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May 31, 2011

College football spotlight: UAB's Jonathan Perry

jonathan-perry-uab.jpg Patience has been a virtue for Jonathan Perry throughout the first two years of his college football career.

The former Dunbar quarterback redshirted as a freshman and got acclimated to life at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Then last fall, Perry broke his collarbone in camp and missed the entire season.

Heading into year three, however, Perry seems primed to make an impact. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound redshirt sophomore – the fifth-string signal caller one year ago – finished spring practice as the Blazers’ backup quarterback.

“I think I said [before beginning college that] between the second and third year I [wanted to] be in a position where I can be the guy and quarterback the offense. I feel like I’m not there yet, but I feel like I’m on my way,” Perry said. “I’ve got a lot more to work on, a lot more to do. I feel like the goal I have is definitely reachable right now.”

Perry was a late addition to UAB’s 2009 recruiting class, having earned a qualifying SAT score late in his senior year and subsequently signing with the Blazers that May.

As a freshman, Perry watched from the sideline as UAB starter Joe Webb – now with the Minnesota Vikings – threw for 2,299 yards and rushed for 1,427. Learning from Webb proved to a beneficial experience for Perry – and evidence that UAB’s offense was well suited for him.

“I would say [the offense is a] mixture of both passing and spread offenses, but we have some designed runs – not as much as when we had Joe Webb,” Perry said. “With the athleticism that I have [and] getting stronger and faster, as the No. 2 guy I would do a lot of those things offensively as far as running the ball, keeping teams off balance.”

Perry’s injury last year was a disappointment, but it did force the former Poets star to spend more time learning the intricacies of the Blazers’ system. The change in approach and preparation from high school to college was drastic.

“Everything is a lot quicker,” Perry said. “You don’t have enough time to think. Going from a pro-style offense to a spread, a lot of things are a lot quicker. You’re basically getting in the film room and studying, just spending as much time in the film room … going through progressions, check downs, getting the ball out and throwing it away, stuff like that. I learned a lot.”

Perry -- who competed with junior Joe Bento for the right to back up senior Bryan Ellis -- had a breakout spring game. He was 22-for-33 for 235 yards passing and two touchdowns.

“Coming back in the spring [100 percent healthy], I bounced back and felt like I showed myself a lot,” Perry said. “Coming into the season as a backup, I feel like the coaching staff at some point in time, it’s going to be my show. I’m just preparing for my time whenever it is.”

Perry was back in Baltimore for most of this month, but was scheduled to return to Birmingham today, where he will remain all summer. While he misses his family being so far away from home, he’s hopeful that his next trip back won’t be until January – after a bowl game. Until then, Perry remains focused on the task at hand.

“My goal is to stay ready for when my number is called, to also continue to get better and learn from the guy in front of me, and to continue to get better as a quarterback,” Perry said. “When my number is called, [I want to] just execute and play smart and do what I’ve been doing all my life and not miss a beat when they put me on the field. I won’t let my team down.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Jonathan Perry by Kenneth K. Lam / Dec. 12, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:16 PM | | Comments (0)

May 27, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

By switching his commitment from Maryland to Virginia this week, Montrose Christian small forward Justin Anderson left the Terps' 2012 recruiting class with a gaping hole at small forward.

The Terps coaching staff, however, wasn't caught flat-footed by Anderson's decision. The Washington Post's Josh Barr wrote Thursday that Maryland could "intensify its effort to recruit" Episcopal (Va.) forward Arnaud Adala Moto.

“I think that there is a lot of people in the area who believe that since Anderson is heading to Virginia, that Arnaud might be a natural wing player Maryland might go after,” Episcopal Coach Jim Fitzpatrick said. "But the impression I get from Coach [Mark] Turgeon and his staff is that they are not going to move hastily. I think Coach Turgeon needs to see him with his own eyes in the July recruiting period. I guess they’re going to have interest, but how strong that interest is remains to be seen.”

• The Terps are involved -- and reportedly in good position -- with Pearl (Miss.) forward Twymond Howard, according to

Howard is also a top-notch receiver on the gridiron and will have to possibly choose between the two sports when he gets to college. Howard didn't play football as a junior and is said to favor hoops over football. However, Howard did participate in spring drills at Pearl and is starting to get a lot of attention in both sports. In basketball, Howard is said to really like Georgetown and Maryland.

Jordan Goodman, a D.C. Assault forward attending Arlington (Fla.) Country Day, withdrew his commitment to Rutgers this week.

[Goodman] said he’s still considering Rutgers, as well as Arizona and Maryland, which recently hired Dalonte Hill as an assistant under new coach Mark Turgeon.

“I wanted to open up my options, see what’s going on for next year,” Jordan said. “Maryland will be one of our options as of right now. They’re not a top right now, but they’re still on the radar.”

• had an update this week on Brewster (N.H.) Academy center and Terps target Mitch McGary.

The 255-pounder had offers from Purdue, Indiana, Marquette, Miami and Cincinnati prior to his arrival at Brewster. Now, McGary says he's wide open and lists Arizona, Texas, Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Florida State, UConn, Louisville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Kentucky and Kansas.

• The Maryland women's program landed a commitment this week from Xavier transfer Katie Rutan, a 5-foot-8 shooting guard.

Combining her freshman and sophomore seasons, she shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line at Xavier. She averaged nearly 8.0 points per game as a Musketeer and was an Atlantic-10 All-Rookie Team selection as a freshman.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:45 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

May 26, 2011

Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore makes his choice

isaiah-philmore-xavier.jpg In two years with the Towson men's basketball team, Isaiah Philmore lived through 47 losses and just 14 wins. So when the John Carroll graduate decided to transfer after his sophomore season, playing for a winner was priority No. 1 for him in selecting a new program.

“He’s won everywhere he’s been. He won in high school, he won at the AAU level, he won at camps,” said Delaware Team Takeover president Duane Coverdale, Philmore’s AAU coach. “That’s not taking anything away from Towson. He had a lot of individual success at Towson. Towson made a strong commitment to him, but at the end of the day, that was his first taste of losing.”

Philmore earlier this month narrowed his list of schools to Dayton, Delaware State and Xavier. On Wednesday night, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward committed to the Musketeers – participants in nine of the past 10 NCAA tournaments.

“It’s the most successful of the three [programs], playing high-major basketball in a mid-major conference,” Coverdale said. “They’ve been in the Top 25, Top 15 in the country before. They get to the NCAA tournament on a regular basis, and they not only get there, but they go pretty deep. It’s the kind of winning tradition he wants to be around."

A Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection in 2009, Philmore flourished in his second season with the Tigers, averaging better than 15 points and seven rebounds. After briefly considering sticking around for the beginning of the Pat Skerry era at Towson, Philmore announced his intention to transfer last month. He quickly became a highly sought recruit, with Coverdale fielding inquiries from a variety of high- and mid-major programs.

From the start, Xavier appeared to be in a good spot with Philmore, who had a relationship with Musketeers assistant coach Rasheen Davis dating back to a Hoop Group camp he attended in high school.

“They made a very strong … commitment to putting in the time to make him a better player, especially during his sit-out year,” Coverdale said. “Xavier’s a team that’s … probably the best year-in, year-out program in the Atlantic 10, and [he] can still have an opportunity of being a major contributor at that program.”

Philmore -- who’s finishing up the semester at Towson and will move to Cincinnati this summer -- is expected to play a combo forward role for Xavier after his redshirt year. Coverdale said the Musketeers have a definite need for someone like Philmore.

“Xavier doesn’t have anybody who can play two positions like that, can still go down low and step out on the wing and be a big wing, which is what Isaiah aspires to do,” Coverdale said. “He is definitely a need for them. It depends on how productive Isaiah is when he gets his opportunity. That will dictate his minutes and his success in the program. It’s an opportunity for him to get a lot of minutes and be very successful.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Isaiah Philmore by Kenneth K. Lam / Nov. 16, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

Justin Anderson switches commitment to Virginia

Montrose Christian small forward Justin Anderson made official today what had been rumored for weeks, switching his commitment from Maryland to Virginia.

Anderson, a five-star prospect and the No. 23 player in the 2012 class according to, revealed his decision in a news release issued today.

“The Cavaliers were always my second choice behind Maryland,” said Anderson in a statement released by Montrose Christian this morning. “Also, my family lives in Virginia. After the departure of Coach [Gary] Williams and Coach [Robert] Ehsan it just feels like the right fit.”

Anderson, who averaged 14 points for the Mustangs this year, pledged to the Terps in March. The 6-foot-7 junior was also recruited by Duke, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

On the night Williams retired, Anderson told The Baltimore Sun that he was “still committed to the University of Maryland,” but planned to “wait and see” who the school hired before making his final decision. Mustangs coach Stu Vetter said in the school’s statement that “Mark Turgeon wanted to begin recruiting him, [but] Justin and his family decided to conclude the process. We look forward to developing a relationship with the new coaching staff at the University of Maryland.”

Maryland is involved with several other highly ranked small forwards in the 2012 class, including Amile Jefferson of Philadelphia and Arnaud Moto of Episcopal High in Alexandria, Va.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:57 AM | | Comments (50)

May 25, 2011

Ex-Randallstown star Alex Jackson makes his pick

Time spent at two high schools, prep school and a junior college seemed at times like "a long road" for Alex Jackson to travel to get to a Division I program, but the 6-foot-5, 215-pound forward wouldn't have had it any other way.

On Monday, Jackson – a Frederick Community College standout – committed to Quinnipiac. The former Randallstown star was also recruited by Albany, Hartford, Morehead State, St. Peter's and Sam Houston State.

“It feels good,” Jackson said Tuesday. “I’m glad that I found a place to go that needs me and wants me, and the place to me, really, was perfect. Nice coaches, great atmosphere, great facilities, and most of all, it is a winning program. I’m just so excited right now. I really can’t wait. I wish I could leave today to go to school and get started.”

