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July 29, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Houston Defenders won the AAU Super Showcase in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Wednesday, thanks in large part to contributions from a host of Maryland targets.

Andrew and Aaron Harrison led the way for the Under Armour-sponsored team in its 55-45 win over BABC.

Aaron led the Defenders with 18 points and seven rebounds in the final, while Andrew was a passing machine, notching 10 assists to go along with eight points.

"It really is a lot of fun to have this time with my brother and enjoy this experience," said Andrew. "I trust his abilities and I know he is going to make things happen when I get him the ball. He's pretty much unstoppable."

Scott Phillips, a Scout.com analyst, tweeted an updated list of schools for the twins.

Andrew Harrison gave a top 5 of Villanova, Kentucky, Baylor, Maryland, and Texas. Added interest from Kansas, Georgetown and Texas A&M.

Testudo Times' Ben Broman offered his overall impressions of the Houston Defenders.

Shaquille Cleare was also a standout for the Houston Defenders at the AAU Super Showcase. Will Gunter of 24-7 Sports tweeted that Cleare "spoke very highly of Maryland."

Doesn't know who he will visit or make a decision. Word is Maryland in excellent shape.

• Wrentham, Mass., small forward Jake Layman updated NBE Basketball Report on his latest list of schools.

Jake Layman said he has offers from Maryland, Syracuse, Florida, Iowa, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Louisville, and others. Texas is a school coming at him that has not offered.

“No, not at all,” Layman said of whether he has any favorites.

• NBE Basketball Report also had news this week on Terps forward target Amile Jefferson.

Amile Jefferson hopes to be able to visit Pittsburgh and Maryland next month but nothing has been set in stone as of yet. His list of offers include those two along with Villanova, North Carolina State (head coach Mark Gottfried was in attendance for Jefferson’s game), Ohio State, Stanford and Temple.

Arnaud Moto, a four-star forward from Episcopal High in Alexandria, Va., has narrowed his list of schools to six, according to Scout.com.

The talented wing ... is now down to Florida, Miami, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

• A new highlight reel of Maryland center target Mitch McGary was released this week. Check it out below.

Football recruiting

Avery Thompson, a linebacker from Grassfield High in Chesapeake, Va., has committed to the Terps.

Thompson, 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, had 113 tackles last season and two sacks to earn second-team All-Southeastern District honors.

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

• Reisterstown Patch this week profiled Franklin wide receiver Ian Thomas.

He had also originally hoped to verbally commit to a college prior to the start of the season, but now says he will do that after the season is over. He has, though, limited his college choices to a top seven: Boston College, Iowa, Maryland, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Stanford and Vanderbilt.

Note: There will be a car wash today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1500 Elmtree St. in Baltimore to raise money for the funeral of Marcus Harvell. Harvell was the Masonville Cove forward who was killed in an apparent accidental shooting last week. For more information regarding contributions, contact Michael Lunceford of the Brooklyn Church of God at 334-707-0556.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:23 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

Charles Tapper discusses his Oklahoma pledge

charles-tapper-oklahoma.jpg Oklahoma was the first college football program to take a chance and offer Charles Tapper a scholarship.

Last weekend, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end rewarded the Sooners’ faith in him by offering his commitment.

“I just thought it was the best choice,” said Tapper, a four-star prospect and 24-7 Sports’ No. 112 player in the 2012 class. “I think they want me at weakside D-end. They said they liked my quickness off the ball, that I’m strong and that I’m a raw talent.”

A well-known basketball standout for City and Nike Baltimore Elite, Tapper was a newcomer last fall to the gridiron. He suited up for the Knights for the first time, and quickly emerged as one of the city’s top talents. His national reputation grew thanks in part to his participation in Next Level Nation’s 7-on-7 program.

Bobby Wright, Oklahoma’s assistant defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach, was an early believer in Tapper’s potential. Tapper said he bonded right away with the OU assistant.

“He treated me like a father figure,” Tapper said. “He always tells me the truth. … Hopefully I will get to play [early]. They say as long as I work hard, the sky’s the limit.”

Tapper said his commitment to the Sooners relieved “a lot of pressure.” But West Virginia has continued to recruit him, and he’s considering visits this fall to Morgantown and Miami.

“I’m pretty much solid with [my commitment to Oklahoma],” Tapper said. “I haven’t been down there for a visit yet. My mother hasn’t been down there yet. It’s a long way.”

Tapper, who isn’t sure yet where he will attend high school this fall, said he was impressed by Oklahoma's graduation rate for football players, its penchant for producing NFL talent, and the program's regular Top 10 finishes. Tapper, a prospective business major, plans to visit Oklahoma soon. He’s excited to see what Norman has to offer.

“I love the city of Baltimore, but I also wanted to experience new things and experience new places,” he said. “I don’t even know what I expect to see [at Oklahoma]. I think I’m going to have a great time.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Charles Tapper by Karl Merton Ferron / Nov. 6, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:32 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 28, 2011

Calvert Hall WR Williams commits to West Virginia

Recruiting-Trevor-Williams.jpg Ask Calvert Hall football coach Donald Davis about wide receiver Trevor Williams' merits, and Davis pauses for a breath before beginning his answer.

The laundry list Davis rattles off is a big reason Williams committed to West Virginia on Thursday.

"As a receiver, he's got all the components," Davis ultimately concluded. "He fits all the criteria [coaches] are looking for. He can play in any offense."

Those components include speed, intelligence, deft route running, reliable hands, strong blocking and the ability to contribute in the return game.

"Overall, he's one of the best prospects I've ever had," Davis said of the 6-foot-2, 190-pound rising senior after confirming his commitment. "He's certainly the best wide receiver prospect I've ever had."

Williams couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Davis said his player's decision came down to West Virginia and Toledo, and that they were waiting to see if Penn State would offer a scholarship.

Calvert Hall wide receivers coach Chris Cook echoed Davis' praise for Williams.

"He makes defenders miss," Cook said. "He's very explosive, and he can score from anywhere on the field.

"I think [West Virginia] is an excellent fit for him. He'll have the opportunity to play right away. They run a wide open offense, and that's the ideal fit for him."

Photo: Calvert Hall's Trevor Williams runs for touchdown in third quarter of the 2009 Turkey Bowl at M&T Bank Stadium. (By Jed Kirschbaum/The Baltimore Sun)

Posted by David Selig at 5:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Braxton Dupree ready for next chapter

braxton-dupree-maccabi.jpg The past four years haven’t exactly gone as planned for Braxton Dupree.

