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August 31, 2010

Q&A with Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman

todd-bozeman-morgan-2010.jpg
Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman will have a lot of new players to work with during the 2010-11 season.

Reggie Holmes, the Bears’ career scoring leader, has exhausted his eligibility, along with versatile wing Troy Smith and reserve big men Buford Foote and John Long.

Point guard Danny Smith, meanwhile, is still in school but not on the roster. And sources say guards Sean Thomas and Joe Davis are also off the team. Thomas and Davis are reportedly facing a situation similar to that of former UNLV forward Matt Shaw.

Despite those departures, Bozeman has a talented group of veterans returning in addition to a promising group of newcomers. Morgan State has three scholarship freshmen on its roster in Justin Black, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from DeMatha, Ian Chiles, a 7-foot-1, 265-pound center from Paterson (N.J.) Catholic and Jake Lockhart, a 6-foot-3 wing from St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, Fla. Justin Jackson, a 6-foot, 175-pound freshman point guard from Digital Harbor, has joined the team as a walk-on.

Bozeman has also added three juniors to Morgan’s roster: Tola Lawal, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Erie (N.Y.) Community College, Larry Bastfield, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound point guard who graduated from Towson Catholic in 2008 and spent the past two years starting for Toledo, and Aric Brooks, a 6-foot-7 small forward who graduated from St. Frances in 2007, began his college career at Jacksonville (Fla.) and redshirted for the Bears last season after his transfer.

Bozeman spoke to Recruiting Report last week about Morgan’s new additions.

What kind of player is Justin Black and what do you expect from him?

DeMatha High School is probably one of the premier high school programs in the country. If you can get a young man that’s not only from a program like that, but when you can get kids that are from high-profile programs with great coaching, they’re just used to the expectation of hard work and the sacrifices and the intangibles it takes to win. Guys that are used to winning and used to what goes into winning, that always helps. So he’s a very talented player and can really score the ball. He’s a strong guard.

Is he a guy you’re counting on this season?

I would never say that. You’ve never heard us talking about freshmen as guys you count on. Now, he’s going to contribute. How much, I’m not sure. But we have enough returning guys where we don’t have to put that pressure on a freshman.

Ian Chiles is a guy who has been on campus for a year. Talk about what you’ve seen from him.

He was a non-qualifier. We started recruiting him [after we] got his name from someone in New Jersey. I sent an assistant coach up to see him. He had some potential, he could run and catch and block shots. That’s what you kind of look for with guys that size. Then we just gave him an opportunity. He played with the Playaz, one of the most prestigious AAU programs in the country. He played against top players every year. So he’s going to be a tremendous asset to our program. With his size and length, he’ll cause some problems for some teams. He’ll have that adjustment as a freshman. But like we said, we’re trying not to put pressure on freshmen with what they bring to the table. He’s going to contribute, but how much, I’m not really sure. But he’ll help us with rebounding and defense.

Talk about Lockhart’s journey to Morgan and his game.

Jake’s originally from London. He spent two years at Country Day High School in Detroit, then two years in Boca Raton (Fla.). An AAU coach called me about him. We came through and saw him. He’s a very active player and can shoot the ball. And we’ve always had a guy around that size that can play multiple positions at the guard. He kind of fits that mold. He’s like a Rogers Barnes, a guy that can guard different players. As a freshman, he’ll contribute, but how much is to be determined. But he can shoot the ball. He’s got a nice stroke and is very, very active.

Lawal has had some success, so what do you see him doing in his first year at Morgan?

He’s a junior college transfer. He was an All-American at Erie Community College, originally from Brooklyn. His parents are Nigerian and he can really score the basketball. He’s a combo guard and he can really score the ball. He’s a junior college transfer, so he has two years of college basketball under his belt. And we’re looking for him to kind of bring what Joe Davis brought to us, which is scoring and being able to play the point guard as well.

Of the newcomers, which do you really see making an immediate impact?

Well I think Aric Brooks, he’s basically a newcomer, and I think all those guys have something to bring to the table. And you don’t just replace Reggie Holmes. But that’s just how it goes in college. You have guys that leave and graduate. Some guys have kind of waited their turn, and now they have the opportunity to step up.

You’ve lost talented guys before, but talk about making up for the production lost by losing Holmes and Troy Smith.

We like to think we’ve built a program. So that’s kind of what happens. I remember the year we lost my star point guard, Jerrell Green, Boubacar Coly, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Jamar Smith, our leading scorer. [So we thought], how are you going to replace Boubacar’s defense, and how are you going to replace Jerrell as the starting point guard, and who’s going to replace Jamar Smith, who led the conference in scoring? And up steps Rogers Barnes, Itchy Bolden and Marquise Kately. And Itchy was pretty much the heart and soul of our team. Marquise and Reggie made the all-conference team.

Then guys stepped up again last year, like Kevin Thompson. Reggie Holmes took on an even stronger role, then we had the emergence of a freshman in DeWayne Jackson. So we lose Reggie and Troy Smith, but that’s an opportunity for DeWayne Jackson to take on a bigger role. Aric Brooks will play a big role. Rodney Stokes is a senior, Gene Johnson is a senior. It’s just another opportunity for guys to step up and make their mark. Ameer Ali is back, so we have some veterans that have some experience under their belt.

I always say that when you can get a guy that has NCAA tournament experience, once they go, they just want it all the time. They drink from that cup, and you have that kind of motivation. We’ve been fortunate enough to have some guys experience that. Rodney Stokes has played in three postseason tournaments since he’s been here. Same with Gene Johnson. And Kevin’s been here two years, going into his third season. He’s played in two NCAA tournaments.

There’s a void at point guard with some of the departures you’ve faced. Who do you see stepping in there?

Well, that’s to be determined. Guys will have an opportunity, so it could be anyone. We do have another new guy in Larry Bastfield, a transfer from Toledo. Between Larry, who started two years at Toledo, Justin Jackson, Justin Black and Tola, it could be any one of those guys.

Will Bastfield be eligible to play this season?

We’ll know whether he gets the waiver in another week or so. Sometimes you can get a waiver to play right away.

If Bastfield gets the waiver, what do you expect from him?

Well, I just see someone who’s a pure point guard. The point guards we’ve had here have statistically done very well in the league. And so I don’t think he’ll be anything different. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s just used to running the show, and that’s what we need. When you have guys around you that can score, you need someone to be the general. Both Justins will have an opportunity to compete, so it’ll be an open spot with guys that have to compete, for sure.

Brooks fared very well at the Baltimore Summer League at Loyola. Are you looking for him to fill some of that scoring void?

Aric definitely can score. He has a great mid-range game, he has high basketball IQ and I expect Aric Brooks to make an immediate impact. He’s a guy at 6-7 who can rebound. He’s similar to Marquise Kately and what Marquise brought to us. He brought us a very versatile player who played the point against Maryland, played the 2, the 3, and the 4. He can play any of those positions and cause matchup problems. Aric Brooks is very similar.

How big was it for you to get a player of Justin Jackson’s caliber as a walk-on?

Well, it’s big. If I had one to give him, I would give him one. We just don’t have it. So it is big. It’s big to have a player with that kind of ability and that kind of experience. He’s a tough kid that’s got a lot of swagger. He can score when he wants to. This is a different level, but I think that he’s ready for the challenge.

You’re coming off two straight NCAA tournament appearances and three MEAC regular-season championships, but you’re obviously losing one of the greatest players in Morgan history and some other rotation guys. So what are your expectations for this season?

I never make predictions. I just want to continue to take that next step. That’s all I want to do, just take that next positive step. I want us to be prepared, want us to play hard. Those are the things that I always want. Whatever comes from that, it’s to be determined. We want to keep producing quality teams and being a quality program. I want to continue to build the program. When you have a quality program, you’re able to sustain losses of significant players.

AP photo of Todd Bozeman / March 18, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:25 AM | | Comments (3)
        

August 30, 2010

Weekend wrap – Terps target Baru taking time

The competition for Adjehi Baru's services might be shaping up as a battle between ACC rivals.

The Roanoke (Va.) Times' Doug Doughty reports that Baru, an Ivory Coast native attending the Steward School in Richmond, will take his official visits this fall and could wait until the spring to sign. The 6-foot-9 center is considering offers from Maryland, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, South Florida, Virginia Tech and Xavier.

Maryland and [Virginia] Tech “were the two guys that hit him hardest early,” [Steward coach Elliott] Gravitt said. “They were at a lot of stuff. They were very involved. Maryland writes all the time. I feel like I get a letter every day from them.”

• Senior shooting guard Deuce Bello, who sports a Maryland offer, won the Boost Mobile Elite 24 dunk contest in Venice Beach, Calif., on Friday and followed that up with a strong performance in the All-Star game Saturday.

Deuce Bello of Westchester Country Day (High Point, N.C.) showed no signs of dunk contest hangover. His crazy bounce and athleticism was on display with one of the most impressive dunks of the day: a windmill off one dribble. Bello, Friday’s dunk contest champion, finished with 12 points and four rebounds.

Football recruiting

• Maryland offensive line commitment Andrew Zeller was named one of 10 players to watch by The York (Pa.) Dispatch.

At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, Zeller has already committed to play D-I football at the University of Maryland next year. But first the senior offensive lineman should be a huge force in helping the Lions' offensive attack this year.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:55 AM | | Comments (2)
        

August 27, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

With the fall signing period for basketball three months away, the Maryland staff continues to identify new targets for the 2011 recruiting class.

InsideMDSports.com's Jeff Ermann reported this week on Jacob Lawson, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward from Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy. The three-star prospect is considering the Terps.

Lawson is focused on six schools, said his father, Louis Lawson: Maryland, Ole Miss, Purdue, Seton Hall, Tennessee and West Virginia. Others, such as Georgetown, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, have offered, and Lawson's father said he hasn't shut the door on anything.

• The Slipper Still Fits, a Gonzaga fan blog, conducted a Q&A with TexasHoops.com writer Blue Zertuche about Terps forward target Antwan Space.

Blue Zertuche: He is looking to make an impact. At the high school level he is a dominant player, and he wants to go somewhere he can instantly step into a role and help the team out. I really believe that is his goal. Antwan is a very intelligent kid. He really does know what is going on with his recruitment, from the standpoint of he knows which team has spots available and he knows where he will be able to step in immediately.

Out of those five schools that he mentioned (Gonzaga, Maryland, Missouri, Florida St., Arkansas), they are all pretty much selling him an impact role in their system.

• The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune reported this week that UM is back in the running for shooting guard Jabari Brown .

Maryland has scheduled a home visit, as have Washington, Oregon, DePaul and Georgia Tech, according to David Brown. He said the family is trying to schedule a home visit with Cal coach Mike Montgomery on Sept. 28.

