Martin, [he’s] a good coach and everything. We got a good team. I think we can go all the way. So I hope it’s good for the future.”

Tavon Saddler is well aware that he’s following in some impressive footsteps.

The 6-foot-3 combo guard from Harford County is the younger brother of Devon Saddler, a Delaware-bound shooting guard and former Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection.

“He set a high [standard] for me,” Saddler said of his older brother. “So that’s why everybody expects me to be that guy. So that’s why I have to perform to my ability.”

It’s early in his high school career, but so far Saddler has lived up to those lofty standards. He started freshman year at John Carroll before transferring to Aberdeen. He’s not quite sure what school he’ll attend as a sophomore, but his play with Team Melo has already generated some interest from college programs.

“I got a couple questionnaires from Indiana, Delaware, George Mason,” said Saddler, who scored nine points Saturday. “We took a team visit to South Florida last year. And North Carolina State and Wake Forest.”

While the high school Saddler attends as a sophomore is yet to be determined, he does have one basketball plan set in stone for the coming year.

“I’m gonna be the stands [at Delaware] next year rocking my big brother. Yessir.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:26 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 8, 2010

Judd among standouts at 2012 I-95 Challenge

Quentin Judd may not have been a household name to casual city basketball followers last winter, but that's sure to change after the summer.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound rising junior had a 13-performance in April’s Super 60 Showcase, and followed that up with a 14-point game Saturday at the I-95 Elite Challenge at Baltimore City Community College. Judd’s play helped the Class of 2012 Baltimore All-Stars to an 81-70 win over Washington’s team.

“[I felt] good. Great. Unbelievable,” Judd said Saturday. “I was working on my bounce, working on my game. It paid off on the floor.”

A high-flyer who can play the 1, 2 and 3, Judd is fresh off a standout sophomore season at Institute of Business & Entrepreneurship (formerly known as Walbrook). He said he averaged about 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, teaming with freshman forward Anton Waters to form a potent 1-2 punch for the Warriors.

“I’m still under the radar,” he said. “That’s why I come out here and play hard, so I can build up.”

Judd said he and Waters complement each other on the court, and they’ll continue developing their chemistry at Forest Park this fall. For now, both are spending the summer with Team Melo on the AAU circuit. Judd said Maryland, Xavier, South Florida and Clemson have already expressed interest.

“It’s going great. A lot of changes, though, but it’s great,” Judd said. “[I’m trying to] get stronger, rebound more, work on my defense and work on my speed.”

Jamel Artis knew exactly what he was signing up for by enrolling at Dunbar.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound small forward wanted to add to the Poets’ illustrious basketball history. As a sophomore, Artis did just that.

“We won the [Class 1A] state title, [and will] try to get another one next year,” said Artis, who scored nine points Saturday. “[Cyrus Jones], he’s a good coach for us. We’ve gotta win it. Trying to put up two more up there.”

Artis was an integral part of the Poets’ regular-season success, but by the time postseason play arrived, he was forced to take a seat on Dunbar’s bench.

“At the end of the year, I couldn’t play because my grades were rough,” Artis said. “But I averaged like 10. We had a lot of seniors, though. Next year’s my year though.”

Artis is playing for Nike Baltimore Elite this summer and said he has received letters from LSU, Syracuse, Xavier and a few other schools. But his No. 1 priority for the moment is off the court.

“My grades,” Artis said. “I’ve gotta get the grades up.”

• Sophomore year had its pluses and minuses for City’s Lionel Greene.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound combo guard saw the Knights win their second straight Class 2A state championship, but he witnessed the title from the sidelines. Greene, who started his high school career at John Carroll, was forced to sit out the season because of transfer rules.

“I couldn’t do any activities with the team,” said Greene, who scored five points Saturday. “I wanted to play bad, but I’m going to get a chance next year.”

Greene and his teammates have one major goal for the 2010-11 season: three-peat. With a potential starting five of Greene, senior guard Mike Cheatham, senior small forward Nick Faust, junior forward Charles Tapper and senior forward Rashaun Rasheed, another state title for City seems a reasonable goal.

“It’s pretty loaded,” Greene said. “I think I fit in pretty well. Playing my position, we got a lot of guards.”

