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February 22, 2011

Greg Whittington has plenty of options

The calls to Jon Browne's cell phone started last summer. At first, it was mostly mid-major Division I programs calling to express interest in Greg Whittington, the Oakland Mills coach's star player.

Then came a trip with HCYP Elite in late July to the AAU Nationals in Orlando, where Whittington powered his rec-center squad to a stunning third-place finish.

“After Orlando, it was just the beginning,” Browne said. The phone “just never stopped ringing.”

Seven months later, the recruitment of Whittington has reached another level. The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward now has his pick of high-major offers.

“If you haven’t heard of him by now, you haven’t been doing your homework,” Browne said. “He’s national now. Washington, we’ve been in touch a couple times. Texas came to a practice, [and] Texas should be back this week. Maryland, daily contact with them. Georgetown is in daily contact with me. Clemson, daily contact. DePaul is very involved. They come out a lot, talk to me daily. These are teams that really want him. So we’re just waiting until the end of the season to take some trips, get on campus and meet teammates.”

Whittington came to Oakland Mills in the fall of 2007 as a 6-4 guard slotted for the junior varsity. Browne called Whittington up to the varsity for the final six games of the year, and the freshman ended up starting the final four contests of the year, including a first-round playoff loss to Central. While he didn’t score much that year, Whittington impressed Browne with his skill and potential.

“He could do things that other guards couldn’t,” Browne said. “He could shoot, handle the ball. I didn’t know he was going to turn into the freak he is now, but I knew he was going to be special in terms of Howard County. We started to see that as a sophomore. The scoring wasn’t there as a sophomore – not even 200 points all year. But certainly, he started to develop. He was a great rebounder, shot blocker, defender, and he was quick, too. So he did a really good job for us.”

Whittington grew out of the guard position heading into his junior year, but kept those perimeter skills and put them to good use on the block and on the wing. He was a first-team All-Howard County selection, finishing in the Top 10 in the league in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Whittington was a “double-double [threat] every night,” Browne said. “He dominated players last year. He just took off in the playoffs. [I thought] ‘Wow, this kid is going to be special next year.’”

All season long, Whittington has proven his coach’s predictions right. Whittington averages 24.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 3 steals and 2.8 assists for the the No. 4 Scorpions (22-0), who play in the District V championship game against Broadneck at Mount Hebron on Wednesday night before starting their Class 2A state playoff run at home Monday against the Central-Patuxent winner.

“He can play with anybody,” Browne said. “Some coaches think this kid has more upside than anyone in the country. He can jump out of the gym, he’s long at 6-9, can shoot the 3, he blocks shots, and he runs like a gazelle. There’s nothing he can’t do. He’s got great vision in finding the open guy. It got to the point where Nike came out and looked at him at one of our games. And the Nike scout said he was five stars in all categories.”

Whittington’s emergence as a national recruit has coincided with his improvement in the classroom. Before his senior year, it looked like Whittington could be bound for prep school. Browne had a conversation with Whittington before the school year began, telling the senior that he needed straight Bs in his core courses to meet NCAA qualifying standards.

“And he said, ‘Coach, I can do it. I can get straight Bs,’” Browne said. “And he got all As and one B first quarter, and all As and one B last quarter. He’s getting straight As, which has really changed his numbers. He’s going to hopefully end up with a 2.6 [grade-point average], which puts him, with his SAT score, it makes him eligible right now. That opens the doors. He’s really worked hard as a student this year. It’s a maturation process for him, and he’s come a long way. We at times still struggle with his maturity on the court. But he’s just come so far. I have such a good relationship with him, that at the end of the day, I know he’ll be fine.”

On the recruiting front, Clemson, DePaul, Georgetown, Maryland and Texas have been the most persistent in the pursuit of Whittington. Browne and Whittington have been to games at Maryland and Georgetown, and they intend to visit the other three schools after the conclusion of Oakland Mills’ season. Browne said Maryland has “shown the most love out of everybody.”

“We talk to [Terps assistant] coach Bino [Ranson] more than any coach,” Browne said. “He’s been more proactive in the recruitment than anybody. He’s been to a lot of games, talked to us a lot of times and been with us. I haven’t had any conversations with Gary [Williams], though. I’ve been told that’s not what he does, that it’s his style. I just don’t understand it. We’ve talked to every other head coach.

“[DePaul coach] Oliver Purnell was in our gym last week. [Georgetown coach] John Thompson came and watched our game last week. So I think those schools have a tremendous chance. Clemson was one of the first schools – they were coming up before the season started. We’re definitely going to take an official down there once the season’s over to see if he likes it. They’re very intriguing with the way they play. It was very interesting seeing their statistics on how many shots the big men are getting beyond the arc.”