• Norcom (Va.) forward Dorian Finney-Smith will announce his college decision on Sept. 28, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Finney-Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward, narrowed his list to Virginia Tech, Florida and Old Dominion. Virginia and Maryland were recently cut from his final choices.

Malcolm Gilbert, a three-star center who received some Maryland interest, has committed to Pittsburgh.

Gilbert, who plays for the The Academy of the New Church Boys School in Bryn Athyn, Pa., chose Pitt over Ohio State, Wake Forest and Virginia.

Football recruiting

• Terps offensive line commitment Andrew Zeller receives top billing in The York (Pa.) Dispatch's football preview.

The biggest of the big guys is Andrew Zeller, a 6-6, 290-pound senior offensive and defensive lineman. Zeller's campus residence next year will be in College Park, Md., where he'll play on scholarship for the University of Maryland Terrapins.

• CBS College Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming had a quick update this week on DeMatha offensive tackle and Maryland target Cyrus Kouandjio.

Cyrus, who has the frame to weigh 330 in college, is a major national recruit with everyone from USC to UCLA to Notre Dame and Penn State on him. He recently visited Virginia Tech but the betting money is he will eventually follow his brother, Arie, who is also an offensive tackle who signed with Alabama in February.

• SB Nation D.C.'s high school football preview has notes on Kouandjio and Terps athlete pledge Delonte Morton.

[DeMatha boasts] no less than nine players who will likely be playing at Division I colleges next season. The leader of this group is offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio, who is ranked as the seventh best prospect in the class of 2011. His brother, Arie, was a top recruit in 2010 and may start at tackle for Alabama this year as a true freshman. DeMatha also features Delonte Morton, a bruising running back who will stay home and play for the Terps next season.

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

Glenelg Country's Powers still likes UM

Warren Powers Jr. has played just one season of high school basketball, but the Glenelg Country School star played like a veteran Saturday.

Powers, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound wing, fared well at the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore last weekend, capping a successful summer on the court.

“Everything’s going well,” Powers said. “I’m looking forward to the school year. I’m really looking forward to the season. I’m just playing hard and [hope] to win the MIAA [B Conference] championship this year. … Everybody’s going to come at us this year, especially St. Paul’s. But we’re ready to challenge it.”

Powers was a headliner for Team Melo's 15-and-under team this summer. A highlight on the circuit for him was making the Elite Eight of the Super Showcase in Orlando. Thanks to his play with Team Melo, Powers has heard from several Division I programs.

“Maryland, Xavier, South Florida, Virginia Tech and George Mason,” Powers said. “Maryland’s my favorite.”

Powers, the son of the former Terps football player of the same name, worked out with several Maryland players a few weeks ago. Nervousness over playing against guys he's watched on TV eventually gave way to comfort.

“I had star shock at first,” Powers said. “I went up against Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker, a lot of the big guys. Jordan Williams. … [But] it went well. I was kind of nervous at first, but after awhile I got used to it.”

Sophomore year will be a big one for Powers. He's playing for a new coach in Kevin Quinlan -- who comes to GCS from Edison High in Alexandria, Va. -- and the B Conference's best will be hungry for a shot at Powers and junior forward Isaiah Miles, two of the most touted players in the league. Based on his efforts this summer, Powers is ready to face those challenges.

“I think I made a lot of progress,” Powers said. “I’ve been working on my guard skills and just trying to get better.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:10 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 26, 2010

Local hoops: McNeil leaving city, likes Terps

One of Baltimore’s most promising young basketball talents will spend his final three years of high school outside the city.

Daquan McNeil, a 6-foot-3 point guard who starred as a freshman at Carver, is headed to Vermont Academy for his sophomore season.

“It wasn’t for basketball,” McNeil said Saturday at the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration. “It’s just for the education. My parents felt that Baltimore City doesn’t have the right education to prepare me for college.”

The basketball program at Vermont Academy -- located in Saxtons River, Vt. -- will be led by Jesse Bopp, who worked last season on Virginia Commonwealth’s staff.

McNeil, who averaged about 25 points for the Bears as a freshman, had a breakout summer with Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit. He spent most of his time with NBE’s 15-and-under club, but suited up for the 17-and-under team at the Rose City Classic in Portland, Ore. His play in Oregon and throughout the summer caught the attention of several high-major programs, including Oklahoma, Xavier, Maryland, Georgetown and Washington.

“I like Maryland a lot,” McNeil said. “Coach Bino [Ranson], that’s my guy. [I’ve known him for] three years. He’s very true. He keeps everything real.”

Miles stands out

Archbishop Curley guard Daxter Miles Jr. served as McNeil’s backcourt partner for much of Saturday’s Class of 2013 game at The Dome. It’s not the first time the two have been paired together.

“I played [this summer] with my AAU team, Nike Baltimore Elite,” Miles said Saturday. “We had a tremendous season, the 15s. It was a pleasure playing with my guy, Daquan McNeil, and other players. We played hard. We won most of our tournaments.”

Miles, a 6-foot, 170-pound sophomore, had a standout freshman campaign at Curley, helping the Friars reach the MIAA B Conference championship game. Miles scored a team-high 16 points in Curley’s 54-51 overtime loss to St. Paul’s.

Miles said he’s gotten a few recruiting letters from high-major programs, but nothing serious at the moment. His No. 1 priority is guiding Curley back into title contention.

“Last year we lost by three in the championship to St. Paul’s, but this year we’re trying to win the B Conference championship,” Miles said. “[And] I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 25, 2010

C.J. Fair primed for freshman year at Syracuse

One year ago, C.J. Fair packed his bags and left Baltimore behind for a year of prep school at Brewster (N.H.) Academy.

The 6-foot-7 forward bypassed a chance to spend his senior year playing for City’s Class 2A title team so that he could better prepare for his college future at Syracuse. In hindsight, Fair thinks he made the right decision.

“[Leaving home] makes you mature early at a young age, so you learn how to build on your own,” Fair said Saturday at the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore. “But coming from home and Brewster to Syracuse, it’s a big jump. But Brewster prepared me to go to Syracuse.”

Fair teamed with former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton at Brewster last season, guiding the Bobcats to the 2010 National Prep Championship. Fair, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection as a sophomore, was picked for the New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A second team.

“At Brewster, it was a great experience going up there,” said Fair, who averaged about 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats. “I didn’t know anybody besides Will, but making new friends and new opportunities, it turned out good. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far.”

At Brewster, Fair teamed with guys headed to Memphis, Rutgers, Minnesota and Iowa State, among others, while battling several future high-major players on a regular basis. The high level of competition in the NEPSAC is something Fair believes will serve him well in the Big East.

“As far as Syracuse, they normally play seven or eight guys a game,” Fair said. “As long as I’m in the rotation, I’ll be good. And I already know I’ll be in the rotation. I’m not going to start this year because we have a lot of veterans there, but I’m just going to come off the bench and help the team as much as I can.”

Fair spent six weeks this summer on Syracuse’s campus, taking classes, working out and getting acclimated to college life. His trip back to Baltimore was a welcome one, but now Fair’s looking forward to settling in at his new basketball-crazed residence.

“The atmosphere up there, they look at us like celebrities because we’re basically the pro team up there,” Fair said. “They don’t have a professional team, so we’re the next best thing.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:06 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 24, 2010

Antonio Barton ready for his Memphis debut

antonio-barton-memphis.jpg After a nearly two-month sneak preview of life as a college basketball player, Antonio Barton was back on familiar ground Saturday.

Fresh off a summer-school stint at Memphis, the former Lake Clifton point guard turned out for the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore on Saturday. Barton said his introduction to college life was a positive experience.

“It’s lovely [at Memphis],” said Barton, who committed to the Tigers in June 2009. “It’s very supportive and with the schoolwork, the teachers help you out a lot. It’s just lovely down there.”

The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Barton recently suited up for the Tigers in a foreign tour of the Bahamas. In Memphis’ 142-64 win over Cyborts, Barton scored seven points to go along with three rebounds and a game-high seven assists.

“It was a good experience,” Barton said. “We got to bond as a team and got to know each other better. At the end of the day, it was just fun. I had never been over there. … I’m a defensive stopper and I make everybody better. So basically, as long as I get my players involved, we win. Really my scoring, I don’t worry about that. I just want to make everybody better.”

In his lone season at Lake Clifton, Barton teamed with older brother Will to lead the Lakers to an undefeated season and the Class 3A state championship. A second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, Barton finished high school and moved to Fitchburg, Mass., for a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep.

With Barton in Notre Dame Prep’s backcourt, the Crusaders advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Prep Championship and finished with a 27-8 record. He averaged 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the season. The prep-school experience, Barton said, improved his work ethic and made him “a stronger person.”

Barton and the Tigers open the 2010-11 season with a home exhibition game against Lemoyne-Owen College. While Barton’s already had a taste of the college life, he can’t wait to start his basketball career with the Tigers.

“It’s like you can’t even explain it,” Barton said of the atmosphere in Memphis. “If we walked in the room the same time as the Memphis Grizzlies, everyone would run to us. We’re the No. 1 team there. Every time we play at FedEx [Forum], we sell it out. It’s all good. I love it.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Antonio Barton by Kim Hairston / March 14, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:22 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 23, 2010

Quick update on City guard Nick Faust

nick-faust-bmore-hoops.jpg The summer of Nick Faust is finally drawing to a close.

The rising senior shooting guard from City spent the past three months traveling the country on the AAU circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite. He started the summer as a regional recruit just outside several scouting services’ Top 100 lists, but has ended his vacation as a potential Top 25 prospect nationally.

Faust was back in Baltimore on Saturday for the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration, earning the sportsmanship award at the showcase all-star game. Now Faust’s attention is turning back to school, where he hopes to lead City to its third straight Class 2A state championship.

“I guess I’m ready to go back. I’m still in my summer mode,” he said with a laugh.

Shortly after the Knights won the state title in March, Faust sported offers from just three high-major schools: Oregon State, Penn State and South Florida. Nearly five months later, Faust has trouble keeping track of his scholarship offers. The list of schools under consideration is a long one.

“Maryland, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Florida State, Marquette, Oregon State, UMass, several other schools, also. It’s a big list,” Faust said.

A second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection as a junior, Faust said he plans to take a visit to College Park soon. He doesn’t have a favorite school.

“I’m still wide open right now,” Faust said. “I’m going to narrow it down, probably in the next couple days, to a top seven.”

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:59 PM | | Comments (13)
        

Weekend wrap – Gibbs, Team USA come up short

Sterling Gibbs guided the U.S. boys basketball team to a fourth-place finish at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

The Maryland commitment led Team USA to the bronze-medal game of the 3-on-3 tournament, but the Americans dropped a 34-24 decision to Greece on Monday.

