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September 30, 2010

Baltimore's Div. I hoops players for 2010-11

Is Baltimore's basketball talent being underrated? In Carlton "Bub" Carrington's opinion, that's definitely the case.

After chatting with the Nike Baltimore Elite coach about Sam Cassell Jr., conversation eventually turned to City shooting guard Nick Faust and his rise from a little-known regional recruit to a nationally renowned high-major talent over the course of four months.

"Nick Faust was always good," Carrington said. "He was always a Top 25 player, but we don't have those national type [of events and recognition]. So he started outside the Top 100 when he should've been in the Top 25 from the start. He still is a way better prospect than 10 other shooting guards that are ranked ahead of him, and the proof is in the pudding.

"You go back to Bootsy Thornton, Juan Dixon, Marcus Hatten. Those guys didn't have numbers next to their names, but they led their teams to championships. Those kids were always good. We just don't have the media spotlight. We're a little bit behind the eight ball."

Carrington said the Baltimore-Washington area, per capita, has more pro players than any area other than Chicago. In other words, the amount of talent exceeds the size of the city.

"You can go from one end of Baltimore to the other," Carrington said. "It takes you 10 minutes to go from Walbrook Junction to [the eastern end of] North Avenue. That's how small Baltimore is. For us to put out that level of talent and have that quality of basketball, it's amazing."

For proof of Carrington's point on the city's amount of talent, look no further than this list of Division I players -- by my count, 66 -- from the Baltimore area. Let me know if there's anyone I missed.

Akron

Chauncey Gilliam, junior guard, Hammond, UMBC transfer

Bryant

Raphael Jordan, sophomore guard, John Carroll

Erick Smith, sophomore guard, John Carroll

Buffalo

Auraum Nuiriankh, freshman forward, Arundel

Charlotte

Jamar Briscoe, sophomore guard, Cardinal Gibbons

Connecticut

Roscoe Smith, freshman forward, Walbrook, Oak Hill (Va.)

Coppin State

Ceslovas Kucinskas, senior center, Mount Carmel

Delaware

Brian Johnson, senior guard, Mount St. Joseph, Winchendon (Mass.) Prep

Devon Saddler, freshman guard, Aberdeen, Winchendon (Mass.) Prep

Delaware State

Brandon Baylor, junior guard, Mount Carmel, CCBC-Catonsville

DePaul

Cleveland Melvin, freshman forward, Lake Clifton, Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)

Brandon Young, freshman guard, Friendship Collegiate (D.C.), Baltimore native

Eastern Illinois

Levi Noel, freshman guard, Towson Catholic

Elon

Ryley Beaumont, freshman forward, Mount St. Joseph

Georgetown

Henry Sims, junior center, Mount St. Joseph

Grambling State

Rupert Rose, sophomore guard, Walbrook

Holy Cross

Devin Brown, junior guard, City

Idaho State

Jakub Kusmieruk, junior center, John Carroll

Kansas

Josh Selby, freshman point guard, Lake Clifton

La Salle

Steve Weingarten, senior forward, Catonsville

Loyola

Jamal Barney, senior guard, Southwestern

Dylon Cormier, freshman point guard, Cardinal Gibbons

Josh Wiegand, sophomore center, John Carroll

Marist

Dejuan Goodwin, junior guard, Mount St. Joseph

Marshall

Johnny Higgins, junior guard, Randallstown, Frank Phillips Junior College (Texas)

Maryland

Dino Gregory, senior forward, Mount St. Joseph

Sean Mosley, junior shooting guard, St. Frances

Massachusetts

Terrell Vinson, sophomore forward, St. Frances

Memphis

Antonio Barton, freshman guard, Lake Clifton, Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)

Will Barton, freshman guard, Lake Clifton, Brewster (N.H.) Academy

Missouri

Kim English, junior guard, Randallstown, Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)

Morgan State

Larry Bastfield, junior point guard, Towson Catholic, Toledo transfer

Aric Brooks, junior small forward, St. Frances, Jacksonville transfer

Justin Jackson, freshman point guard, Digital Harbor

Rodney Stokes, senior forward, Old Mill

Kevin Thompson, junior center, Walbrook

Mount St. Mary's

Raven Barber, sophomore forward, Paul VI, Edgewood native

Notre Dame

Eric Atkins, freshman point guard, Mount St. Joseph

Oklahoma

Andrew Fitzgerald, sophomore forward, Owings Mills, Brewster (N.H.) Academy

Penn State

Jonathan Graham, freshman forward, Calvert Hall

Cammeron Woodyard, junior guard, Winters Mill

Pittsburgh

Aron Nwankwo, freshman forward, City

Quinnipiac

Raheem May-Thompson, sophomore forward, Towson Catholic

Radford

Jeremy Robinson, senior point guard, Northwestern, Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College

Richmond

Wayne Sparrow, freshman guard, St. Frances

Southern

John Tatum, freshman guard, Howard

St. Francis (Pa.)

Anthony Goode, freshman guard, Milford Mill

Stony Brook

Tommy Brenton, junior forward, River Hill

Syracuse

C.J. Fair, freshman forward, City, Brewster (N.H.) Academy

Texas A&M

Naji Hibbert, sophomore guard, DeMatha, Baltimore native

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Terence Jones, sophomore guard, Lake Clifton, Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)

Towson

Braxton Dupree, junior forward, Calvert Hall

Troy Franklin, junior point guard, Mount Carmel

Isaiah Philmore, sophomore forward, John Carroll

Danny Quinn, senior forward, Archbishop Spalding

UMBC

Nick Groce, sophomore point guard, St. Mary's

UMES

Dishawn Bradshaw, junior guard, St. Frances, ASA College (N.Y.)

R.J. Tucker, senior center, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold native

UNC-Wilmington

Shane Reybold, freshman forward, Reservoir

Vermont

Brendan Bald, sophomore shooting guard, Severna Park

Villanova

Isaiah Armwood, sophomore forward, Montrose Christian, Baltimore native

Virginia Tech

Allan Chaney, sophomore forward, New London (Conn.), Baltimore native

Malcolm Delaney, senior guard, Towson Catholic

Wake Forest

Denmore McDermott, senior forward, St. Paul's

William & Mary

Matt Rum, sophomore guard, Loyola

Xavier

Jordan Latham, freshman forward, City

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:32 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

September 28, 2010

New team for Sam Cassell Jr. as a senior

For the first chapter of his high school career, Sam Cassell Jr. starred for Towson Catholic’s junior varsity. The 6-foot-2 combo guard followed that up with a standout junior season for St. Frances’ varsity. Now the senior from Baltimore is readying for his final act away from home. sam-cassell-jr.jpg

Cassell, a valuable rotation player for the Panthers one year ago, is spending his senior year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.

“His family put out some feelers. It was something they were interested in,” said Crusaders coach Ryan Hurd. “I felt like it was a good fit. He’s the kind of kid we’re looking for. We’re definitely excited to have him. … I’d seen him play a couple of times. He fits in real well with what we like to do. He plays at the tempo we play at, he defends and scores. Along with all that, he understands the game well enough to get other people involved. Dealing with as many talented kids as we have on the roster, that’s going to be important.”

Several Baltimore players have suited up for Notre Dame Prep, most recently former Lake Clifton point guard Antonio Barton (Memphis), former Lake Clifton forward Cleveland Melvin (DePaul), former Towson Catholic forward Levi Noel (Eastern Illinois) and former Forest Park guard Antoine Myers (Pensacola Junior College) on last season’s roster.

Hurd said he switches his lineups frequently and doesn’t have a set of starters in mind just yet. But so far, he has been impressed with Cassell’s attitude and his ability to run the point.

“His ability to make shots with a hand in his face has been astonishing so far,” Hurd said. “But also his willingness to be a floor leader is something I’ve been excited about, too. … I think he’s just scratching the surface, but I know he’s willing to work hard. He’s a name that keeps surfacing among the college coaches.”

Nike Baltimore Elite coach Carlton "Bub" Carrington had Cassell on his roster for roughly three-quarters of the AAU season this year. While Cassell started off the circuit as an unknown player with a famous name, Carrington said his game flourished and coaches took note.

“I think by him being in places where people would see him, they realized that he could play,” Carrington said. “Sam really can play. He’s really a high-level guard. He just hadn’t been seen. But if I had a scholarship, I would give it to him in a heartbeat. He just had to get himself in a situation where he could be seen. … He plays just like his father. He’s got the mid-range game. I’ll watch video of the games, and I watch him make six, seven shots in a row. And his IQ is a little beyond the average kid. He sees things the average kid doesn’t see.”

Sam Cassell Sr. is running his son’s recruitment, but several mid-major-plus schools are involved and quite a few high-major programs are “nibbling.” Carrington expects that, after this season with Notre Dame Prep, Cassell’s stock will rise even higher.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that, after this prep year, he gets stronger and practices every day, I don’t even think they realize what they’re about to see,” Carrington said. “Once he gets out there on that prep circuit and he gets to go against these high-level type guys, [coaches will] say, ‘Hold up. This kid’s better than them.’”

Baltimore Sun photo of Sam Cassell Jr. by Barbara Haddock Taylor / Jan. 31, 2010

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

AAU recap: Baltimore Assault

lamont-huggins.jpg If the goal of an AAU basketball program is to get as many players Division I looks as possible, then Baltimore Assault’s second season on the circuit was a successful one.

Assault coach Nick Myles said his squad didn’t have a headliner this season. Rather, the adidas-sponsored program was a team full of integral parts.

Here’s a player-by-player look at Baltimore Assault’s 17-and-under squad:

• Former Douglass power forward Lamont Huggins returned for a second season with Assault and fared well on the block. “He’s an athletic power forward,” Myles said. “He really worked on his 18-foot face-up jumper. He rebounds at a high level.” The 6-foot-8 Huggins, who’s spending a post-grad year at Southern Carolina Prep, has drawn interest from Morgan State, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac and St. Francis (Pa.).

• Digital Harbor point guard Kevin Smith was probably the most recognizable name on Assault’s roster. The former Baltimore Freedom Academy scoring machine showed off his floor-general skills this summer. “The kid is quick with the ball in his hands,” Myles said. “He’s quick, he’s athletic, and the thing that really changed in his game is that he’s a pass-first point guard. Everyone knows Kevin for his scoring, but he really does have great floor vision. He’s distributing the ball a lot more than he used to, which has made his game a lot better.” Myles said Central Florida, Marshall, Rutgers, South Florida and UNC-Wilmington, among others, are involved in Smith’s recruitment.

• Before heading to Vermont Academy for a post-grad year, former Pallotti combo guard Keron DeShields suited up for Assault and played the role of go-to scorer at 19 points per game. “I think he was the one that used this summer to his advantage the most,” Myles said. “He led us in scoring all summer. He worked so hard. He’s truly a late bloomer. Whatever program gets him at the Division I level, they’re going to get a diamond in the rough. We had so many guards, but the kid has a tremendous work ethic. He lives in the gym. He puts in the work and it paid off this summer.” Elon, Morgan State, New Hampshire, Quinnipiac and UNC-Wilmington have made contact.

• St. Frances senior Josh Forney recently picked up his first scholarship offer – from Loyola – based on his improved play this summer. Myles expects the 6-foot-9, 230-pounder to be a double-double guy for the Panthers this season. “He finally put it together,” Myles said. “I think offensively, he’s still got a ways to go. But definitely rebounding and as an inside presence, he understands what it takes to be a productive big guy. He’s a true center. That’s what I like about him. All he wants to do is bang, block shots and get rebounds. He’s really trying to put it together in the fall league and score a lot more. He’s just a great inside presence that you really don’t find in this area a lot.”

• Aberdeen combo guard Gerrae Williams was an unknown quantity when he joined Assault in the middle of the summer, but Myles said it didn’t take long for the 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior to make a name for himself. “He didn’t have any Division I looks [before the summer],” Myles said. “Since then, The Citadel has been in contact, Central Connecticut and High Point. But he can definitely score. He’s probably going to be one of the better players in Harford County.”

• Old Mill shooting guard Eric Savage has been one of Anne Arundel County’s better-known players for the past couple years, but this summer put him in the national spotlight. “He’s very athletic, gets to the rim, is a good scorer,” Myles said. “He had a real good summer. He can be a first-team All-Anne Arundel County guy.”