In an ideal world, the former Calvert Hall star would have wrapped up an illustrious, postseason-filled four-year career at Maryland last spring. In reality, Dupree turned in two forgettable seasons in College Park followed by a transfer to Towson and a solid junior campaign for a dreadful Tigers team.

But despite the disappointments and missed opportunities, Dupree finds himself precisely where he always dreamed he would be: on the verge of a professional basketball career.

Dupree, a 6-foot-8 power forward, signed a two-year deal last week with Israel’s Maccabi Ashdod. He will be loaned his first year to Nes Ziona, a second division Israeli club.

“It’s everything I’ve always wanted,” Dupree said Wednesday. ”As a kid, when I first started playing, you play for the love of the game. That’s something I’m doing now. I’m just looking forward to getting everything started. That’s the main thing right now. I put in a lot of work over the last few months. I just can’t wait to play now.”

Dupree, who averaged 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds as a junior, decided to forgo his last season at Towson in March after the Tigers’ 4-26 year came to merciful end. Pat Kennedy had been let go, and Dupree had little interest in playing for his third head coach in college – although he has heard “great things” about Pat Skerry, Kennedy’s successor.

While agents Jim Buckley and Frank Catapano of Pro Partner Sports Management began to market Dupree to overseas clubs, trainer Joe Connelly prescribed a steady regimen of basketball and boxing. Dupree worked out at the Laurel Boys & Girls Club with Chris Wright (Georgetown), Ricky Harris (Massachusetts, Calvert Hall), Reggie Holmes (Morgan State, St. Frances) and several other former college stars looking to catch on with a professional team.

Dupree’s daily sessions with Connelly, meanwhile, were transformative.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much work it took for me, this summer and this spring, just to get where I wanted to be,” Dupree said. “I lost like 40 pounds. I cut down on a lot of extra things. I pushed myself to another level to prepare. I’m really excited. I just put my mind to it. I would say to anybody if you want something, you’ve got to work for it. That’s what I did.”

Dupree, a stout, 280-pound freshman at Maryland, is now a svelte 240 pounds. The body makeover has made a “big difference” in how he plays, looks and feels. Dupree only wishes he possessed this type of work ethic when he started his college career.

“I guess it’s part of maturing,” Dupree said. “That’s one thing I learned about myself through this process. I learned a lot about how much I could push myself. Back then, I didn’t really know because I was younger. I didn’t realize or know what it took to be successful. As a younger player, maybe you feel like you can go to practice and that’s enough. You really need to spend extra time outside [of practice].

“Back then, I didn’t really understand. I didn’t really then, but I do now. I just bought into what my trainer was telling me. I just do everything [he says]. I wish I could’ve done that when I was younger, but I’m really happy now because at the end of the day, I’m where I want to be – a pro basketball player. I’m there now.”

From time to time Dupree talks to former Terps teammates Dino Gregory (who has reportedly signed with Sweden's Sundsvall Dragons), Adrian Bowie (who's looking to sign a pro deal) and Cliff Tucker, now a wide receiver at UTEP. Dupree’s Towson tenure, meanwhile, didn’t translate into many wins, but he’s appreciative for his time spent with Kennedy, who Dupree said “did the best job he could.”

Now a contract has been signed and the next two years of his life have been mapped out. That security, however, hasn’t led to Dupree falling back into old habits. He has stuck to his workout routine, and plans to continue that until his late-August departure for Israel. For Dupree, who has never left the country, the next phase of his basketball-playing life can’t come soon enough.

“I’ve always lived in Baltimore City my whole life,” Dupree said. “It’s a new experience for me. I get to meet new people. I’m older now, and I’m looking forward to it. [I’ll be able to] get out to see the world on my own. It should be a great time.”

Photo of Braxton Dupree by Kenneth K. Lam / Nov. 16, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:44 AM | | Comments (6)
        

July 27, 2011

Aberdeen grad Devon Branch a JUCO standout

devon-branch-cloud-county.jpg The Holiday Inn in Aberdeen wasn't exactly where Devon Branch hoped to be after graduating high school in 2008.

Branch, a first-team All-Harford County selection for the Eagles as a senior, had received interest from George Mason, Tennessee and Virginia Tech for his basketball talents. But when his SAT score came up short of NCAA qualifying standards, Branch decided to take “a year off to mature myself and get ready” for college.

“It was good,” Branch said of his time at the Holiday Inn. “Some days I worked in the kitchen as a dishwasher. Some days I helped the maids make the beds.”

Branch, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard, never stopped working on his game during his year away from school. That work ethic served him well during the 2010-11 season, when he starred as a freshman for the Cloud County Community College team in Concordia, Kan.

“It went pretty well,” Branch said. “We went 19-11, lost in the first round of the playoffs. I was the starting shooting guard. I [averaged] 17 points a game, four rebounds, two assists.”

Branch was discovered by the Cloud County staff at a showcase near Washington. He also considered junior colleges in Texas and Georgia, but ultimately settled on the rural Kansas school.

“It was a big change for me,” Branch said. “[There are] lots of fields, [and there] wasn’t a lot of people. [It was] tough to adapt to. … [but] I knew it was my second chance that I needed, so I just really buckled down and talked to my family every other day. They told me to keep striving, that I’ll be all right.”

Branch’s performance freshman year generated a good deal of college interest. The former Eagles star said he’s heard from Arkansas-Little Rock, Gardner-Webb, Liberty, Missouri State, VCU, West Virginia and Wichita State. Branch said he hopes to commit at the end of August.

Devon Saddler, the reigning CAA Rookie of the Year at Delaware, is Branch’s cousin and former teammate at Aberdeen. Branch often goes to Saddler for advice on college basketball life.

“We always talk about it,” Branch said. “It was like one of us had to take the long route. It just happened to be me. I’m happy he’s out there doing his thing.”

Branch, who will serve as one of Cloud County’s captains this season, said he’s looking forward to another former Aberdeen star – guard Gerrae Williams – joining him on the Thunderbirds’ roster. Branch is hopeful that both players’ goals are within reach.

“I’m just looking to be the first person to graduate college in my family and just go somewhere where education [comes] before basketball.”

Handout photo of Devon Branch courtesy of Cloud County Community College.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 26, 2011

Former Forest Park RB Makell commits to Temple

xavier-makell-forestpark.jpg

The way he looked at it, Xavier Makell's senior season was going to punch his ticket to a Division I football scholarship.