"We should have won," said Sterling Gibbs, who led the Americans with 15 points. "We just didn't play hard. I don't know why."

• Adam Zagoria reported Monday that DeMatha forward Mikael Hopkins has an updated list of schools.

However, he said Hopkins has added Rutgers and subtracted Syracuse from his list of schools. That list now includes Georgetown, Kansas, Miami, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Texas, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Maryland and Rutgers.

• Maryland small forward target Bernard Sullivan has committed to Clemson.

Sullivan had been considering the Tigers since Oliver Purnell was the coach. He averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game last season.

• Maryland might be out of the mix for Norcom (Va.) small forward Dorian Finney-Smith. Scout.com reported that the four-star prospect has set up official visits to three schools: Florida, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:44 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 22, 2010

Will Barton, Josh Pastner discuss NCAA ruling

will-barton-memphis-eligible.jpg Will Barton answered his phone around 7 p.m. Friday night, with the caller ID indicating that Memphis coach Josh Pastner was on the line.

The former Lake Clifton shooting guard was expecting word from his coach on his appeal for NCAA eligibility. Barton was ruled ineligible by the NCAA earlier this month because it took him nine semesters, instead of eight, to graduate high school – violating a rule implemented after he had earned his diploma.

“He said, ‘Are you ready to rock and roll?’” Barton recalled. “And I knew what he was talking about once he said that. … I was surprised. There was a lot going on in my head. Once I found out the good news [that I was eligible], I was real happy and excited. I was real amped up.”

Barton was back at his old stomping grounds Saturday at The Dome in East Baltimore. While hundreds of high school basketball fans turned out to watch the all-star games for bmorehoops.com’s sixth annual anniversary celebration, the 6-foot-6, 175-pound freshman was often the center of attention on the sidelines and in the stands. Barton said plenty of people from Baltimore offered words of encouragement throughout the NCAA appeal process, as did supporters of the Tigers.

“The Memphis fans, they really showed a lot of support. It’s like my second home,” Barton said. “They really like me down there. They treat me with a lot of respect. That’s one reason why I chose Memphis. There’s a lot of love down there. … We’re like rock stars down there. I just want to win and bring home a national championship because the town deserves it.”

Pastner told The Baltimore Sun on Sunday that Barton's situation "got a little bit overblown" by fans and the media. Barton's eligibility issue was taken up a bit earlier than expected by the NCAA Clearinghouse because the Tigers were about to go on a two-game trip to the Bahamas earlier this month. Normally, the Clearinghouse deals first with cases involving those playing fall sports such as football and volleyball.

"If we didn't go on the foreign trip and didn't have to tell him he couldn't go, we wouldn't have made a big deal about it," Pastner said. "We would have told him that we just needed to keep providing documentation. We would have told him, ‘We're going to sit tight, this is a very routine situation.’ I think it was a good wake-up call, not only him but a few of our guys had something taken away that they love -- not because of anything they did. But to go on a trip as an incoming freshman you have to be totally cleared by the Clearinghouse."

Several media reports speculated that Barton, the 2009 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year, would consider playing in Europe or in the NBA Development League if the NCAA denied his appeal.

“I had plans, but we’ll never know now. Just know I had plans,” Barton said with a laugh.

Said Pastner: "I’m very excited [Barton will play as a freshman]. I'm very pleased, but here's the other thing -- I'm happy for him. He's a wonderful young man. He brings so much enthusiasm and so much energy and so much joy. Obviously he's a really good player, but he's a really good guy. He's done a really good job this summer academically."

Barton spent the past year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, guiding the Bobcats to the 2010 National Prep Championship. He averaged 20.8 points during his post-grad year and was named the 2009-10 New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A Player of the Year.

Considered the centerpiece of Memphis’ consensus Top 3 national recruiting class for 2010, Barton was ranked Scout.com’s No. 1 shooting guard and is expected to be one of Conference USA’s top players this season. Despite all the attention, Barton said he remains focused on the Tigers’ goals for the season.

“I’ll take [the attention] and it just makes me work harder because I know there’s going to be a bulls-eye on my back, being one of the top five freshmen in the country,” Barton said. “A lot of people will be older and more experienced guys, and they don’t want me coming in and doing what I do. But I just work hard and don’t let the hype get to my head. I just play basketball. That’s all I do.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun photo of Will Barton by Kim Hairston / March 14, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:33 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 21, 2010

Lake Clifton grad Will Barton ruled eligible by NCAA

Former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton has won his appeal with the NCAA and will be eligible to play for Memphis this season. will-barton-ncaa-memphis.jpg

The NCAA had ruled the 2009 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year ineligible earlier this month. Barton graduated from Lake Clifton in August 2009 – two months after his classmates – before spending a post-grad year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy. The NCAA later enacted a rule that required players to finish four years of high school in eight semesters.

"Obviously, we are very pleased with the decision from the NCAA that clears Will for competition this season," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said in a news release. "We continued to provide additional documentation to the NCAA for its review, which is part of its routine process."

Barton averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in his lone season at Lake Clifton, teaming with younger brother and fellow Memphis freshman Antonio to lead the Lakers to an undefeated season and the Class 3A state championship. A five-star prospect, Barton was ranked Scout.com's No. 1 shooting guard for the class of 2010.

Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston / March 14, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:23 PM | | Comments (3)
        

August 20, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

The city's best high school basketball players will take the court Saturday at The Dome in East Baltimore.

Bmorehoops.com's sixth anniversary celebration will feature seven games, starting with youth boys at 1 p.m and leading up to the showcase event for seniors at 8:30.

Two seniors with Maryland offers are scheduled to play in the main event -- City shooting guard Nick Faust and St. Frances center Greg Lewis. Other seniors slated to play include St. Frances point guard R.J. Williams, Huntington (W.Va.) point guard Kevin Smith, St. Frances shooting guard Sam Cassell Jr., John Carroll combo guard Ronald Scott and John Carroll forward Jarred Jones.

The game for juniors, set for 7:15 p.m., will feature Digital Harbor point guard Daquan Cook, Glenelg Country forward Isaiah Miles, City forward Charles Tapper, Dunbar forward Jamel Artis, City guard Lionel Greene and St. Frances center Josh Forney, among others.

The sophomore game, scheduled for 6 p.m., will include Patterson point guard Aquille Carr.

The Madison Square Dome is located at the corner of Biddle and Eden. There's no charge for admission. Visit bmorehoops.com for more details.

• UM point guard pledge Sterling Gibbs helped Team USA to the medal round of the Youth Olympic Games.

Angelo Chol finished with 15 rebounds and 14 points, followed by 12 points from Sterling Gibbs, and three each from Brandan Kearney and Kyle Caudill. Kearney had an amazing follow-up dunk off a missed shot to cut the lead to two and ignited our team and the fans in attendance.

• The New York Post reported this week on a schedule of visits for Terps small forward target Maurice Harkless.

Maurice Harkless announced a series of upcoming visits Wednesday night. He plans to unofficially visit St. John’s (Sept. 2), Rutgers (Sept. 4) and Maryland (Sept. 5). He will take an official visit to Oregonon Sept. 17.

• In a Q&A with Dime Mag, Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels said Terps power forward target Antwan Space was one of three rising seniors who has really raised his stock.

Antwan Space out of Texas has really helped his stock. He is a guy that was unknown to many college coaches and now he is being recruited by a number of high-major colleges. He is at least a top 75 player.

• Former Terps forward target LaQuinton Ross is headed to Ohio State.

Ross chose the Buckeyes over Baylor, Syracuse and West Virginia.

Football recruiting

• Former City standout Adrian Coxson will transfer from Florida to Maryland.

“It’s a positive environment, and the coaches are really good,” Coxson said of Maryland. “It’s a great place for me to achieve my goals and take me to the next level.”

• The Miami Herald this week profiled Maryland safety commitment Undray Clark, who has battled a stuttering problem throughout his life.

"When I was younger, I was embarrassed,'' Clark said. "I would get mad. But now, I've learned to just let it go.''

Clark said he grew up going to speech therapists twice a week for an hour. He still goes at least once a week.

• A Terps offensive tackle commitment is switching schools for his senior year, according to The Washington Post.

Maryland recruit Larry Mazyck, a 6-7, 330-pound offensive lineman, who played last year for Friendship, will spend this season at Fork Union, according to Abdul-Rahim.

• South Carolina football recruiting guru Phil Kornblut thinks Terps linebacker target Travis Hughes has a favorite.

Linebacker Travis Hughes (6-1, 220) of Virginia Beach, Va., made an unofficial visit to Clemson over the weekend. Hughes favors North Carolina over Clemson. He also has Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia and LSU on his list. He plans to schedule an official visit with the Tigers.

• East Stroudsburg (Pa.) defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett has committed to Pittsburgh.

Jarrett had more than a dozen scholarship offers from programs all across the country, ranging from coast to coast (UCONN to Stanford) and also included programs like Cincinnati, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Earlier in his recruiting process, Jarrett had received interest from programs like Miami (FL), Notre Dame and Rutgers.

• Philadelphia running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who received some early interest from the Terps, has committed to Villanova.

Abdur-Rahman, who lives near 19th and Cheltenham, in West Oak Lane, figures he'll major in business or sports medicine. His runner-up choice was Maryland while Temple and Purdue were also prominent in his thoughts.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 19, 2010

Poly defensive end has Division I potential

The waiting game has begun for Poly senior Paul Taylor. paul-taylor-poly.jpg

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound defensive end and offensive tackle spent his summer as most Division 1-caliber recruits do – showcasing his talents for a host of college coaches at several camps and combines. One scholarship offer has been made, while Taylor hopes more could eventually be on the way.

“I went to Bryant, Delaware, Temple, Maryland [and] Syracuse,” said Taylor, the 10th-ranked defensive lineman in Maryland according to MDHigh.com. “… [Getting a scholarship] felt great. It’s sort of like the validation for work I’ve been doing so far. They told me to keep working and pushing myself. I’m one of the few to get an offer in this city, so it felt great. My family was pretty happy for me and my coaches were pretty happy for me.”

Bryant, a Football Championship Subdivision program in Rhode Island, was the school that offered him a scholarship. Taylor said Connecticut, Delaware, James Madison and William & Mary have been in contact, while Engineers coach Roger Wrenn has heard from several other programs.

“Kind of everybody who’s stopped through,” has been interested, Wrenn said. “Temple, Connecticut, Maryland, Syracuse, Georgia Tech – my old friend Joe Speed [Georgia Tech’s linebackers coach] called me and said, ‘Who’s this tall tackle you’ve got?’ I’m probably forgetting some along the way. But we had 55 different colleges come through in the spring, and a whole lot of them stuck around watching in the weight room.”