• A returning rotation guy for St. Frances, Eddie “Scoop” Tarver is a 6-2 guard who likes Temple and has received interest from Morgan State. “Eddie played well. He’s very, very athletic,” Myles said. “But he’s another guy in his first year really getting out on the scene. It’s actually the first summer he’s ever been on the circuit.”

• Baltimore Assault should return three young players next season who saw some action this summer: Miles Code, a St. Frances junior who transferred from St. Paul’s, Lawrence Davis, a 6-foot-6 forward from Glenelg Country, and Shakir Brown, a 6-foot-5 junior from St. Frances. Code was coming off a broken foot and didn’t play much, but Myles called him a “surefire Division I guy.” Davis is just a sophomore, but Myles said he should “make a major impact” for the Dragons this year. Brown is expected to play a key role for the Panthers on the wing.

Baltimore Sun photo of Lamont Huggins by Karl Merton Ferron / Jan. 16, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

September 27, 2010

The Next Level – Ex-Curley star steps up for UConn

jerome-junior-uconn.jpg Thanks for checking in to The Next Level. Connecticut safety Jerome Junior headlines our Week 4 highlights after helping the Huskies to a 45-21 win over Buffalo in East Hartford, Conn. Junior intercepted two passes and returned one for a 27-yard touchdown for the Huskies’ first score of the game. The redshirt sophomore finished with four tackles, including three solo stops, and is this week’s Next Level Player of the Week.

Freshman athlete Leon Kinnard (Loyola) rushed for nine yards on his only carry of the game for the Huskies, and made one tackle after UConn quarterback Zach Frazer was intercepted late in the second quarter. Kinnard also made one catch for two yards.

• Senior wide receiver LaQuan Williams (Poly) hauled in a 9-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter of Maryland’s 42-28 victory over Florida International. Williams also assisted on a tackle on punt coverage in the fourth quarter.

Terps redshirt freshman tight end Dave Stinebaugh (Perry Hall) made three catches for 23 yards. Sophomore defensive lineman A.J. Francis – a Severn native – recorded 11 tackles, three solo, including one for a 2-yard loss.

Maryland freshman linebacker David Mackall (Edmondson) made three tackles, while sophomore defensive back Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) and freshman defensive back Matt Robinson (Atholton) both registered two tackles. Junior linebacker Nick Peterson (Broadneck) assisted with one tackle for the Terps.

• Temple redshirt junior quarterback Chester Stewart (DeMatha) would rather forget Saturday’s performance in the Owls’ 22-13 loss at Penn State. The Hanover native completed 8 of 19 passes for just 46 yards and three interceptions. Stewart rushed for nine yards on five carries, and fumbled twice, recovering one.

Owls sophomore running back Matt Brown, a Baltimore native from the Peddie School (N.J.), racked up 77 all-purpose yards with 12 carries for 48 yards on the ground, one reception for nine yards and one kick return for 20 yards. Senior defensive back Kwame Johnson (Parkville), freshman linebacker Gary Onuekwusi (Dunbar) and junior offensive lineman Pat Boyle (Calvert Hall) also saw game action for Temple, but did not record any statistics.

• Virginia senior tailback Raynard Horne (Overlea) was a force on special teams for the Cavaliers in their 48-7 win over Virginia Military Institute. After VMI scored their only touchdown of the game with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter, Horne ran back the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown en route to 104 total return yards. Junior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins – a Westminster native – had six tackles.

• Redshirt sophomore linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) made four tackles in Wake Forest’s 31-0 loss to Florida State. Ehrmann thwarted a Florida State drive in the red zone during the first quarter, sacking Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder at the 10-yard line and forcing a fumble that was recovered by teammate Tristan Dorty at the Wake Forest 7. Ehrmann struck again in the second quarter, recovering another Ponder fumble following a third-down sack by defensive end Kyle Wilber. Redshirt freshman athlete Michael Campanaro (River Hill) suffered a 4-yard sack on his only snap behind center, but recorded 40 total kick return yards on two chances.

• North Carolina junior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) made five tackles, including three solo stops in the Tar Heels’ 17-13 victory over Rutgers.

• Virginia Tech freshman defensive back Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) assisted on one tackle in the Hokies’ 19-0 win at Boston College.

• A week after taking home this season’s first Next Level Player of the Week honors, West Virginia sophomore wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) was held to three receptions for 33 yards in the Mountaineers’ 20-14 loss at LSU. Redshirt sophomore running back Ryan Clarke – a Glen Burnie native – was ineffective on seven carries, rushing for 12 yards and fumbling once. Sophomore defensive back Terence Garvin (Loyola) made four tackles and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jeff Braun (Winters Mill) had one.

• Syracuse sophomore wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) made one 10-yard catch in a 42-7 victory over Colgate.

• Ohio State senior kicker Devin Barclay (McDonogh) connected on a 42-yard field goal in the Buckeyes’ 73-20 drubbing of Eastern Michigan. Barclay was perfect on each of his 10 extra-point attempts.

• Senior fullback Jacob Bohn (Mount St. Joseph) rushed for 14 yards on five carries in Army’s 35-21 win over Duke.

• Utah senior wide receiver Shaky Smithson (Douglass) returned four punts for 33 yards in a 56-3 rout of San Jose State. Smithson also returned one kick for 26 yards and caught two passes for nine yards. San Jose State junior cornerback Brandon Driver (Parkville) returned two kicks, including one 71-yard return in the first quarter that took the Spartans to the Utah 20. Despite the fantastic field position to start the drive, San Jose State managed only a field goal in a paltry offensive performance.

• Sophomore defensive back Emmanuel McPhearson – a Columbia native – returned three kicks for 74 yards, including one for 29 yards in New Mexico’s 45-10 loss to UNLV. McPhearson also made two stops on defense for the Lobos.

• Ole Miss junior defensive end Wayne Dorsey (Southwestern) registered two tackles and sacked Fresno State quarterback Ryan Colburn for a 3-yard loss in a 55-38 victory over the Bulldogs.

• Miami of Ohio freshman defensive lineman Mwanza Wamulumba (Meade) assisted on three tackles in the Red Hawks’ 51-13 loss to Missouri.

• Remember, this list only focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Feel free to post updates on any other players from the state of Maryland in the comment section below.


Mike Miller is an intern at The Baltimore Sun. He will be providing updates on former local high school football standouts who now play for FBS schools each Monday for Recruiting Report. Mike can be reached at xcxmmiller@baltsun.com.
Posted by Baltimore Sun sports at 11:53 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Ross powers team to close win

Brandon Ross was nearly unstoppable Friday night in a close win for his Charter School of Wilmington (Del.) squad.

The Maryland-bound running back helped keep the Force undefeated with their 34-30 win over Glasgow.

Running back Brandon Ross led the way for Charter (3-0 overall, 1-0 Flight A), rushing for 207 yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns. "As a team, we just had a good week of practice," he said. "We wanted to make it a point to come out here and execute, play hard, and just do the little things right."

• Maryland tight end commitment Ryan Malleck played a major role in his team's first win of the season. The senior from Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) caught five passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers' 21-8 win over Jackson Liberty.

In the first quarter, [Chuckie] Krohn found Malleck streaking down the left sideline for a 50-yard strike that put the Panthers up 14-0. Three minutes into the second quarter, Krohn again connected with Malleck -- this time, for 42 yards. Malleck grabbed a short pass from Krohn in the open field, cut back to the left sideline behind some good blocking and went 35 yards untouched the rest of the way.

• ESPN.com's Jamie Newberg, who scouted Spartanburg (S.C.) High's 14-13 loss to South Pointe, had positive things to say about new UM offensive line pledge Stephen Grommer.

Maryland offensive tackle commit Stephen Grommer, had a solid night. He lined up mainly against Dixon and more than held his own. Much of the time he would down block, leaving Dixon to someone else or allowing him upfield. Grommer also showed the ability to get to the second level in a hurry. He will likely be a guard for the Terrapins.

• Terps linebacker recruit Cole Farrand did some damage on the offensive side of the ball in Pope John's 27-6 win over High Point (N.J.).

Then with the Lions clinging to a 14-6 advantage late in the third quarter, Kenney and Cole Farrand combined on a 75-yard touchdown pass, making High Point’s bid for a comeback more difficult.

• Maryland defensive back commitment Jeremiah Hendy caught a five-yard touchdown pass in Bowie's 44-6 rout of Oxon Hill.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:30 AM | | Comments (2)
        

September 24, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

A big weekend of visits is on tap for the Maryland men's basketball program.

The Terps will play host to two four-star prospects making official visits: City shooting guard Nick Faust and Cleveland (Miss.) power forward Johnny O'Bryant.

InsideMDSports.com -- which recently switched from ESPN.com to the 247sports.com network -- caught up with Faust to discuss his impending visit.

Is there a chance he makes a commitment?

“I would say it’s 50-50,” said the 6-foot-5 Faust. “I’m really not sure if I’m going to make it or not.”

Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer was asked in his weekly mailbag if he expected O'Bryant or Faust to commit to the Terps this weekend. Meyer's answer was no for the former and maybe for the latter.

It would not be a shocker, however, if Faust were to commit on his visit. Maryland is the local school on Faust's list and has been the perceived leader. Faust has talked positively about the Terrapins in interviews, and there is available playing time for him, which is a priority. Also, Maryland is the only school with which Faust has scheduled a visit.

• Point Pleasant Beach (N.J.) wing Jarelle Reischel, who received some Maryland interest, has narrowed his list of schools to five.

“I’m planning on taking offical visits to Seton Hall, Temple, Rice, Georgetown [and] Penn State,” Reischel told NBE Sports last week.

Football recruiting

• The Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald Journal spoke to offensive lineman Stephen Grommer this week about his commitment to Maryland.

“They are building up the line,” he said. “That's been the biggest thing wrong with them. They are trying to get more depth. This recruiting class is pretty solid.”

• Maryland will host Miramar (Fla.) defensive back Steven Montgomery this weekend.

"Everything went good. I like the campus, the school, everything was real nice. "Recruiting's going real well. I got about 17 offers. I think I've rounded things to about a top five. My top five would be West Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, LSU in no order. My next visit is at Maryland this week."

• Bishop McNamara safety Nicholas Law is formulating his list of official visits.

"I'm still working on ones I think to Maryland and West Virginia. I am still open to other schools like Texas A&M, but I haven't received much interest from them and it's probably unlikely I'll get any more offers."

• The Detroit News has a lengthy article this week on DeMatha defensive tackle Darian Cooper.

Big-time schools from across the county lined up to extend Cooper scholarship offers over the past year, but earlier this month he trimmed his list of suitors to seven. Those that survived his initial cut were Penn State, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Maryland. Now the wait is on to see which of them make it to the next round.

• Gilman quarterback and Terps target Darius Jennings was named The Baltimore Sun's Boys Athlete of the Week.

The Greyhounds' All-Metro quarterback led them to their second win in three weeks against a Washington Post No. 1 team. In Saturday night's 35-10 win over DeMatha, the senior rushed for 276 yards on 31 carries and scored two touchdowns. Jennings was 3-for-5 passing for 30 yards and had a kickoff and a punt return, bringing his total yards to 340. Through four games, Jennings has 1,133 total yards and nine touchdowns.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

September 23, 2010

College hoops spotlight: Jamar Briscoe

For every phase of his basketball career, Jamar Briscoe considers himself in "the show-me stage."

At Cardinal Gibbons, the pint-sized point guard had to show Baltimore basketball observers he could run a team and score at will. At North Carolina Central, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound freshman had to show he could play at the Division I level. Now Briscoe, who sat out last year after transferring to Charlotte, must show a new coaching staff that’s he’s capable of performing in the Atlantic 10, arguably the top mid-major league in the country.

“The new staff, they weren’t familiar with not one of us. They had never seen us play,” Briscoe said. “But everything was the show-me stage. We had three weeks before the end of the year to show what we can do. … In Baltimore basketball, that’s just kind of how it goes. It’s showing what you can do. I’m just used to that. Every time you go at a guy, you still have to show someone what you can do. I didn’t want to be in a bad situation when it came down to that. So I was prepared. So it really wasn’t a problem for me.”