Through four games in the fall of 2008, the Forest Park running back had rushed for more than 750 yards and 13 touchdowns, and in the first half of the fifth game, against Poly, he had 90 yards and another score.

Then came the second half kickoff.

Returning the kick, Makell was stepping out of bounds when he noticed the man holding the down marker in his path. Makell tried to leap over the stick, but in doing so, he tweaked his right knee.

He stayed in the game but shortly thereafter "felt a pop." With an torn anterior cruciate ligament, Makell's season was over, and his path to that D-I scholarship was about to get tougher.

After spending the previous two years at Alfred State, a junior college in Western New York, Makell has committed to play at Temple.

"I felt like my senior year was my big chance to get a Division I scholarship," Makell reflected Tuesday. "I never even knew about the junior college option."

Makell missed some school after his injury, and his grades dropped, leaving the junior college route his best option.

The 5-foot-8, 191-pound player rushed for more than 1,200 yards in his two years at Alfred, despite missing time with a left knee injury last fall.

He was sold on Temple by the Owls' new coaching and senior wide receiver Rod Streater, a former Alfred teammate.

xavier-makell-forest.jpg

Makell committed July 15 and made his first visit to the Philadelphia campus Monday.

He plans to redshirt this season and will have two more years of eligibility after that.

Makell -- who played in a similar spread offense at Alfred -- said he's been told his prospective role at Temple will include lots of pass-catching out of the backfield and from the slot. He compared it to that of Percy Harvin with Florida, which is the same role recent Mount St. Joseph graduate Samuel Benjamin's said he was recruited to play at Temple.

That might lead to some competition between the two Baltimore-area players in coming years. But after battling through injuries and working his way up through the junior college ranks, Makell doesn't seem like he's going to let anything like that faze him.

"[Going through the knee injury] taught me to stay positive," Makell said. "Of course I could have quit when I tore my ACL. Fortunately I can be one of those people who get to sign a Division I letter of intent. A lot of people want to do that, and not everyone gets the chance to. It's a blessing."

Headshot photo by Baltimore Sun photographer Jed Kirschbaum. Action photo by Baltimore Sun photographer David Hobby.

Posted by David Selig at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Gaels' Lavon Long powers Maryland 3D 16s to title

Less than three weeks after leading Maryland 3D's 17-and-under team to the Big Shots Myrtle Beach tournament championship, Lavon Long had an encore performance on the circuit.

This time the rising junior from Mount St. Joseph rejoined 3D’s 16-and-under squad for a Big Shots tournament on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth last weekend. And once again, Long’s team was victorious.

“Lavon Long was the MVP,” said Geoff Reed, coach of the Maryland 3D 16s. “It’s kind of interesting because his role with the 17s is a little bit different. He’s a little bit of a role player for them. They have some guards who can really play. My guards are good, too, but their guards are a little bit older. Basically, he’s the unquestioned leader for us. He does a little bit of everything for us. He handles the ball, rebounds, blocks shots, can shoot the 3 [and] gets to the rim when he wants. I think he’s a kid that’s just kind of figuring out how good he can really be. He’s got kind of a laid-back personality. I think mentally, he’s starting to realize that he can really dominate games on both ends of the floor.”

big-shots-richmond-3d.jpg

In Richmond, 3D topped Crusader Nation Gold for the title. Reed’s team was down 10 points in the first half, but battled back in the second. Marriotts Ridge guard B.J. Durham hit big foul shots down the stretch, while 3D also received steady play in the backcourt from Miller School (Va.) guard Grant Harris.

Timi Tinouye, a 6-3 wing from Centennial, “took a big charge” in the title game, Pallotti guard Marcus Scott “played extremely hard” and Centennial forward Joe Eads -- who has drawn some interest from Navy – was a strong, physical presence down low. 3D also received contributions from Jason Tucker (St. Paul’s), T.J. Hefner (St. Paul’s), Dominic Bernetti (Atholton) and Jacarl Smith (Pallotti).

It was Long, meanwhile, that flourished as 3D’s go-to guy.

“He’s a big kid, a physical kid with a really good quick first step,” Reed said. “He can really handle the ball for a big kid, get to the rim and penetrate and finish. Three possessions in a row he just dunked the ball in traffic. That opened some eyes.”

Reed said Long has scholarship offers from Dayton, Towson and VCU. Thanks to Long’s play on the circuit, several other programs have expressed interest in him.

“Massachusetts really likes him, Radford, James Madison … [I] got a call from Robert Morris about him [and] Northeastern,” Reed said. “Bino [Ranson] from Maryland actually called me last week about him. They’re going to continue to monitor him, look at him and see if he grows and improves. He’s about 6-5, 6-6 right now. If he grows a couple inches, there’s a good chance he’ll start getting some interest from ACC teams like Maryland.”

Handout photo courtesy of Maryland 3D

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 25, 2011

Weekend wrap – New SG target for UM?

New targets continue to emerge for the Maryland men's basketball program.

Leading up to the Super 64 adidas AAU event in Las Vegas, three-star shooting guard Buddy Hield of Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., reportedly impressed the Terps and several other high-major programs.

Some schools had more interest than others, but that was before the ever-crucial July period began. Since then (read: since he had a surprisingly strong showing with the Kansas Pray and Play Players in Indianapolis earlier this month), Memphis, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Oregon State have dropped in.

• UM shooting guard target Christian Sanders could be a legacy recruit for Kansas.

In a short span he has received offers from Stanford, Colorado, Texas, Maryland, Harvard and Oklahoma State and is also being recruited by KU and others.

“It’s been a learning experience for the family. It’s been enjoyable in many ways, but also a pretty serious process,” former Leavenworth High standout Brad Sanders said Sunday in a phone conversation, indicating recruiting has changed a lot since his years (1975-79) at KU.

• Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard and Terps target Nate Britt was a standout for D.C. Assault on Sunday in Las Vegas.

DC Assault needed an exquisite three-point play with seven seconds remaining from Nate Britt (2013) to hold off Lakeshow 17 Black by the final score of 58-55. Britt displayed the outstanding vision that has more than a few high-level programs looking to garner his services, and he’s also a very good perimeter shooter.

• NBE Basketball got an updated list of schools for DeMatha forward Jeremi Grant.