With Taylor, the college coaches saw an athletic, lean prospect who Wrenn says is still growing into his lanky frame. Taylor enrolled at Poly three years ago as a 5-foot-10 linebacker. He played his first season on junior varsity and then started to grow.

“We’re not sure he’s finished growing yet,” Wrenn said. “But a little bit like a Great Dane puppy, he hasn’t stopped growing enough to put on a lot of weight. This year, when basketball was over, we just totaled it up. He spent 80 days since basketball was over lifting in the weight room. But he’s gone from 215 when basketball was over to [last week] when he was 245.

“But a lot of people want to see his senior film and whatnot with a bigger body. ... We just think he’s so agile and pulls and does athletic things on the offensive line, and he’s definitely just relentless and has these long arms that are just hard to throw the ball over.”

Taylor, a strong student with Ivy League interest, isn’t the only Poly player that could have a Div. I future. Junior defensive back Donovan Riley, former Gilman athlete Dexter Davis and senior running back Gabriel Ali-El all fared well on the combine circuit this summer.

“Not often in my career have I had four really significant playmakers and a couple other guys,” Wrenn said. “So this should be interesting.”

Taylor recognizes how crucial the start of his senior season is for attracting attention – and new offers – from colleges. His plan, however, is to approach his last year at Poly no different than how he’s handled his business before.

“It was always just go out and play. It was never any pressure,” Taylor said. “Whatever I’ve done before has gotten me to this point, so if I continue to work hard and keep playing, hopefully more will come. I never really felt any pressure. … I’ll probably end up making the decision after the season. So I’ll just see what happens.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Paul Taylor (51) by Kim Hairston / Nov. 7, 2009

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Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 18, 2010

Coach: Terps recruit Ryan Malleck a versatile TE

For the past three seasons, Ryan Malleck has done it all for Point Pleasant Borough (N.J.) coach Calvin Thompson on the football field.

When Thompson needed a pass-catching tight end in 2007, he brought up Malleck – then a 6-foot-2 freshman – to the varsity squad. Later, the Panthers sought a physical presence at free safety, and again, Malleck got the call.

“He’s also our placekicker,” Thompson said. “He’s just a great athlete and a great kid. He does extra points, he’s the field-goal kicker and he can throw the ball 60 yards. He’s got a cannon for an arm. If we were a traditional pocket-passing team, he could’ve played quarterback for us.”

Malleck’s versatility – along with his size and speed – caught the attention of coaches from a host of Big East and ACC schools, including Maryland. On Sunday night, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end committed to the Terps.

“I knew they were one of his favorites,” Thompson said. “Rutgers came in later. I think his top three schools, before Rutgers came in, were North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. And UConn and Central Florida, those were the other schools he was considering. But he was talking about staying close to home and playing in the ACC or the Big East.”

Malleck, who led Point Pleasant Borough in interceptions as a junior, wasn’t the first freshman to suit up for Thompson on the varsity squad. But the future Terp made an immediate impact as a ninth-grader and continued to progress over the course of the next two seasons.

“He caught his first touchdown pass in a state playoff game. So we got him the ball right away and put him in the rotation,” Thompson said. “I had two receivers in front of him, and both are now college athletes – one down at Alabama who’s a decathlete in track, and another who’s the starting tight end at a [Division III] school up here, Kean University. So we had some good athletes in front of him, but sophomore year he made all-county and last year he made what we call the Super 100 All-State team, the Top 100 kids in the state.”

Thompson runs a system that’s similar to Navy’s offense, although the Panthers’ quarterback threw for more than 1,500 yards last season. Malleck, who benches more than 300 pounds and squats over 400, presents matchup nightmares for opponents thanks to his size and speed.

“His ability to run and his height [stands out],” Thompson said. “He’s a big help for us in stretching the field as a pass-catcher and blocking on the edge. … We split him out at split end and we’ll also have him at tight end, so he’s more than a pass-catching tight end. We don’t really play a traditional tight-end set. So I think that gives us an advantage as far as game planning. People always have to account for us throwing the football as well as running.”

Maryland was the first program to offer Malleck, according to Thompson. The Panthers coach thinks the Terps have a plan for Malleck once he arrives in College Park next fall.

“I believe they’ll use him as a pass-catching tight end,” Thompson said. “I really haven’t talked to them a lot as far as what they plan to do with him. We were just talking about the school and the ACC. They’re really high on him. They made him a priority.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:17 AM | | Comments (2)
        

August 17, 2010

Change of plans for Digital Harbor's Davon Usher

davon-usher-juco.jpg Davon Usher is set to leave home for college Saturday, but his destination will be different than what he originally planned.

Usher, who graduated from Digital Harbor in June, signed with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in November. But instead of suiting up for the Islanders this fall, the 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard will play basketball at Polk State, a junior college in Winter Haven, Fla.

“I’m not going to Corpus Christi this year because [Islanders assistant coach and former Lake Clifton standout] Kevin Norris had left [for UNC-Wilmington] and we decided to go our separate ways,” Usher said. “But [I’m] still close [with the coaching staff]. We really parted ways on good terms. I still communicate with the head coach.”

Usher, who started his high school career at Carver before moving on to National Foundations Academy and then Digital Harbor, said there were complications with his academic paperwork and “everything didn’t get settled in fast enough to go to Corpus Christi.”

A Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, Usher spent the summer playing with Nike Baltimore Elite. Another season on the AAU circuit served him well.

“Playing AAU this past summer, I know my stock has gone higher,” Usher said. “Coming out of junior college, I could help some teams because of my maturity level. I won’t be coming in as a 17-year-old. So it should help my stock go up a little bit more and help me be an impact player sooner, rather than being behind somebody else and being a role player.”

Usher, who averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals as a senior, isn’t the only local player to join Polk State's roster this year. Former Glen Burnie forward Justin Kuntz has also signed with the Vikings. While Usher hasn’t yet visited his home for the next two years, he’s excited to make the journey down to Florida this weekend.

“The coaches were real nice and cool,” Usher said. “And everything’s just going to work out for the best. Everything happens for a reason, so this might be a good situation.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Davon Usher by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Jan. 5, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:40 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 16, 2010

Durand Johnson commits to Big East school

In Anthony Lewis’ mind, there was no way Durand Johnson could’ve gone wrong. durand-johnson.jpg

The longtime Cecil Kirk coach saw his star player earn scholarship offers from more than 20 Division I basketball programs, including Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and St. John’s.

“I don’t think any of the schools could’ve been a bad fit for him. All the contenders, they really had a legitimate shot. I thought he agonized long and hard on those schools, because he couldn’t go wrong on them. … But he was an early, heavy lean toward” one of those Big East programs, Lewis said.

On Monday night, Johnson committed to the program Lewis believed he had favored early on. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Lake Clifton graduate is headed to Pittsburgh.

“It feels good,” said Johnson, who will attend Brewster (N.H.) Academy this fall. “They were there from Day One. I just really knew I was No. 1 for them.”

Johnson is the fourth Baltimore native to join the Panthers in the past three years. Guards Jermaine Dixon and Chase Adams (Mount St. Joseph) graduated in the spring, while former City forward Aron Nwankwo will walk-on at Pitt this fall.

Johnson spent his freshman year at St. Frances and his sophomore and junior seasons at Parkville. He transferred to Lake Clifton for his senior year, teaming with top-ranked point guard Josh Selby in hopes of leading the Lakers to their second straight Class 3A state title. While the Kansas-bound Selby put up big numbers, Johnson faded to the background and Lake Clifton fell short of its championship goals.

“At Lake Clifton, it was different playing with a score-first point guard like Josh,” said Johnson, who averaged about 15 points as a senior. “It really humbled me, not getting touches. It was basically a learning experience, just something I had to go through. But I was used to being the man, scoring and making plays. So by [Selby] being that player, it just made me rebound and get more defensive stops. It made my all-around game better.”

When Johnson hit the AAU circuit with Cecil Kirk in the spring, however, it was business as the usual for the three-star prospect. He quickly resumed his role as the club’s top offensive threat. College coaches and scouts couldn’t help but notice.

“First of all, the guy does one thing at an extremely high level: he scores,” said Scout.com analyst Dave Telep. “And because he has been underappreciated, he has this constant chip on his shoulder. And to me, that almost defines what Pittsburgh guys are. I think Durand Johnson will have a pretty good college career. He’s a junkyard dog, exactly the kind of talent they like.”

Telep said Johnson’s size and versatility will allow him to play either shooting guard or small forward in college. He should have no trouble defending either position, and “he flat-out knows how to score.” Hoopmasters.com analyst Van Coleman acknowledged that Johnson needs to add strength during his time at Brewster, but his athleticism and competitiveness should serve him well right from the start.

“He’s an excellent shooter and he’s a big kid who can put it on the floor,” Coleman said. “He can play the 2/3 and can guard the 2, 3 and 4 positions. He’s a quick competitor who can really shoot the basketball. He came out in the middle of the summer and shot the ball. So I think you’re going to see him in a lot of Top 100 lists when they’re done in a couple weeks.”

Johnson knows his time at prep school will be crucial for his development. Based on recommendations from Baltimore natives Will Barton and C.J. Fair, he’s confident that the Brewster coaching staff will prepare him for his college career. That’s something the Pitt coaches are counting on.

“They basically said I’ve got to come in and be ready to play,” Johnson said. “They’re losing both their wings, Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker, so I can come in and make an impact and be ready to play. I’ve got to go in and work hard, and get a college-ready body so I can come in to the Big East and be ready to play right away. It’s going to be big.”

Handout photo courtesy of Durand Johnson.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:23 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekend wrap – Gibbs helps U.S. to win

Sterling Gibbs was on the winning side in the first round of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

The Maryland-bound point guard helped guide Team USA to a 23-17 win over Turkey.

Brandan Kearney (Detroit Southeastern H.S./Detroit, Mich.) added eight points for the men, while Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall Prep/Scotch Plains, N.J.) chipped in three points, two steals and an assist.

• Testudo Times wrote today that Maryland might be out of the mix for Oakland, Calif., shooting guard Jabari Brown.

The current seven are UConn, Cal, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Oregon, St. John's, and Washington.

• Maryland small forward target Maurice Harkless told The New York Post that he's running his recruitment now, while adviser Nate Blue will assist if necessary.

The 6-foot-8 small forward from Jamaica, Queens, who initially committed to Connecticut, is organizing his visits, such as the official he will take to Maryland on Sept. 2 and the unofficial to St. John’s on Sept. 18.

• NBADraft.net scouted the adidas Nations event in Chicago, offering reports on each participant, including Terps shooting guard target Deuce Bello.