Briscoe’s college hoops debut during the 2008-09 season couldn’t have gone much better. After accepting a late scholarship offer from North Carolina Central, a DI independent in Durham, Briscoe thrust himself into the Eagles’ starting lineup and finished the year as the nation’s second-leading freshman scorer at 17.8 points per game.

After his freshman season, Briscoe decided to jump up a level in the college basketball ranks, settling on Charlotte as his destination. He spent the past year redshirting for Bobby Lutz, who was fired after 12 seasons in March. Taking Lutz’s place was former Ohio State assistant coach Alan Major, who was hired as the 49ers’ new coach in April. For Briscoe, that meant entering the show-me stage all over again.

“I really didn’t know anything about him,” Major said. “I think he wasn’t a guy that I knew in terms of recruiting or anything like that. Him being an East Coast kid and me being at Ohio State, you pretty much focus on the Midwest guys. But they told me he sat out the year before and had gone through the year, practicing every day. I know that will do nothing but help his adjustment, but just as I was getting to know him the last five months, I really enjoyed it. Probably my favorite thing about him is he truly loves the game. He loves basketball. He loves to play. And he wants to be a student of the game. He’s kind of got that fire to want to improve. I think when you have a guy like that, it’s a great thing.”

Darrell Corbett has known all about those basketball-related tendencies for years. The Nike Baltimore Elite coach recalled Briscoe battling Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech) and Sean Mosley (Maryland) throughout his youth, first with the Mount Royal basketball program when the trio of guards was in elementary school, and later in the hotly contested Baltimore Catholic League.

A Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection as a senior, Briscoe was one of the BCL’s most prolific scorers, and Corbett said he also fared well on the AAU circuit. Still, Briscoe’s college options were limited coming out of high school.

“I think Jamar got overlooked his last year at Gibbons. I think he kind of got overshadowed,” Corbett said. “There were a lot of talented guards he was going up against at Gibbons. Gibbons at that time was competitive, but not winning. But he kind of got lost and everyone was overlooking him. … We always had a feeling he could go higher than he did. Someone had to see his potential [for him] to actually get his shot. Someone had to look at his overall game, not his size. But the kid can flat-out play.”

Corbett’s assertion on Briscoe’s game is something Major’s just now discovering. Per NCAA rules, coaches aren’t allowed to observe offseason workouts and pickup games, but updates on the progression of players are often relayed to those in charge. Major said Briscoe quickly developed a reputation on the team as a “basketball junkie” who was always in the gym, in the weight room, or watching game tape.

While Briscoe’s work ethic has been impressive and his transition to fitting in with the team has been seamless, Major is wary of making predictions on how he’ll perform. Major does, however, have a role for Briscoe in mind.

“He’s going to play a lot of minutes at the point,” Major said. “I think the faster he grows and develops, the better it is for us. Practice and skill development are great, but there’s nothing like going through a game scenario to improve. And when we start playing games, that’ll be his biggest ally in terms of improving quickly. But the good thing is, he’s not a guy who’s not a threat at the point guard to score. He can make shots and he’s got a nice feel for how to play the game. We all want him to adjust and be Jamar and do what he does best and help out the team and show what he can be.”

After a year on the sideline, Briscoe is understandably antsy for his sophomore year to begin. He’s comfortable with the Charlotte coaching staff and happy about his transfer. While he maintains friendships at North Carolina Central, Briscoe knows he made the move for the right reasons.

“I came to Charlotte to win,” Briscoe said. “I want to play in March. That’s it. That’s my only goal. I want to play in March.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:59 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: College hoops spotlight
        

September 22, 2010

Loyola receiver Jordan Floyd has early Div. I offer

As an athletically precocious eighth-grader, Jordan Floyd thought he might have a chance to eventually earn a college football scholarship. He just didn’t think that opportunity would come so soon. jordan-floyd-loyola.jpg

Now a starting wide receiver, strong safety and special teams standout for Loyola, the 6-foot-1 ½, 205-pound junior has already landed his first Division I offer.

Floyd received the big news after Maryland’s 62-3 win over Morgan State – one day after he caught eight passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the Dons’ 45-31 loss to DeMatha. Floyd made the trip to College Park with his parents, and all three joined Terps defensive coordinator Don Brown and assistant recruiting coordinator Ryan Steinberg for a post-game meeting.

“They came in talking about their game plan, schemes, stuff like that,” Floyd said. “After that they were talking about my DeMatha game. Then they looked at my parents and said ‘We want to offer Jordan a scholarship.’ … I think [my parents] were really happy. None of us saw it coming. I know I was really happy, so they were happy. I was really surprised. It was crazy. So surreal.”

Based on the work Floyd put in over the summer and his sizzling start to the season, it probably shouldn’t be a huge surprise that he’s developed into a surefire Division I recruit. Floyd joined Loyola’s varsity squad as a sophomore. Most of his 10th-grade year was spent familiarizing himself with the offense, blocking for others and doing the dirty work on special teams.

When the summer started, Floyd hit the combine circuit, attending “six or seven camps,” including those at Maryland and Virginia. Whenever Floyd needed advice on jumpstarting the recruiting process, he looked no further for guidance than his older brother Brandon, a former Dons standout and current Georgetown student who spent a year on the Hoyas’ football team.

“He basically said, 'Just play your game and don’t expect anything. If you do what you have to do, good things will happen. Hard work pays off,'” Floyd said. “He was pushing me a lot this summer to run routes and work out all the time, just so that it will help me throughout the season.”

That hard work has paid off so far, with Floyd catching 17 passes for 295 yards and five touchdowns in the first three games of the season. With increased production comes increased attention from opponents, but Floyd said he’s ready.

“I definitely expected that,” Floyd said. “That just makes me go hard in practice and the weight room. I’m just trying to work harder, and when we scout people, we just try to key on that, mainly because we pass the ball a lot. So I basically go hard in the weight room.”

Maryland’s not the only DI school that has made contact with Floyd. Boston College, Connecticut, Northwestern, Rutgers, Virginia and West Virginia have also been in touch. Floyd said it’s way too early to start formulating a list, but he did grow up watching one of those aforementioned programs.

“It was definitely Maryland,” Floyd said. “I was born and raised on Maryland. I definitely watched Maryland football.”

For now, Floyd’s 100 percent focused on his junior season with the Dons. He may make another unofficial visit or two, but at the moment, he’s relishing every moment spent in high school, and thankful for his future college opportunities.

“It’s great,” Floyd said. “I honestly have to give it to my linemen. I wouldn’t be in this position right now if not for my linemen and coaches. So I feel real fortunate. For awhile, I’ve been dreaming about it, and I never thought it would be a reality. I’m just overjoyed.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Jordan Floyd by Karl Merton Ferron / Oct. 10, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:15 PM | | Comments (2)
        

September 21, 2010

S.C. lineman Stephen Grommer talks Terps pledge

Every so often, Stephen Grommer’s mind has a habit of wandering during school hours.

An occasional daydream in creative writing class doesn’t seem to affect the academic performance of Grommer, a 3.9 student. Plus, his occasionally lost focus on schoolwork usually leads to a different kind of productivity.

“Sometimes I get bored in school and I just write down formations, draw them on paper,” said Grommer, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound senior offensive lineman at Spartanburg (S.C.) High. “I run through plays that we already run.”

Grommer’s physical attributes and mind for the game led to scholarship offers from East Carolina, Harvard, Maryland, North Carolina State and Western Carolina. On Sunday night, Grommer committed to the Terps.

“It feels great. I know it’s a good choice,” Grommer said. “I really liked Maryland’s campus. Coming back home [from a visit for the Morgan State game], it’s all I could think about.”

Spartanburg coach Freddie Brown said the Maryland coaches first came to see Grommer last fall in game action. Terps linebackers coach Al Seamonson came back to Spartanburg for spring practice and offered Grommer shortly thereafter. A former assistant coach at Wofford College, Brown already had some familiarity with the Maryland program, which he relayed to Grommer.

“We played up there in 2001 [against] E.J. Henderson and those cats,” Brown said. “I remember the campus being beautiful and having a great atmosphere. I thought about some of those things, and Coach [Ralph] Friedgen being there a long time with a staff that’s been there a long time. I’ve known Al Seamonson for a long time. So we kind of talked about the fact that it’s a beautiful place with great academics and great football. We’ll get a chance to see him a couple times a year playing ACC schools around here. He’ll come down to Tobacco Road. He kind of wanted to get out of town a little bit.”

Grommer joined the Spartanburg football program as a freshman. ‘A real big kid,’ Brown recalled, Grommer was dominant on the ninth-grade team and made a seamless transition to varsity starter as a sophomore. Also a standout at discus and shotput on the track team, Grommer has always impressed Brown with his versatility on the line and overall aptitude for the game’s nuances.

“He’s very good in pass protection and he’s a very good run blocker. We do both,” Brown said. “We play in the spread, so we do spread-type runs and we’ll do … the five-step, seven-step drops. So he has to protect. He plays against pretty good competition. He can do it all. He’s very quick to pick up what you teach him because he’s very bright and he loves the weight room. He’s a great, great student.”

Grommer showed off that intelligence during this recent visit to College Park, spending time in the film room with Terps offensive line coach Tom Brattan. Grommer had already appreciated Brattan’s “old school” approach to coaching. Breaking down game tape only added to the positive thoughts he felt toward his future position coach.

“It got pretty in-depth,” Grommer said. “I got to watch film for like 15 minutes when I was there with Coach Brattan. He showed me all the zone steps, the inside and outside zones. So we just kind of scraped the surface. … It was back and forth. He would ask me, ‘OK, is this a zone step?’ [Then I would say], ‘In high school, we do a little something different. This is what we do.’ It was educational.”

Grommer, who plans to major in business management, said he had wanted to make his commitment before the start of Spartanburg’s season, but he’s glad he took the extra time to explore all his options.

“It’s great,” Grommer said. “All my friends have been saying, ‘Call me a turtle.’ But everyone’s really excited about it, to go DI. They were happy that I made [the commitment] and I was happy to make it.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:11 PM | | Comments (2)
        

September 20, 2010

The Next Level – Tavon Austin headlines Week 3

Another season of college football means it’s time for another edition of The Next Level. Hi, I’m Mike Miller, a fall intern here at The Baltimore Sun. Deputy Sports Editor Matt Bracken was kind enough to welcome me into Recruiting Report, and I’ll be updating this space each Monday with reports detailing how former local high school athletes who now play for NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams fared in each of their games. In addition to recaps, I’ll highlight a player of the week and identify any other interesting news and notes from around the country. tavon-austin-wva-terps.jpg

We’ll start in Morgantown, W.Va., where the Mountaineers throttled the Terrapins on Saturday, 31-17. West Virginia sophomore wide receiver Tavon Austin finished with a team-best 172 all-purpose yards, hauling in seven receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns and three rushes for nine yards. Austin, a Dunbar alum, also returned four kickoffs for 57 yards, including a 19-yard return to start the game. He is this season’s first Next Level Player of the Week.

Austin wasn’t the only Maryland native to have success against the Terps. Mountaineers sophomore running back Ryan Clarke, a Glen Burnie native and DeMatha graduate, rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries and notched one reception for seven yards. Safety Terence Garvin (Loyola) made four tackles, including two solo stops. For the Terps, wide receiver LaQuan Williams (Poly) recorded a 10-yard reception, while nose tackle A.J. Francis – a Severn native – assisted with four tackles. Defensive backs Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) and Matt Robinson (Atholton) also saw game action, as Franklin assisted on two tackles and Robinson made three tackles, two solo.

• Staying with the Atlantic Coast Conference, freshman running back Michael Campanaro (River Hill) rushed for 41 yards on four carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of Wake Forest’s 68-24 loss at Stanford. Sophomore linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) made three tackles for the Demon Deacons.

• Virginia Tech freshman cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) registered two solo tackles in the Hokies’ 49-27 win over East Carolina.

• North Carolina junior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) recorded two tackles in a 30-24 loss to Georgia Tech.

• Syracuse sophomore wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) had five receptions for 58 yards, scoring a pair of touchdowns in a 38-14 victory over Maine. Lemon tallied a 3-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter before hauling in a 20-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Nassib in the third.