Jackson, who started his high school career at Woodlawn, first emerged as a Division I recruit at Randallstown, helping the Rams to the Class 2A state championship in 2007 and a runner-up finish in 2008. Appalachian State, Morgan State and UMBC all expressed interest in Jackson, but before graduating from Randallstown, he left town for Charlotte, N.C. to attend Evelyn Mack Academy.

While finishing up his last high school credits, Jackson played for Queen City Prep and continued to garner DI interest. Earning his diploma was no problem, but Jackson’s SAT score came up short of NCAA qualifying standards.

“I really didn’t realize that I had to go to junior college until a couple weeks before school started,” Jackson said. “I started scrambling. I called UMBC -- at that time they were recruiting me. They [recommended] Frederick. Hagerstown offered me a scholarship, but I just liked the Frederick campus. It’s a nice campus, [and it] had some basketball equipment that I thought could help me better my game.”

It didn’t take long for Jackson to make a favorable impression on FCC coach Dave Miller. In his freshman year with the Cougars, Jackson averaged 20 points and nine rebounds, earning a host of individual accolades for his play.

“He made first-team All-Maryland JUCO, made first-team All-Region XX [and] made All-NJCAA honorable mention,” Miller said. “He can make big shots, he’s a very skilled offensive player, he can rebound and he’s a good, dependable leader. We won the first Region XX tournament championship in the history of the school.”

With a dominant freshman year behind him, Jackson threw himself into workouts with an eye on an even more successful sophomore season. He also took care of business in the classroom, keeping pace with his requirements so that he could earn his associate’s degree in two years. But during the third week of practice last fall, Jackson suffered what Miller called “a nagging back injury that got progressively worse.” Jackson was relegated to a lot of rehab -- and no basketball activities -- for the entire season.

"This year was a really testing year,” Jackson said. “Not playing basketball was hard for me. When you’re not able to play basketball, that’s like my sanctuary. If there are problems at home, with school or anywhere else, on the court is where they all go away. When I was not playing with my team, it really took something from me. I really started doubting myself at times, but I just prayed to God that everything would turn out OK. My mother was there for me along with [my trainer Kevin] Bullock. They were in my corner, [and told me to] just stick with it, keep working hard and play my game.”

Miller presented Jackson with two options – use his redshirt year and return for another year at Frederick, or finish his degree and move on to a DI school with three years of eligibility remaining. Jackson -- who is now 100 percent healthy -- quickly chose the latter as his preferred course of action, and Albany and Quinnipiac emerged as his frontrunners.

Jackson took visits to both campuses and was impressed with both schools, but Quinnipiac – for a number of reasons – stuck out in his mind.

“They’re a program that has a lot of good things going for it – two 20-win seasons, [former NBA player] Scott Burrell is one of the coaches, and he’s a great guy. He can do a lot of good for me and the program,” Jackson said. “Coach [Tom] Moore had a lot to offer with his 13 years at UConn under Jim Calhoun. And I just thought looking at the situation, the strength of schedule was very good last year. The conference has risen and passed a lot of other conferences. I [liked that it] was a small school, 5,500 students. I thought I could really lock into my teachers one-on-one more instead of being in a lecture hall with 100 kids where I could easily get lost.”

At Frederick, Jackson played the 4 as a freshman but was slated to play more of a 3 position as a sophomore. Miller said the Quinnipiac coaches see him as a combo forward who can outmuscle small forwards and exploit matchups with power forwards thanks to his quickness.

“He was what they needed,” Miller said. “He doesn’t have to go there and be a perimeter player or a post player. He just has to go there and be himself, and that’s an athletic forward. ... He can shoot the basketball from the outside, and he can score very well inside. They like his maturity and the fact that he’ll be a sophomore, but a little bit older than most other sophomores. Alex knows how to play winning basketball. He’s a physical player and they really like his work ethic.”

Jackson, who’s interested in studying mass communications at Quinnipiac, has a couple more classes to finish up this summer. Until then, he’s counting the days until his three-year stint with the Bobcats begins.

“It took a lot of hard work and dedication,” Jackson said. “It didn’t come easy. I worked out every day. It was a grind, but I felt comfortable and confident that it would happen. At Quinnipiac, I’m [looking forward to] having three great years, our team winning a lot, getting my degree and making my mom happy.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 24, 2011

Dunbar grad Sean Farr makes a change

sean-farr-bccc.jpg Sean Farr's decision-making process two years ago was relatively straightforward.

Farr, a 2009 Dunbar graduate, was a two-sport star for the Poets -- a standout wide receiver for the football team, and an athletic wing on the basketball team. While basketball was Farr’s first love, it was clear that his athletic future was on the gridiron.

“I was so highly recruited for football that I wasn’t planning on playing basketball” in college, Farr said.

Much has changed for Farr since then – including his primary sport. After a year of prep school and time spent with two college football teams, Farr has retired his pads and focused his efforts on playing college basketball. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard signed a letter of intent this week to play for Baltimore City Community College.

“I fit right in with the team,” Farr said. “It’s mostly players from Baltimore. The team is gritty. Everybody gets along and everyone knows where everyone plays because we played together all the time” growing up.

Said BCCC coach Terry Maczko in a news release: “We are very excited to have Sean join our program. He has tremendous athletic talent and brings a history, toughness, and mentality of winning to our program.”

Farr, who helped the Poets to three straight Class 1A football championships, averaged 18 points and six rebounds for Dunbar’s basketball team as a senior. Farr played for the Team Melo AAU program and garnered some mid-major interest coming out of high school, but he ended up signing with Louisville’s football program.

After he came up short of NCAA Division I qualifying standards, Farr enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., and emerged as a four-star prospect and’s No. 14 prep school prospect in the country. Louisville had since made a coaching change, and Farr signed with Memphis instead.

Farr was in the midst of a redshirt season with the Tigers last fall when he said an issue arose with his SAT score. The NCAA didn’t clear him for Division I play, so the former Dunbar star was forced to transfer. He ended up at Division II California University of Pennsylvania, spending spring practice with the Vulcans.

“It’s a small town. I’m used to the city environment,” Farr said. “The football team, they’re OK. But I just didn’t feel too comfortable there.”

Farr would’ve been eligible to play this fall, but instead finished out the semester and returned home to Baltimore. Right away, he started thinking about basketball once again.

“My father passed away about a year ago,” Farr said. “His dream was to see me play basketball. He told me I’d played basketball. I wanted to try something new for me, but mostly for him.”

For the past several weeks Farr has rededicated himself to basketball, playing pickup with the likes of Aquille Carr, Josh Selby and several other local players – including BCC sophomore Carlos Smith, a Forest Park grad.

“He gave me a call and said … [I should] come to the open gym” at BCCC, Farr said.

Farr fit in well with the team and Maczko was eager to add him to the Panthers’ roster. The former Poet is happy to be focused on basketball, and hopeful that his stint at BCCC leads to a DI scholarship.

“I wish it would’ve went better with football with my SAT score,” Farr said. “But it’s a journey, so I’m just good to go with it and going to get better.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Sean Farr by Algerina Perna / Dec. 23, 2008

This blog originally had the wrong graduation year for Farr. Apologies for the error.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 23, 2011

Weekend wrap – Notes on Allen, Anderson, more

The first recruit of the Mark Turgeon era received some time in the television spotlight this weekend.

Fox 5 in Washington profiled Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian point guard Seth Allen in this video feature. The future Terp discussed his Maryland commitment, Turgeon's coaching style and much more.

Meet Seth Allen, Terps Head Coach Mark Turgeon's First Recruit:

• Daily Press (Va.) reporter David Teel spoke to Justin Anderson on Saturday, but the Montrose Christian small forward was tight-lipped about the status of his recruitment.

Is Maryland still possible?

“We haven’t really talked about it or eliminated anyone,” Anderson said.

• offered a free update Friday on Houston center Shaquille Cleare.

“[Maryland is] definitely still at the top, along with about five schools he’s narrowed it down to," [Cleare's high school coach Don Harvey said]. "Coach Turgeon just talked to him and let him know he was there, which he knew from watching the news and things. He let Shaquille know they still want him, and Shaquille let him know they’re still at the top.”

• Former Maryland forward signee Martin Breunig was scheduled to fly home to Germany on Sunday. reported that Breunig doesn't have any college visits scheduled for when he returns to the U.S.

“He’s a little confused right now,” [St. John's Northwestern Military Academy coach Brian] Richert said, “and he hasn’t really had a chance to sit down with his family [to talk about his decision]. It should be a quick decision after he does.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:41 AM | | Comments (4)

May 20, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The top commitment of Maryland's 2012 basketball recruiting class could be slipping away.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Montrose Christian small forward Justin Anderson, a five-star prospect who committed to the Terps in March, visited Virginia this week.

Anderson is believed to looking around after Maryland’s new coach Mark Turgeon opted not to retain assistant coach Rob Ehsan, who had done much of the work recruiting Anderson. Virginia had been one of Anderson’s final choices and Virginia Tech might be in the mix if, as expected, Ehsan joins the Hokies’ coaching staff.

• Former Terps signee Martin Breunig has reportedly had "little contact" with Maryland's new staff. The 6-foot-9 forward visited Washington earlier this week.

• Maryland's coaching change apparently hasn't affected Shaquille Cleare's feelings toward the program, according to InsideMdSports.

... Terps still lead for Houston center Shaquille Cleare, a blue-chipper '12 who was already a big Turgeon fan.

• After committing to Maryland last weekend, Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian point guard Seth Allen decided to give up football, according to The Free Lance-Star.

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster stopped by Fredericksburg Christian School yesterday.

He wanted to recruit FCS junior Seth Allen. But Eagles head coach Tim Coleman told Foster not to waste his time.

• ESPN Boston updated the recruitment of Zach Auguste, a junior power forward from New Hampton (N.H.) that was on the previous staff's radar.