Bello is one of the freakiest players on the high school level right now. He's shown some surprising skill development this summer with improvement in his handle and play making. He's an undersized shooting guard but his length and leaping ability gives him some real intrigue.

Football recruiting

• ACCSports.com answered four questions facing the Maryland football team, including whether the Terps will lose recruits if the team stumbles early.

Defensive back Jeremiah Hendy is one of Maryland’s top early commitments. The Bowie High standout chose the Terps over the Cavaliers in a very close battle, citing his parents’ preference that he stay near home. Hendy, though, has kept his recruitment open and remains in contact with Virginia, even taking an unofficial visit to Charlottesville in late June.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:40 AM | | Comments (3)
        

August 13, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

A new power forward prospect has emerged on the Maryland men's basketball program's wish list.

Johnny O'Bryant, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound rising senior from Cleveland, Miss., has added the Terps to his list of schools. The four-star prospect is focused on seven programs.

Rivals.com reported earlier today that O'Bryant has trimmed his list to Maryland, Miami, Alabama, Ole Miss, Miss. State, LSU & Georgia Tech.

Rivals High named O'Bryant the best big man at last weekend's Nike Global Challenge in Oregon.

If there was one glaring omission from the All-Tournament team, J.O.B. was it. The stocky 6-foot-10 center owned the paint for USA West all three days while averaging 19.3 points and 12 rebounds a game.

Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer said this week that he'd put O'Bryant as a bench player on his all-star team for the class of 2011.

And at center, the problem here is that the best low-post players in the class aren't physical players. [Anthony] Davis would be my pick, with James McAdoo of Norfolk (Va.) Norfolk Christian School right behind him. But then I would want a physical grinder like Johnny O'Bryant of Cleveland (Miss.) East Side to come off the bench.

• Adam Zagoria reports that Queens, N.Y., forward Maurice Harkless will take an official visit to Maryland on Sept. 17.

Asked why Maryland gets the first visit, he said: “I just really wanted to get down there and check it out.”

The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy said Harkless was one of five prospects who raised his profile this summer on the AAU circuit.

Scout.com ranked Harkless No. 96 entering the summer because of some uninspiring spring performances. He tore through July, though, showing off ballhandling and 3-point shooting ability that'll make UConn sorry he's no longer committed to the Huskies (and no longer considering their program). He has a long list heavy on Big East schools.

• Maryland remains in the mix for New Egypt, N.J., center Desmond Hubert.

Pittsburgh, Virginia, Wake Forest and Maryland are at or near the top of Hubert’s college list, said his high school coach, Jay Corby.

• City shooting guard Nick Faust fared well at the Nike Global Challenge, according to ESPN.com's Joel Francisco.

[Trevor] Cooney hit a number of 3s and moved very well without the ball, while Faust displayed his all-around game with some exceptional passes and deep 3s.

• The Virginian-Pilot notes that Norcom (Va.) small forward Dorian Finney-Smith is now ESPN.com's 13th-ranked player in the 2011 class.

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

• NBE Basketball Report has an update on Team Takeover's players, including DeMatha junior guard James Robinson.

“The biggest question coaches had with James -- and it wasn’t a question with me because I’ve had him since he was 12 and know what he can do -- was could he play the point guard spot,” said [Team Takeover coach Keith] Stevens. “He proved that and then some as Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, UAB, Va Tech and Wake have all offered.”

Rodney Purvis, a sophomore guard with an early Maryland offer, was a top performer at the adidas Nations event in Chicago.

When it comes time to rank the class of 2013, Purvis is going to have to at least be discussed for the top spot. Let's be clear, he's probably more of a combo at this point. But, he's easy to project as a physical, athletic and hard charging point down the road. We'd never really seen how he reads pick and roll situations but he proved in Chicago that he's more than comfortable in those situations and a good decision maker. He appears to be the total package on and off of the floor.

Football recruiting

• After a summer spent touring college campuses, Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings is now focused on 10 schools. Penn State blog Linebacker U has Jennings' list.

His top ten include (according to his Facebook page) Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

• The Terps are still in the running for DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Miami, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Virginia and USC are his final 11.

• Virginia Tech picked up an offensive line recruit with a Maryland offer, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Jake Goins, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle from Manchester, has orally committed to Tech. That helps ease the loss of two star prospects who went to North Carolina this summer. Goins picked the Hokies over scholarship offers from Clemson, Duke, Maryland and Virginia.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:15 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 12, 2010

Calvert Hall OT Ben Curtis has options

For three weeks, Cardinal Gibbons junior Ben Curtis joined his classmates in protesting the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s decision to close the venerable Catholic school, while simultaneously searching for a place to spend his senior year.

When it became clear that Curtis and his fellow Crusaders couldn’t save their school, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive tackle zeroed in on a new destination with a familiar face in charge of the football program.

“I narrowed it down to Gilman, Good Counsel and Calvert Hall, and then I just chose Calvert Hall because I felt like it was the best fit,” said Curtis, the sixth-ranked senior lineman in the state according to MDHigh.com. “It has the same air of brotherhood that Gibbons had when I was there. And I also knew some of the players, and I knew Coach [Donald] Davis prior to this because he was recruiting me to play for Gibbons in middle school.”

Davis, who took the Calvert Hall job four years ago, didn’t have contact on a personal level with Curtis back then, but he remembered his potential well.

“I’ll tell you what, it was totally, totally different when he was a young kid,” Curtis said. “First of all, he was very raw out of Howard County. He was just a big kid, really just learning how to play football. And early on, even as I observed him at Gibbons, a lot of people weren’t sure whether he was a basketball player or a football player. Was he a basketball kid trying to play football, or was he a football kid who can play basketball? But he’s a football kid, hard-nosed with a great attitude.”

Curtis’ move to MIAA A Conference competition will be monitored closely by several college football coaches. He spent the summer attending camps – including stops at Connecticut, Duke, James Madison, Maryland and North Carolina. Curtis has picked up scholarship offers from JMU and Bryant. The Blue Devils offered but shortly thereafter received three offensive line commitments, putting Curtis’ recruitment in a holding pattern.

“It feels amazing,” Curtis said of having scholarship offers. “A few schools are talking about offering sometime this fall. I’ve talked to other schools like Rutgers and UConn that want to see how I do in the first few games of the season. … There’s a little pressure, but I believe I’ll do as well as I did at Gibbons.”

Davis said UConn has Curtis “high on their radar,” while the Terps coaches are also watching him closely. There’s “not a doubt” in the Cardinals coach’s mind that Curtis is a future Division I player.

“One of the things I like about him is he’s just coming in and continuing to improve because he’s still very young,” Davis said. “He’s not a kid that’s been playing forever. These kids today are playing when they’re five, six years old. He didn’t start playing until the 7th grade, and he didn’t become an offensive lineman until high school. He’s really a kid that’s only had three years at his position. In that time, he has become an elite kid. His ability has almost outpaced his fundamentals. But I told him to just keep working everyday to be the best you can.”

Transferring into a well-established program as a senior is never easy, but Davis and Curtis agree that so far, his move has been seamless. While the circumstances that led Curtis to Calvert Hall weren’t ideal, he’s settling in nicely to his new surroundings.

“Seeing the team now, it looks like we can make a pretty good run for the [MIAA A Conference] championship,” Curtis said. “So that’s what I’m excited for.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 11, 2010

Q&A with Terps assistant coach Rob Ehsan

A summer spent crisscrossing the country watching the top high school basketball players has mercifully slowed for Rob Ehsan.

But the Maryland assistant men’s basketball coach, entering his sixth season with the Terps, still has one big event scheduled for the summer: his wedding this Saturday in California, followed by a honeymoon in the Bahamas.

“She’s trying to implement a no cell phone policy. But that’s going to be impossible,” Ehsan said with a laugh.

Ehsan took on an integral role in recruiting the Terps’ 2010 recruiting class. Maryland welcomes six new scholarship players to their roster this season: Terrell Stoglin, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound point guard from Tucson, Ariz., Mychal Parker, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound wing from Washington, N.C., Ashton Pankey, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward from the Bronx, N.Y., Pe’Shon Howard, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound combo guard from Los Angeles, Haukur Palsson, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound small forward from Iceland, and Berend Weijs, a 6-foot-10, 205-pound center from the Netherlands.

Ehsan spoke to Recruiting Report earlier this week about Maryland’s incoming class.

The first thing that probably stands out with this class is its geographic diversity. Talk about putting together a group of players that come from all over the country.

It seems like we kind of tapped into all parts of the country, and even the world a little bit. I think some of that is due to the fact that, especially now in college basketball, you’re seeing more international kids that are having an impact at high-level programs and doing well. So being able to have Hawk and Berend, we’ve had some success with international kids in the past. So we’re excited about that. And as far as Terrell, Mike, Pe’Shon and Ashton, they’ve been guys – with the exception of Terrell – that have been around this area a little bit, or at least the East Coast. They’re just kind of from all over. In the past, we’ve had kids from all over. So it’s not too uncommon, I don’t think.

Stoglin was the first commitment of the class, and he was a guy that not a lot of people knew about when he made that commitment. How did Maryland discover him before so many other high-major schools?

Just being from California, I had heard a little bit about him. So I kind of did a little bit of research on him. The summer before his junior year, Coach [Gary] Williams and I actually saw him play in Los Angeles. We were there to watch Jordan Williams, and Terrell was actually playing on another team and he kind of caught our eyes. We definitely kept in contact with him, and in his junior year, his team was up here at a tournament at Good Counsel. And Terrell is a guy that is really extremely skilled offensively, so that was something that really stood out to us. Then after his junior year, he expressed strong interest in us and we were expressing strong interest in him, and Coach Williams felt it was the right time to offer him and shortly thereafter he accepted that.

He obviously put up big numbers throughout his high school career, but it seems like he took his game to another level as a senior. Did it surprise you how successful he was this past year?

I wasn’t too surprised because I saw the same things he was able to do in the summer. On the AAU circuit, he had some big games against some big names. When he was a sophomore, he scored like 30 against [Toronto Raptors guard] DeMar Derozan, and he had another big game against [Washington point guard] Abdul Gaddy. He’s always had a knack for scoring the basketball. So I wasn’t too surprised [about his senior year]. Part of him not getting much publicity is him coming from Tucson and not being able to show his talent on a national level until the summer before last.

If you go by the recruiting rankings, Parker is the most highly touted guy in the group. Can he be a headliner and eventual go-to scorer?

I think Mike has an enormous amount of talent and really has some physical tools and gifts that you can’t really teach. I think he has the potential to do some great things at Maryland in the future. And to be honest, we look at it as having a guy who can really do some things physically on the basketball court that are unique. He’s up there with many of the top players athletically in the country. Having to replace our guards, Greivis [Vasquez] and Eric [Hayes], and being able to have the opportunity to come in [and play], we thought Mike was a great candidate for that.