• Temple junior quarterback Chester Stewart (DeMatha grad, Hanover native) went 11-for-21 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown pass in the Owls’ 30-16 victory over Connecticut. Stewart also picked up 20 yards rushing on six carries. Sophomore running back Matt Brown, a Baltimore native from the Peddie School (N.J.), rushed for eight yards on two carries and caught a six-yard pass from Stewart in the second quarter. Brown also returned a pair of kicks for 45 yards, including a 30-yard return to start the game. Senior defensive back Kwame Johnson (Parkville) made one solo tackle for the Owls while Connecticut sophomore safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) recorded two tackles.

• Ohio State kicker Devin Barclay (McDonogh) went 2-for-2 in field goal attempts and was 5-for-5 for extra points in the Buckeyes’ 43-7 rout of Ohio. Barclay booted a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter en route to 11 points on the day.

• Utah senior wide receiver Shaky Smithson (Douglass) ran back a 73-yard punt for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Utes’ 56-14 victory over New Mexico. Smithson returned four punts for 140 yards and two kickoffs for 83 yards, including a 52-yard burst in the third quarter. Smithson, last week’s Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, racked up 223 total return yards on the day. Lobos defensive back Emmanuel McPhearson (DeMatha grad, Columbia native) recorded one assisted tackle.

• Army senior fullback Jacob Bohn (Mount St. Joseph) rushed for 38 yards on eight carries in a 24-0 win over North Texas.

• Senior linebacker Jerry Hauburger (Eastern Tech) recorded eight tackles, including four solo in Navy’s 37-23 victory over Louisiana Tech.

• Junior wide receiver Xavier Martin (Joppatowne) had three receptions for 19 yards in Utah State’s 41-24 loss to Fresno State.

• San Jose State junior defensive back Brandon Driver (Parkville) notched two solo tackles and returned two kicks for 29 yards in the Spartans’ 16-11 victory over Southern Utah.

• Central Michigan freshman Davon Muse (Dunbar) had three carries for negative four yards in the Chippewas’ 52-14 victory over Eastern Michigan. Muse initially ran for a one-yard gain in his first action of the game in the fourth quarter before getting knocked down behind the line of scrimmage on back-to-back plays.

• Arkansas State junior defensive back Darron Edwards (Dunbar) recorded one solo tackle in the Red Wolves’ 34-20 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.


I do want to note that this list is not all-encompassing. I focused mainly on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on FBS rosters.

But if you have a question concerning a specific player from elsewhere in the state of Maryland, please leave me a comment below and I’ll be happy to respond.

AP photo of Tavon Austin by Michael Switzer / Sept. 18, 2010

Posted by Baltimore Sun sports at 11:35 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Hendy stands out in loss

Maryland recruited Jeremiah Hendy as a defensive back, but the Bowie senior made a big impact on the other side of the ball Friday.

The Bulldogs dropped a 13-10 overtime game to C.H. Flowers, but the future Terp did serious damage at wide receiver.

[Bowie quarterback Jordan] Maslanik had a big day for the Bulldogs, passing for 231 yards including 146 to star wide receiver Jeremiah Hendy, who caught a 72-yard touchdown pass.

• Terps linebacker pledge Cole Farrand found the end zone once in Pope John's 48-0 win over Morris Hills (N.J.).

[Devin] Sullivan’s pass was swiped by Pope John linebacker Cole Farrand near the Morris Hills 45, and Farrand headed all the way down the left sideline for a touchdown.

• UM fullback recruit Tyler Cierski helped power Mill Creek (Ga.) to a 42-6 win over Mountain View.

Tyler Cierski had two TD runs and Keshawn Bussey also scored one touchdown for Mill Creek.

• Maryland athlete commitment Delonte Morton was out with a sprained ankle in DeMatha's 35-10 loss to Gilman, which saw Greyhounds quarterback Darius Jennings rush for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

Recruited by nearly two dozen division I schools, including Maryland and Virginia, Jennings dared the DeMatha defense to stop him. During the Greyhounds' first scoring drive, Jennings ran the ball seven of eleven plays - all from a spread formation.

• Maryland scored a commitment from Spartanburg (S.C.) offensive lineman Stephen Grommer, according to ESPN.com. Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for more on Grommer's pledge.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:30 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 17, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

With in-home visits starting and official visits being scheduled, the Maryland men's basketball program remains in the mix for several highly touted big men.

New Egypt (N.J.) center Desmond Hubert has a list of seven schools he's still considering.

Hubert’s list currently includes Villanova, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Princeton, Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest.

Testudo Times, meanwhile, pulled a tweet from Phenom Hoop Report that lists five official visits for Maryland power forward target Adjehi Baru.

Report Baru Official Visit dates: Charleston 9-24/25, VT 10-15/16, MD 10-22/23, UNC 10-29/30, USC TBA

• The Washington Post reports that Landon forward Darion Atkins, who drew some interest from Maryland, has committed to Virginia

Atkins, a 6-foot-8 senior who averaged 10.2 points last season, had taken an official visit to Virginia earlier this month then took an official visit to Notre Dame this past weekend. After returning, though, he was torn between the two schools and made another trip to Virginia.

Football recruiting

• Michelle King, the mother of Maryland wide receiver commitment Nigel King, told the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record that she's happy with her son's transfer to Oak Ridge Military Academy.

"Once Nigel committed, football wasn't a big deal to me because I know (Maryland knows) what he can do..." she said. "And even if the competition isn't what he's used to playing, then it's still great practice."

• Terps athlete pledge Delonte Morton suffered a sprained ankle last weekend in DeMatha's win over Friendship Collegiate.

"He's a heck of a player and you hate not to have everybody with us," [Stags coach Bill] McGregor said of the 6-foot-1, 249-pound Maryland recruit. "But it is what it is. We have good backs and other guys will have to step up like they did the other day."

• The Gazette this week profiled Cyrus Kouandjio, who leads DeMatha against Gilman on Saturday night.

Beltsville resident Cyrus Kouandjio of DeMatha High is one of the nation's most-sought-after recruits this fall. The 6-foot-7, 322-pound senior has a slew of college scholarship offers and is listed as the seventh-best recruit in the nation in the Class of 2011, according to Rivals.com. His play on the line is a key component to the running game that is the core of DeMatha's offense. The Stags take on Baltimore powerhouse Gilman School at 8 p.m. Saturday at Towson University's Unitas Stadium.

• UM athlete target Travis Hughes found the end zone three times in Kempsville (Va.) High's 35-26 loss to Ocean Lakes on Thursday.

Travis Hughes, Kempsville’s bruising running back, had been slowed with a sore ankle. He finished with 78 tough yards and three TDs.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

September 16, 2010

Bowie State hoops loads up on Baltimore talent

Darrell Brooks got off to a good start as Bowie State’s men’s basketball coach in his first year back at his alma mater.

The longtime George Washington assistant guided the Bulldogs to a 16-10 record last season. This year, he’ll attempt to better that mark with the help of a few former Baltimore City high school stars.

Brooks has added four Baltimore natives to the Bulldogs’ roster for the 2010-11 season: Trawn Rogers, a 6-foot-8, 185-pound forward from St. Frances, Byron Westmoreland, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound shooting guard from Mervo, Julian Harrell, a 6-foot point guard from Good Counsel, and Tyrone Lawson, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Northwestern.

“One of the things I really like about Baltimore kids, and I’ve recruited the area for a long time, is that they’re very tough, hard-working kids, no matter if their game is big or small. That’s what I like about Baltimore kids,” Brooks said.

Rogers helped the Panthers to the MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League championships in 2009. After graduating from St. Frances, Rogers headed to a prep school in North Carolina, where he was discovered by Brooks’ staff.

“I’ve got to be honest, I could act like I was really smart, but we went to his prep school and were actually recruiting the point guard from that school, who I just loved,” Brooks said. “We saw Trawn and realized he was from Baltimore. I wasn’t crazy about him at first, but we kept on seeing the other kid and got to see him play a little bit more. I really like his skill set.

"The thing that scared some low Division I schools was his size. He’s very thin at 185 pounds. But for us at this level, fortunately we can look past that. He’ll work hard in the weight room and get bigger and stronger. The more I saw him, I realized we had a chance to recruit him and get him. We were kind of lucky with that one. … I’m very excited about him. In the next two or three years, he can be one of the better players in the league.”

Westmoreland was a Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection in 2008. After graduating from Mervo, he headed to Pitt-Johnstown, a Division II program where he redshirted as a freshman. Westmoreland then moved back home and enrolled at Baltimore City Community College, where he guided the Panthers to the Maryland JUCO tournament championship.

“Byron Westmoreland, after a year at BCCC, he’s a scorer. He’s just a flat-out scorer,” Brooks said. “He manufactures baskets and he’s an athletic, long, lean wing guy. That’s kind of how I like my wings, going back to my days at GW. But I’m really excited about him because he’s a scorer and he knows how to play. He has good basketball IQ. … When we went to watch him, I really liked him right off the bat. I like guys who can score and have very good basketball IQ. He’s got both of those. I think he can be ... a big-time scorer in this league, and I think that he will be.”

Harrell comes to Bowie as a walk-on. The former Towson Catholic point guard transferred to Good Counsel for his senior season after the Archdiocese of Baltimore closed TC in the summer of 2009.

“It was around the spring and we were going through our spring workouts, and whenever recruits would come up, he would come up as well,” Brooks said. “He said he was accepted and going to come to school here. He can really shoot the ball. … He’s been around all summer with the guys playing pickup. He’s just a hard-working kid who shoots the basketball. He’s a non-scholarship guy who can really help us in practice situations.”

Lawson’s entering his junior year at Bowie State but his first season on the Bulldogs’ basketball team. Adding Lawson to the roster was an added – albeit unexpected – bonus for Brooks.

“He just played in high school and literally came by my office one day [and said], ‘I go to school here and I’m interested in playing.’ He worked out with our guys, played hard and grabbed rebounds,” Brooks said. “He’s learning, obviously, the fundamentals. But he’s a very, very hard-working kid at 6-8 who’s physical. Definitely in practice he can be a physical guy, and you could get him into some games and he’ll help you.”

Throughout his more than 25-year coaching career, Brooks has made a habit of recruiting Baltimore. Expect that to continue during his time at Bowie.

“It’s a natural fit,” Brooks said. “It depends on what part of Baltimore you go into, but it’s 25, 30 minutes from the school. Obviously in-state guys are always what we look for. So Baltimore will be a hotbed for us. It always has been for Bowie, so it’s not like I’m creating anything. It’s always been that way. We’ll just continue to find guys that come and fit the program, both academically and basketball-wise.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

September 15, 2010

New additions to Digital Harbor hoops team

Fresh off a string of strong performances at the Craig Cromwell Summer League at The Dome, Digital Harbor coach Johnnie Grimes received some exciting – albeit unexpected – news about his squad.

Kevin Smith, the former Baltimore Freedom Academy point guard, had enrolled at Digital Harbor for his senior year after spending his junior season at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep. Smith’s transfer home was a welcome surprise for Grimes.

“A week before school, his mom told me,” Grimes said. “We have always talked … and she had said if they ever decided to come back home, that would be the place. So it wasn’t like I recruited him or anything. She just thought it was the best school for Kevin to go to. It was a shock to me that Kevin was coming to Digital. … But that was the piece we were missing, especially in the tough division we’re playing in.”

With the addition of Smith to Digital Harbor, Grimes has a seemingly loaded roster, especially on the perimeter. Junior point guard Daquan Cook will make his Rams debut after sitting out last season following his transfer from St. Frances, while Ronald Epps, a junior guard, is also on board after transferring from City. Grimes also welcomes cousins Antonio and Nyme Manns, both junior forwards, and Dominic Barnes, a junior guard who was injured last year.

Grimes is counting on each of those players to make a significant contribution this season. He’s also looking for Smith – who is being recruited by Charlotte, Florida State, Rutgers, South Florida and UNC-Wilmington – to be the senior leader.

“It’s just the maturity level,” Grimes said. “With Freedom Academy, he never had other core players with him. He always had to do everything. And not only that, but I coached Kevin for Nike Elite last year. And he was playing with stars like Will Barton. He really developed into a true point guard. He had real good players with him, and he just looked like a real high-level DI player. And with this team that we have, I think that the core guys are just going to make that transition easy, and he’s not really having to take over the game by himself. He’s going to have a real good class with him.”