Auguste holds offers from Penn State, Oregon State, DePaul, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Boston College and Virginia but said Providence has been making a strong push recently.

• Terps women's commitment Chloe Pavlech is a candidate for's Sportswoman of the Year.

Led Lady Aves into postseason. Greater Miami Conference first-team pick sophomore, junior and senior seasons. 5-9 point guard. Second on team in scoring, 11.9 ppg. Led Sycamore in rebounds at 5.5. Tied for lead in assists with 2.8.

Football recruiting

• Maryland linebacker signee Cole Farrand took home a top track and field honor last weekend.

Pope John senior Cole Farrand was named the field MVP at the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Championships for the second year in a row. Farrand, a Green Pond resident, won the discus (178-1) and shot put (55-3) and tied for third in the javelin (153-9) as the Lions won the overall title on Saturday.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:05 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

May 19, 2011

Jordan Latham talks Loyola commitment

jordan-latham-loyola.jpg When Jordan Latham decided to leave Xavier after his freshman season, the former City power forward quickly zeroed in on several East Coast programs as potential transfer destinations.

“I visited all the local schools, including Delaware, Towson, Loyola, and I also visited Morgan State University,” said Latham, who appeared in 16 games for the Musketeers this season. “What I did was weigh the pros and cons against each other. Loyola was the best for me.”

Latham, who committed to the Greyhounds on Monday night, averaged just 4.8 minutes and scored eight points in his lone season in Cincinnati. But the former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection showed enough promise coming out of high school to earn a four-star ranking from and designation as the country’s 20th-best power forward in the 2010 class.

Loyola didn’t seriously recruit Latham – a consensus high-major prospect – the first time around. But Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos and assistant coach Luke D’Alessio made him a top priority as soon as he was granted his release from Xavier.

“I think [Patsos] was really excited and really wanted me back home,” Latham said. “On my official visit they treated me real good and everything like that. … I would say all the coaches that I came in contact with for each school was really nice, really wanted me real bad and everything like that. But Loyola had a nice little sales pitch, [it’s a] real nice small school, the program is really coming up and it’s going to explode soon. It’s going to be real big things in the next couple years.”

Latham isn't the first high-major transfer that has resurfaced at Reitz Arena during Patsos' tenure. Andre Collins left Maryland to become one of the country’s most prolific scorers at Loyola. Gerald Brown traded the bright lights of the Big East at Providence to become one of the Greyhounds’ all-time greats.

“All those guys did very well at Loyola and [Collins and Brown have done] big things overseas,” Latham said. “That’s a real good thing for a kid coming back home and having the opportunity to play basketball here. It’s a good opportunity [to showcase your talent] for overseas. That’s a real good thing.”

More recently, Shane Walker left Maryland after his freshman year in College Park, and has since emerged as the Greyhounds’ stalwart center for the past two seasons. Walker will be a senior next season and Latham will redshirt, opening the door for ample time for the former Knight during the 2012-13 season.

“I would say I’m going to step in and fill some big shoes,” Latham said. “[Walker] might be the player of the year in the MAAC. So that’s real big shoes to fill.”

City assistant coach Tony Biggers said playing for Loyola should be a “great situation” for Latham. With a strong supporting cast and a coaching staff that knows Latham “very well,” Biggers thinks his former star could “possibly be a Player of the Year” candidate in the MAAC before his time with the Greyhounds is done.

“I think they’re getting an extremely good addition to the program,” Biggers said. “He’s going to be a guy who can come in and make an impact right away. He has different facets to this game – inside, outside, passing the ball well. He’s an unselfish player. He not only brings maturity for basketball, but also great chemistry to the program. It’s really like the perfect fit. They’ve got Shane Walker [now], and by the time he graduates, it’s a perfect situation for Jordan to step in his shoes. He should be an impact player for those three years.”

Latham will join a Greyhounds roster with a decidedly local flavor. St. Frances point guard R.J. Williams signed his letter of intent to Loyola last month, and former Cardinal Gibbons star Dylon Cormier was a freshman this year.

“I think that this team right now is going to build something real big as far as Baltimore guys coming back and playing back home,” Latham said. “It’s OK to play back home. It’s a real good fit for the area.”

Latham said he has no regrets about his year in Cincinnati. One positive he sees is the experience he got playing for an NCAA tournament team. He hopes to draw on that at Loyola.

“It takes a lot to get to the NCAA tournament,” Latham said. “This conference is not a bad conference at all. It’s very competitive, but at the same time, we just have to work hard and get real hot during tournament time and can get their every year. I think we should be good. … [I just need to] work hard and play as hard as I can each and every game and hopefully get to the NCAA tournament at least two times over my next three years.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Jordan Latham by Jeffrey F. Bill / March 18, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 18, 2011

Former Owls guard Keron DeShields going west

keron-deshields.jpg Eighteen years in West Baltimore was more than enough for Keron DeShields.

In that time, the former Towson Catholic player saw his father sent to prison for his role in a narcotics operation, dealt with the murder of a former teammate and good friend, and witnessed countless other typical Baltimore tragedies.

So when DeShields, now a 6-foot-2, 177-pound combo guard, developed into a Division I-caliber basketball player, his goal in finding a place to spend the next four years of his life was clear.

“I did not want to be where I could drive home,” DeShields said. “I know my mother would like that, but it’s not for me. I know what I need – [to be] as far away from Baltimore as I can possibly be.”

Last week DeShields – who’s finishing up a post-grad year at Vermont Academy – finally realized that dream by committing to Montana.

“Man, it feels good,” said DeShields, who also considered Longwood. “It’s been a long journey, for real. It was a long journey, but it feels really good. I feel proud to be a part of Grizzly Nation.”

Long before DeShields was on Montana’s radar, he was an occasional starter at the point for Towson Catholic. After the Archdiocese of Baltimore closed the school’s doors in the summer of 2009, DeShields moved on to St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel and took on a starring role for the Panthers.

Looking for more exposure after high school, DeShields joined the Baltimore Assault AAU team and spent the spring and summer with the adidas-sponsored program on the circuit. On July 5 of last summer, DeShields and his teammates boarded a van to a tournament. The night before, John Crowder, DeShields’ friend and teammate at Towson Catholic, was shot and killed.

“My coach told me after we left so I wouldn’t stay in Baltimore,” DeShields said. “When we were in the van, he just told me, ‘Keron, John died.’ I just broke down to tears. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to talk to nobody. We went to the tournament and I ripped it up for him.”

After the summer, DeShields took his first step away from Baltimore by enrolling at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt. First-year coach Jesse Bopp said DeShields flourished in his new surroundings.

“He was our leading scorer … at around 20 points per game,” Bopp said. “He shot the ball extremely well for us. He played the 1 a lot. He turned into a very good defender for us over time. I would say his greatest strengths were making shots late in games, and certainly having the ability to score in multiple ways – from 3-pointers to getting to the basket. He can really go.”

DeShields essentially lived in the gym, working out three times a day during the season, and even lifting weights or shooting jumpers after games. If DeShields ever needed a little push to keep going, he turned to a father figure back home in former Dunbar star and Syracuse player Mike Lloyd, a good friend of the family.

“He stepped in like a man,” DeShields said. “He took care of me. He took me in like I was his son. That’s my father. I have two fathers now. I’m blessed with that. When things weren’t going good, Mike came along and my mother kept working hard. Most definitely, it was tough times, but going through things together with my mother, we put it all together.”

After Vermont Academy (17-14) finished its season, Bopp went to work trying to find the right college for DeShields. He sent out highlight tape to several mid-major programs. One interested party was Canisius associate head coach Rob Norris, a former Towson assistant. DeShields said Norris recommended him to Montana coach Wayne Tinkle, who was looking for a point guard to develop.

“It went from there,” DeShields said. “Coach Tinkle, he gave me a call. We talked and developed a good relationship. He’s a great guy. That’s how it basically happened.”

DeShields made his official visit to Montana two weekends ago. He bonded with the players and coaches, and was blown away by the mountainous campus. Bopp said the Grizzlies staff fell in love with the charismatic, eager-to-please DeShields right away. While he’s not a finished product, DeShields will do whatever it takes to get there.

“I think Keron will be successful at the next level, quite simply because he will never accept failure,” Bopp said. “I think when he has success, he’ll build on that. When he struggles, he’ll build on that, too. Keron wants to be the best. He thinks he is the best. I think when you have that idea of what you want, having the ability to work hard and not accept anything else, I think that’s what will propel him. That toughness and the ability to handle adversity are things his mom and Mike Lloyd have instilled in him.”

This summer, DeShields will make the nearly 2,300-mile trek from Baltimore to Missoula, leaving his hometown behind for the promise of something new. His past – both the painful memories and the positive experiences in Baltimore – only serve as motivation.

“It was a journey where I thought I wasn’t going to reach it,” DeShields said. “There was a time I would hold my head down [and think] ‘Man, I’m probably never going to get my goal.’ But I never stopped working. My friend, my brother, John Crowder, that was my man. He can’t be here, so I’m putting the work in. Whenever I think about him, I think about my family, my mother, everybody. No matter what, I can’t give up. I can’t.”

Photo by Kitty R. Charlton / Explore Howard

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:51 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 17, 2011

Nick Faust 'starting off fresh' with Terps

Nick Faust had a favorable impression of Maryland coach Mark Turgeon based on a couple of phone conversations, but it was an in-person meeting Tuesday night that led to the City shooting guard reaffirming his commitment to the Terps.

“He’s just a well-spoken guy,” Faust said Tuesday night. “He accepted me and I accepted him. He’s just a great person overall. We kind of just blended right together.”

Faust and fellow Terps commitment Sterling Gibbs asked out of their letters of intent last Thursday, one day after Maryland introduced Turgeon as its new coach.