The fall signing period came and went and Howard remained unsigned. But in December, it seemed as if interest between him and Maryland picked up again in a hurry and he committed in early January. How did that renewed interest transpire?

We had liked Pe’Shon for awhile, to be honest, the whole coaching staff, ever since he was a sophomore. We loved his toughness, his competitiveness and his love for the game. When the early period came around, we had so many guards. Obviously we still had a guard [Terrence Ross] committed to us. When the stuff with [Ross] happened, we looked at it like an opportunity to really go after Pe’Shon hard. I think at the time, we didn’t have a scholarship for another guard. As soon as [Ross reopened his recruitment], we were really excited about Pe’Shon still being available and still being interested in Maryland. So that’s kind of how that developed.

Does the fact that he’s played on such a big stage at Oak Hill for the past three years make him pretty college-ready?

Definitely. I think he’s played for years now against a great level of competition, against great players. He’s a fearless competitor and there’s no question we’re expecting him to be ready to help and contribute right away come October or November.

Pankey missed his senior year with a stress fracture, so could he be a redshirt candidate? What are your plans for him this year?

I don’t want to speculate about him redshirting. That’s not the plan. But he’s been on campus all summer taking classes, working out, training, doing rehab and making sure he’s 100 percent healthy. He has been cleared to play and I think he still hasn’t completely gotten his leaping ability and his legs back as strong as they once were. But he’s getting closer every day. He’s been working hard and he’s going to have an opportunity to play right away. Whether that happens or not, that’s going to be up to how fast he can pick up whatever we’re doing. But he is getting closer to 100 percent and we hope to have him there by the time school starts.

Palsson put up big numbers in the Nordic championships, but when he played on national TV in the U.S., he was a little quieter. What are your expectations of him?

Well, I think he brings a ton of intangibles to the table. He’s a very hard-working, tough kid who wants to get better and wants to compete. I think he has a strong basketball IQ. The whole staff has seen him shoot the basketball extremely well in different settings and play very well against great competition. I think for Hawk, it’s about him being aggressive and not just being satisfied with being a role player, which seems like at times he was in high school, but they were an extremely talented team.

When did the staff decide to pursue another big man, and what was it about Berend that separated him from other guys you looked at?

I think probably in the beginning of this year, we thought that we had some scholarships available from guys leaving. When the scholarship came open, we wanted to check our avenues and find out if there was any potential player out there that could help us. Berend’s name was brought to our attention. And we did some research, watched some film on him, and talked to the head coach at his junior college. He played with our players when we weren’t able to see, but guys like Sean [Mosley] and Jordan [Williams] were really adamant about him being able to help us. They really liked him when they met him, and that was definitely big for us. We thought it would be a good situation.

Which of these newcomers has the potential to surprise fans and make a contribution this season?

I think Berend. I think Berend having a little bit of international experience and playing junior college [will help him be prepared]. I definitely think he could have a bigger impact than what the fans might think. He’s worked really hard in the weight room this summer and he’s been playing with the guys. We’ve been getting positive reports back from the players on him. He brings something different to the table. He’s probably going to be our tallest guy. He’s long and athletic. He’ll probably help with our shot blocking and rebounding. He should be able to alter shots, which will definitely help us a lot.

You lose Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne, and are bringing in six newcomers. Talk about that roster composition and sort of mixing rookies and veterans.

Well I think it’s a unique situation in that we lost those guys but we still have three seniors who have been playing behind Eric, Greivis and Landon. Now they’re going to have the opportunity to really step up and make an impact. Their leadership is going to be the key. And I know our coaches are really confident that you’re going to see those seniors do something that they haven’t really shown in the past. It’ll be finding that good mix of younger guys with veterans, and finding out who’s ready physically and mentally to help and contribute. But I think it’s a very diverse class of players and personalities. And that’s kind of what I’m excited about. Bringing in six newcomers, but none that are the same, and each of them is a little different in their own regard, is exciting. We’re really excited to watch them get better and jell with the guys that we have returning.

Are there any freshmen that you’re really counting on to be a part of the rotation right off the bat?

I haven’t seen the guys play this summer, so it’s kind of tough. I know they’ve been working extremely hard with [strength and conditioning coach] Paul [Ricci], all of them have. So that’s going to benefit them, and I think they’re a little more ready than normal freshmen because all of them have been here all summer, taking classes and working out. Hopefully it’s not as big of an adjustment period, and we have guys that don’t have a difficult time adjusting to our level of play and will be able to contribute. I think any of those guys really have the potential to step up and really help out.

With Chuck Driesell leaving for The Citadel and Bino Ranson coming in as his replacement, talk about the composition of the staff and what Bino brings to the group.

Well, I feel like pretty much everyone on our staff has known Bino before, so there really hasn’t been that big of an adjustment in terms of getting to know each other and working together. When he came in, we immediately worked pretty well together as a whole staff. He was familiar with our program, familiar with our coaches, and I think he’s definitely going to be able to help us a lot with recruiting and contributing to help us get good players. With him, Coach [Keith] Booth and myself, we not only have a good landscape of our area in Baltimore and D.C., but also nationally. Bino has recruited nationally, I have and Coach Booth has as well.

Without getting into specifics, how has recruiting for the 2011 class been going?

I think it’s been going well. We have a handful of prospects that we’ve been working really hard in recruiting. And we’re excited for the next recruiting class to see how the next couple months unfold. We’re very optimistic, at the end of the day, to have a recruiting class that can help us compete for championships.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:18 AM | | Comments (5)
        

August 10, 2010

Digital Harbor sophomore talks Terps pledge

It’s been more than four years since the Maryland’s women’s basketball team claimed the national championship, but the 2006 title still resonates in the minds of prospective recruits.

For proof of that, look no further than A’Lexus Harrison, a rising sophomore from Digital Harbor.

“Some of my first memories [of Maryland basketball] were going to Comcast and watching their games with my AAU team,” Harrison said. “… [Watching the team] just made me feel as though I fit in there and it was a place I would want to be.”

Last week Harrison, now a 6-foot-1 forward, confirmed those thoughts of her fitting in with the Terps. Maryland coach Brenda Frese offered her a scholarship on an unofficial visit, and Harrison promptly accepted.

“It was a decision I kind of went in knowing that I wanted to make. It was a dream school for me,” Harrison said. “… [Frese] said I was the best player that she’s seen in a while at my age. For me, that was really big for someone of her status to say that.”

Patrick McDonald would agree with those sentiments. The Digital Harbor coach met Harrison as an eighth-grader and was quickly impressed with her natural ability and work ethic during her freshman year with the Rams.

“I would say right now, definitely as a sophomore compared to other sophomores, she’s Top 50. By the time she’s a senior, if she continues on the path with her work ethic, she will be a McDonald’s All-American,” McDonald said. “Her athleticism is second to none. She can dunk a tennis ball. She can touch the backboard. The things we’re doing from last year to this year is to work on her skill set. We’ve got to marry that athleticism with her skill set. We know that she knows how to jump, but in college everyone can run and jump. Add the skill set to the package you already have. And she has put in tremendous work to improve her handles and her jump shot. She can step back and hit the deep ball. So she’s just a hard worker and it’s paid off.”

Harrison teamed with two highly touted seniors -- Asia Logan (Pittsburgh) and Janay Brinkley (Middle Tennessee State) -- to power Digital Harbor to the Class 2A state semifinals. Spirited battles during practice between the freshman phenom and senior leader became routine. McDonald said Harrison, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13 points per game to go along with 11 rebounds, held her own and learned a lot playing against Logan.

“Asia Logan was probably the best high school girls basketball player I’ve ever seen. As an athlete, A’Lexus is right there with her as a freshman,” McDonald said. “[Harrison] got a chance to get great tutelage from her, along with Janay Brinkley and the rest of the girls on the team. She transitioned well and that was the biggest thing [along with] just her tremendous work ethic.”

Harrison, a straight-A student who benches 125 and squats 225, joins Georgia point guard Lexie Brown in the Terps’ 2013 recruiting class. While Harrison has three more years of high school basketball, she has no problem playing on a big stage and facing more pressure.

“I think I’m prepared to deal with the attention. It’s just a little extra,” Harrison said. “[The next three years will be] just more of me getting better, bettering myself and bettering my game.”

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

August 9, 2010

Weekend wrap – Terps targets at Global games

Three rising senior basketball prospects with Maryland offers spent the past weekend in Hillsboro, Ore., for the Nike Global Challenge.

City shooting guard Nick Faust and Norcom (Va.) small forward Dorian Finney-Smith teamed up on USA East, which finished fifth in the eight-team tournament, while Oakland, Calif., shooting guard Jabari Brown was a top scorer for sixth-place USA West.

Here are tournament stats for the three Terps targets:

Brown

Day 1: INSEP (France) 112, USA West108
25 points, 7-for-19 shooting, 9-for-12 free throws

Day 2: USA West 104, All-Asia 91
19 points, 6-for-16 shooting, 6-for-8 free throws

Day 3: USA East 129, USA West 123
21 points, 11 assists, 8-for-23 shooting, 3-for-3 free throws

Faust

Day 1: Canada 105, USA East 100
4 points, 1-for-6 shooting, 1-for-6 free throws

Day 2: USA East 73, Brazil 69
2 points, 0-for-1 shooting, 2-for-2 free throws

Day 3: USA East 129, USA West 123
16 points, 6-for-11 shooting, 0-for-0 free throws

Finney-Smith

Day 1: Canada 105, USA East 100
19 points, 16 rebounds, 6-for-10 shooting, 6-for-7 free throws

Day 2: USA East 73, Brazil 69
1 point, 0-for-3 shooting, 1-for-4 free throws

Day 3: USA East 129, USA West 123
12 points, 4-for-6 shooting, 2-for-6 free throws

Check out The Oregonian and Rivals.com for complete coverage of the event.

• Faust, who will visit Louisville on Sept. 4, spoke to The Courier-Journal about his impending trip.

“I know (Rick Pitino) is a great coach and has gotten a lot of guys into the NBA,” Faust said. “They told me they are getting a new gym and all of that, so I'll check it out.

• The Strait Times in Singapore -- where Sterling Gibbs is captaining the U.S. at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games -- wrote this weekend about the Maryland-bound point guard.

'He is a leader both on and off the floor with his style of play and his attitude,' said [Team USA Eric] Flannery.

• The Times of Trenton (N.J.) reported on a list of schools for UM center target Desmond Hubert.