Cook was the centerpiece of Nike Baltimore Elite’s 16-and-under squad this summer, leading NBE to the Super Showcase AAU tournament championship in Orlando. Washington, Seton Hall, UNLV, Iowa State, Temple, George Washington and Virginia Tech, among others, are involved with Cook.

“He had a heck of a summer,” Grimes said. “And he did well with Nike Elite last year, too. That really put him on the map. He has a real high IQ, is very athletic and quick. He’s a very unselfish player. He has a motor and he’s just going to be good. Plus, he’s only 15, so he’s going to develop even more strength. But the main thing with him is just working on all aspects of his game and definitely getting stronger.”

Grimes called Epps – who’s hearing from Liberty and The Citadel – an under-the-radar guard with a high basketball IQ and “a real good jump shot.” Barnes, according to Grimes, is an incredibly quick, explosive guard who will likely be an offensive spark off the bench.

The Manns cousins will provide the Rams with size and strength in the frontcourt. Nyme Manns, 6-4, is a rugged rebounder who comes from Cardinal Gibbons. Antonio Manns is a 6-5 wing with handles and long-range shooting capabilities. Penn State has expressed interest in Antonio Manns, who comes to Digital Harbor after spending last year at a high school in Portland, Ore.

Two years ago, Grimes guided a Rams squad led by George Jackson, Justin Jackson and Davon Usher to the Class 1A state championship. This year’s Digital Harbor team is garnering similar hype, but Grimes will preach patience to his players.

“I know a lot of people are definitely pushing us, right behind City, but I wouldn’t put us up at that level right now,” Grimes said. “I know talent wise [we’re good], but we just have to jell. The Manns are [a big help] on paper, but at the same time, when I had Justin and George and Davon, they had to jell and you need that time. You can’t come in expecting it to just happen overnight. We did really well at the summer league down at The Dome with the guys we had. Now you put Kevin into the mix, and the sky is definitely the limit. We’re definitely pushing the ball, and I think we can definitely be one of the top contenders in the city.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

September 14, 2010

Baltimore guards headline Vt. school's roster

When Jesse Bopp landed the boys basketball coaching job at Vermont Academy, the former Florida and Virginia Commonwealth graduate assistant knew exactly where to look for talent to fill out his roster.

Bopp, who played at Plymouth (N.H.) State and ran his own AAU program on the side, worked his East Coast connections and was led to Baltimore, where two future Division I players – an under-the-radar veteran and a rising young talent – were looking for a change in atmosphere.

The first Baltimore addition was Keron DeShields, a former Towson Catholic guard and Pallotti’s star player last winter. The West Baltimore native spent the summer with Baltimore Assault and considered going to prep school in South Carolina. By the middle of June, however, DeShields was on board with Bopp’s new squad in Saxtons River, Vt.

“He’s very mature but he’s only 17, so he’s young,” Bopp said. “He’s as mature as they come. Probably some of that maturity comes from the environment of a city like Baltimore. You have to take on those challenges, and he took them on. There were influences like Mike Lloyd, who played at Syracuse, played at Dunbar, and his mother. They really showed Keron what it’s about in terms of living and being a man and taking things on, using basketball as much as possible. And I think [former Towson Catholic star and Sacramento Kings forward] Donte Greene has had an effect on him, explaining to him what work ethic is and having a high threshold for pain, putting yourself in a position for having success through working hard. He just has this desire to be the best.”

Bopp’s second roster acquisition from Baltimore came together in August. Daquein McNeil, one of the area’s top freshmen last winter at Carver, was looking to leave the city for his last three years of high school. With DeShields already in the fold, it didn’t take long for Bopp to convince McNeil to join the party.

“When Daquein first came into the picture, as soon as he got up here, it was just a match made in heaven because of the difference in environment and having a familiar face like Keron here, especially because of Keron’s character,” Bopp said. “He is an unbelievable connector of people and has the ability to take kids under his wing, especially with Day-Day. I’m really happy Keron’s here, and helping him with the process of acclimating to a rural environment. It’s kind of a different adjustment.”

With DeShields, Bopp saw a player just scratching the surface of his potential. DeShields didn’t see a ton of time when he played for Towson Catholic, but he was a prolific scorer for Pallotti and had an eye-opening summer on the AAU circuit. While Bopp says DeShields’ “talent level probably exceeds where his recruitment is at,” several mid-major schools are involved.

“Off the bat, I love Quinnipiac University,” DeShields said. “I like Morgan State, I like Elon University. I also like UNC-Wilmington and the University of New Hampshire. They called me and I fell in love with the coach because he’s a real honest dude. So that’s cool, too. I’m just trying to play. I have mid-majors right now, but who knows? Like my coach says, you might have high-level Division I [schools] at the door after putting in the work.”

Said Bopp: “He’s waking me up at 5:30 in the morning to work out. He loves the gym, he loves to work, and he knows he’s got room for growth. A lot of kids talk about being good, but they don’t necessarily do the things that allow them to get there. But he expects to be good and he does the things he needs to do to be good. And I think just from a leadership, intangible standpoint, he’s extremely competitive as well as just a tough, tough kid who takes on challenges from anyone. He gets other people fired up about taking on challenges. He’s really impressive, and he’s great to have, especially when you’re starting a program. To have a guy that can really echo the message that you want to is [really important].”

McNeil, meanwhile, showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman at Carver. He followed that up with a strong performance over the summer with Nike Baltimore Elite, including a stint with the 17-and-under squad at the Rose City Showcase in Oregon. MidAtlanticHoops.com rates McNeil the top rising sophomore from Baltimore and the No. 6 prospect in the region.

“I think for Daquein, the sky is the limit,” Bopp said. “He has some gifts as a player -- his ability to shoot the ball, the ability to get in the lane with his length and his athleticism. He’s just extremely gifted, and just a super worker. He works in the gym and he’s a player that loves to compete. For the Baltimore guards, I think he is the one to make a name for himself. He’s an unbelievable scorer. I wouldn’t describe him as a shooter. I’d call him a scorer, but he can really get it going and really hurt you in a lot of different ways.”

Playing a national schedule of powerhouse prep programs should raise McNeil’s profile even more, but several high-major schools have already been in contact.

“University of Maryland has visited and the University of Washington [was coming in],” Bopp said. “He’s got interest from Oklahoma and Georgetown. But I think obviously with Daquein’s relationship with [Terps assistant coach] Bino [Ranson], that puts Maryland in a good position on his list. Washington, coming out to see him play [is big], but I think it’s early for Daquein to really have a list. But I think it’ll come down to the staff and who he really feels comfortable with. His relationship with Bino, I think Maryland’s in the driver’s seat because of their relationship. That would put them in good position.”

DeShields has known McNeil for years, dispensing advice and showing him the ropes on the court. McNeil said playing with DeShields was definitely a draw for him to come to Vermont.

“It’s so good just to get out and get exposure and just travel,” McNeil said. “Being able to travel and play in a different state is just wonderful.”

While the transition from Baltimore to Vermont has been a drastic one, DeShields couldn’t be happier with the start to his school year.

“I’m definitely excited,” DeShields said. “But I definitely want to be the best. That’s what I want to be.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

September 13, 2010

Weekend wrap – Terps recruit Ross runs wild

The first game of Brandon Ross' senior season was a memorable one.

The Maryland-bound running back powered the Charter School of Wilmington (Del.) to a 46-20 win over St. Georges.

Brandon Ross rushed for 181 yards with two touchdowns and caught one touchdown pass for Charter.

Ross' receiving touchdown was on a 10-yard pass, while his rushing scores came from 69 and 82 yards out.

• DeMatha rallied for a 35-32 win over Friendship Collegiate, but Maryland-bound athlete Delonte Morton was a casualty for the Stags.

The Stags took a 20-12 lead on Michael Branthover's 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but they lost starting running back Delonte Morton to what DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor called a severe ankle sprain, which forced him from the field for X-rays.

• Terps wide receiver commitment Marcus Leak was knocked out of Parkwood (N.C.) High's 42-21 loss to Mount Airy.

Leak broke a botched punt snap for a big first down early to put Parkwood on the way to its first score and snagged a near impossible pass on the sideline for a first down later. But with Parkwood driving late in the second quarter, Leak went down with an apparent ankle injury not to return.

• UM tight end recruit Ryan Malleck found the end zone once in Point Boro (N.J.) High's 21-11 loss to Manasquan.

Point Boro followed with a 36-yard drive as Dunbar threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Malleck to make it 8-0.

• Maryland cornerback commitment Jeremiah Hendy helped Bowie to a 21-7 win over DuVal.

Jordan Maslanik connected with wide receiver Jeremiah Hendy for 13 yards, and on the next play he hit James Johnson on a deep post pattern for a 67-yard touchdown pass. Another Holmes extra point gave the visitors a 14-7 lead.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 10, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

For several Maryland-bound football players, this weekend marks the start of their final high school season.

That includes the Terps' most recent pledge, Ryan Malleck, a wide receiver and safety for Point Boro in New Jersey.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Malleck, who has made a non-binding commitment to the University of Maryland, will line up at both wide receiver and tight end on offense. He had 20 receptions for 364 yards and two TDs in the nine regular season games last season. A safety on defense, he had four interceptions, one of which he returned for a TD.

• UM linebacker recruit Cole Farrand -- who also begins his senior season this weekend -- receives special mention from the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger in its high school football preview.

Maryland has found a good one in Cole Farrand, Pope John's senior linebacker. He's a 6-4, 235-pound specimen who puts great demands on opposing offenses. He is considered one of the top prospects in the state at his position.

• The News Journal this week profiled Maryland running back commitment Brandon Ross, who hopes to lead the Charter School of Wilmington (Del.) to its first playoff berth of his high school career.

"I think about it all the time," said the 5-foot-11 Ross, who has verbally accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Maryland. "This is my senior year, my last one. We have a very good group here and we want to win. I've never been in the playoffs in organized football. I've been on hard-working teams, but not one that made the playoffs. I like this group here and I'm excited about this season."

• The Washington Post has video of Terps pledge Delonte Morton's dominating performance in DeMatha's win over Loyola last weekend.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior missed last season after shredding his right knee, but made a fine return in the Stags' season opener, rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-31 victory over Loyola Blakefield in the I-95 Kickoff Classic.

• ESPN.com's Jamie Newberg reports that the Terps will host a highly touted visitor Saturday for their game against Morgan State.

Travis Hughes (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) will visit Maryland.

Hughes was also on hand for the Terps' win over Navy at M&T Bank Stadium.

“I was actually impressed by the fan support Maryland had,” he said. “It was crazy. The whole parking lot was filled with red. That was my first time actually seeing that and I’ve been to a couple games since eighth grade. This last game was pretty big for them.”

• Terps target Darius Jennings leads Gilman tonight against Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) at Morgan State's Hughes Stadium.

Gilman playmaker Darius Jennings made his presence felt early and often in the Greyhounds' 28-7 win over then-nationally ranked Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) last week. Jennings, a senior quarterback, ran for a touchdown to give his team the lead less than three minutes into the game and also threw for a score and finished the contest with 142 yards rushing.

• In a reader mailbag, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chip Towers was asked if Good Counsel cornerback and UM target Blake Countess is a Georgia Tech lean. Here's his reply.

As for Countess, it’s hard to tell what this 5-10, 175-pound athlete from Maryland is going to do. He plans to take all his official visits but not until after the season is over. So he’s going to be a late decision.

Basketball recruiting

• Rivals.com analyst Jerry Meyer thinks Arkansas is in good shape with Terps power forward target Antwan Space.

Odds look promising for Arkansas to land Space, who visited the school on Labor Day weekend along with Young. A hybrid forward, Space is known for his ability to create shots off the dribble and to shoot with range.

Space spoke to NWAOnline.com about his visit to Little Rock.

“It was great,” Space said. “Great atmosphere, great people, and I liked the city. I was able to see everything I’m looking for in a college.”

Jacob Lawson, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound power forward from Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy, committed to Purdue on Monday.

Lawson, who also had scholarship offers from West Virginia, Maryland, Ole Miss and Seton Hall, averaged 14 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks a game during the 2010 AAU season.

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

September 9, 2010

Headliners, sleepers in local Div. 1 hoops classes

Nine interviews down, none to go.