Gibbs, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Seton Hall Prep (N.J.), committed to Texas on Monday. But Faust said Turgeon made it clear from the beginning that he was a top priority. Still, the 6-foot-5 senior thought it would be best to at least have the option of exploring other college possibilities.

“The dead period starts [Wednesday], so that was on my mind throughout the whole process,” Faust said. “I had my mind open for everyone. Once I got in with Coach [Turgeon], I thought it was the best place for me.”

Turgeon told Faust, a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, that he will play the 1, 2 and 3 for the Terps. The coach’s plans for Faust are similar to how Gary Williams would have used him. Faust, who averaged 22 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Knights this season, said he can’t wait to get started.

“Maryland is brand new, starting off fresh,” Faust said. “Basically, I’ll be a big part of that. Coach Turgeon wants to win a national championship. That’s my goal also. I’ll play a big part in that process.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:28 PM | | Comments (21)

Analysts weigh in on Terps hiring Dalonte Hill

In his first week as the Maryland men's basketball coach, Mark Turgeon reached out to local high school and AAU coaches, met with a noted Baltimore politician and landed his first recruit.

While the first seven days were busy enough, Turgeon started his second week with arguably his biggest move yet by hiring Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill.

Hill – who will be joined by Bino Ranson and former Texas A&M assistant Scott Spinelli on Maryland’s staff – is a former D.C. Assault coach credited with recruiting Michael Beasley to Kansas State. That recruiting coup, in conjunction with Hill’s reported $400,000+ salary at KSU, drew the ire of former Maryland coach Gary Williams in an exhaustive 2009 interview with The Washington Post about his recruiting practices. The irony of Maryland hiring Hill less than two weeks after Williams retired wasn’t lost on some basketball followers.

“If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that there are completely different ways to get the job done,” said Dave Telep,’s national recruiting analyst. “I think it’s abundantly clear that Mark Turgeon is going to put a premium on relationships with the high school and AAU coaches in the area. Dalonte Hill is probably the biggest departure from Coach Williams that Mark Turgeon could have, and it’s a very significant hire for Maryland recruiting because he’ll be a catalyst for a bunch of relationships.”

A Washington native who played three seasons at Charlotte and one at Bowie State, Hill was the point man in the Wildcats landing Beasley, Rodney McGruder, Wally Judge, Dominique Sutton and Jamar Samuels -- all D.C. Assault players. Evan Daniels,’s national recruiting analyst, noted that Rutgers assistant David Cox is another former D.C. Assault coach who has been able to leverage those AAU relationships in his current role.

“D.C. Assault is a program that clearly takes care of their own,” Daniels said. “It’s not going to be a surprise to anyone when, over the next couple years, Dalonte’s able to reel in players to Maryland from D.C. Assault’s program. It’s not just about his connection to D.C. Assault. Dalonte’s very well respected around the coaching community. He’s got a lot of connections to the AAU programs and high school programs. The D.C. Assault thing is just what’s most publicized. He’s very well liked in the basketball community.”

Telep said he expects Hill’s hiring to expand “Maryland’s presence in its own backyard.” Hill’s status as an original member of D.C. Assault gives Maryland “major-league street cred.”

“I think the only surprise that catches you off guard is because it’s such a departure from what Coach Williams did,” Telep said. “From a strategic and a staff point of view, it’s that call that you make where you go, ‘Oh well, we’ll never get this guy, but let’s make the call anyway.’ To land him is significant.”

Daniels noted that Hill’s not the only ace recruiter on Turgeon’s staff. Ranson is “very tied in to the Baltimore area,” and Spinelli also has “a lot of good connections in the area,” having landed Baltimore native and DeMatha graduate Naji Hibbert a couple years ago. Improving its recruiting in-state can only raise Maryland’s ceiling.

“I think if you keep the best players in Baltimore and D.C. home, you can compete with just about anyone in the country,” Daniels said. “Year in and year out, they’re putting out a number of Division I prospects. … They’ve already locked up Seth Allen. There are a number of others you can get. Let’s say Maryland locks in on the top one and two guys every year. That’s a great foundation for each and every recruiting class. … I think with this staff, they’re going to have recruiting in that area pretty covered.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:25 PM | | Comments (13)

May 16, 2011

Sterling Gibbs makes his decision

Sterling Gibbs will play his college basketball in the Big 12.

The former Maryland point guard signee, who was released from his letter of intent Thursday, revealed his new college destination on Twitter Monday night.

University of Texas Longhorns.. I'm ready baby!!

Gibbs took an official visit to Austin over the weekend. After reopening his recruitment, the three-star prospect from Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) also received interest from Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, Texas Tech and Xavier.

New Maryland coach Mark Turgeon landed a point guard commitment Saturday when Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian junior Seth Allen committed to the Terps.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:05 PM | | Comments (24)

Seth Allen happy to be Turgeon's first recruit

A golf cart carrying two men's basketball managers, Terps coach Mark Turgeon and Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian point guard Seth Allen maneuvered its way through the Maryland campus Saturday.

Up front, the managers played tour guide, pointing out sights to their attentive passengers in back. For Allen and Turgeon, it was an instructive introduction to an unfamiliar setting.

“It was [Turgeon’s] first time on campus as well,” Allen said Sunday. “We were going on the campus [and] it was too big to walk. People [up front were] telling us what everything was. We stopped at this mall place, rubbed the turtle for good luck. It was fun with [Turgeon]. It was a good time. We have a good relationship. I respect him as a coach and as a person.”

After the campus tour concluded, Allen, his family and friends convened with Turgeon in his office. Player and coach later emerged from Comcast Center forever linked to one another, with Allen becoming the first commitment of Turgeon's Maryland tenure.

“It happened really fast,” Allen said. “But I’m happy the way it happened. I wouldn’t change it. I like that I was the first commitment for Coach Turgeon at Maryland. I like that.”

Allen, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, was also recruited by Central Florida, Clemson, Miami, Mount St. Mary’s, Northeastern, Old Dominion, VCU and Virginia.

While Allen may not have been a household name to Maryland basketball followers before last week, he has been on Turgeon’s radar for quite some time. But long before he became a high-major recruit, Allen’s basketball roots were planted at The Sports Booth Athletic Center in Stafford, Va. Craig Boothe, president and CEO of the facility and head coach of the Hoop Booth AAU program, coached Allen’s older brother Brandon, and met Seth when he was “about nine years old.” Over the next several years, Boothe watched Seth grow from a precocious elementary school player to a prodigious high school talent.

On the circuit last summer, Boothe became convinced Allen had a Division I future. Playing on a bum ankle for much of the season, Allen led Hoop Booth in scoring at “about 20 or 21 points a game” as a 15-year-old playing on a 17-and-under team. Boothe wasn’t certain Allen would be a high-major recruit, however, until this past season at Fredericksburg Christian.

“I saw him play toward the end of the season. He went up with his left, took a 6-5 football player up, switched hands and dunked on him,” Boothe recalled. “It was a major Division I play. I said, ‘OK, I think he’s there.’”

A December game against Montrose Christian first propelled Allen onto the radar of several high-major schools – including Texas A&M. In the Fredericksburg Christian’s 65-48 loss to the Mustangs, Allen scored a team-high 23 points and caught the eye of Aggies assistant coach Scott Spinelli, who relayed his finding to Turgeon.

“During the period when [coaches] can come to the schools, Turgeon came down and watched him go,” Boothe said. “He watched him play against a lot of college guys. He played against men – guys who have played college basketball, or were in college and home for Easter break. Seth showed up and Turgeon offered him a scholarship.”

Allen immediately connected with Turgeon, but spending four years in College Station – nearly 1,400 miles away from Fredericksburg – loomed as a potential impediment to a commitment.

“I knew I wanted to play for him,” Allen said. “I knew my mom probably didn’t want me to go all the way to Texas to play ball, because I’m 16. I’m supposed to be a sophomore in high school right now. My mom didn’t want me to be too far from home. … We were trying to convince my mom. Everybody was fine with it – we were just trying to convince my mom to let me go. It could’ve been a possibility going to Texas A&M.”

Last Monday, hours before Turgeon accepted the Maryland job, Boothe filled in Allen on the latest media reports of the mutual interest between the Terps and Texas A&M’s coach. Boothe said “Seth’s eyes just lit up” when he relayed the news. Allen’s facial expression matched his first thought.

“Wow. I might actually get to play for Coach Turgeon.”

On Tuesday, Turgeon reached out to Boothe and said he was still interested in Allen, and they worked to set up Allen’s unofficial visit to College Park on Saturday. A caravan of Allen’s friends and family – his mother and father in one car, two coaches in another, a brother and his best friend in another, and Allen and another brother in a fourth car – made the drive to Maryland on Saturday morning. Allen said all were impressed by what the university had to offer.

“It’s in the ACC, the best conference in the nation,” Allen said. “It’s Top 15 out of all [public universities]. I can’t really say no. It’s a big no to say no to. So I just made the commitment.”

Boothe thinks Allen will be a great fit for Turgeon’s system. The future Terp is known for his toughness, a quick release on his jumper, and his 40-inch vertical.

“He’s left-handed, he can attack, split screens, and he can definitely cross you over,” Boothe said. “He’s got a lot of quickness right to left, left to right. Once he gets into the paint, it’s all elevation. He can finish with the best. It’s hard to guard him because he’s left-handed. This year, he developed the [killer instinct]. He believes no one in front of him can stop him. And he’s strong enough to force the issue a little bit, take the contact and finish. He’s got that ‘it’ factor.”

Allen said he looks forward to learning his position from Turgeon, a former Kansas point guard. Turgeon wants Allen – who averaged 24 points as a junior – to be a scoring lead guard, a team leader, and a good representative of a new era in Maryland basketball.

“I’m really excited about my commitment. I’m really excited,” Allen said. “It’s a big relief so I can just focus on basketball and getting better.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:50 AM | | Comments (5)

Weekend wrap – Gibbs a hot commodity

Since receiving a release from his letter of intent to Maryland last Thursday, Sterling Gibbs has become a wanted man.