Hubert, who has received offers from Rutgers, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Connecticut and Xavier, said he hopes to have his list narrowed down to a top five by tomorrow and will make a decision sometime in October.

• Rivals.com analyst Jerry Meyer picked five 'no-name' prospects who made names for themselves on the spring and summer AAU circuits. Two Terps targets -- Faust and Team Charlotte (N.C.) small forward Bernard Sullivan -- made the cut.

Similar to [Norman] Powell, Bernard Sullivan wasn't necessarily considered a high major prospect prior to the travel circuit, but now he is a four-star prospect.

• Atlantic Christian (N.J.) center Luke Piotrowski has committed to Richmond.

BU, Arizona State, Maryland and others recruited Luke Piotrowski, Tom Piotrowski said. Luke Piotrowski, who averaged 11 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks as a junior, chose Richmond because of his comfort level with current Spiders and the coaching staff and also because UR's offense emphasizes perimeter shooting from all players.

• Another former Terps target, center Malcolm Gilbert, has narrowed his list of schools, according to NBE Basketball Report.

Malcom Gilbert is one of the better big men still available in the class of 2011. The product of Bryn Athyn (PA) Academy of the New Church informed NBE this afternoon that he has narrowed hos list of schools to Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Wake Forest, Virginia and Clemson.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 6, 2010

Josh Selby and Will Barton in NCAA limbo

It's been a rough week for two former Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year honorees.

Memphis shooting guard Will Barton and Kansas point guard Josh Selby, both of whom starred at Lake Clifton, are facing eligibility questions from the NCAA. Barton has appealed an NCAA decision ruling him ineligible based on his August 2009 graduation date from Lake Clifton. Selby's problem with the NCAA involves questions about his relationship with Robert "Bay" Frazier, the business manager for Carmelo Anthony.

Barton's mother, Karen Bush, said Friday that Will is in good spirits. selby-barton.jpg

"We're working on seeing what can be done, and I know Will has worked hard to get where he's at. He's done everything that he was supposed to have done. It will be resolved the way it's supposed to be resolved. He will continue to do his studies, work hard and hopefully everything will work out the way it's supposed to. We're positive here in the Barton camp, so he's doing fine."

Selby's mother, Maeshon Witherspoon, said Friday that the NCAA's probe "is just protocol."

"He's not worried at all," Witherspoon said. "We don't foresee any problems that Josh won't be cleared."

Check out the complete Baltimore Sun story on the NCAA issues facing Selby and Barton.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:33 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

City shooting guard Nick Faust is spending his weekend on the West Coast.

The 6-foot-6 Maryland target will suit up for USA East in the Nike Global Challenge in Hillsboro, Ore. The eight-team tournament features three regional U.S. All-Star squads, plus teams from Asia, Brazil, Canada, France and Nigeria.

Faust wasn't a huge name coming out of his junior year at City College in Baltimore, but he has blown up on the summer circuit.

Kansas fan site The Shiver spoke with Faust -- who will visit Louisville on Sept. 4 -- about his feelings on the Jayhawks.

“I know a little bit,” said Faust about Kansas. ”Not really though. They just recently, like last week, got on board,” he added about Kansas getting involved in his recruitment.

• Terps point guard recruit Sterling Gibbs is preparing to play for Team USA in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore later this month.

Gibbs and [Michigan State commitment Brandan] Kearney helped lead the 2009 USA Men’s U16 National Team to a perfect 5-0 record and the FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal in Mendoza, Argentina. Gibbs ranked No. 1 in the eight-team field with a 7.0 assist-to-turnover ratio and averaged 9.2 points, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals in 15.2 minutes per game. Kearney averaged 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 11.2 mpg.

• SLAM Magazine named Maryland forward target Maurice Harkless one of the standouts at the second annual NYC Summer Classic.

The lanky rising senior has good ball-handling skills and can score off the dribble either by finishing at the basket or through his polished mid-range jumper; not that he can’t knock it down off the catch as well. Maurice is very slick in the lane and uses his athleticism to the best of his advantage.

The New York Post's Zach Braziller chronicled Harkless' play throughout the open period last month.

Before July, Harkless, the 19th-ranked small forward in the Class of 2011 by Scout.com, was already a hot commodity. That only intensified as the month wore on – he played in front of head coaches such as Bill Self (Kansas), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), Mike Rice (Rutgers), Roy Williams (North Carolina), Gary Williams (Maryland), and Billy Donovan (Florida).

• Maryland made the cut for DeMatha power forward Mikael Hopkins, who trimmed his list of schools to 10.

Via Scout, the list [also] includes Georgetown, Kansas, Miami, Ohio State, Pitt, Syracuse, Texas, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia.

• The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., caught up this week with LaQuinton Ross, who gave a top five list of schools that didn't include Maryland.

Ross shared a house with six teammates, getting a feel for what lies ahead when he enrolls in college a year from now. Ross said Monday his top five schools “in no order” are Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Baylor and Mississippi State.

• Sagemont (Fla.) small forward Rod Days, who drew interest from Maryland in the spring, has committed to Central Florida.

Days is rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com. He picked the Knights over Arizona State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Michigan, Richmond, South Carolina and Wake Forest.

Football recruiting

• Bishop McNamara defensive back Nico Law has narrowed his list of schools, according to The Washington Post.

Law, who is 6 feet 3 and 190 pounds, has narrowed his choices to Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Rutgers, Illinois, Cincinnati, Iowa and Louisville.

• St. John's (D.C.) defensive end and Terps target Kevin McReynolds was the focus of a Post story this week on big-time recruits using social media.

While nearly all of the top players have Facebook accounts and several use Twitter - which allows users to post messages of 140 characters or less - few have gone as far as McReynolds, who began tweeting regularly during the snowstorms last winter. Most of his tweets deal with recruiting. "I had nothing better to do with my time other than train and be in the house and I started to Twitter," he said.

• The Daily Press (Va.) this week wrote an article on two rising seniors with Maryland offers -- Hermitage (Va.) linebacker Curtis Grant and Kempsville (Va.) linebacker Travis Hughes.

"I'm lucky because my brother (Trenton) plays football at Maryland, so I talk to a lot of guys up there. All of them tell me to get my official visits in. It's the best thing. My brother said he regrets not taking all his official visits. He tells me I earned it, so why not take all my visits."

• The Sumter (S.C.) Item has updates on several Terps targets, including defensive lineman Gerald Dixon Jr.

[Dixon says South Carolina] remains his favorite but he's picked up an offer from Maryland wants to take a visit to College Park. Dixon said his brother, DE Gerald Dixon (6-4, 260) of South Pointe, also favors USC and they will be "a package deal". Dixon says he is hearing from Alabama, LSU, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Oregon. He plans to commit sometime during the season and says he will take an official visit to USC.

• MaxPreps.com named Terps defensive end target Ishaq Williams the No. 3 returning high school athlete in New York.

At 6-5, 225 pounds, Williams possesses both the frame to play defensive end and the speed to handle the coverage responsibilities of an outside linebacker. He could very well end up as the first PSAL player to be selected NYSSWA player of the year since Lincoln running back Frank Sinclair in 1993.

• For more Terps football recruiting talk, check out this InsideMDSports.com podcast. Seth Hoffman and I discussed Maryland's 2011 class, and chatted briefly about Terps basketball recruiting.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 5, 2010

Huge summer for Howard Co. AAU hoops team

Finding a rare free moment last week in Orlando, Bill Napolitano flipped on the television, tuned in to ESPNU and listened to the network’s basketball analysts break down the final eight teams at the 17-and-under AAU National Championships.

“Every team had at least one guy who already committed to a big-name school,” Napolitano said. “And then [they talked about] HCYP Elite, and nobody on our team is going anywhere. They will, but at that time, nothing. We played the Carolina Raptors and they’ve got three guys going to ACC schools that have already committed. They were all big-name programs.”

Napolitano’s Howard County Youth Programs squad may have been an unknown quantity on the national scene, but that changed quickly last week in Orlando. HCYP Elite fell to the South Carolina Ravens in a semifinal matchup of the championship bracket, but then finished strong with a win over the Connecticut Basketball Club in the third-place game. The improbability of HCYP Elite finishing third at nationals was not lost on Napolitano.

“Every one of those teams was sponsored either by a shoe company or an NBA player,” Napolitano said. “… We pretty much sell donuts and stuff like that to get down there. We don’t get any sponsorship money, even from our own organization.”

A former Washington Post All-Met point guard at DuVal High in Prince George’s County, Napolitano wanted to stay involved with the game after his college career at West Liberty University in West Virginia ended. He coached his kids and eventually got involved with HCYP Elite, starting with a group of elementary school-aged players and sticking with that group through high school.

Napolitano started coaching this year’s 17-and-under group when the kids were in fourth grade. HCYP Elite is composed of Howard County’s top high school players, and Napolitano doesn’t recruit. He had an inkling that this group could be special after they claimed the Maryland State AAU championship in April, besting teams like Team Melo and the Baltimore Stars along the way.

“We probably won like eight tournaments in the spring and summer against top competition,” Napolitano said. “All these tournaments, every time you go there’s like 120 teams in the tournaments. We were the Maryland champions, ahead of all the other big-time teams. … I just never had this many kids that were so serious about basketball, guys that were willing to practice all year round and work out all the time. They’re really just basketball fanatics – that’s the big difference. They’re guys that love basketball.”

Making the final eight of the AAU Nationals put HCYP Elite’s players right in the sightlines of hundreds of college coaches. Greg Whittington, a 6-foot-8 forward from Oakland Mills, caught the attention of ESPN.com’s Reggie Rankin, who named him the surprise player of the championship bracket.

“I’ve had four ACC schools call me about [Whittington] this week,” Napolitano said. “… Greg is a unique kid. He’s a 6-8 wing player who runs the court and handles the ball. And they all saw him. Somebody from Maryland followed him. They had seen us play before. Clemson has contacted me, Georgia Tech and Boston College. He’s getting a lot of attention. Other kids are getting low- to mid-DI interest. [Oakland Mills point guard] Joe Kiely, when he got home [from Orlando], George Mason, Tulane and James Madison had called him. So I think they’re just going to start getting attention because they were really unknown playing for small Howard County high schools. And we’ve never done this well, so I think we’ve never really been on anybody’s radar.”

Other members of HCYP Elite include: Randallstown combo guard Nick Doolin, Glenelg guard Shane Kellaher, Mount Hebron forward Zack Neal, Marriotts Ridge guard Kevin Yu, River Hill point guard Varun Ram, Howard wing Alex Standrowicz, Glenelg County School point guard Ben Jordon, Howard center Tadas Pakalniskis, River Hill guard Jordan Knisley, Mount St. Joseph wing Dan Nardolillo and South Carroll forward Ryan McTavish. It’s a team that Napolitano won’t soon forget.