Throughout the summer, I caught up with one assistant coach and eight head coaches of the state's nine Division I men's basketball programs, starting with Towson's Pat Kennedy in June and ending Wednesday with Mount St. Mary’s Robert Burke. Each coach discussed his school's incoming recruiting class at length.

With the interviews complete and classes back in session, here are my picks for headliner and sleeper for each team's group of newcomers.

Maryland

Headliner

Point guard Pe’Shon Howard may see the most time of any freshman, but Mychal Parker comes to College Park with the highest expectations. The 6-foot-6 wing is a versatile scorer, who Terps assistant coach Rob Ehsan said has an “enormous amount of talent and really has some physical tools and gifts that you can’t really teach.”

Sleeper

The Terps’ 2010 class features three recruits with sleeper potential: Haukur Palsson, Ashton Pankey and Berend Weijs. The nod here goes to Weijs, the lanky center from the Netherlands who spent the past two years at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. How much stronger Weijs gets will determine how much time he sees this season, but the Terps have a need for a shot-blocking presence off the bench.


Towson

Headliner

A standout performer at Cape Fear (N.C.) Community College, Cephas Oglesby should step into the Tigers’ rotation as a scoring guard off the bench behind RaShawn Polk. Oglesby is an athletic shooting guard who Tigers coach Pat Kennedy said “explodes to the rim.” Former Terps center Braxton Dupree is also primed for a big role after sitting out last year following his transfer.

Sleeper

A lean center who can block shots, Jamel Flash comes to Towson from West Hempstead, N.Y., and the vaunted New York Panthers AAU program. The 6-foot-11 freshman needs to add strength, but he “runs like a deer [and] loves the game,” Kennedy said.


Loyola

Headliner

A Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, Dylon Cormier decided to stay in Baltimore for college after a standout career at Cardinal Gibbons. The 6-foot-2 freshman impressed at the Baltimore Summer League and will have every opportunity to win the starting point guard job for the Greyhounds.

Sleeper

Pierson Williams comes to Loyola after a solid career at Taft High, a renowned basketball powerhouse in Los Angeles. The 6-foot-5 forward has a reputation as a prolific outside shooter, and Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos said Williams reminds him of Celtics guard Delonte West.


UMBC

Headliner

Travis King, a fifth-year senior guard, will have one year to play for the Retrievers after using three years of eligibility at George Washington. The New Haven, Conn., native should bring leadership and toughness to a UMBC squad fresh off a 4-26 season.

Sleeper

Chase Plummer was rarely the focal point on a St. Patrick (N.J.) High team that featured Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Kentucky commitment Mike Gilchrist, but the 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward is a rugged rebounder with high basketball IQ.


Navy

Headliner

J.J. Avila had a monster senior season at McAllen High in Texas, averaging 21.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.6 steals. Mids coach Billy Lange called the 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward a “phenomenal outlet passer, a physical kid who just has a high IQ for the game.” He was the 34th-ranked player in Texas by TexasHoops.com.

Sleeper

Thurgood Wynn was a steadying presence in Georgetown Prep’s backcourt with Hoyas freshman Markel Starks. While Starks drew most of the attention, Wynn “just continues to get better and better” in Lange’s opinion.


Morgan State

Headliner

The Bears received big news last week when former Towson Catholic point guard Larry Bastfield was ruled eligible to play immediately after transferring from Toledo last spring. Bastfield, who started two years for the Rockets, is the favorite to take over at the 1 for the Bears. Aric Brooks, a former St. Frances star who transferred from Jacksonville in 2009, will also be a featured player in his first season at Morgan.

Sleeper

Morgan won’t run into many opponents with someone bigger than Ian Chiles. The 7-foot-1, 265-pound freshman is a massive yet raw center who sat out last season as a non-qualifier. It’ll take some time for Chiles to develop, but his ceiling is high.


Coppin State

Headliner

A first-team junior college All-American at Herkimer (N.Y.) Community College, Akeem Ellis has the on-court resume and off-court demeanor Fang Mitchell desires. The longtime Eagles coach is counting on Ellis, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward, to bring scoring and leadership to his squad.

Sleeper

At 6-7, 230 pounds, Merced (Calif.) College forward Logan Wiens is a shooter with size who can stretch the floor for the Eagles. With just four returners to Coppin’s roster, Wiens – along with several of his fellow newcomers – should be ready for early action.


UMES

It’s been more than four years since Dishawn Bradshaw starred for St. Frances, but now the 6-foot-2, 170-pound shooting guard is ready to make his local college hoops debut. Bradshaw, who played junior college ball at ASA College in New York City, should provide immediate scoring punch for the Hawks.

Sleeper

There’s nothing flashy about Mike Spence’s game, but his no-nonsense approach could fill a need for Hawks coach Frankie Allen right off the bat. Spence, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound center from Newark, N.J., could provide valuable minutes for the Hawks as a rebounder and defender.


Mount St. Mary’s

Headliner

Julian Norfleet was mulling a post-grad season at prep school until newly hired Mount coach Robert Burke came calling. Norfleet, a 6-foot-2 combo guard who also received interest from UAB, East Carolina and Old Dominion, is known for his long-range shooting.

Sleeper

Josh Castellanos’ senior statistics – 10 points and five assists per game – were modest, but the 6-foot-1 point guard possesses just about every intangible a coach could want. Castellanos led Orlando Christian Prep to three straight state titles, and Burke said his “energy and enthusiasm” is already infectious around the Mount locker room.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:45 PM | | Comments (2)
        

September 8, 2010

Q&A with Mount St. Mary's coach Robert Burke

On May 6, Robert Burke was hired to replace Milan Brown – departed for Holy Cross – as the Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball coach.

Burke, a former Georgetown assistant, had the next three months to put together a recruiting class. The end result was a three-man group for the Mountaineers.

The Mount's incoming scholarship freshmen are: Evan Cleveland, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound forward from Fort Wayne, Ind., Josh Castellanos, a 6-foot-1 guard from Orlando, Fla., and Julian Norfleet, a 6-foot-2 guard from Virginia Beach, Va. Cleveland averaged 12 points, six rebounds and three assists as a senior for Elmhurst High, leading his squad to the state semifinals. Castellanos – the Florida 1A Player of the Year as a senior – guided Orlando Christian Prep to three straight state titles. Norfleet averaged 15 points, four assists, four rebounds and four steals as a senior for Landstown High, the Beach District regular-season and tournament champions.

Burke spoke with Recruiting Report this week about Mount’s 2010 recruiting class.

Cleveland was just announced as a signee a couple weeks ago. How did his recruitment develop so late in the game?

With Evan, I think it was August 20. He was someone that we had kept an eye on, but he was trying to figure out what was best for him, and we were trying to figure out what was best for us. It all came together in late August. So what’s what happened there. He’s a solid student, so there were no issues from a compliance side of things. It was just both parties figuring out what was good for them.

What aspects of his game really caught your eye?

We got some tape on him at some point. I was watching him and I just liked what I saw in terms of his potential skill set for [someone of] his size and athleticism, the ability to dribble the ball, his feel [for the game] and his vision. His strength is not his shooting at this point, but just his feel [is impressive]. He sees the passing lanes all the time. He had played some point guard, at 6-6, for his high school team. He’s not a point guard in the traditional sense, but he looks comfortable. He seemed to show a bit of potential in those areas.

The other thing about Evan is he played in a very good basketball area in Indiana against some good competition. He helped his team go to the semifinal game. They were very successful, had a deep run, and he played well on a significant stage.

Castellanos had some major individual and team success in high school. What does he bring to the table?

I believe Josh has won three state championships, so that’s what jumped out immediately. And then his game – he can run the team. When I looked at the team, we needed to shore up our ball handling and our shooting and our perimeter game some, especially from a skill-set [perspective]. And I think he does that. We were looking at a bunch of guys, and what put it over the top for me was just his leadership skills. The personality and the leadership that he had displayed, I thought was significant. He’s a little bit of a pied piper, and I thought that was important. And it’s played out kind of that way so far. He really brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to every encounter that you have with him.

Norfleet comes from an area where Mount has recruited in the past. How did you discover him and what did you like about his game?

We did some research. We kind of were looking at who was all-state, all-conference and all that. We started calling around to some of our friends, and one thing we were looking for was perimeter shooting. Everyone we talked to said the one thing he certainly can do is shoot the ball. And that was something we were looking for. So we went down that road. As we got to know him, I thought he’d fit in. He has played some point guard. The starting point guard on his team was a pretty good player, and he went down so Julian played about half the season, maybe more. From my perspective, having to put him in the position where he had to dribble and make decisions, combined with his shooting, was a good experience for down the road. I know he had a number of big visits. UAB, East Carolina, Old Dominion, I think, were interested. But the kid always ended up being the bridesmaid, not the bride. We were fortunate that he was still out there.

You took the job in May and then had to assemble a recruiting class from scratch. How did you make it all come together in a relatively short amount of time?

I’d like to tell some great stories of us doing a fabulous job, but you just do what you do. You’re always recruiting and sometimes there are good players out there late. When I was at Georgetown, we signed John Wallace in August. We convinced John to come as a walk-on at first. We eventually gave him a scholarship, but we got John to come in August and he started every game of his career and was the all-time leader in 3-point shooting in Georgetown history. He hit the shot that really keyed us to go to the Final Four against North Carolina in the Elite Eight. So there are guys out there. Some kids really kind of know what they want, and they’re willing and have the confidence that allows them to wait around. Other kids aren’t as confident and they do things fast. Sometimes you get lucky and someone’s still looking around. But at this point, who knows? Hopefully the player you get is a good player and it all pans up. But so far, we like them and their teammates speak very highly of them. There’s nothing really tricky about [putting together a class late]. You’ve got to beat the bushes and get out there.

How valuable was your time at Georgetown, and how will you utilize that experience at the Mount?

I learned a lot every step of the way. I’ve been fortunate to work for a number of different guys in a number of different situations. And there are many different lessons. To just generalize and pick one to throw out there, that doesn’t really seem appropriate. I will just draw on all the experience that I’ve had, whether it was at Siena, at Loyola Marymount or at Georgetown. They were different situations and different scenarios. The lessons I learned are appropriate for different times at the Mount. In many ways, the Mount is very different than Georgetown, but that doesn’t mean there are lessons that don’t apply. Hopefully those lessons in each of those situations can help me here.

Which of these three freshmen do you see making an immediate impact, or is it too early to tell?

Yeah, it’s really too early. There are needs for the roles that Castellanos and Norfleet fill a little more than the need that Evan fills. But really, everything is wide open. If you asked me who’s going to start right now, or who’s going to play right now, I’d be hard pressed to name two guys. Some of that’s how I like to coach each year, combined with the fact that you’ve got to let the guys earn it and prove it. They have an opportunity each offseason to go out and work really hard, be in the gym as much as possible. As a coach, you want to make sure they have that opportunity. I’d like to be able to play a lot of guys. Hopefully, everyone steps up and keeps our bar raised. But we can play a number of guys. It’s just too early to tell.

Overall, what are your expectations for your team this season?

My focus has always been – even as an assistant – that we’re just a little bit better tomorrow than we are today. And if we can be the most improved team -- certainly in our conference and maybe in the country, from the start of the year to the end of the year – if you can do that on a year-to-year basis, I think you end up putting yourself in a position to have a lot of success. I just talk about, ‘Can we be better tomorrow than we are today?’ Those are my expectations. After that, I expect us to win every game we play and that we take it one game at a time, whether it’s Duke or whoever. I expect us to approach that game the same way and expect us to win every game we play.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:02 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 7, 2010

Q&A with UMES coach Frankie Allen

Frankie Allen has high hopes for his third season in Princess Anne.

The UMES men's basketball coach has added six scholarship players to the Hawks' roster. Allen believes his third recruiting class at UMES -- combined with his returning players -- could vault the Hawks into the MEAC's championship conversation.

Louis Bell, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard from Friendship Collegiate in Washington, Mike Spence, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound center from Newark, N.J., who did a post-grad year at Apex Prep, Jo Jo Swift, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound point guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., who did a post-grad year at NIA Prep and Kevin Williams, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound point guard from Houston are the Hawks' incoming freshmen.

Allen has also added two junior college players to the Hawks' roster: Dishawn Bradshaw, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound shooting guard from ASA College in New York who's from Baltimore and graduated from St. Frances, and Diyaaldin Kelley, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Allen spoke with Recruiting Report last month about UMES' 2010 recruiting class.