For now, Whittington is completely focused on leading Oakland Mills to a state championship. After the season, he will turn his attention to picking a school. At the moment, Browne thinks all five schools are on a relatively level playing field in Whittington’s mind. While his senior season is nearing its final stage, Whittington’s recruitment is just getting started.

“The local schools have just as much of a chance as anybody, if not more so,” Browne said. “At the end of the day, Texas is very intriguing, especially right now. … [But] he just turned 18 last week. The wind changes directions [as much as] he changes his mind.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:47 AM | | Comments (42)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Comments

Hey...Gary...you wonder why people get mad at your recruiting abilities? Yeah, it's not your style to talk to a recruit. Great.

It is just unacceptable that Gary Williams can't call this guy and have a conversation with him. Other coaches are flying in to see this kid and Gary can't be bothered to talk to him? WTF?

6'9" shot blocker who can play on the wing sounds like the perfect fit for next season's Terps. Williams should be the one calling this kid every day. It's clear that it will make a difference.

This ridiculous act is getting stale. Especially when the Terps are struggling on the court with lesser athletes than the rest of the conference.

Bino, Bino, Bino - love this guy.
Hey Whit, you want playing time right from the get-go? Look at Maryland's roster, its yours for the taking.
You have a chance to show Duke and NC how we play ball up here!
Look what Gary has done with Jordan Williams- you and he together next year with Faust and Stoglin equals final four brother.
PLUS all your friends and family get to watch you make Maryland important again.
See yu at Comcast next year!!!

Wow, if this kid is as good as advertised, a big man w/the mindset and ability of a guard, he would fit perfectly in our offense at the 4.... JW/Whitt/Faust/Stoglin/Peshon....come on, that would be awesome, we'd have some rookie mistakes, but damn they would be exciting to watch...
NOW COME ON GARY..... Show the guy a little love and he's yours... and then we wont be sayin another local kid left....

Gary,

It's not a big deal for you to go out and watch him playing.
Please do so!

CHK

I'm not going to bash Gary on this one. I'm sure this is a good kid who has a bright future, but he is a two-star prospect. He's lucky to have a coach who is promoting him so hard, but I would be very surprised to see him in a BCS conference next year. I'm sure he will do well at a mid-major

One HoCo to another: GO HOYAS!!!!

Sounds like Gary Williams needs to take a 30 minute drive up Interstate 95 and he'll possibly have his first big man in his 2011 recruiting class.

I can understand it; if gets stuck in traffic, it would take him 30 minutes to get over to the Oakland Mills gym

I am a gary supporter, but this article makes my blood boil! Not even a telephone call from Gary!
Gary is a great coach, but part of the job is recruiting. Gary is not doing his job.
I don't know how true it is, but I had heard that Gary never even met Stoglin until after he had accepted his scholarship. I had doubed that story, but reading this about Whittington, really makes you wonder. Bino is doing his jog, but Gary needs to pitch in.

Its fine, We need to get Bruenig first. Maybe If we getting Whittington first, Bruenig might look else where.
And I would much rather have bruenig.

I do think Whittington is a sleeper though

Hope Gary stays in College Park because Texas loves Maryland talent; can you say Kevin Durant. Hope Kevin gets involved to bring this kid to Austin. Maryland Native/TexasEx

Great coaches recruit great players. Gary isn't a great coach!

If you see the video of this kid, he is not very active on the glass. I think the German kid is definitely better.

Have any of you think that the coaching staff has decided not to concentrate on this kid first.

Can I say Kevin Durant? Yes - one and done. I don't want these players on the Terps. What did Durant do for Texas anyway? National Championship? No. Can you say Texas Men's Basketball National Championship? I can. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Never.

I'm not sure I understand the negative comments. What's the big deal about GW not calling this kid (if that's true)? What's the big deal about GW not visiting (if that's true)? We know that GW goes to see recruits. That's been documented, but we also know he picks and chooses which recruits he actually goes to see. I don't have any problems with that approach.

It sort of defeats the purpose if he's constantly traveling around visiting these kids. That's what the assistants are supposed to be doing.

The GW can't recruit stuff is old. Obviously he can. He doesn't bring in superstars on a consistent basis and I'm glad he doesn't. Most of them don't stay or have issues that MD does not want. Run a clean program with quality kids and win games. All in that order. If anybody wants a different order, then there are plenty of other teams for them to cheer for.

Fear the turtle!

P.S. I think it's great that this kid has managed to raise his GPA over the last year or so. That does show the dedication and drive that GW usually likes in his players. Even if he doesn't end up at MD, I wish this kid all the best. Sounds like he wants to do the right thing and that should be applauded.

DarNel: "Great coaches recruit great players. Gary isn't a great coach!"

Uhh, DarNel - I think it goes - great coaches win more than they lose in their conference, consistently win, make Sweet 16 appearances in the tourney, maybe make 1 FF, and hopefully win a Natty, and put players in pro ball by developing their abilities, and develop skills they can use in life...