The ambidextrous Greene is playing for Team Melo this summer. He has already heard from West Virginia, Virginia Tech, South Florida and St. Joseph’s, and hopes to draw interest from childhood favorite Syracuse eventually.

“That’s what I’m working on,” he said.

Other notes: Glenelg Country forward Isaiah Miles continues to state his case as Baltimore’s top prospect for the class of 2012. Miles, 6 feet 7, showed off his point-forward skills en route to a team-high 17 points. ... Princeton Day Academy coach Van Whitfield has said before that Storm point guard Chris Thomas was one of the best players in the country for his class. Whitfield wasn’t kidding. Thomas, playing up a grade, scored a game-high 21 points for Washington. ... Archbishop Curley guard Evan Singletary had a strong outing for Baltimore, scoring 14 points. Singletary led the Friars to a runner-up finish in the MIAA B Conference tournament this year.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 7, 2010

Boys' Latin's Marco Jones commits to U.Va.

First impressions weren't forgotten when it came to Marco Jones' recruitment.

The Boys’ Latin rising senior – who sat out the 2008 season after transferring from Mount St. Joseph – joined his Lakers teammates for a camp at the University of Richmond last summer. There, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jones first met Mike London, the Spiders’ second-year coach.

“I thought he was a great guy. I always thought he was a really nice guy ... a really cool, down-to-earth guy. He looks like a father-type figure to his players,” said Jones, who was offered a scholarship by London that day.

Jones, a three-star prospect according to Scout.com, didn’t give much thought to playing for the Spiders. But once London was hired away from Richmond by Virginia after the 2009 season, the Cavaliers soon vaulted to the top of Jones’ list of schools. On Sunday, during an unofficial visit to Charlottesville, Jones committed to Virginia.

“Coach London asked us if anyone wanted to commit. And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I told my mother I felt comfortable, so I did it,” Jones said. “He was really excited. He told all the recruits. He stopped everyone and said ‘We got one.’”

Jones picked Virginia over offers from Connecticut, Duke, East Carolina, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, West Virginia and Stanford.

Boys’ Latin coach Ritchie Schell was surprised Jones’ decision came so early in the process, but he wasn’t at all surprised by the choice.

“It’s absolutely what Marco wanted,” Schell said. “I thought he was going to wait a little longer, but what can I say? It’s a great choice. [He’ll play for] a great coach that’ll turn them around. … [London] picked [Jones] out and brought him alongside and worked with him for 20 minutes [at the Richmond camp]. So they established a rapport last year and then he took the U.Va., job, watched film again and thought he was pretty good.”

Last fall, Jones recorded 40 tackles and four sacks for the MIAA B Conference runner-up Lakers. He had spent the previous year on Boys’ Latin’s scout team while sitting out because of transfer rules. Once he hit the Lakers’ lineup, a few things became apparent to Schell immediately.

“[He’s got] speed, size, tenacity,” Schell said. “He can probably get up to 270, easy. He’s [240] right now, and when he gets into a college weight program, he can be a little bit of a hybrid linebacker. He’s a five-technique defensive end on the outside. He’s an intelligent kid and he’s got good character.”

Jones will join a Virginia program that has suffered through its fair share of struggles on the field in the past. But Jones said London believes his first full recruiting class will go a long way toward changing the ACC’s landscape.

“He said that we are a very special class – the class that will turn around the football team,” Jones said. “It’ll be the start of a new beginning.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 6, 2010

Johnson, Faust stand out at I-95 Elite Challenge

For Durand Johnson, the I-95 Elite Challenge at Baltimore City Community College this weekend finally presented an opportunity to shine.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 ½, 195-pound small forward, spent the past season at Lake Clifton, playing a complimentary role to all-everything point guard Josh Selby.

At BCCC on Saturday, Johnson deferred to no one. The No. 116 rising senior in the country according to Rivals.com, Johnson was, at times, unstoppable. He scored 19 points in Baltimore’s 78-64 loss to the Washington all-stars in the Class of 2011 game.

“I feel good,” Johnson said Saturday. “I used to be just a shooter last year. But everybody said this year I’ve gotta pick it up, mix it up and be an all-around player. That’s what I focus on – doing everything.”

Johnson was one of the biggest surprises on the AAU circuit last summer, garnering several high-major scholarship offers based on his play. This summer, Johnson is Cecil Kirk’s headliner once again, facing all sorts of attention from the opposition.