The half dozen finalists for the 6-foot-7 combo forward out of DeMatha HS and Team Takeover AAU are Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Texas, Oklahoma, Syracuse and Rutgers. Of those, he does “not really” have any favorites.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:47 AM | | Comments (2)
        

July 24, 2011

Terps WR recruit Etta-Tawo 'on a different level'

With a sprinter's body and a quiet, unassuming demeanor, Amba Etta-Tawo didn't exactly look or act the part of a big-time wide receiver recruit when he began his varsity career two years ago.

“At first you looked at him, and he was not real impressive to look at,” said Ken Hockman, wide receivers coach at McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga. “He’s kind of lean, but then you see him in the weight room, and he is really, really strong. Catching the ball, he really worked hard on his hands. He may have as good a [set of] hands as I have seen.”

Midway through Etta-Tawo’s sophomore season, Hockman – whose son Kyle is McEachern’s head coach – knew he had a future Division I wide-out on his hands. Hockman’s premonition was proven correct last week when Etta-Tawo committed to Maryland. He was also recruited by Illinois, Purdue, Southern Miss, South Florida and Virginia, among others.

Hockman, set to begin his 47th year of coaching, had a blank canvas to work with when it came to harnessing Etta-Tawo’s potential. The future Terp’s speed – and seemingly effortless stride – was immediately put to good use at McEachern.

“He’s got a real long stride,” Hockman said. “He gets 10 yards in four strides, maybe four and a half strides. In five strides he’s at 12 yards. It looks like he’s barely running. On the [school’s 4x100] relay team, he did really well. He runs the back straightaway and just passes everybody. On the deep routes, it’s the same thing. If the ball’s in the air, he takes four strides and he’s left you. I don’t care how good a defensive back you are – he just left you.”

Etta-Tawo, now a 6-foot-3, 180-pound player, became a weight-room warrior, a sound route runner and a surprisingly physical blocker. Hockman said Etta-Tawo's improvement – in all facets of his game – over the past two seasons has been dramatic.

“He’s kind of on a different level,” Hockman said. “Amba runs a two-step slant – everyone else runs a four-step. He has really good body control and explosion. He really developed that part of his game and route running over the past couple years. His hands have become just exceptional. … [He’s one of] the best blockers I’ve ever had. He just gets in there, holds up and stays on. He’s powerful. He’s a tough kid, and it’s amazing what he does to people.”

When it came to recruiting, Hockman said Etta-Tawo was extraordinarily thorough in doing his research. He consulted his brothers – one who played at Clemson and another who plays at West Georgia – and studied his options.

“[Some teammates said], ‘Terps, what does that mean?’ [I said], ‘I don’t know. It’s turtle.’ But he knew all about it,” Hockman said. “[He knew that] the quarterback(Danny O’Brien) is young, and how many times he attempted it. [He knew Maryland lost] their top receiver (Torrey Smith). But he knew all that kind of stuff. He’s very astute with things that way.”

Etta-Tawo hasn’t visited College Park yet, but Hockman said he’s excited to eventually see what the campus has to offer. Hockman said Etta-Tawo plans to major in engineering, making Maryland the perfect fit for him academically and athletically.

“He really wanted it,” Hockman said. “The new staff, with Randy Edsall, they really did a great job of recruiting him, telling him how he was going to fit in and how they’re going to use him. [Wide receivers coach] Lee Hull did a real good job of communicating with Amba. … You’re looking at a big 6-3, 180-pounder right now. He’s a big, long drink of water. But he’s tough.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:22 PM | | Comments (4)
        

July 22, 2011

Former Arundel football player Paschal to Kentucky

Travaughn Paschal's path to a Division I scholarship was far more circuitous than the former Arundel football player would have liked.

But after committing to Kentucky last month and preparing to enroll for this fall semester, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end/linebacker is surely not going to take his opportunity for granted.

Paschal played sparingly his junior year at Arundel, and he only made it through two games his senior season (2008) before breaking his arm at a team dinner.

The players were hanging out in a backyard the day before the third game of the season when one teammate threw a pass into the air. Paschal went up to grab it, not seeing another intended target sprinting in his direction. The other player unintentionally clipped Paschal's legs out from under him, and Paschal landed awkwardly on his arm, ending his season.

"At the time I didn't even want to talk about it," Paschal said. "I hated every time I had to walk past everybody [on the team] with their jerseys on. It was just real frustrating to me."

That left Paschal with limited game experience, and needing to get his grades up, he enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, where he spent the past two seasons.

In that time, Paschal had 15 sacks, showing versatility on the Blue Devils' defense.

"He played a little linebacker, but we liked him at defensive end," Fork Union coach John Shuman said. "He's one of those hybrid guys that can play up or down."

Paschal's combination of speed and size should help him fit in on a Kentucky defensive he compares to the ones run by the Ravens and New York Jets. (Paschal likens his prospective role to that of Terrell Suggs.)

Paschal -- who also received an offer from Pittsburgh -- said he wanted to play in the SEC because of its level of competition, and he felt that coach Joker Phillips and his staff would be around for a while.

He plans to study electrical engineering, and along with gaining weight and lowering his 40 time, Paschal says his other primary goal is to make sure he stays ahead of his classwork.

After taking so long to reach the collegiate level, Paschal wants to make sure nothing forces him off the field.

"He's worked hard," Shuman said. "His dream was to go 1-A, BCS, and he got it done."

Posted by David Selig at 5:06 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

There appears to be a trend emerging when it comes to Maryland basketball recruiting.

First, the Terps decide which players they want to target. Then those targets give interviews about their recruitment to various media outlets, and when asked which programs are recruiting them the hardest, Maryland is frequently mentioned.

The latest example of this comes from Northstar Basketball, which caught up this week with Garland, Texas center Prince Ibeh.

Although he is still raw, Ibeh listed offers from Texas, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Florida, Texas A&M, Baylor, Arkansas, "and a couple others."

Ibeh said he does not have any favorites, but said of who is coming after him the hardest, "Probably Texas, Maryland and Vanderbilt."

Turtle Soup contributor DBR spoke this week to Ibeh's high school, Jeff Clarkson, about his star player.

With coaches calling him almost daily and new schools trying to get involved, Clarkson didn’t speculate on Maryland’s chances but indicated that the recent visit to College Park helped the Terps. “He went from being leery to definitely considering it.”

• Terps small forward target Jake Layman was listed on ESPN.com as one of the most undervalued players during the first week of July's open period.