Great recruiters recruit great players - doesn't mean they're a great coach - actually, they sohuld be expected to win at a very high level all the time if they are great recruiters, right?

Quick Question - how many offers does Whittington have in hand right now? The proof is in the pudding. I'm not saying he's a good or bad recruit, but there's no guarantee any school will offer. Schollies must be doled out wisely, they're not giving out candy. Coaches can come visit, but much like looking at new cars, we don't buy every single one of them - there are limitations!

Terptek - All you did was describe a good coach that get's lucky. That's not a great coach! Kids grow up dreaming about playing for great coaches. Name me one blue chip kid that dreams of playing for Gary. Just ONE!

As someone who lives in HoCo and has seen him play multiple times,I can attest to 2 things . 1) He has multiple offers in hand including G-Town,Texas,Clemson and DePaul and 2) he will start at the 2 guard next year at Georgetown. I really hoped that he would go to Maryland like (Greg Lewis) but their recruiting has simply been too little too late.

Matt-

Tell me that doesn't sum it up? ANyone that defends Gary at this point is fooling themselves.

All of the speculation about his arrogance, when it comes to not even TALKING to recruits, should be put to bed by now.
He DOES NOT do it.
And we fans, and the university have to suffer for it.
That coach in that quote, is agitated and you can almost hear it without audio.
"I don't understand it".

What a joke. I would bet anything, that MD loses out on 2 of 3 at LEAST. Maybe even all 3.

I bet they lose out on Justin Anderson too.
It's not kissing these kids butts. They just want what EVERY OTHER head coach does. Just TALK to them.

DarNel: You are trying to employ circular logic. Read what I wrote carefully - great coaches do not necessarily recruit great players (i.e., 5 star recruits). Great recruiting coaches do...they all do not produce great teams, nor great records...Ask Tobias Harris if he's been happy playing down in Tenn. this year - his comments point to a resounding NO... the young men are persuaded by good fast talkers who promise greatness, and do not necessarily deliver. My point would be Gary is what he is (Successful) and does what he does best - coaches young men who generally fit his personality style and type of play that he looks for in a very good player.

I do not, and Gary has not needed kids who dream of playing for Gary. He wants guys who dream of playing for the Terps in what is usually the best (one of the best) conferences in the land year in, year out, and who wants a good shot at becoming a solid pro basketball player if they are good enough and willing enough to work hard on their game.

And if you think the guys dream of playing for a great coach, you're kidding. They're trying to have the best chance at the pros. The smart ones realize Gary is in the top 5 of that list the past 15 years. Look it up. Kids are going to Caoch Cal to become rent-a-players because they know his sytem suits guards playing in the pros. Or is it that because he is drawing such talent, they are going to the pros anyway?

And by the way, I'm not so sure Cal is a great coach - he's very good... but he didn't look too good coaching the Nets! And do great coaches vacate Final Fours left and right? Gary will reach 750 wins minimum and be inducted into the Hall of Fame, so get some perspective on what the heck you're talking about. Sidney Lowe recruited great players this past year. Is he therefore a great coach? Come on, figure it out...

Yo Gary......DO YOUR JOB.

Isnt Whittington the type of recruit that most of these posters bash Gary for going after? He isnt a 5-star recruit! But now everyone is saying Gary isnt going hard enough after a non-blue chipper. I like Whittington's potential, and these are the ones Gary does well with. I can see some of the same posters critiize Gary if Whittington does go to Maryland because Whittington isnt ranked high enough.

all i know is maryland needs to sign some quality big men or they are going to be playing in a 6-5 and under league soon.

@lefty, please stop using this site to spread rumors and innuendo. There is absolutely no third-party verification, or objective source saying he has received a formal offer from a BCS Conf school. The recruiting process is a multi-layered one where lots of schools may watch film, send feelers to gauge a student's interest, make requests for visits, transcripts, etc., and none of this means definitively that a formal scholarship offer is forthcomming. Many schools will go through the process with as many as 12 players, and only offer scholarships to 4 or five, expecting only 2 or 3 to accept.
What is screwing up high school sports for everyone is the constant pressure that is put on kids today based on the rumors of who is offering who, what. Right now, in Howard County alone, there are dozens of kids who claim to have been offered basketball scholarships. Yet, without fail, no more than 5 players in the entire metro area (public and private) will get full rides to play D1 ball. We've all seen the tragic stories of young men pressured to stage phony signing ceremonies because the rumors became so prevalent, the kids were afraid to back out. And the same is true for non-athelets. Every kid who takes the SAT suddenly finds themself in a mountain of college brochures, and sure enough, a few kids interpret that as an offer of admission, and go telling everyone at school, only adding to everyone's senior year stress.
People need to take high school sports for what it is; An opportunity for young men and women to challenge themselves mentally and physically and gain discipline. Very, very few are able to obtain scholarships to continue at the next level. We should all let Mr Whittington enjoy his senior year, and find a school that will best meet his needs.