“I expect it,” he said. “Last year, I had my coming-out party. I did my thing last year. This year I want to do better than what I did last year.”

Next year, Johnson will take his game to a place yet to be determined. He mentioned Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., and Brewster (N.H.) Academy as potential destinations.

When it comes to recruiting, Johnson said he’s in no rush to make a decision. The three-star prospect has plenty of suitors to consider.

“[I’m hearing from] everybody,” he said. “UConn, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Marquette, UNLV, DePaul, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Maryland. Everybody.”

Nick Faust’s strong play on the AAU circuit this year carried over to Saturday’s game.

The 6-foot-5 ½, 170-pound shooting guard from City scored 15 points, showing off NBA range in the process. With Nike Baltimore Elite this summer, Faust has emerged as one of the top shooters in the country, drawing praise from scouts and attention from the national media.

“I didn’t expect it, but that’s what I worked for,” Faust said. “I work hard every day to get better and better. ... I’ve been working hard, so you try to get acknowledged for it.”

Faust said he has offers from Penn State, Oregon State, Delaware and UNLV. Maryland and several other high-major programs are also in close contact, but Faust says he’s wide open when it comes to recruiting.

“My favorite school since I was little was Duke,” Faust said. “I’m just starting to get recruited by them now, but I haven’t got offered yet. But they’re not my favorite. I’ll just go wherever best fits me.”

Faust is ranked as the No. 125 player in the class of 2011 by Rivals.com and the No. 91 player nationally by Scout.com. The second-team All-Metro selection has his sights set on a Top 25 ranking, and he should get a chance to prove himself against the best at the NBA Top 100 Camp next month.

“It means a lot,” Faust said. “Baltimore, we play hard and tough. I just have to carry on the legend.”

• After his first two years of high school, Sam Cassell Jr. was a nationally unknown player with a famous name.

The 6-foot-2 ½ combo guard – son of the Dunbar legend and longtime NBA point guard of the same name – was a big-time scorer for the Towson Catholic junior varsity as a sophomore. When the Archdiocese of Baltimore closed the venerable Catholic League school last summer, Cassell transferred to St. Frances.

The move to St. Frances proved to be a good one, as Cassell emerged as a standout player for the MIAA A Conference tournament-champion Panthers. He’ll enter next season as one of Baltimore’s top seniors.

“I think it was the best transition ever, because I turned from a nobody into a somebody now,” said Cassell, who scored six points Saturday. “College coaches didn’t know who I was, but I did my thing this year at St. Frances and now they’re taking a look at me.”

Cassell said Miami, UNLV and Virginia Commonwealth are just a few of the schools that have been in contact. It’s still in the early stages of Cassell’s recruitment, but he’s happy to play for Nike Baltimore Elite this summer and see what else materializes.

Aside from AAU, Cassell has plans this summer to spend time in the weight room, continue developing his chemistry with Panthers center Greg Lewis, and go head to head occasionally with his old man.

“We still go at it. I’d say [our games are the] same. I can do mostly what he does. I can probably run more than him,” Cassell said with a laugh.

• In his return to Baltimore basketball, Kevin Smith made himself right at home Saturday.

The former Baltimore Freedom Academy point guard, who spent the past year at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, scored two points and made a number of jaw-dropping passes. The past year for Smith has been about transitioning from a scoring guard to a setup man.

“I changed my game a lot to a point guard, but I still can score though,” Smith said. “I’ve been working on my point guard skills for college basketball.”

Smith said he has heard from a host of high- and mid-major programs, thanks in large part to playing a national schedule at Huntington Prep.

“[I’ve heard from] Rutgers, Villanova, South Florida, Florida State, Maryland, Baylor,” Smith said. “They keep going on and on. Cincinnati. George Mason.”

Smith made a switch in AAU teams this year, moving from Nike Baltimore Elite to Baltimore Assault, an Adidas-sponsored squad. So far, it’s been a positive experience for Smith.

“[It’s a] big change,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of players that want to play. We’re working the kinks out, but we’re playing together, so it’s good. We’ve been winning a lot of games.”

Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on the I-95 Elite Challenge.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 4, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

Local basketball fans who missed April's Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul's have another chance Saturday to see the best players Baltimore and Washington have to offer.

The third annual I-95 Elite Challenge is scheduled for Saturday at Baltimore City Community College, with tip-off for the first game set for 2 p.m.