“It’s enormous for me. I’m a basketball junkie,” Napolitano said. “But I never thought we’d be this good. Nobody knew who we were, but if you look at the scores, we were beating teams by 15 and 20 points. It wasn’t lucky. ... Watching them get to this point, we never intended them to get to this point. But I was really happy I had guys who like to play. We liked our chances and they kept getting better. We just thought we’d go down there, get some looks and hope guys get some scholarship offers.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 4, 2010

First batch of Maryland Crab Bowl roster selections

Invitations to participate in the Maryland Crab Bowl were sent out to 44 in-state high school football players Wednesday. darius-jennings-crab-bowl.jpg

The third annual postseason all-star game, scheduled for Dec. 18 at Bowie State, pits Baltimore's best against the Washington area's top seniors. Forty-five additional players will receive invites before Oct. 1, and the final rosters should be set by Nov. 1. Players from Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties will play for the Washington side, while all other invitees will suit up for Baltimore.

“You have good representation from the southern part of the state, the Eastern Shore, Harford County, Baltimore, all over the state,” said Sean O’Connor, president of the Crab Bowl. “But the two big-name guys that everyone knows are [Owings Mills offensive lineman] Donovan Smith and [Gilman quarterback] Darius Jennings.”

Here are the 44 initial selections for the Crab Bowl.

Baltimore-area players

Gabriel Ali-El, Poly
Adrian Amos, Calvert Hall
Marquise Bannister, Eastern Tech
Brandon Bayer, North Harford
Ben Curtis, Calvert Hall
Vince DePaola, Hereford
Leo Eades, Dunbar
Travon Garrett, Dunbar
Hunter Goodwin, Gilman
Luke Ilardo, Loyola
Darius Jennings, Gilman
Devonte Jones, Mount St. Joseph
Marco Jones, Boys’ Latin
Brent Kluge, River Hill
Tyler Krug, Westminster
Dan McManus, Eastern Tech
Colin Osborne, Glenelg
Donovan Smith, Owings Mills
KK Smith, Archbishop Spalding
Paul Taylor, Poly
Tyler Weedon, Catonsville

Players from outside the Baltimore area

DeAndre Smith Wise
Tyjae Blackwell, Wicomico
Quentin Ezell, Walkersville
Jose Depadua, Walkersville
Matt Semelsberger, Urbana
Jamal Merritt, Sherwood
Crusoe Gongbay, Rockville
Zach Eure, Parkside
Conner Crowell, North Point
Anthony Winter, North Hagerstown
Kyle Warholic, Linganore
Dwayne Randall, Linganore
Najee Green, Gwynn Park
Zachary Dancel, Good Counsel
Blake Countess, Good Counsel
Garrett Dolly, Fort Hill
Ascene Jacques, Flowers
Michael Branthover, DeMatha
Darian Cooper, DeMatha
Cyrus Kouandjio, DeMatha
Brandon Phelps, Damascus
Sean Reaver, Catoctin
Joshua Wade, Bladensburg

Baltimore Sun photo of Darius Jennings by Karl Merton Ferron / Sept. 12, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:35 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Ex-Howard shooting guard will play Div. I hoops

john-tatum-southern.jpg John Tatum wasn’t going to let a disappointing senior season carry over to prep school, even after his post-grad year got off to a less-than-ideal start.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound shooting guard from Howard High had hoped for a Division I scholarship coming out of high school, but a “frustrating” senior season led to just junior college and Division II interest. A full academic qualifier, Tatum graduated high school and left Maryland for Southwest Academy in Lansing, Mich. Unfortunately for Tatum, a strong start quickly turned sour.

“When John first came into our program, he was playing the best basketball of anyone on the team,” said Southwest Academy coach Don Petties. “Then John sprained his ankle pretty bad in the first game of the season. It was a high-ankle sprain, the worst sprain you can have. It was pretty much the first minute of the game.”

Petties, a former Western Michigan player and Harlem Globetrotters assistant coach, was counting on Tatum to be a team leader and go-to scorer. Tatum was counting on Petties to put him on the radar of Division I programs. After several weeks of rehab, player and coach were finally able to accomplish what they set out to do.

“He didn’t really regain that original form until the latter part of the season. It took him a while to rest and get his confidence back,” Petties said. “But once he got that back again, he started to pick up where he left off. He really started playing great basketball for us in February or March. When we went down to Florida in February, he had regained his confidence in shooting the basketball.”

That confidence propelled Southwest Academy to a 23-7 record, and earned Tatum that long-coveted Division I offer. Now he’s just weeks away from beginning his college career at Southern University, a Southwestern Athletic Conference school in Baton Rouge, La.

“[The Southern coaches] were very excited,” said Tatum, who committed last month. “They said, ‘You made a good choice. I think the university will get you to the next level.’ So I committed there. It really had a great atmosphere. I had a really good connection with it and my parents [liked the school], so it felt good.”

Tatum, who started his high school career at Cardinal Gibbons before transferring to Howard as a junior, averaged 18 points for Southwest Academy. The Jaguars’ staff discovered him at a tournament in Jackson, Miss. Tatum kept in touch with the coaches, who told him he could challenge for playing time at shooting guard right away.

“He said the spot is mine if I’m up to the task,” Tatum said. “I’ve basically got to work hard, stay in the books, stay in the gym and I’ll get the spot if I come in with the right attitude and be positive.”

Said Petties: “You can never guarantee [playing time] because it’s predicated on how John plays in practice in the preseason. But they’re looking for someone who can score the basketball from the 2-spot. Right now, John is someone they’re really hoping can help the program. The fact that he’s a freshman weighs in his favor … [and] I know they’re in dire need of someone who can shoot the basketball. That’s the one thing he brings to the table. John shoots the ball very well.”

Southern finished with a 4-19 record – including a 2-9 mark in SWAC play – last season. Tatum said he looks forward to being part of the Jaguars’ turnaround, and he’s appreciative for finally receiving a DI opportunity.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Tatum said. “I’m really excited and I’m really happy. I just can’t wait to get down there and show what I’ve got. It’s overwhelming for my family.”

Handout photo courtesy of John Tatum.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 3, 2010

Terps DE recruit Dontez Tyler 'a gem' for UM

Scott Privott took one look at Dontez Tyler three years ago and saw a lanky freshman with serious potential at defensive end.

Tyler, a reluctant football player with a passion for basketball, wasn’t so sure. Eventually Privott, the football coach at Hertford County High in Ahoskie, N.C., convinced the 6-foot-4, 220-pound player that his athletic future was on the gridiron.

“You knew he was an athlete who could do a little of everything. But he thought he was a basketball player,” Privott said. “Midway through the season last year was when he really started playing well and having confidence on a daily basis. He kind of realized that football would be where he gets his money to go to school.”

Said Tyler: “I really didn’t want to hear what [the football coaches] were saying. But now I know they were right.”

Scholarship offers from Arkansas, East Carolina, Maryland and Virginia convinced Tyler as much. On Saturday, Tyler accepted the Terps’ offer.

“I’m just excited. I’m really, really excited,” said Tyler, who visited College Park last summer and has family in Baltimore. “I really liked the area up there. I feel like I was actually home. That was a big thing.”

Tyler joined the Bears’ junior varsity squad as a freshman and was moved up to varsity for playoffs during his sophomore year. He cemented his role as Hertford County’s starting strongside defensive end during that postseason run, and flourished as a junior, helping the Bears to a 13-1 record and the third round of the North Carolina 3A playoffs.

“He was an integral part of our defensive front,” Privott said. “We only gave up 14 points the whole conference season. He got the defensive player of the year award. He was a very integral part. There were three or four touchdowns he returned from fumbles. He picked off two interceptions and took them back for touchdowns as well.”

Before school let out for summer, Tyler had landed an offer from Maryland. While he grew up a North Carolina fan, the Terps vaulted to the top of his list in a hurry.

“They just offered me straight off the bat,” Tyler said. “And I was shocked. I was surprised. … They [were] way out front.”

While Tyler has grown accustomed to winning in high school, he welcomes the challenge of joining a college program that has faced well-documented struggles in recent years.

“Sometimes you go through the bad to get to the better,” Tyler said.

Tyler still plays basketball for his high school team, but he’s been fully dedicated to football since sophomore year and has never regretted that shift in priorities. Privott said Tyler’s basketball experience has paid off in football, giving him great feet to go along with impressive speed, quick hands and improving strength. With another year for Tyler in the weight room, Privott expects big results from the future Terp.

“I was talking to him the other day, and I think the sky’s the limit,” Privott said. “As a North Carolina guy who didn’t get much attention from schools in North Carolina, I just think he’s a gem. I think Maryland got a gem. I think he’s really going to do well for us this year and have a great college career at Maryland as well.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:30 AM | | Comments (2)
        

August 2, 2010

Weekend wrap – Terps on Harkless' list

One of the highest risers in the 2011 basketball class plans on trimming his list of schools soon.

Maryland coach Gary Williams was one of several high-major coaches tracking Maurice Harkless in July. The 6-foot-8 forward from Queens, N.Y., told Adam Zagoria over the weekend that he plans on narrowing his school choices to "five, six or seven" programs this month.

[Harkless' mentor Nate] Blue said he wasn’t certain if Harkless would take an official to UConn, but said he would at least take unofficials to UConn, St. John’s, Georgetown and Maryland.

• After spending much of the summer circuit away from the national spotlight, Sagemont (Fla.) small forward Rod Days was back on the radar last week at the AAU Nationals in Orlando. Days, who drew interest from the Terps in the spring, caught the attention of Rivals.com's Eric Bossi.

Some view Days as a small forward, but he seems most effective as a quick, ball-handling four man who can catch, face and blow by defenders off the dribble. A good athlete with quick reactions around the rim, he's also capable of making some plays in transition.

• The Recruit Scoop's Alex Kline reports that Maryland has offered sophomore shooting guard Rodney Purvis.

“I like the colors,” he jokingly said. But in all seriousness, Purvis “likes the tradition, area and the great coaching staff,” he said. The Terps join the list of Xavier, Baylor, VCU, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina Central, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

Football recruiting

• Rivals.com reported Friday that Maryland landed a commitment from Hertford County (N.C.) defensive end Dontez Tyler.

Tyler held offers from Arkansas, East Carolina and Virginia as well.

Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on Tyler's commitment.

• Three Maryland commitments cracked The Fayetteville Observer's Top 50 list of senior prospects in North Carolina: Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy wide receiver Nigel King at No. 20, Parkwood (N.C.) Monroe wide receiver Marcus Leak at No. 32 and Tyler at No. 40.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:39 AM | | Comments (0)
        
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About Matt Bracken

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

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