Sounds like Terrence Morris to me. We could certainly use another one of him.

Terptek, "And if you think the guys dream of playing for a great coach, you're kidding. They're trying to have the best chance at the pros. The smart ones realize Gary is in the top 5 of that list the past 15 years. Look it up"

WTF? Here's the Top 5 sending kids to the NBA. Howland, Izzo, Calhoun, K and Williams as in Roy Williams. You were right about one thing, Gary sends them to the Pros, the Pro's over in Europe

I mentioned the following in a recent post: one of Gary's Assistants (no longer here) from recent times told me that he would chase recruits and Gary would ABSOLUTELY NOT come in for "the close". Refused to meet with prospective recruits.

Whittington sounds like a good, potentially very good prospect; however, I could care less about him in particular. There is a REAL fundamental problem here. I imagine being 66 yrs old and having to suck up to an 18 yr old may not be great fun. With tht said, all coaches, including Coack K, do it. It's waht they call: part of the job! All of us do things in our jobs that are not great fun, but if its required... we do it!!!

Perhaps $2 Large is too much of a comfort zone. I say Gary needs to make one last push and get out and do what is necessary. If he doesn't want to it' a free world - go

This makes me so mad.

Gary is stubborn and stupid.

They got the German kid. End of the story.

P.S. Ryan - wrong again.

If Jordan W and the two freshmen are all more than people expected, then Gary knows something still at this day about recruit.

I go to greg's school and i've heard from some players on the team that gary williams was at their practice today (2/24) so it seems that he is doing a bit of active recruiting

gary came to gregs practice.. but da other kid commited. anyway kanas contacted om.. im jus saying.
greg has the potential 2b great and everyone knows it.

I have it on good authority that Gary has visited with Whittington and his family at their home. I am so tired of this crap from people who do not know what they are talking about. So the kid's coach hasn't talked to Gary, so what. His poor little ego!

Thank you majack. These know it alls like Darnel and Ryan really are beyond comical. They believe only what they want to hear and clearly have not watched many college basketball GAMES in their lifetime. All these people want to do is look at recruiting and who is rated the highest and then spout their mouth off like they are the experts.

I am a Terp grad and fan. I think Gary has done an excellent job and is certainly Hall of Fame quality. On one hand it is a great thing that we can have heated discussions in this country, but on the other hand, it is appalling to hear those that are not knowledgeable of which they speak. We are fortunate to have such a quality coach and program. Whittington sounds like a great young man. He would look very, very good as a bookend to Bruenig with JW in the center. We can only wish him the best no matter what he decides. Go Terps. Beat North Carolina!

GET OFF GARY FOR THIS!!!! I know for more than a fact that a) Coach Williams has seen Whittington play within the last few months and b) he's not that good. This is not another Terrence Morris or Malcolm Delaney IN ANY WAY. Whittington has skill and some athleticism, but not enough for regular minutes in the ACC AT ALL. Being moved from jv to varsity in Howard County hoops does not necessarily portend greatness at any level. See before you speak (post)

Gary is not beyond criticism, but for this he deserves none

DarNel: Try looking at facts in stats instead of making up stats. Izzo coaches up players more than you realize.

Here, I'll help you. Go to basketball-reference website and look up the totals from Gary's tenure at UMD. so, from 1990 on, GW has 16 players get drafted in the NBA. Bottom line is Gary's in very good company. And oh, check out the rest of the ACC while he's been @ UMD...

Puke - 25
Pukon - 21
Mich St. - 15
(Pitt ('00-'03)/UCLA ('04-present) (Howland - 14))UCLA total - 27
UNC - 24
Kentucky - 19
Kansas - 22
Arizona - 27
Georgetown - 13
Syracuse - 16
Florida - 13
U of Texas - 15

ACC:
VA Tech - 1
Clemson - 7
BC - 7
GA Tech - 19
NC St - 9
FSU - 10
UVA - 5

FYI MD Fans,

I spoke with Coach Williams yesterday, he told me that there was a scholarship waiting for Greg should he decide to attend Maryland next fall.

Coach Browne
Oakland Mills High School

Terptek, Each time I point out your error you come back with a different "qualifier". So now instead of the past "15 years" you're going back five more to 1990! Getting drafted in the second round only to be in the league 2 years or not at all (See Morris/Baxter/Strawberry/McCray/Gist) is making it? Hell even the stats you posted speak for themselves. Gary sends more players to the Euro League than the NBA. Izzo, R. Williams, K, Howland, Calhoun players PLAY in the NBA not just get drafted in the 2nd round to later find themselves catching a flight to Turkey. You Moron.

Committed to Gtown tonight.

c

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About Matt Bracken

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

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