St. Frances center Greg Lewis, former Lake Clifton small forward Durand Johnson and ex-Baltimore Freedom Academy point guard Kevin Smith are just a few of the top prospects playing for the Baltimore team in the Class of 2011 game.

The Class of 2012 game features a loaded Baltimore squad, including Glenelg Country forward Isaiah Miles, Digital Harbor point guard Daquan Cook, Dunbar forward Jamel Artis and several more. Montrose Christian forward Justin Anderson, a prime Terps target, is scheduled to play with the Washington team.

Headlining the Class of 2013 game will be Patterson's Aquille Carr, the 5-foot-6 point guard and first-team All-Metro selection. Carr is fresh off a standout performance with Team Melo at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in North Carolina. North Star Basketball ranked Carr the top player at the event. Others to watch on Baltimore's team are Glenelg Country forward Warren Powers Jr. and IBE forward Anton Waters. For the Washington squad, Princeton Day Academy point guard Chris Thomas and Bishop O'Connell point guard Will Ferguson -- a standout at the Super 60 Showcase -- lead the way.

Check out InsideMDSports.com for rosters and directions, and visit CharmCityFinest.com for a look at the key matchups.

• Westtown (Pa.) center Daniel Ochefu could make a visit to College Park this summer, according to Adam Zagoria.

“No visits yet but I am probably going to visit all the schools that have offered and Georgetown, Maryland and Villanova before the end of the summer,” he said.

• The Arizona Daily Star reports that DeMatha point guard Quinn Cook has plans to visit Tucson on Sunday.

Cook said he remains open to about 12 schools but will narrow it to five by the end of the summer and possibly take official visits in the fall. He has already visited Wake Forest, Georgetown, Villanova and North Carolina and will visit UCLA unofficially this weekend outside of Pangos activity.

North Star Basketball's Alex Schwartz, meanwhile, says that Cook is "no longer considering the University of Maryland."

• Schwartz has notes on several players with Maryland interest that played in last weekend's Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, including items on DeMatha forward Jerami Grant and Los Angeles power forward Norvel Pelle.

Norvel Pelle was extremely impressive in his team's victory over the NY Panthers. The 6'9 power forward has great length and is a superb player at both ends of the floor. He is active around the hoop, which allows to be be both an effective interior scorer on offense and shot blocker on defense. Pelle also rebounds the ball well and is one of the top bigs in the class of 2011.

Football recruiting

• Terps linebacker commitment Cole Farrand helped Pope John to fourth place in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group 3 track and field championships.

Cole Farrand supplied points for the Lions in the field, finishing fifth in the shot put and in the javelin.

• DeMatha cornerback Michael Williams is now up to three scholarship offers.

“I [sic] know have offers from Maryland, Buffalo and Ohio,” he said. “Ohio came in yesterday.

• The Washington Post this week checked in with Ballou (D.C.) offensive lineman Jamar Lewter.

Lewter, though, will leave town plenty this summer. He said he plans to attend camps at Clemson, North Carolina (perhaps he knows this guy?), Rutgers, UCLA and USC, all of which have offered him scholarships, in addition to others, including Auburn, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, and Pittsburgh.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:05 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

June 3, 2010

Calvert Hall's Donya Jackson stays true to Navy

donya-jackson-navy.jpg

Three months of summer vacation will officially begin for Donya Jackson on Saturday after Calvert Hall’s graduation.

It could have been a much shorter summer break for Jackson had things gone as originally planned. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound small forward committed to Navy’s basketball program last June with the expectation of beginning his plebe summer in Annapolis next month. Instead, Jackson will spend the summer working out, playing basketball and preparing for a year of prep school at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy before enrolling at the Naval Academy next summer.

“I was [a little disappointed about going to prep school] because I was looking at my class and a lot of people in my class are going straight to college and I wanted to graduate with them,” Jackson said. “I have a lot of friends I want to go to college with, but it doesn’t matter now because either way, I’m still going to the school I want to go to. I think another year will be good for me. It gives me another year to develop academically and athletically.”

Jackson had a storybook senior season at Calvert Hall, leading the Cardinals to the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship. A two-time BCL Defensive Player of the Year, Jackson earned Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro honors.