Bradshaw’s been off the radar for a couple years. What’s he been up to, how did you land him and what do you expect from him?

Well DiShawn is a proven scorer. He was at a junior college in New York City. He was originally at St. Frances. He’s a scorer. He can flat-out score, he has good handles and he’s a sound offensive player. We were looking at him to come in and really fill a nice void in terms of a consistent scorer. I think he’s the type of young man who has the skills and ability to make an immediate impact on our team. He’s a very skilled player, a great competitor and we’re really looking forward to him having a real solid year and providing some more scoring for us with his ability to shoot the 3 and his ability to get to the basket. He’s a really skilled offensive player and someone that will have an immediate impact on the team.

Kelley obviously brings a lot of size to the table, and while his numbers don’t jump out at you, he was playing for a talented team. What are your thoughts on his game?

Well, he’s 6-11, 240, and that kind of size in our league will be a big plus for us. He’s very skilled even though his numbers were not great. He played on a team that was really more guard-oriented, so he didn’t get a lot of touches. But he can score around the basket. He has a nice little jump hook, especially from the 15-foot area. He played on a team that was a winner. He’s got great defensive skills, and he has the ability to alter shots. His presence and size are going to give us a dimension we’ve never had. I’m looking for him to be a solid player for us. The fact that he played for a team ranked as high as No. 1 in the country last season and was part of a winning program … speaks volumes for us. I really tried recruiting players coming from successful, winning programs. Hopefully that will have a carryover effect for us.

Bell played against tough competition in D.C. and seems pretty versatile. Does he bring an element of toughness to your team?

Yeah. Lou is a very versatile, solid wing player. He’s an outstanding shooter, too. He can stretch the defense. In this age of the 3-point shot, you can’t have enough players that can shoot the basketball and add that dimension to the game. He can score in bunches but is also a very solid, talented defender. He has great athleticism. A lot of times, you go see a kid and [notice] how many points they score. But [you watch him and he’s] just a very tough, hard-nosed defender. And I really liked that about him. Playing in that D.C. charter [school] league brings an element of toughness. All those games are hotly contested, and they’re very intense, so I think Lou brings a different dimension, not just on the offensive side but also on the defensive side.

Swift comes from NIA Prep, where you’ve had some success before. Talk about when you started recruiting him and what he brings to the table.

We try to recruit areas where we’ve had some success. We have a bunch of kids from New Jersey on the team. A lot of students come from that area, the South Jersey, Central Jersey, Philadelphia area. It’s a good recruiting area. You can be home within three hours or so, maybe a little longer. But Jo Jo Swift is a young man who’s a fast, quick guard who can easily play the point guard and scoring guard. He’s probably the fastest player on the team in terms of sheer moving the ball down the floor. We want to play a little bit more up-tempo and speed up the game a little bit. We can do a lot more things in transition, and he’s a scorer. He can play some at the point, and you can move him off the ball and score. He was a big scorer in high school and has just got great skills. He’s just a person that’s pretty versatile at the 1 or the 2.

In the news release on UMES’ website, you emphasize that Williams is a “true point guard.” Are you looking at him to be sort of a steadying force?

Yeah, Kevin Williams is an exciting signee for us. We got involved with him late. He can score. He has the ability to score. But he’s kind of a pass-first, try to get other people involved [type of player]. But he’s really solid with the basketball. He’s not going to be the type to get a lot of home-run plays. He’s just a really strong basketball player. He does a great job of running the offense and he has the ability to score. When you back off of him, he can knock down the open jump shots. He’s quick enough. So he had the ability to really be that guy who can run your team and do a great job of managing your team. Having seen him play on tape, the thing we see and are excited about is his ability to really just understand the game. I think at that position, you need a guy who has that kind of ability, especially coming from a kid who’s a freshman. He’s got maturity that maybe exceeds his years. He’s a kid we were very fortunate to get involved with late, and I expect him to make a contribution this year, even as a freshman.

The last newcomer is Spence, a big guy from Newark who did a year of prep school. What do you like about his game?

Well I’ll tell you what – Mike is just a hard worker. He’s just a workhorse type of guy. He battles around the basket, he’s got decent skills [and] we’re counting on Mike to rebound and defend. I think his offense may come later in his development. But as the season progresses, we expect Mike is really going to be able to give us a big boost with that size at 6-9, 235. He plays so hard. And I think his offensive skills will improve as the year goes on. But he’s a hard worker. He’s a kid that never stops. When you have that motivation, you know good things are going to happen.

Do you feel like this six-man group makes up for any departures you’ve had?

Yeah, I definitely think so. This is the best talent we’ve had here, going into my third year. As a coach, you have to have timetables or benchmarks, so to speak. As I’ve said to people, our first year, we were playing with holdovers from the previous two coaching staffs. Last year we got better and had a solid recruiting year. But it gives us good back-to-back [classes] in recruiting. It also helps with the players we have. It gives us a lot more depth. I felt last year, we ended up playing guys too many minutes. That can kind of wear on you as the season goes on. We played a lot of Sunday, Monday games. So I really feel that this is a good group to bring in. With the people we already have, it gives us a real solid team. And the biggest thing is that it gives us a lot more depth. As a coach, I feel like I can do some things and move some people around. We’re not as locked into playing a certain way. And I’m looking forward to really working with them.

Which newcomers are you counting on to crack the rotation?

Well I look at the big fella, obviously, Kelley. Most teams in our league have a pretty solid 1, 2 and 3. Our perimeter players in this league are as good as any league. What makes it different is that a team can distance themselves from the pack if they have solid play between the 4 and 5. Kelley can play the 4 or the 5, but probably the 5 with us initially. You add him to the mix and the players we have returning, like Hillary Haley, Freddy Obame and Tyler Hines. Coming from junior college, we’re looking forward to him giving us some help. And a kid like Dishawn Bradshaw, he can really do something, especially offensively. Those two guys are immediate impact. But I think the big kids, our inside players, will be counted on to fill a big void we haven’t had in this program.

What are your overall expectations for this season?

Well, I think this is kind of that year that everyone in connection with the program is expecting good things. Obviously, we believe – especially with how we played toward the end of the year – the expectations are going to be high and for us to continue to move up in the league. Obviously, Morgan has a stranglehold on first place the last few years. Our program is like any other program [in the MEAC]. There are 10 other coaches that feel the same way I do – [we want] to be able to unseat Morgan. We’re a league that’s only going to get that one bid. Everyone’s goal is to get to the dance. Basically, we have to continue to improve and be able to compete with the team at the top. For the past three years, that’s been Morgan. Our goals and expectations are to get up there. We made a significant leap from last place to fifth. Now, with this group coming in and the players we have returning, we just want to improve and get into that top group, the top one, two [of the MEAC]. That’s how our league has unfolded the past two years, and that’s the way our conference tournament goes. They get the best seeding in the tournament, so that’s one of our goals – to be up there and be someone that’s a consistent performer and a top team in our league. The team over the last couple of years has been Morgan. So that’s where our sights are set.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:26 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 6, 2010

Weekend wrap – Huge games for Hendy, Morton

Everything seemed to go Jeremiah Hendy's way on Saturday.

The Maryland cornerback commitment scored three touchdowns and picked off three passes in Bowie's 35-6 win over Laurel.

Bowie forced Laurel to punt on its ensuing possession and Hendy returned the ball 80 yards for a touchdown. And on the Spartans' next drive, Hendy caught his second interception of the afternoon and nearly returned it for a score.

Hendy, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior, finished with three receptions for 65 yards in the Bulldogs' win.

• Maryland-bound athlete recruit Delonte Morton helped DeMatha bowl over Loyola in the inaugural I-95 Kickoff Classic at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Returning to the lineup after missing last season because of a serious knee injury, running back Delonte Morton rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 36-yard score midway through the fourth quarter as the Stags escaped with a 45-31 victory over Loyola Blakefield.

• UM fullback commitment Tyler Cierski helped power Mill Creek (Ga.) to a 31-12 win over Alpharetta.

Tyler Cierski led the way on the ground for Mill Creek with 77 yards on 15 carries.

• Terps athlete target Darius Jennings was instrumental in Gilman's stunning 28-7 upset of Good Counsel in the I-95 Kickoff Classic.

Jennings, a first-team All-Metro selection who has narrowed his college choice to 10 major programs, including Penn State, Ohio State, UCLA and Maryland, led the way, rushing for 142 yards on 25 carries, running for one touchdown and throwing for another.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:30 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 3, 2010

Weekly recruiting roundup

One of Maryland's top remaining forward targets is headed to the Southeast this weekend.

NWAOnline.com reports that Antwan Space, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound power forward with offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Gonzaga, Florida State and Maryland, will make an official visit to Little Rock.

“Everybody is on the same level right now,” said Space, who averaged about 16 points and 7 rebounds as a junior. “I haven’t taken any visits, so I can’t judge until I see a school and meet the coaches face to face and see the players.”

• Adam Zagoria reports that Maryland is one of five schools under consideration by Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy forward Jacob Lawson.

Lawson is mulling Purdue, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Maryland, according to his coach, Stan Kowalewski.

• Terps small forward target Maurice Harkless committed this week to St. John's.

Maurice Harkless, a 6-foot-8 wing who starred at Forest Hills High School and will attend South Kent (Conn.) prep school this fall, verbally committed to new coach Steve Lavin on Monday night and made an announcement Tuesday. He chose St. John’s over Maryland, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Oregon and Florida.

Football recruiting

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named Maryland offensive tackle recruit Andrew Zeller the No. 25 senior football prospect in Pennsylvania.

A rapid growth spurt helped Zeller land Division I offers. As a sophomore, he was only 6-1, 220 pounds. Since then, he's added four inches and 60 pounds. In July, he chose Maryland. A physical and athletic lineman, Rowell had offers from Oregon, Rutgers and Duke. He's also made an impact as a defensive tackle, the position some schools coveted him as. He had 34 tackles last season.

• The Gazette this week previewed Prince George's County's 4A teams, including a Bowie squad which features Maryland-bound cornerback Jeremiah Hendy.

Senior Jordan Maslanik returns to play quarterback after throwing for 1,076 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, while senior running back James Holley and senior receiver Jeremiah Hendy give the offense plenty of options. Hendy, who has verbally committed to the University of Maryland, College Park, also anchors the defense from his cornerback position.

• Two Terps targets were named offensive players to watch in The Baltimore Sun's high school football preview: Owings Mills offensive lineman Donovan Smith and Gilman athlete Darius Jennings.

Rated No. 2 in the nation as an athlete by scout.com, the All-Metro first teamer set a school-record with 2,028 yards rushing last season as a quarterback. Jennings (6-0, 180 pounds) ran for 25 touchdowns and passed for 10. Among his top ten colleges: Maryland, Penn State and Ohio State.

Click on the video player below for a Baltimore Sun feature on Jennings.

 

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:02 PM | | Comments (2)
        

September 2, 2010

Calvert Hall's Adrian Amos headed to the Big East

Adrian Amos capped a big weekend on the football field with a life-altering decision, but while the Calvert Hall standout’s gridiron exploits were no secret, his college choice was mostly kept under wraps. adrian-amos-uconn.jpg

The senior safety made a key interception in Calvert Hall’s season-opening, 24-7 win over St. John’s (D.C.) on Saturday. Amos followed that up with some quality family time and a phone call Sunday night offering his commitment to Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.

“He said congratulations and that he looked forward to coaching me,” said Amos, who picked the Huskies over offers from Temple and West Virginia.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Amos informed Cardinals coach Donald Davis of his intention to commit to UConn on Saturday. Talking the choice over with his family Sunday clinched his choice. But after making the call to Edsall, Amos went about his business without telling too many others about his pledge to UConn.

“I was just trying to focus on my season. I wasn’t really worried about getting it out there,” Amos said. “I didn’t really worry about having articles or anything. I was just trying to focus on the season this year because it’s real important that we win the championship this year.”

Davis wasn’t surprised that Amos took an under-the-radar approach to his recruitment. A humble person off the field and a physical player on it, Amos – for as long as Davis has known him – has always preferred to let his game do the talking.