Gibbs has reportedly received interest from Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, Texas Tech and Xavier. The Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard was scheduled to visit Texas over the weekend, and the defending national champions also inquired about him.

“UConn called me last night for Sterling Gibbs,” New York Panthers coach Gary Charles said Sunday at the iS8/Nike Spring playoffs. “And obviously with Sterling being at Texas, it’s kind of hard for them to talk to him right now. The family said to me, ‘We have an interest.’

• The Indianapolis Star profiled Terps target Mitch McGary, a Brewster (N.H.) Academy center who was back in his home state of Indiana this weekend for the Adidas May Classic in Bloomington.

Though McGary showed flashes of his immense talent last year, he has clearly taken his game -- and consistency -- to another level. Though his size -- 6-10 and 255 pounds -- would suggest a back-to-the- basket post player, McGary thrives in the transition game by beating opponents down the floor and filling the lane. caught up with McGary over the weekend for an update on his recruitment.

The list of schools in regular contact with McGary is impressive. He reeled off Duke, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, West Virginia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Kansas, Memphis, Louisville and Maryland as schools showing interest.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:54 AM | | Comments (3)

May 14, 2011

Mark Turgeon lands his first recruit at Maryland

Five days after he accepted an offer to coach the Maryland men's basketball team, Mark Turgeon accepted his first verbal commitment with the Terps.

Seth Allen, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior combo guard from Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian, committed to the Terps during a visit to College Park on Saturday, according to several reports.

“I’m happy. I’m really happy,” Allen told The Washington Post. “It’s a real relief. Now I can focus on school and work on my basketball rather than worry about my scholarship. Words can’t explain what I’m feeling right now.”

Allen, who averaged 24 points, four rebounds, four assists and 3.5 steals as a junior, was also recruited by Central Florida, Clemson, Miami, Mount St. Mary’s, Northeastern, Old Dominion, VCU and Virginia. Turgeon had offered Allen when he was still at Texas A&M.

"He's so explosive," Fredericksburg Christian coach Darren Berkley told "He has great skill and vision. He has a great feel for the game. He has a 40-inch vertical. I haven't seen anyone stay in front of him."

Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on Allen’s commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:11 PM | | Comments (15)

Digital Harbor's Kevin Smith to stay local

kevin-smith-frederick.jpg The first half of Kevin Smith's college career will unfold roughly an hour away from his Baltimore home.

Smith, who led Digital Harbor to the Class 2A state championship last month, signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Frederick Community College on Wednesday.

“Everything was real cool,” Smith said. “[I got] a real clean, cool vibe from them. … [The] people sealed the deal pretty much.”

Smith started his high school career with two prolific seasons at Baltimore Freedom Academy. For his junior year, the 6-foot-1, 196-pound point guard played for Huntington (W.Va.) Prep. In his return to Baltimore last fall, Smith formed a dynamic backcourt duo with junior Daquan Cook, averaging nearly 17 points and eight assists for the Rams.

Smith joins a Cougars squad that finished 26-5 during the 2010-11 season, reaching the finals of the Maryland JUCO and Region XX tournaments. Frederick Community College sophomore wing Anthony Hubbard signed with Iowa after the season.

“I got to talk to him. [He’s a] real cool dude,” Smith said. “He just got an opportunity there and got better and better. … It’s a good look for the school [to send a player to a high-major school]. But I know where my talent stands and where I can really be in the future. That really didn’t have much to do with [my decision], but it’s a positive at the same time.”

Smith took his SAT last Saturday, and if his scores meet NCAA Division I qualifying standards, he said there’s a chance he could end up at a four-year school next year after all. But if he’s not cleared, Smith said he’s happy to have found a strong program that will aid in his development over the next two years.

“I wish I would go DI, but things happen for a reason,” Smith said. “It’s just going to take time. I think it’s going to be better for me overall to do one year or two years and get better. When I get there, I’ll be better mentally and physically.”

Handout photo of Kevin Smith.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 13, 2011

Mark Turgeon making friends in Baltimore

bino-jack-young-turgeon.jpg With players to meet, a coaching staff to assemble and a recruiting class to save, Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon has plenty to do during his first week on the job.

On Friday morning, College Park’s busiest man took some time out of his hectic schedule and made an impromptu drive up I-95 for a meet and greet with Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Baltimore’s city council president.

“[Maryland assistant] coach Bino [Ranson], he texted me and said the new coach wants to come in and meet you and talk to you. He wanted to meet all the leadership of Baltimore,” Young said Friday. “He came here today, spent about 45 minutes in my office. I had somewhere to go and I’m quite sure he had other people to meet. We just talked about basketball, expectations of kids who come from Baltimore [and then go to] Maryland. I found him to be a very likeable person, a straight shooter. I like people who are straight shooters. I look forward to working with him and helping him be successful here in Maryland.”

A diehard basketball fan and champion of the city’s Recreation and Parks department, Young said his first impression of Turgeon “was just amazing.” There was plenty of talk about basketball players staying in school and earning their degrees. And there was some good-natured chiding from Young, a Ravens fan, related to Turgeon’s Kansas City Chiefs.

Young said they didn’t discuss specific high school players from Baltimore – which would include City shooting guard Nick Faust, whose signing Young attended and who the city council president considers a “surrogate” nephew. But Young did share his feelings with Turgeon about where he’d like to see Charm City’s top talent end up in college.

“I told him how Baltimore is a hotbed of talent and we prefer our kids to really stay in the state of Maryland,” Young said. “I shared with him [information] on the Towsons, the Coppins, the Morgans, Loyola and Maryland. We would prefer if our kids stay here locally to build up our own programs to be nationally ranked.”

Young said Turgeon hopes to meet with other Baltimore leaders, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The new Terps coach already has one prominent ally in the city’s political circle.

“What can you say about a man who wants to reach out to the leadership in Baltimore? That says a lot about the coach,” Young said. “He said some things that made me know that he’s going to be a great coach at Maryland. We just have to make sure the talent from Baltimore looks at Maryland.”

Handout photo of Bino Ranson, Jack Young and Mark Turgeon.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:15 PM | | Comments (26)

Weekly recruiting roundup

While Mark Turgeon deals with a 2011 recruiting class in flux, the new Maryland men's basketball coach also has his eyes on 2012.

The Washington Post's Josh Barr reported Thursday that Turgeon will play host to an unofficial junior visitor this weekend.

Seth Allen, a 6-foot-1 junior guard from Fredericksburg Christian, is scheduled to visit College Park with his family and high school coach on Saturday. Turgeon had offered Allen – who is friends with Montrose Christian forward Justin Anderson, a junior who committed to Maryland in March - a scholarship to Texas A&M before making the move to Maryland. caught up with Allen for his reaction to Maryland's sudden interest.

“I’m going to go in and be myself and meet with the coaches,” Allen said. “If [Turgeon] offers, I would make my decision sometime soon.”

Adam Zagoria reported Friday morning that Terps forward signee Martin Breunig has not been granted his release from Maryland yet.

• Daily Press (Va.) columnist David Teel wrote this week about how Turgeon at Maryland might affect recruiting for Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Forward Jerami Grant and point guard James Robinson are among the nation’s most acclaimed rising seniors, and DeMatha coach Mike Jones told the Washington Post’s Josh Barr that Turgeon was pursuing both for Texas A&M. Turgeon guided the Aggies to four NCAA tournaments in as many seasons before accepting the Maryland job Monday.

• NBE Basketball Report filed a notebook from last weekend's Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational, including an update on Terps center target Shaquille Cleare, who didn't make the trip with his Houston Defenders team.

Now with Gary Williams announcing his retirement the list seems to be expanding with Kentucky having interest (although they have yet to see him play) and Kansas, Arizona, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, Maryland, Miami, Florida State, Kansas State, and Baylor have offered per Aaron Williams, Head Coach of Houston Defenders.

• conducted a Q&A with Rutgers commitment and former Maryland target Wally Judge.

Q. How surprised were you that Gary Williams retired and how did that impact your decision?

A. I was actually kind of shocked. I was there a couple of days earlier and everything seemed fine. The thought process was I didn’t want to make a quick decision right then. I wanted to make sure his retirement didn’t influence me. That’s why I waited a couple of days.

• Charis Prep (N.C.) forward Jared Guest signed this week with VCU.

Guest made an official visit to Oklahoma State earlier in the week. He had also planned to visit Minnesota this week but did not make that trip. He also drew interest from Georgia and Maryland.

Football recruiting

• Maryland commitment and Good Counsel offensive lineman Mike Madaras fared well at a recent Under Armour Combine event in Baltimore.

He's 6-foot-5, a little under 290 pounds and he has room to still grow and add more size and muscle. He tested well, posting competitive scores for a tackle. When asked about his strengths as a player, he mentioned he liked to hit and flashed some of that physicality during one-on-ones. He displayed the ability to get set quickly and moved his feet well. He was able to deliver a good punch and mirror and finish his opponent.

Madaras was nominated this week for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

• Terps linebacker signee Cole Farrand set a Sussex County (N.J.) record in the shotput with a throw of 55 feet, 4.25 inches last weekend.

Farrand surpassed former Lions' thrower Brandon Perez, who had a heave of 55-2 in 2004, to beat out Syosett's (N.Y.) Evan Kappatos and Brian Sheng, respectively. Farrand also won the discus and javelin for the Lions, who had six first-place finishes.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:09 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

May 12, 2011

Nick Faust, Sterling Gibbs reopen recruitments

One day after Maryland introduced Mark Turgeon as its new men's basketball coach, the Terps' 2011 recruiting class dwindled from three members to zero.

City shooting guard Nick Faust and Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs both said Thursday that they were granted releases from their letters of intent. Maryland’s third class of 2011 signee, German forward Martin Breunig, requested to be released from his letter of intent Wednesday, according to

Faust said Thursday he has considered reopening his recruitment “ever since Gary [Williams] retired. Me and my parents have just been talking to see what the best fit is, basically just going to make the right decision and [figure out] where I want to go from here.”