In the classroom, Jackson took care of business as well with a 3.2 grade-point average. His grades and standardized test score easily surpassed the minimum NCAA qualifying standards. But Jackson soon discovered that his SAT score wasn’t quite high enough for Navy’s requirements. While Jackson had hoped to matriculate to Navy right after graduating from high school, he soon discovered that future Midshipmen attending prep school was far from unique.

“It’s extremely common, not only with basketball [players], but with all other [athletes] and even for [students] who don’t play sports,” Jackson said. “During graduation practice, I was talking to a guy that’s going to the Naval Academy for water polo, and he’s going to prep school. In all the sports, they do it. Even in non-sports. They send kids to [the Naval Academy Preparatory School] that are not quite ready.”

When word got out that Jackson was headed to prep school for a year, several Division I college programs started expressing interest once again. When he suited up for Crusader Nation in a couple AAU tournaments this spring, even more schools came calling, including American, Morgan State, Old Dominion and Tulane.

“It’s kind of flattering, but my thought was, 'where were these schools last year?'” Jackson said. “Obviously Navy saw something in me last year, but [other schools] may have just heard about the way I performed. So I’m being loyal. I’m going to the Naval Academy and nowhere else. It’s always good to be loyal to your school.”

William Russell, Jackson’s father, agreed with his son’s assessment, and was proud that he never withdrew his commitment to Navy.

“He could have gone to Loyola or Morgan, and he would have had the opportunity to play immediately and make it through the [NCAA] Clearinghouse,” Russell said. “But because Navy has such a high bar, we had to look at the prep option. But as far as schools recruiting Donya, [it was tough], especially with Todd Bozeman because I love Morgan. I’m a Morgan State alum. But they can’t offer what Navy can offer Donya. Donya will get to travel the world. I’m more concerned about Donya after basketball, because basketball ends.”

Jackson will spend the rest of his summer training with Russell – the boys basketball coach at Masonville Cove Academy – and playing pickup ball in Annapolis. Russell said the Navy coaches were with Jackson “every step of the way,” and the Midshipmen players were supportive once it was determined that he would spend this year at Mercersburg.

While Jackson wishes he could begin his college career as soon as possible, he remains committed to his future at Navy, no matter what it takes to get there.

“I know I’m going to the Naval Academy and [I know] all the benefits it presents,” Jackson said. “I know how my life will be graduating from the Naval Academy, and other schools can’t offer me things that [Navy] can offer me.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Donya Jackson by Monica Lopossay / Dec. 5, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Video: Josh Selby named Athlete of the Year

Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby capped an award-filled senior year Wednesday when he was honored as The Baltimore Sun's Male Athlete of the Year.

After the 44th annual awards banquet, Selby discussed his feelings on being named Athlete of the Year, and his expectations for his college career at Kansas.

Bill Self, he’s a great coach,” Selby said in a video interview with The Sun's Kevin Richardson. “[It’s a] great group of guys. That tradition is just great. They won a national championship in 2008. So hopefully I can get there and win a championship to bring back home for Baltimore.

“When I get there, I just hope that I get one and done – I ain’t gonna lie. I hope that they mature me on and off the court, make me a better man and make me a better player.”

Check out the video below for an extended Q&A with Selby, including his thoughts on replacing Sherron Collins in the Jayhawks' lineup, becoming a leader and more.

 

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:36 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 2, 2010

Ex-Lake Clifton star transfers to CAA school

The decision for Antoine Allen came in late last week. antoine-allen-unc-wilmingto.jpg

The former Lake Clifton combo guard, who spent his freshman year at Miami, has signed with UNC-Wilmington of the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Well, I think it was UNC-Wilmington, Marshall and Arizona in the final list,” said Anthony Lewis, Allen’s AAU coach at Cecil Kirk. “I just think he wanted to find a fit where he’s going to step in and make an impact this time. It’s an opportunity for him to grow and be an impact guy on the team, and also in the league.”

At UNC-Wilmington, Allen will suit up for another former Laker, Hurricane and Cecil Kirk player. Kevin Norris, who starred at Lake Clifton and Miami in the 1990s, was hired by the Seahawks as an assistant coach last week.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Allen averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals during the 2007-08 season, earning first-team All-Metro honors. Allen helped guide the Lakers to the Baltimore City and Class 3A North regional championships in 2008.