“He kind of wanted to shy away from the fanfare of the whole thing. He wanted to make a decision and go from there,” Davis said. “... I think [UConn was] the clear-cut favorite, but I wasn’t sure when or where [the commitment] would happen. We met a couple days ago and looked at the pros and cons. And I talked to him about what else might be out there, what possibilities there were and what scenarios there would be if he waited versus if he committed early. And so he sat down with his family, which is really the most important thing. They came to a decision and they made a decision. So I’m happy for him.”

Davis first saw Amos when he was a 5-foot-4, 145-pound middle-school quarterback in the Overlea youth program. Davis thought he found his quarterback of the future, but instead landed a versatile defensive back and leader by example. The Cardinals coach isn’t sure of UConn’s immediate plans for Amos, but he does think it’s a good fit for his talents.

“What I do know is he’ll go out there and compete early on, and really for me, it’s about getting our guys to a college where they have the opportunity to show their talent and get a great education,” Davis said. “Those things are all positive, redshirt or not. So I’m just excited about the opportunity for him to further his education and do something that really can kind of change the framework of his family. That’s really a bigger piece for me. The fact that he can further his football career is just an added bonus.”

Amos, who played against Huskies quarterback Leon Kinnard when he was at Loyola, admitted that UConn held a special place in his heart from the start. With that in mind, making his commitment Sunday was a bit of a relief.

“The whole time I was really thinking that I was going to go to UConn anyway,” Amos said. “But it’s kind of a weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to keep hearing those questions -- Where am I going? When am I making my decision? -- so it’s a weight off my shoulders."

Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / Oct. 31, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Q&A with Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell

Fang Mitchell admits he has his work cut out for him this season.

The longtime Eagles coach, who has guided Coppin to four NCAA tournament appearances, suffered through an 8-22 season last year. Now just four players remain from Coppin’s 2009-10 roster: sophomore power forward Branden Doughty, senior point guard Vince Goldsberry, junior shooting guard Michael Harper and senior center Ceslovas Kucinskas (Mount Carmel). fang-mitchell-coppin-2010.jpg

The exodus of Eagles did allow Mitchell to remake his roster, adding eight scholarship players. The newcomers on Coppin’s roster are Tony Gallo, a 6-foot, 190-pound guard from Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., Akeem Ellis, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward from Herkimer (N.Y.) Community College, Michael Simpson, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound forward from Winslow Township, N.J., Michael Murray, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound guard from Edison Academy (N.J.), Collin Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard from Edison Academy (N.J.), Logan Wiens, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Merced (Calif.) College, Osman Olol, a 6-foot-9 center from Monroe (N.Y.) Community College and Antonio Williams, a 6-foot-6 forward from Monroe (N.Y.) Community College.

Mitchell spoke to Recruiting Report last week about Coppin’s 2010 recruiting class.

Gallo had great career at Cabrillo, scoring more than 1,000 points in two seasons, including 38 in his final game. Are you counting on him for some scoring punch?

Well we’re looking to him for a multitude of things. When we had an opportunity to see him, we recognized that he had the ability to score, but also he was a tremendous point guard and showed a lot of leadership qualities. We struggled a little bit last year at the point. We didn’t have enough depth and we also needed someone to take control. I think this year he’ll be one that will give Vince Goldsberry a fight for that spot. We wanted to create some situations where they battle [for a starting spot] more.

Ellis was the conference player of the year as a sophomore and had other DI options. What’s your take on his game and how he fits in with Coppin?

Put it this way – he was a first-team All-American. He was on the [national junior college] all-tournament team and he scored 24 points in the all-star game against Division II and Division III [JUCO competition]. So I think we captured a very, very good one. He played basically five spots, from the point guard to the 5-man. He can score, he can rebound, and above all he showed a tremendous amount of leadership. Based on the immaturity that we might have had in the past, I think that becomes very important to me. The fact that he has leadership qualities [is huge]. So he’ll bring scoring to the table, and we had a tremendous need for scoring after last year. And I addressed that in recruiting. We addressed rebounding and scoring.

Simpson was a guy you discovered in April at an all-star game in New Jersey. What caught your eye with him and what does he bring to the table?

Well, he was just so athletic. [Athleticism] was another area we were looking to improve. Simpson is a very athletic guard. He brings some size to the table. He can play the 2 or the 3. We were looking to improve our size last year. He can shoot the ball from 3 as well as take it to the basket. We felt very fortunate to be able to get him right out of high school because he was one of the top players in New Jersey.

You landed two big guards from Edison Academy in Murray and Johnson. Are they similar prospects, and how did they fare this past year?

Well I think Murray’s about 215, 220 and stronger. He can shoot the 3 and take it to the basket. I really feel like the best years are ahead of him. He understands the game and will rebound and play defense. He brings a lot of things to the table. And he’s a really good student-athlete. I’m very happy with him, also.

Collin is more of a 3-man, but they had him play the 4 spot last year. He was a real good rebounder in high school at Timber Creek. He can shoot the 3. We’re going to look, more or less, to bring him along more at the 3 spot than looking at him playing the 4. He’s a very basketball-savvy type. He definitely understands the game.

Olol looks like a big man with potential. What do you see from him?

He led Monroe in blocked shots last year, so I look for him to be able to do that. And his shot was somewhere between 35 and 38 percent from 3-point range. So he can score from the outside. We’re looking to develop him into a complete player. He does have potential. He’s athletic. We were basically looking to get more athletic, and he filled the bill in order for us to try and turn things around. And he came from a school where he played two years. Winning is very important to me. That team was ranked No. 1 going into the [national] tournament. We definitely need people like him who look at winning as being important, just like Ellis, whose team was ranked No. 3 going into the tournament. These types of players will help turn our situation around.

Williams is another big guy from Monroe who fared well as a sophomore. Talk about his game.

Well again, we needed some help inside. He played inside and is strong inside. He has a variety of moves inside and he can rebound with the best of them. He led the team in rebounds at 11 a game. We definitely need someone like that. What he also brings is that leadership quality. We definitely need people who are going to be leaders and understand what it’s all about. Antonio was an all-region player on the first team.

How have you been so successful in landing guys from Monroe?

Well, I’m originally from junior college. And they were well aware of what we’ve done at Coppin, and they had some respect for our program. So we’ve been very fortunate to get players of that type, especially when you’re talking about a junior college that plays at the national level. Coach [Jerry] Burns is one of the premier junior college coaches in the country. He’s done a tremendous job. And I love getting players from him because they understand the game.

What does Wiens bring to the table and where did you discover him?

Wiens is from Merced College in Merced, Calif. He’s 6-7 and he can shoot the basketball with the best of them. He’s great from 3-point range. He needs to work a little more on his rebounding. But he’ll bring the ability to stretch the floor for our team. He averaged basically 11 points each year and shot somewhere in the area of 39 percent last year and 36 percent on 3-pointers this year. I love shooters, and he brings that to the table. And we’re just really looking to get better on the offensive end and have players who can put the ball in the basket.

Which of these guys are you counting on to be part of the rotation?

Well I would hope all of them could come in and give me some work right off the bat. But I understand that some of the guys are more experienced. You can never take away from the fact that guys have played on the national level and played in the national tournament. When you have guys that have that experience – Ellis being one of those guys, plus Olol and Antonio Williams – of being in the spotlight of the national tournament, occasionally you would look to those types of guys to step up first because they know what this is all about. I know I need some leadership and need some people that will make winning contagious to all our younger guys that we have. I’m looking for some of those guys to step up and set an example that we’ll be able to follow. People like Gallo, who’s experienced some success and had some prestigious honors, he’s going to step in and show that leadership quality that we need.

Adding eight new guys is essentially a wholesale transformation of the roster. How will you handle that situation?

It is a situation that I know I’m going to have to worry about in chemistry with the old guys and the new guys and finding the right mix. But it still should be all about winning – winning in the classroom as well as on the basketball floor. If their mindset is there, then this transition won’t be that difficult. It’s up to me to be [in control] of what we’re supposed to do. We’ve had some difficulties in the past, some disciplinary problems. But we’re going to address these things and get young people to understand what this is all about and how we can be successful, on and off the floor. It takes some time, but as long as I can get it done by March, it’ll be good.

Looking back, why didn’t it work out with some of those guys?

We did lose quite a few student-athletes last year for various reasons. I’m old school. Academics have always been the No. 1 priority with me dealing with young people. And respect is another thing that has always been a priority to me. We know we had to address some academic issues. There was a lack of support from the director of athletics. We had kids that were one [season at Coppin] and done. They didn’t get it done the first time. But we’re moving on from that. Hopefully we don’t have as much turnover this year. But it’s a learning experience this year. I’m trying to do the best we can to get these kids on the right path. My major problem last year was that some kids, they were just disrespectful at times, and I’m not going to tolerate that. I’ve been at this for a long time, and I’m just not going to tolerate that. Hopefully those things can change and those things can be fixed. I’m not going to give up on my guys.

Baltimore Sun photo / Feb. 12, 2005

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:41 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 1, 2010

John Carroll hoops team ready for BCL play

Tony Martin will be back in a familiar setting this season. malcolm-mcmillan-john-carro.jpg

The John Carroll boys basketball coach -- formerly Archbishop Spalding’s head coach and an assistant at Mount St. Joseph and Cardinal Gibbons -- will lead the Patriots in their inaugural season in the Baltimore Catholic League.

“The Baltimore Catholic League and the John Carroll School both represent excellence. We are honored and excited to be a member,” Martin said. “I have great respect for the Catholic League. That’s where I cut my teeth as a 22-year-old coach under arguably one of the greatest coaches in Maryland history in Ray Mullis at Cardinal Gibbons. From there, I had the chance to coach several years in the Catholic League. It’s something that John Carroll is excited to be a part of.”

Leading the way this season for John Carroll will be Malcolm McMillan, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior point guard. McMillan, who played this summer for Crusader Nation on the AAU circuit, averaged 16 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals for the Patriots as a junior.

“Malcolm is continuing to get better every year," Martin said. "This summer, I think he caught a lot of coaches’ attention with his competitiveness, his toughness and his physicality. I think he’s slowly matured into a terrific lead guard at the high school level. I’m very excited to see what his senior year brings.”

Martin said American, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Bucknell, Central Connecticut, Cornell, Drexel, East Carolina, George Mason, Holy Cross, Lehigh, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Niagara, Old Dominion, South Florida, Towson and Wagner have been involved with McMillan.

“He’s going to sign early and he feels very comfortable with the list of schools now,” Martin said. “A lot of schools are coming in for workouts, so somebody else could jump right into the mix. But I think he feels very good about those schools.”

In the Patriots’ frontcourt, forward Jarred Jones is finally healthy after dealing with finger, knee and shin injuries over the past couple years. Martin said Jones, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound junior, has received interest from Albany, Clemson, Delaware, Georgia Tech, Holy Cross, Navy, Oregon State, Washington, Richmond, St. Francis (Pa.) and Xavier.

“He looked terrific this summer, and you can just tell he’s getting bigger and stronger and more comfortable coming off his injury,” Martin said of Jones, who played for Nike Baltimore Elite this summer. “I expect him to have a terrific year. A lot of high-majors are starting to show interest. With two years to go, he’s in a good spot to achieve his dream after some devastating setbacks.”

Ronald Scott, a 5-foot-11 combo guard, should also provide some scoring punch for the Patriots. As a junior, Scott averaged 16 points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range.

A former Towson Catholic player, Scott suited up this summer for Nike Baltimore Elite and is hearing from several Division II programs, including Wheeling Jesuit in West Virginia and Pfeiffer University in North Carolina.

“Ronald’s a winner, a gamer and he just puts the ball in the basket,” Martin said. “I love his passion for the game and I expect him to have an excellent year.”

There’s plenty of young talent on the Patriots’ roster as well. Martin expects contributions from sophomore forwards Mike and Christian Owona. Freshman point guard Kamau Stokes is another one to watch down the road.

With a nice mix of veteran leadership and young talent, Martin's optimistic about John Carroll's future.

“The thing is, we’ve finished in fourth place the last three years and made the [MIAA A Conference] semifinals all three years,” Martin said. “We’ve been in an identical spot, which is a great accomplishment from where we came. But we’re looking to take the next step up and looking to compete with the top three teams in the league.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Malcolm McMillan by Kenneth K. Lam / Feb. 8, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:09 PM | | Comments (0)
        
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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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