Gibbs also discussed his options with his family before going forward with his request.

“We just felt that it was in our best interest to just explore our options,” Gibbs said. “Maryland is still my top priority. But I just want to make sure that it was the best fit for me.”

Faust said he didn’t have a specific list of schools, but he is “definitely still considering” Maryland. Aside from the Terps, the 6-foot-5 senior said he’ll wait and “see whoever calls.” Faust, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection this year, said his conversations with Turgeon have been positive.

“He’s a great guy, great coach,” Faust said. “I told him that I just wanted to do this to make sure I go to the best place for me. … I know he respected that. He gave me the option of being able to weigh my options. I respect him for that also.”

Gibbs said his AAU coach, Gary Charles of the New York Panthers, was fielding calls from interested colleges. Charles told that Dayton, Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall and Texas were among the programs that inquired about Gibbs.

“It was definitely a rough decision because when I signed my letter of intent, I signed with Gary Williams,” Gibbs said. “When I heard he retired, it was definitely tough to try to develop a relationship with someone who I don’t know and someone who hardly knows me within a couple days.”

Still, Gibbs said he has had “a couple good conversations” with Turgeon, and reiterated that “Maryland is still my top priority.” While his AAU coach handles the recruiting process, Gibbs plans to stay in touch with Faust.

“I’ve definitely been talking to Nick just about every day,” Gibbs said. “And we’ve just been trying to talk it out. He’s pretty much doing the same thing, just making sure that Maryland is the right place.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:59 PM | | Comments (50)

Change of plans for City's Mike Cheatham

mike-cheatham-juco.jpg City guard Mike Cheatham originally planned to spend the next four years playing for the Marshall men's basketball team.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior still could end up with the Thundering Herd, but it would have to be two years from now instead of this fall. According to City assistant Tony Biggers, Cheatham is headed to Palm Beach (Fla.) State College.

Biggers said Cheatham still likes Marshall and would like to honor his commitment, but a lot could happen during his next two years at junior college.

Cheatham isn't the only City senior set to play college basketball. Rashaun Rasheed, a 6-5 wing, will play for Division II Wilmington (Del.) University. Edwin Amos, a 6-1 guard, is set for Barry University, a DII school in Miami.

Eric Greer, a 6-5 wing, and Willis Turnipseed, a 6-8 forward, will team up at Division III powerhouse St. Mary's.

City shooting guard Nick Faust signed with Maryland last fall.

Photo of Mike Cheatham by Colby Ware / Special to The Baltimore Sun / Dec. 18, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 11, 2011

Sterling Gibbs reacts to Turgeon hiring

Sterling Gibbs was scheduled to speak with new Maryland coach Mark Turgeon on Tuesday night. Earlier that afternoon, the Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard said he looked forward to getting to know the former Texas A&M coach.

"I think he’s a great coach," Gibbs said. "I definitely think he’s a good fit for the job. He’ll definitely be a good replacement for Gary Williams."

Maryland assistant coach Rob Ehsan kept Gibbs updated throughout Maryland's coaching search, urging the 6-foot senior to hold off on making a decision about his college future.

"That’s what we’ve been doing," Gibbs said. "I’m just trying to wait to talk to the coaches and see what they’re going to do with Coach Rob. That’ll play a big part in my decision."

Gibbs said he's watched "a couple" Texas A&M games, but didn't pay very close attention to the Aggies' style of play. From what he does remember, Turgeon's system could work for him.

"I know he was a point guard when he played. And he works with point guards," Gibbs said. "If I were to keep my commitment to Maryland, I know I would definitely get better as a player."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:20 AM | | Comments (10)

May 10, 2011

Local AAU coaches weigh in on Mark Turgeon

A quick scan of Mark Turgeon's bio reveals no obvious ties to the Baltimore-Washington area.

But while Turgeon's past isn't rooted in the East Coast, the reaction to Maryland's basketball hire among local AAU coaches has been almost unanimously positive.

Keith Stevens of the D.C.-based Team Takeover said he got a call from Turgeon late Monday night, shortly after the former Texas A&M coach accepted the Maryland job.

“I think that shows his commitment level, not only to myself, but to the other AAU and high school coaches in the community,” Stevens said. “He wants to be involved. He wants us to play a part in the growth of the program.”

Stevens -- whose program features Maryland targets and DeMatha players Jerami Grant and Bee Jay Anya -- said he has dealt with Turgeon in the past. Stevens said Turgeon and Scott Spinelli -- Turgeon’s associate head coach in College Station -- have “very good connections locally.”

“He’s very active,” Stevens said. “He’s going to be out there considerably. You’re going to see him as much as you see the assistant coaches.”

It’s no secret that Gary Williams’ relationship with D.C. Assault was tepid at best. Damon Handon, a director of operations for the Washington-based program, said he’s never met Turgeon, but he expects the new Terps coach to be visible and do a good job at developing relationships with local coaches.

“From all indications, he’s going to recruit this area hard and try to keep some of the talent in the area,” Handon said. “If you look at the playoffs this year, Delonte West, Jeff Green, Sam Young, Kevin Durant. All those guys are from Prince George’s County, where the school is located. None of those guys attended the University of Maryland for whatever reason. That’s just those guys. There are probably seven or eight more in the NBA right now that are from P.G. County."

Handon said Turgeon was “a good hire” for Maryland, noting that he’s been successful not only at the high-major level, but also at Wichita State and Jacksonville State.

“Obviously he’s a good coach and he’s had just two losing seasons,” Handon said. “So I know he’s a good coach and also a good recruiter. I know they signed [Baltimore native and DeMatha grad] Naji Hibbert from the area. So he has recruited this area before.”

Nick Myles -- St. Frances’ athletic director, an assistant boys basketball coach for the Panthers, and the travel and finance director for the Under Armour-sponsored B’more’s Finest AAU team -- cited Turgeon’s “proven track record” as an obvious plus. The key for Turgeon in College Park will be “to come meet the area coaches -- high school and AAU -- and build that relationship.”

“I think everybody in the area wants Maryland to be successful. That’s our flagship program,” Myles said. “Anything we can do to make it work, we’re willing to do.”

Note: Kansas State transfer Wally Judge has committed to Rutgers. The former Bladensburg star and D.C. Assault player took an official visit to Maryland the weekend before Williams retired.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:00 PM | | Comments (6)

Video: Houston Defenders in Baltimore

The Houston Defenders were down a 6-foot-9, 285-pound center during last weekend's Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational.

But even with Shaquille Cleare's absence, the Under Armour-sponsored AAU team fared well, finishing its weekend with a hard-fought win over a loaded New England Playaz squad at Arundel High on Sunday.

Aaron Harrison, a Baltimore native and Patterson grad, said Sunday that his team "had a good time" throughout the weekend. Cleare -- who Harrison said last month had Maryland "at the top of his list" -- didn't make the trip because of a "last-second" school event. Harrison said he hadn't had an in-depth conversion with Cleare about Maryland's coaching change.

"It wasn’t Gary Williams that was recruiting him. Bino [Ranson] was doing more of the recruiting," Harrison said. "He was feeling really good about Maryland. It’s not like the world has stopped that. He was still kind of wide open."

Check out more on the Houston Defenders from the Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational courtesy of Sun multimedia guru Kevin Richardson.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:04 AM | | Comments (2)

May 9, 2011

Gilman's Brian Gaia talks Penn State commitment

brian-gaia-penn-state.jpg Brian Gaia prides himself on being a "blue collar" football player, happily going about his business on Gilman's offensive and defensive lines while letting his more high-profile teammates grab all the headlines.

When it came to recruiting, the Greyhounds junior stuck to that approach, taking a few visits with the hope of reaching a decision on his college future before his senior year began.

Last weekend, Gaia accomplished that goal, committing to Penn State over offers from Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Rutgers, Tennessee, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

“It feels good,” Gaia said Monday. “A lot of pressure off me right now.”

Gaia, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound defensive tackle and offensive tackle, was a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection for his play on the Greyhounds’ offensive line last fall. In State College, Gaia – who recorded 13 tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble – is pegged for the defensive line.

“Brian’s just an absolute monster on both sides of the ball,” said Greyhounds assistant coach Henry Russell. “He’s incredibly strong, a real physical player. We use him to plug up the middle on defense. He does a great job of that. He normally takes on two blockers. On offense, a lot of times we’re running right behind Brian. We were fortunate to have him and [Wake Forest-bound] Hunter Goodwin last year. It’s a pretty nice combo to run behind. He’s just got a great motor and he just wants to get out there and play. He works his butt off.”

Gaia’s first visit to Penn State came during the Nittany Lions’ 28-22 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 27. Despite the loss, Gaia said he was blown away by a packed Beaver Stadium. A return trip to State College for a spring practice gave him a more up-close look at the program.

“It was kind of cool to see Coach [Joe] Paterno in action,” Gaia said. “He was a really fun guy. We had a little talk. He’s a real down-to-earth guy.”

Gaia, who’s interested in studying either business or sports management, said Penn State’s academics and the Big Ten’s reputation for putting linemen in the NFL were two more factors that put the Nittany Lions “out front” for most of his recruitment.

“My family, coaches, teammates thought it was the best pick,” Gaia said. “That weighed on me more than anything. It came down to an opportunity and it was the best decision for me.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Brian Gaia by Kenneth K. Lam / Dec. 12, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:11 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local recruiting

May 6, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

It's been more than 24 hours since word broke that Gary Williams was retiring after 22 years as Maryland's coach, but my reaction to the news remains the same today as it was yesterday: complete and utter shock.

I caught up yesterday with Sterling Gibbs, Justin Anderson and
Nick Faust's father Anthony, all of whom expressed a similar sentiment of surprise bordering on disbelief.