The secret is out on Mr. Efficiency Jake Layman and the competition to secure the services of this skilled combo forward is heating up quickly. He is a dangerous weapon at the point of BABC's press, and schools from the ACC/Big East/SEC are jockeying for position. Maryland is considered the frontrunner at the moment.

• UM forward target Amile Jefferson draws comparisons to former Syracuse star and current Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick in this CSNPhilly.com article.

The similarities are striking. Both players are from Philly. Warrick went to high school at Friends Central, which is where Jefferson will be a senior this season. Both are long, athletic power forwards with a solid face-up game. Warrick won a national championship in college, which is one of Jefferson’s top goals. Warrick now plays in the NBA, which is where Jefferson wants to be in the next few years. And Warrick and Jefferson played together Sunday night in the Delco Pro-Am League on the “Friends Central Alumni” team.

• Maryland center target Mitch McGary was selected to the 2011 Boost Mobile Elite 24 game in Venice Beach, Calif.

• According to CBSSports.com, Maryland is involved with St. Benedict Prep (N.J.) center Phil Nolan.

Nolan, who ranked No. 89 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, is hearing from Texas, Clemson, Missouri, Baylor and West Virginia. Maryland and Arizona have also offered.

• UM remains heavily in the mix for DeMatha center Bee Jay Anya.

As for colleges, Anya says is wide open. The schools recruiting him hardest, he said, are Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Florida, Ohio State, UCLA, Texas and Kansas. All of those schools have offered scholarships.

Football recruiting

• The Terps landed a commitment this week from Georgia wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

What type of wide receiver is Etta-Towa? A fast one. He was a member of McEachern’s 400-meter relay team that finished runner-up for the Class AAAAA state championship and he has been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.4 seconds.

Check back later for more on Etta-Tawo's commitment.

• Maryland quarterback commitment Caleb Rowe won the title at the inaugural QB1 Quarterback Challenge camp at Newberry College in South Carolina.

Rowe, according to a story on SCVarsity.com, took the top spot in the standing long jump (110 inches) and scored a 90 on a written test on recognizing coverages.

• Fifteen Good Counsel football players have scholarship offers. The Washington Post's Josh Barr spoke to Falcons coach Bob Milloy about some of his highly recruited players, including running back Wes Brown.

“With Wes, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Miami is pretty high up there because he has an aunt that lives in Miami. He’s been to Miami and Florida and, of course, Maryland and Virginia Tech. I think he wants to look at Tennessee and Colorado.”

• In another blog post, Milloy updated Barr on the recruitment of five-star athlete Stefon Diggs.

“I know Maryland is right up there [with] Florida, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Miami and South Carolina,” Milloy said. “Those are the ones I keep hearing. South Carolina a little higher up than Miami, his mother likes [Gamecocks Coach Steve] Spurrier. But I think she likes [Maryland Coach Randy] Edsall best of all. That might win out over all, you know.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:26 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 21, 2011

Mount St. Joe WR Benjamin commits to Temple

samuel-benjamin-temple.jpg
With experience at wide receiver, quarterback and running back, it can be somewhat tough to iron down Samuel Benjamin's role in Mount St. Joseph's offense.

But the coaches at Temple University found a description the Gaels’ rising senior likes quite a bit.

First-year Owls coach Steve Addazio and much of his staff came from the University of Florida. And likening Benjamin's future role on their team to that of former Gators star receiver Percy Harvin was one factor in Benjamin committing to Temple on Monday.

"That was kind of surprising to me," Benjamin said of the comparison to Harvin, one of his favorite NFL players. "I wasn't expecting it. It's a good honor to be compared to a player like Percy Harvin."

Benjamin gave his commitment while on an unofficial visit Monday. He also had verbal offers from Ohio and Marshall and received strong interest from Virginia, Mount St. Joseph coach Blake Henry said.

Last season, his first on the Gaels' varsity squad, Benjamin combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving and scored four touchdowns.

"He's just an explosive athlete," said Henry, who added that the 6-foot, 190-pound player is "the strongest kid on the team."

Benjamin -- who is expected to play mostly slot receiver and strong safety this fall -- benches 320 pounds and squats 470, Henry said, and his 40-yard dash time has been clocked at below 4.4 seconds.

Henry believes Benjamin's commitment in the weight room was a major factor in his recruitment. Benjamin was offered a scholarship after visiting Temple for a one-day camp in May.

Despite receiving interest from other programs, Benjamin said the fact that Temple is "one of the most diverse schools in the country" was a big part of what drew him to the Philadelphia campus.

If his role in the Owls' offense is just as diverse, Benjamin won't have any complaints.

Photo by Steve Ruark for The Baltimore Sun (Benjamin at right)

Posted by David Selig at 5:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

St. Frances' Daquan Cook commits to UNLV

daquan-cook-unlv.jpg Daquan Cook has never set foot on UNLV's campus, but that will change soon enough.

Cook, a rising senior from St. Frances, committed to the Runnin' Rebels on Thursday afternoon. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound combo guard was also recruited by La Salle, Seton Hall, South Florida, Temple and Washington.

"I’ve been thinking [about committing] for a long time now," Cook said. "I’m just glad to get it over with now. It feels good."

Despite never taking a visit to UNLV, Cook said he "didn't feel any pressure" about making his choice. Dwayne Wise, director of the Under Armour-sponsored B'more Finest AAU program, said Cook was sold on first-year Rebels coach Dave Rice.

“Coach Rice, we researched him, and he did really well with Jimmer Fredette … [as the associate head coach] at BYU,” said Wise, whose cousin is Cook’s mother. “We researched the system, researched the school, and that’s the kind of system Daquan would flourish in as a college player. Coach Rice was really influential with that system before taking the UNLV job. As we researched Coach Rice, being that he’s a former player at UNLV, we think he wants to bring that kind of style back to the new UNLV. We felt as though it was the perfect system for Daquan as a point guard to develop.”

Said Cook: "Coach Rice, he came to a lot of my games and saw me play. He changed his flights many times to stay and watch my games. I really knew they wanted me."

Cook played sparingly as a sophomore at St. Frances, but flourished as a junior at Digital Harbor, leading the Rams to the Class 2A state championship. Cook averaged about 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, earning Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro honors.

After the season, Cook teamed with Patterson’s Aquille Carr to lead U.S. Elite Select Basketball’s under-19 team to the Junior International Tournament championship in Milan, Italy. Shortly thereafter, he decided to return to St. Frances for his senior year.