“[Allen’s best attributes are] his athleticism, his ability to put the ball on the floor and his ability to shoot the basketball,” Lewis said.

Allen appeared in just 17 games for the Hurricanes as a freshman, averaging 2.9 points and 0.8 rebounds. He shot 41.7 percent from 3-point range and was named to the ACC’s All-Academic team, but Lewis said he was looking for more playing time.

“I think he just wanted a chance for a fresh start,” Lewis said.

At UNC-Wilmington, Allen will get that opportunity. He joins a program with a brand-new staff, including head coach Buzz Peterson. The former Tennessee, Tulsa, Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State coach made Allen his second recruit since taking over the Seahawks’ program in April.

"Antoine is an excellent basketball player and a solid student," Peterson said in a news release. "He was an outstanding high school player and has all the tools to help our program. He's a strong perimeter shooter with great speed and ball handling skills."

Baltimore Sun photo of Antoine Allen by Kenneth K. Lam / March 18, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

June 1, 2010

Boys' Latin DE Marco Jones a top prospect

Ritchie Schell didn’t know what to expect when Marco Jones came into his life almost two years ago.

The Boys’ Latin football coach received a stellar recommendation on Jones – a sophomore transfer student from Mount St. Joseph – from the mother of Lakers defensive back Michael Turner. Jones, one of Turner’s best friends, sought a smaller classroom environment and a chance to play for another football program.

“I had never seen him play,” Schell said of the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jones. “[Turner’s mother] said he’s a great kid that’s going to be a Division I player. I said, ‘Let’s take him if, academically, he was good.’ He’s a wonderful kid. He plays basketball for us. He’s a great asset to the community. So it’s wonderful. But I had never seen him play. We knew he would be special when he lined up. When he could practice with the team, he just blew everyone away. He plays hard. When he knew he wasn’t going to play, he ran the scout team. We knew we had something special.”

It didn’t take long for several Division I programs to discover just how special a player Schell suddenly had in Jones. The No. 40 defensive end in the country according to Scout.com, Jones has scholarship offers from Connecticut, Duke, East Carolina, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia and Stanford. Coaches from Illinois, Michigan and Notre Dame have made visits to Boys’ Latin to inquire about Jones.

“I kind of felt like [I would have scholarship offers] eventually,” Jones said. “But I didn’t think it was going to be that soon.”

Jones decided to transfer after his sophomore year at Mount St. Joseph. Because of transfer rules, Jones said he was ineligible to play his junior season, so he repeated 10th grade at Boys’ Latin last year.

“It was tough, but my mother thought this would be the best thing to do,” Jones said. “It was hard because I wanted to help my team win. But it was an all right experience. I was able to get faster and stronger.”

Jones’ speed and strength was on display last summer at several camps and combines, including a Maryland summer session in which he took steps toward earning a Terps offer. When Jones suited up for the Lakers for the first time last fall, Schell said he was “a dominant guy” right away. Starting both ways, Jones helped the Lakers to a 10-1 record and a runner-up finish in the MIAA B Conference. He recorded approximately 40 tackles and four sacks.

“He allowed me to change to a 4-3 defense,” Schell said. “It was integral for our success. He’s an unbelievable offensive tackle. I mean, absolutely unbelievable. He doesn’t want to play offense in college, but the West Virginia coaches can’t stop talking about him on offense. He’s got great feet and great hips. He’s our most valuable player on defense, so that’s how good he is. You can’t single-block him. I’m just lucky now.”

It’s still early in the process for Jones, who said he could commit before the start of senior year, or wait until after his senior season. Still, there are a couple schools that have caught his eye.

“I kind of like U.Va., and Rutgers and UConn,” Jones said. “I’m going to visit Stanford. They’re a top school as well. … I like Maryland a lot. They’re one of the top schools as well, but the other schools stand out to me as well.”

Schell, a former Johns Hopkins player and assistant coach, is confident Jones will flourish in college. Jones’ confidence has already been boosted thanks to his strong junior season. Now he’s just getting used to the aftermath of that success.

“I always dreamed that I was going to be on this type of level, but I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it has gotten,” Jones said. “I thought I would get a single offer and be done and commit to that school. But it’s definitely way more complicated.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:01 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Local recruiting
        
Keep reading
Recent entries
Archives
Categories
About Matt Bracken

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

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

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

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

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

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