The gist from those brief conversations is that those three Terps recruits -- I haven't reached anyone close to Martin Breunig -- will wait and see who Maryland names as Williams' successor before making a decision on their commitment statuses. Stay tuned to throughout the weekend for more on the coaching search. As Williams said today, "things will be moving very quickly here."

• Quick programming note for the blog. I had planned to check out parts of the Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, but because of the coaching search, that will change. I still hope to get out there Sunday, but most of the weekend will be spent here at The Sun, coordinating our Terps coverage online and in print.

• CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello tweeted that Kansas State transfer Wally Judge may wait to see who gets the Maryland job before deciding between the Terps and Rutgers.

• Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College power forward Robert Goff, who drew some Terps interest, has signed with Marshall.

Goff averaged 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds while helping Hutchinson to a 26-7 record in the tough Jayhawk Conference. His numbers are more of a testament to the talent and balance on his team, observers say, and agrees. That site pegs Goff as the 18th best juco product, two spots ahead of Herd signee Dennis Tinnon.

• Minnesota is the latest high-major school to get involved with Charis Prep (N.C.) forward Jared Guest, who received some Maryland interest.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:54 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup

May 5, 2011

Faust's father weighs in on Williams' retirement

Hours after Gary Williams announced his retirement, Anthony Faust was "still stunned."

“I’m really numb right now,” said Faust, the father of Terps shooting guard signee Nick Faust. “This all happened in a blink of an eye. I’m still trying to figure out what really happened.”

Anthony Faust said he talked to Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson shortly after Williams’ announcement. He was still waiting to have a lengthy discussion with his son about his college future.

“We’ll definitely sit back and wait and see what happens,” Anthony Faust said. “We’ll see who the new coach is going to be. I’m going to let it play itself out.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:50 PM | | Comments (2)

Justin Anderson says he's still committed to Terps

Montrose Christian small forward Justin Anderson said he was "a little bit" surprised when he heard about Gary Williams' sudden retirement Thursday, but the Terps commitment was "happy" for the longtime coach.

“I think it’s a great thing for Coach. He put in a lot of time, definitely deserves it. I think it’s a great day for him and his family,” Anderson said. “He’s been doing this for a long time and I think he’s considered one of the all-time greats.”

Anderson, a 6-foot-7 junior, committed to Maryland in March. He plans on discussing his college future with his family and Mustangs coach Stu Vetter when there is something substantive to discuss.

“I’m still committed to the University of Maryland,” Anderson said. “As of right now, I’ll just wait and see who the new coach is and make my decision later on.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:50 PM | | Comments (3)

Gibbs 'not sure' how to process Williams news

During an afternoon workout, Sterling Gibbs got a text message from a reporter saying that Maryland coach Gary Williams was retiring. The news "definitely came as a shock" to the Terps point guard signee.

“Then Nick Faust called me. He told me the same thing and that it was confirmed by ESPN," Gibbs said Thursday. "He was definitely a great coach. So hopefully they’ll be able to replace him with somebody of his caliber and still be at the top of the ACC.”

Gibbs, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior from Seton Hall Prep (N.J.), said he was still processing the information and planned to talk the news over with his family before making a decision on his future. He called a report that said he would ask out of his letter of intent to Maryland “premature.”

“Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Gibbs said. “Honestly, it just came as a surprise. When someone mentioned it to me, I honestly just didn’t think it was true. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do right now.”

Gibbs said he and his mother had a conversation with Terps assistant coach Rob Ehsan on Wednesday, but that he didn’t have any indication that Williams might be considering retirement. The Washington Times reported that Ehsan will take over as interim coach.

“I think he’s a really good guy,” Gibbs said of Ehsan. “He’s a good coach, but right now I’m not sure. I still have to talk it over with my family and just try to make the best decision for myself.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:39 PM | | Comments (12)

Previewing the Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational

For the past two years, Carlton "Bub" Carrington held the Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational AAU basketball tournament in Chantilly, Va. at Hoop Magic, which featured nice facilities, accommodating people, and good competition. But something was missing.

“It was kind of [strange having] the Baltimore Elite Invitational in Northern Virginia, especially when the DMV doesn’t say BMV. It’s the DMV,” said Carrington, NBE's president. “I just felt like it was time to bring it back to Baltimore.”

Starting Friday, Carrington gets his wish. The third annual Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational will be held in this area, with 17- and 16-and-under games played at Annapolis Area Christian School, and younger age groups scheduled at various sites around the Baltimore area.

The tournament will feature several players who have either been offered by Maryland or are on the Terps’ radar, including Shaquille Cleare, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and Clyde Santee of the Houston Defenders, Bee Jay Anya and Jerami Grant of Team Takeover, Jamel Artis, Isaiah Miles, Daquein McNeil and Kameron Williams of Nike Baltimore Elite, Amile Jefferson of Philly's Finest, and Zach Auguste of Albany City Rocks.

Carrington spoke to Recruiting Report earlier this week about the tournament:

When you started putting together this tournament, what were you looking for in terms of participating teams and the setup?

Mostly all the teams coming in are star-studded teams. Just from being on the circuit, I would want a 24-team field, not 32. I wanted to keep it tight, keep it short, and keep it most of all competitive. When you come down to the format, 24 teams in 15s, 16s, 17s, it keeps it very competitive. I think we achieved that. We have probably five or six of the top 10 players in the country, and probably about 15 or 20 top 100 kids in the country, which I think is outstanding for one weekend of basketball. We just have kids that can flat-out play. I just think it’s going to be a great weekend of basketball. Baltimore, I hope they come out and support it, hope they come cheer on some of these kids that they’re watching from Baltimore City to the BCL.

What can you tell us about Nike Baltimore Elite’s 17-and-under roster this year?

I would say this year we probably have [at least five] Division I players. I would just go out there on a limb. Six of these guys are going to play Division I, already have offers on the table. It’s just up to them about finding the right fit. I just think they’re a real good team. Isaiah Miles (Glenelg Country School), Jamel Artis (St. Benedict Prep in N.J.), Kayel Locke (McDonogh), Sam Cassell Jr. (Notre Dame Prep in Mass.), Jarred Jones (John Carroll). I think those five are Division I ballplayers, easily. And Charles Tapper (City) is going to be a Division I football player. He’s been offered by Oklahoma, West Virginia, Penn State. If he was a full-time basketball player, he would play Division I somewhere also. He’s going to focus on football after the AAU season. I would say we have six Division I athletes on this team.

NBE’s 16-and-under team has already had a good bit of success on the circuit this spring. What’s their story?

It’s a typical Baltimore team with great guard play. They’re the type of team that, they play for the name on the front of their jersey, not the name on the back of their jersey. That’s what makes this team special – the fact that they play as a team. I think they have five Division I guards, not to mention three bigs that they have that are obviously going to play Division I basketball. I think they have about eight Division I basketball players on the team. How high they go depends on how hard they work.

Who are some of the specific players to watch out for on the 16-and-under team?

Daquein McNeil, I would think he’s definitely a future high-major player if he keeps working and improving his skill set. Where he’s come from to where he’s at now, the level of maturity from prep school [at Vermont Academy] has helped him a lot. Kameron Williams (Mount St. Joseph) is just the most quiet, unassuming kid I’ve been around. He goes about his work and he garnered all kinds of Division I interest after his performance at Boo Williams. Daxter Miles (Dunbar) is a typical Baltimore guard. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s tough. He’s more of a combo guard now trying to get into the mindset of a point guard.

Rashard Todd (Mount Carmel) is probably going to be a sleeper on the circuit. He’s a kid I watched growing up, coached his brother at Dunbar, knew the kid since he was born. He’s 6-7 with crazy athleticism. He’s just very, very athletic with a good head for the game. He wants to get better every game. He’s a legitimate 3 who can run the floor and has a pretty good 12-foot jump shot. He’s athletic and his skill set is just growing every day. Mike Owona (John Carroll) is a 6-7, 6-8 plug in the middle. He’s going to play Division I basketball. Great academic prowess with him. He’s a big, and bigs get those opportunities. Tayshawn Scott (McDonogh), he’s like our five-star general. He’s going to play Division I. Some coach is going to fall in love with him and he’s going to win a lot of games in college.

There are quite a few guys scheduled to play that Maryland is reportedly looking at. How important is it for the tournament’s success to have Terps fans come out and see some of these players?

Well I think that’s major. I think that’s major for Maryland fans to come out and show these Maryland recruits, these main targets, that Maryland supports its basketball. If it was a tournament in Kansas, the Kansas fans, they would show up 2,000 deep for those kids. 'We’re going to cheer for you to come to our school, we want you to be a part of this state.' I think that’s major. Those types of incidences weigh heavily on kids. Kids will go back and talk and say, ‘Damn, we played there and 300 or 400 Maryland fans were cheering for us.’ I think that’s big.

Any final thoughts on the tournament?

We just want Baltimore to come out and support the tournament Friday night, Saturday, and championship play on Sunday. That would mean a lot. For next year, if we can be successful this year, then maybe we can get a few more gyms and expand it a little bit more. It’s just a win-win for Baltimore, a win-win for the University of Maryland, and a win-win for the fans. You get to see future Maryland targets and recruits. I just think it’s going to be an exciting weekend of basketball. I can definitely tell you that.

Click here for more information on the tournament.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:29 PM | | Comments (0)

May 4, 2011

Dunbar grad Corey Spence makes his decision

corey-spence-dunbar.jpg The last time Corey Spence and Derrell Edwards teamed up on the basketball court, Dunbar celebrated the 2010 Class 1A state championship at Comcast Center.

After graduation last spring, the Poets’ star guards went their separate ways, with Spence heading to Maine for a post-grad year at Bridgton Academy, and Edwards going to Levelland, Texas to play for South Plains College.

When Spence fell “a couple points short” on the SAT and missed NCAA qualifying standards, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound point guard decided to reunite with Edwards at junior college. Spence committed to the Texans last week.