“He’s an athletic point guard [and he’s] really got good floor vision,” said St. Frances athletic director and assistant coach Nick Myles. “He’s great at getting his teammates involved. And he can score the ball.”

Cook was scheduled to travel with D.C. Assault for an AAU tournament in Las Vegas this weekend, but because of conflict with his summer school schedule will instead stay in Baltimore. He plans to take an official visit to UNLV "sometime in the fall." Until then, the future Rebel is looking forward to joining a program coming off its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

"I'm just going to bring a point guard presence [and be] a leader," Cook said. "That’s what Coach Rice told me he’s looking for. That’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m just going to work for my playing time. ... I’m really excited to see what it’s going to be like."

Baltimore Sun photo of Daquan Cook by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Feb. 28, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:20 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Masonville Cove's Marcus Harvell shot and killed

William Russell could barely contain his excitement when discussing his first-year varsity basketball program at Masonville Cove in an interview last October.

A major part of that preseason giddiness centered on Marcus Harvell, a 6-foot-5 forward who Russell first started coaching as an eighth-grader. Russell expected Harvell to be the Bayhawks’ “main guy,” and the junior largely lived up to his coach’s expectations, averaging a double-double for much of the season while leading a surprisingly competitive Masonville Cove team to a winning record in Baltimore City Division II play.

On Wednesday afternoon, Russell lost his star player. The Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton reported today that Harvell was shot and killed.

Investigators said the shooting occurred just before 3 p.m. Wednesday inside a building in the 900 block of Herndon Court in South Baltimore. Harvell was shot in the chest and was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:57 p.m., police said.

Fenton later reported that the shooting may have been accidental.

The story I wrote in October focused on Russell’s expectations for his Masonville Cove team. But the coach had plenty more to say about Harvell that didn’t make the article, including his thoughts on Harvell’s potential as a college player.

“Oh, I really believe he will” play in college, Russell said. “We’ve already talked to a few junior colleges. It’s amazing. We were playing in a league over at Oliver and [then-Maryland assistant coach] Keith Booth was there. Marcus had a really, really good game. [Booth] was kind of shaking his head at him, kind of giving him the OK, that he was doing a good job. But I think Marcus will be a really good college player.”

Russell, who adopted former Calvert Hall star and current Navy freshman Donya Jackson off those same South Baltimore streets, said he didn’t know if Harvell could qualify academically for a four-year university right after high school. But Russell said his star forward would definitely have junior college options.

“He works hard with what he can do,” Russell said. “He works out sometimes at Baltimore City Community College. Coach [Terry] Maczko really loves him. I don’t know how far he’ll be able to go. [Coach] Darnell Dantzler from Edmondson said he’s probably the most athletic big man in the city. He played in the league at Douglass and he just dunked on teams with ease. The potential is there.”

Russell, a former BCCC women's assistant who bypassed other college opportunities to work with kids in South Baltimore, said it was "a blessing" to coach Harvell and his teammates. Condolences go out to him, Harvell's family and the entire Masonville Cove Community for their loss.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:10 AM | | Comments (4)
        

July 20, 2011

McDonogh's Kayel Locke starring on AAU circuit

kayel-locke-mcdonogh.jpg For McDonogh's Kayel Locke, this summer has been business as usual on the court.

A 6-foot-5, 255-pound power forward, Locke has followed up a standout junior season with a starring role for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit. The Eagles star had a breakout performance last week at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.

“It was pretty good, getting an opportunity to play in front of a lot of college coaches,” Locke said. “My role is just to pretty much be a leader on the court. … I get out there and rebound, score in the post, score outside the post. I just go out and play hard, do all the dirty work.”

Locke’s shining moment came during NBE’s 78-71 win over Virginia-based Boo Williams on the first night of pool play at the Peach Jam. Locke paced his squad with 23 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes. For the tournament, Locke averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He shot nearly 48 percent from the field in leading NBE to a 3-2 record.

“My father always warned me that … this is pretty much go hard or go home at this time, especially around the Peach Jam,” Locke said. “Every college coach, pretty much, in the nation is watching. I knew that I was going to get looks. … I’m always grateful that people are out there watching, giving me the chance and opportunity to show what I’ve got."

Locke’s play on the circuit is just a continuation of his junior season at McDonogh. An MIAA A Conference first-team selection and second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro pick, Locke averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles. While he plays on a team of Baltimore’s best on the circuit, his role with Nike Elite is similar to what he does in high school.

“I’ve been playing the big man all my life. I’ve always been an undersized forward,” Locke said. “The thing I have that’s unique in that spot is that I’m stronger and also quicker than the bigger, taller forwards. They put a little guy on me, I just post them up and score. With a taller guy, I’ll take him out in the high post and score from there. For me, it’s all about matchups, finding the weakness in the defender and taking advantage of that.”

Several mid-major college programs have taken note of Locke’s play. He has offers from Appalachian State, Boston University, Delaware, Hartford, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Stony Brook, Towson, UMBC and UNC-Greensboro. Locke said he’s also received interest from Dayton, La Salle and Northeastern.

Locke said Towson and UNC-Greensboro “are the ones reaching out the most.” With the Tigers, Greyhounds, Retrievers and Mountaineers all in the mix, Locke said he’s thinking “more and more” about staying close to home for college. While he’s completely wide open and has no favorites, he has been impressed by Towson’s new staff.

“The coaching staff seems real passionate about what they’re doing,” Locke said. “They pretty much kept it straightforward with me. I can go there and do big things as long as I work hard. I really like the coaching staff there. They’re really cool guys. I can see myself working hard there for four years. It’s a lot to think about the whole process. But it’s nice knowing there are schools out there that want to see you do good and want to see you be successful.”

Locke and his NBE teammates will travel to Orlando this weekend for the Super Showcase, which they won last summer in the 16-and-under division. Locke’s hoping for a repeat performance.

“We’ve got the pieces to do it,” Locke said. “It just depends how hard we work and how much we want to win.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Kayel Locke by Amy Davis / Jan. 25, 2011

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

July 19, 2011

Q&A with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon

mark-turgeon-2011-recruitin.jpg A frenetic start to Mark Turgeon's Maryland tenure doesn't appear close to slowing down.

The Terps men’s basketball coach was introduced as Gary Williams’ successor May 11. Since then, the former Texas A&M and Wichita State coach successfully re-recruited City shooting guard Nick Faust, hired an all-star coaching staff, reached out to local high school and AAU coaches, and finally hit the road recruiting for July’s open evaluation period.

Turgeon, who could give up to six scholarships for the 2012 class, has just one recruit for 2011 in Faust. Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs and St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (Wis.) forward Martin Breunig asked out of their letters of intent to Maryland and ended up signing with Texas and Washington, respectively.

Turgeon spoke to The Baltimore Sun recently about the Terps’ 2011 recruiting class, his coaching staff, goals for the upcoming season and more.

Everything moved pretty fast with Gary Williams retiring and you getting the job. It was late in the process for 2011, so what was your first move in recruiting?

Well for 2011, we didn’t know what was out there. We had three commitments signed, and unfortunately lost two of them. So we just wanted to make sure we kept Nick. We looked around. We needed size, needed help inside. We looked around the country, junior college, and there wasn’t a lot there. We looked around overseas, looked at transfers, and nothing really popped up in our direction, so we just kind of settled on the nine guys we’ve got on scholarship. We’ll coach them up the best we can, and we’re working pretty hard on [2012] recruiting right now.

Were you familiar with the guys that had signed? What was the process like in terms of who you wanted to pursue?

Well the only one I had seen play was Nick [Faust]. I really liked him a lot. I thought he was going to be a heck of a college player. He’s the one I knew we had to keep in the fold. The other two (Gibbs and Breunig) I had never seen. I was able to pull stuff on the computer, watch a little bit. But it was one of those things when they opened up their recruiting, I wasn’t going to stop them from trying to do something else. The one guy I had to keep was Nick, and in the end we did that.

Was Faust a guy on your radar even before you got to Maryland?

I just saw him on the road last summer. I saw him at different camps. I was really impressed with him and his ability. He can do a lot of things on the floor. I thought he had tremendous upside. I didn’t recruit him at A&M, but I was aware of him. I was friends with Bino [Ranson], so I followed Nick when they were really looking at him hard and trying to get him. I was well aware of him.

Were there some nervous moments there trying to re-recruit him?

Oh yeah. It was a rough 48 or 72 hours. I felt pretty good after my first conversation with the mom and even the dad after they asked for the release. Everything was going to work out – we just had to go through the process. For them as a family, they felt like it was something they had to do. I felt pretty solid about it. Shortly after we granted them the release, [he recommitted].

How does he factor into your plans this season?

I don’t know enough about the team. I think he can really play. I thought our guard play is the strongest part of our team coming into this season, pretty obviously. I have high hopes for Nick. He can help us a lot this year. How much depends on how he’s able to transition to the program, his individual work and how coachable he is, that kind of stuff.

A lot of analysts have said this is a coaching staff built to recruit. Was that your intent in composing the group of Bino Ranson, Dalonte Hill and Scott Spinelli?

Well obviously Scott Spinelli was with me [at Texas A&M] and I have a lot of confidence in him as a recruiter and a coach. So that was a no-brainer. He was going to come with me if he didn’t get the A&M job, which we tried to get him. Bino is a guy I’ve known for a long time. He obviously has great connections here, especially in the Baltimore area. So he’s a guy that I felt really comfortable with. Dalonte is just a guy that I thought of when I got the job. I knew Dalonte. We were in the same league, but we never talked at great length. But I knew about his ties to the D.C. area. So it all worked out. Those were the three guys that I wanted, and to be able to get all of them says a lot about Maryland basketball and how badly people wanted to be a part of it. So it’s a good staff. We’ll see. Just like when you’re building a recruiting class, you shouldn’t judge it until the playing days are over. I don’t think you can judge a staff until we’ve been here a few years and do some things. Hopefully we’ll do a lot of great things together.

Have you had to change your recruiting approach at all from A&M to Maryland?

Not really. I still have my same approach. I have guys here who really like to recruit. We’re in an area with [good] players and [we] have connections all around the United States – maybe not so much the West Coast. But in the Midwest and the East Coast we have really good connections, and a few on the West Coast. But I still have my same philosophy: get the best players you can with good character, guys who fit into what we want to do. You just work hard and develop as many relationships as you can. Hopefully that’ll help you bring in good players.

You can’t comment on 2012 recruits, but generally speaking, is recruiting going well for that class?

Yeah. We’ve been well received since we’ve been here. I know we’ve only been on the job a couple months. I was hoping that we’d have a few more results right now. We’ve been hitting it really hard. We’ve been grinding. I know we need to add several pieces in the 2012 class, so we’ll see. It’s too early to tell. There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us. Hopefully we’ll catch a few breaks and get some really good players.

For this season, is everything a clean slate? What are your expectations?

Well I want to get guys who practice hard and play hard every day, play the right way and play together, defensively and offensively. That’s important to me. They’ll be getting in a system that’ll be different than what they’re used to and what they’ve done in the past. Getting comfortable with the system, all that’s important to me. Every year my expectation is to get the most I can out of the young group of men I’m coaching. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that with this team, have them mesh well together and get a lot out of this group. I do know our guard play is going to be pretty strong. We have some guys that have proved themselves. Sean Mosley, Pe’Shon [Howard] and Terrell [Stoglin] have proven themselves at this level. Some other young guys would love to prove themselves. We’re just going to go and try to get as much as we can out of this group. Where it leads us, I don’t know. I’ll be able to judge a lot better once we start practicing.

Baltimore Sun photo of Mark Turgeon by Kim Hairston / May 11, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:00 AM | | Comments (16)
        

July 18, 2011

Weekend wrap – Notes on McGary, Ibeh, more

Mitch McGary's standout summer on the circuit continued over the weekend at the Under Armour Summer Jam in Mequon, Wis.

McGary, a five-star center and prime Maryland target, scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the SYF Players to the tournament championship.

First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF's win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.

Prince Ibeh, a four-star center from Garland, Texas, provided NBE Basketball Report with his list of schools.

Ibeh stated that he is “wide open” but schools pursuing him the most aggressively are Texas, Maryland, Baylor, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and Florida.

• Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson said in a video interview with WVMetroNews.com that he's hoping to visit Maryland, N.C. State and Ohio State soon.

• Terps small forward target Jake Layman impressed NBADraft.net's Ian Powers at the Peach Jam.

He is a long and skilled player with untapped potential. He can shoot the ball from deep, shows an ability to put the ball on the floor and runs the floor very well and can finish above the rim. Layman finished with 29 pts on 12-14 from the field, including 3-4 from long distance. His recruitment has picked up and he did nothing this week to diminish that.