“Me and Derrell, we can get back together, playing on the same team again,” Spence said. “I think it’s going to be real fun. It’s an experience I never really [considered], playing college in the same town as him. I really think that’s going to be really exciting.”

Spence, who averaged 14 points for Bridgton and led the team in steals and assists, consulted Edwards and Edmondson graduate and Texans freshman Stanton Kidd (7.9 points per game, 5.9 rebounds) about life in Levelland. Both Baltimore natives acknowledged that there would be an adjustment period for Spence in moving to Texas, but the competition is great and coach Steve Green knows how to produce players for the next level.

“It’s nice living down here,” Edwards said. “The coaches are cool. I think he’s going to make his system around his key players. I know I’m going to be one of those. Instead of running a slower offense, with Corey coming in, it’ll be speeded up regardless."

derrell-edwards-texans.jpg Edwards had a strong freshman campaign for the Texans, scoring 12 points per game and earning first-team all-conference and first-team all-region honors. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound shooting guard was named the Texans’ Defensive Player of the Year. Edwards said he relished playing the role of lead recruiter for Spence.

“Oh man, I’m very excited. That was my guy since the ninth grade. We came into Dunbar together and had a great experience there,” Edwards said. “The killer duo back together. We got it done in the state championship senior year. So we’re back at it again starting here.”

At South Plains, Edwards is looking forward to being the Texans’ go-to guy next season, with Spence as his primary setup man. While Spence had hoped to find himself on a Division I roster next year, he sees the benefits of junior college.

“I can really mature myself on and off the court, prepare myself for the next level,” Spence said.

Spence said he’s looking forward to visiting South Plains in the “next month or two,” and then enrolling in classes in August. It won’t be the college experience Spence envisioned, but he’s excited to make the most of the opportunity.

“I was frustrated about it, but then after a while I just let it go,” Spence said. “[There’s] never anything wrong with taking a longer route if you get where you need to go.”

Credit 1: 2010 Baltimore Sun photo of Corey Spence by Karl Merton Ferron. Credit 2: Handout photo of Derrell Edwards

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

May 3, 2011

Poly's Donovan Riley commits to Virginia Tech

donovan-riley-poly-2010.jpg Having a lack of college options was never going to be a problem for Donovan Riley.

The Poly defensive back spent the past several months earning scholarship offers from Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, with many more potentially on the way.

But for Riley, no current – or future – offers would be able to top scholarship No. 1, which came from the Hokies in late February.

“They were the first school to offer me,” Riley said. “That played a big role in my decision because there were other schools that have shown a lot of interest in me. But Virginia Tech has reached out a little more than the others, and I felt more comfortable with Virginia Tech.”

Riley, a 6-foot, 194-pound junior, committed to Virginia Tech this week. Riley said his family and friends are “very excited. There has been a lot of support that has been extended to me in achieving my athletic as well as academic success.”

As a junior, Riley recorded 46 tackles and six interceptions, in addition to 43 receptions for 900 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns, earning Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro honors for his efforts.

Riley burst onto the Division I radar in January with a strong performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Junior Combine in San Antonio. For the next month, Riley patiently waited for his first offer. While he wondered when a school would take a chance on him, the Engineers’ star didn’t panic.

“I never looked at the actual timeline,” Riley said. “I just kept working hard. I kept praying that this moment would come. And it came down to now and I’m glad that it did so that I can focus on the rest of my school year and I can enjoy my senior year.”

Riley, who can play cornerback and safety, said the Hokies coaches were impressed with his ball skills, field awareness and hip movement. A strong student interested in math and science, Riley did his homework about the university.

“Before I made my decision, I was able to reach out to former players of Virginia Tech, parents of former players of Virginia Tech and even current players of Virginia Tech,” Riley said. “After talking with them, that assisted my decision. They let me know that Virginia Tech was a family-oriented type of campus, and that the football team was very united.”

After talking with Hokies coach Frank Beamer, wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray, Riley was sufficiently convinced that Virginia Tech was the best place for him “academically and athletically.”

Riley said that while he is relieved to have made his decision and excited to have accomplished his goal of committing to a Division I program, he has much left to accomplish on the field.

“It just lets me know that I’m not finished,” Riley said. “This is only the beginning.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Donovan Riley by Karl Merton Ferron / Nov. 6, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:52 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Local recruiting

Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational starts Friday

The Nike Baltimore Elite basketball program will be home this weekend for its own AAU tournament.

The Nike Baltimore Elite Invitational Basketball Tournament is scheduled for May 6-8 at CCBC-Catonsville Annapolis Area Christian School and other Baltimore-area sites.

The tournament will feature six of the country's top 10 recruits from the 2012 class in power forward DaJuan Coleman of the Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks, center Kaleb Tarczewski and Duke-bound forward Alex Murphy of the New England Playaz, forward Amile Jefferson of Philly's Finest, Villanova center commitment Daniel Ochefu of Cuttino Mobley Philly Pride, and forward Kyle Anderson of the Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.) -- which won the 2011 NBE Invitational at Hoop Magic in Chantilly, Va.

Other players to watch include:

Top players to watch from the class of 2012

Jamel Artis, 6-6 guard, Baltimore Elite, St. Benedict (N.J.)
Sam Cassell Jr., 6-2 guard, Baltimore Elite, Notre Dame Prep (Mass.)
Shaquille Cleare, 6-9 center, Houston Defenders, The Village School (Texas)
Savon Goodman, 6-6 guard, Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.), Academy of The New Church Boys (Pa.), Villanova commitment
Jerami Grant, 6-8 forward, Team Takeover (D.C.), DeMatha
Isaiah Miles, 6-8 forward, Baltimore Elite, Glenelg Country School
Arnaud Moto, 6-5 guard, Team Takeover (D.C.), Episcopal (Va.)
James Robinson, 6-3 guard, Team Takeover (D.C.), DeMatha
Jevon Thomas, 6-0 guard, Our Savior Of New American (N.Y.), St. John's commitment
Darrick Wood, 6-4 guard, Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.), Nia Prep (N.J.)

Top players to watch from the class of 2013

Bee Jay Anya, 6-9 center, Team Takeover (D.C.), DeMatha
Reggie Cameron, 6-6 forward, Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.), Hudson (N.J.) Catholic
Will Ferguson, 6-1 guard, Team Takeover (D.C.), Bishop O'Connell (Va.)
Aaron Harrison, 6-6 guard, Houston Defenders, Strake Jesuit College Prep (Texas)
Andrew Harrison, 6-6 guard, Houston Defenders, Strake Jesuit College Prep (Texas)
Daquein McNeil, 6-3 guard, Baltimore Elite, Vermont Academy
Daxter Miles, 6-2 guard, Baltimore Elite, Dunbar
Javion Ogunyemi, 6-8 forward, Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks, Troy (N.Y.)
Mike Owona, 6-9 center, Baltimore Elite, John Carroll
Stanford Robinson, 6-4 guard, Team Takeover (D.C.), Paul VI (Va.)
Kavon Stewart, 5-11 guard, Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.), Hudson (N.J.) Catholic
Rashard Todd, 6-7 forward, Baltimore Elite, Mount Carmel
Kameron Williams, 6-2 guard, Baltimore Elite, Mount St. Joseph
Mike Young, 6-7 forward, Team Takeover (N.J.), St. Benedict (N.J.)

Top players to watch from the class of 2014

Phil Booth, 6-3 guard, Team Takeover (D.C.), Mount St. Joseph
John Crosby, 6-2 guard, Baltimore Elite, City
Kamau Stokes, 6-2 guard, Baltimore Elite, John Carroll
Lionel Owona, 6-7 forward, Baltimore Elite, John Carroll

Among the teams slated to participate are: Baltimore Elite, Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.), Albany (N.Y.) City Rocks, Houston Defenders, Team Takeover (D.C.), New England Playaz (Mass.), Cuttino Mobley (Pa.), BWSL Defenders (Va.), D.C. Assault, Metro Hawks (N.Y.), Riverside Hawks (N.Y.), Raising Champions, Southern Kings (Ga.), Triple Threat (D.C.), Wayne County Blazers (N.C.), Richmond (Va.) Phenoms and Philly Finest among others.

For more information, visit

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:33 AM | | Comments (2)

May 2, 2011

Weekend wrap – Judge visits Maryland

The Maryland men's basketball staff played host this weekend to Kansas State transfer Wally Judge.

Judge, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward and former Bladensburg High standout, spoke to Adam Zagoria about his trip to College Park.

As for how the Maryland staff would utilize Judge, he said, They would “basically put the ball in my hands and let me be the same player I was there coming out of high school. Allow me to step out and show my perimeter skills and be a face-up four man instead of a five man.”

Judge has already visited Rutgers. He is also considering a trip to Washington.

•'s Dave Telep tweeted Saturday that Maryland small forward commitment Justin Anderson has left Boo Williams and "won't play much AAU ball this year."

• Maryland center target Robert Upshaw impressed this weekend at the Jayhawk Invitational in Kansas.

Upshaw — he said he has heard from coaches from KU, Maryland, Oregon and Tennessee lately — said his goal is to resemble NBA standout Dwight Howard.

• DeMatha forward and potential Terps target Jerami Grant gave an updated list of schools.

Jerami Grant named Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Rutgers, Georgetown, Virginia and Clemson as the schools recruiting him the hardest.

• Terps women's commitment A'lexus Harrison earned rave reviews from ESPN HoopGurlz for her recent play on the AAU circuit.

This weekend Harrison excelled in the open court as she would often grab defensive rebounds and look to push the ball in transition herself. She has a nice and quick first step and a long, lean frame that allows her to get by defenders with ease. One of the most impressive things about her offensive game was her ability to pass the ball once the help-side defense rotated to her. She made a couple of very good passes setting teammates up for easy baskets.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:26 AM | | Comments (1)
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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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