• The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., conducted video interviews with Maryland targets Andrew and Aaron Harrison.

• National Hoops Report got an update this weekend on Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard Nate Britt's recruitment.

With a growing offer list that includes Arizona, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Georgetown, Virginia, Rutgers and Seton Hall, Britt mentioned UVA, Georgetown and Villanova have been coming the hardest. However, as he continues to extend the range on his already smooth midrange shot, he doesn’t plan on figuring anything out about his college future too soon.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:33 AM | | Comments (10)
        

July 16, 2011

Terps pledge Anthony Nixon 'a very tough kid'

At Pittsburgh Central Catholic last fall, quarterback Perry Hills teamed with wide receiver Anthony Nixon to form one of Pennsylvania's top pass-and-catch duos. In college, they could have a chance at replicating that success.

Hills committed to Maryland last month, and Nixon followed suit by pledging to the Terps on Sunday.

“They were early. They were his first offer,” said Central Catholic coach Terry Totten. “He liked it. He liked the coaching staff. He likes [defensive line coach Greg] Gattuso and he likes [coach Randy] Edsall. They were always kind of his front-runner.”

Maryland, which offered Nixon in March, reportedly beat out Pittsburgh and West Virginia for the three-star prospect’s services. Rivals.com rates Nixon as the No. 38 player in Pennsylvania for the 2012 class.

Nixon helped the Vikings to an 11-1 record last fall and an appearance in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League semifinals. Offensively, the future Terp caught 33 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns. Nixon’s also a standout safety for Central Catholic. Totten isn’t sure which position Nixon will play at Maryland.

“He can play either. I can tell you that,” Totten said. “He’s a very tough kid.”

Nixon is Maryland’s fourth commitment of the 2012 class from Pennsylvania, joining Hills, Council Rock South tight end P.J. Gallo and Bishop McDevitt linebacker Brock Dean. Totten thinks Nixon will do whatever it takes to make his mark at Maryland.

“He’s an excellent blocker, a great cover guy on kickoffs, and he makes tackles from the safety spot,” Totten said. “He’s an all-around football player.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:32 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Former Milford Mill guard to play for BCCC

xavier-drake-bccc.jpg Xavier Drake, a 2009 Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, will play for Baltimore City Community College, Panthers coach Terry Maczko announced this week.

“Xavier was referred to me by Eric Barksdale (Dunbar) who just finished his sophomore season with us,” Maczko said in a news release. “Eric had a really good experience at BCCC and got Xavier interested in the program. He just started playing in a couple of summer leagues with our guys and I think he realizes that we have a chance to have a great season. He’s really looking forward to it.” 

Drake, a 6-foot, 185-pound point guard, was a three-year starter for the Millers. He averaged 15 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Baltimore County champions as a senior.

As a freshman at Hagerstown Community College, Drake averaged 5.7 points and 1.5 assists. He redshirted last year at Grays Harbor Junior College in Aberdeen, Wash. At BCCC, Drake joins former Baltimore high school standouts Sean Farr (Dunbar) and Donte Stuckey (Walbrook).

“What I love about Xavier is he fears no one and wants the ball in his hands in crunch time," Maczko said. "He’s a winner, has a true passion for the game and is super competitive."

2009 Baltimore Sun photo of Xavier Drake

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

July 15, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

Boston Amateur Basketball Club forward Jake Layman was one of many Maryland targets that impressed this week at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.

Rivals.com's Eric Bossi noted that the Wrentham, Mass., native is drawing quite a bit of high-major attention.

One of our contemporaries dubbed Layman "40-love" because he moves like a jumbo sized tennis player. Boston College and Providence have been well represented for him and Maryland appears to be making a push while Texas is looking to get involved. He shoots, moves extremely well for a 6-foot-8 guy and seems to have high upside.

Layman spoke to Adam Zagoria at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League event and named Maryland his favorite. Check out the video below.

• Maryland center target Prince Ibeh opened some eyes with his play defensively at the Peach Jam.

Offensively, Ibeh is very raw and doesn’t try to do much beyond layups and dunks. On the defensive side of the ball however, Ibeh is a force challenging everything that gets anywhere near the rim. He tallied 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in this contest and those blocks are coming against top 20 players nationally in Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon. He didn’t back down from the star studded Oakland Soldiers frontline and forced them to think before just punishing the rim.

Ibeh spoke to Zagoria about his recruitment.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr reported this week that Episcopal forward Arnaud Moto has a scholarship offer from Maryland.

“Within 72 hours of me sending [film] out, [Mark Turgeon] received them, watched them and left me a detailed message … and they offered him a full ride,” [Episcopal coach Jim] Fitzpatrick said. “Obviously [assistant coach Dalonte] Hill followed up with me and they’ve been recruiting him hard since.”

Moto missed the Peach Jam this week with an injury.

Team Takeover has been playing short-handed because forward Arnaud Adala Moto (Episcopal) has been sidelined this week with a dislocated kneecap. Stevens said he’ll return in two weeks.

• Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson told The Recruit Scoop that North Carolina State, Villanova and Maryland are recruiting him the hardest.

• Team Takeover forward and Maryland target Jerami Grant was a Wednesday standout at the Peach Jam.

The lean combo forward played strong around the rim and dominated the paint as an interior scorer. If he couldn't muscle in a shot, he got to the free throw line (18 times) and the usually poor free throw shooter did a good job of making important charity tosses. He finished with a team-high 26.

• Terps center target Robert Upshaw was named a Top 10 performer at the Hoop Mountain Southern Showcase in Atlanta last weekend.

The 7'0 center from California played well on Saturday with several Pac-12 coaches in attendance to see him. He's got nice hands, rebounds well, and finishes in the paint pretty well.

Isaiah Zierden, a 6-foot-2 guard from Minnesota, had a huge first day at the Peach Jam.

Isaiah Zierden made 9 three-pointers, scored 49 points, and hit 12 of 12 free throws on day one.

Zierden told Golden Valley Patch that he's on Maryland's radar.

Zierden: I got some calls from (sic) Califronia, Creighton, Wofford and Manhattan. Maryland said that they want to come watch me at the Peach Jam. The schools want to come watch me play.

• Detroit Country Day wing Jodan Price, who has received some Terps interest, also had a strong opening at the Peach Jam.

An intriguing prospect because of his length and deep range as a wing prospect, Price hit for 25 points on 6-10 shooting from three in his first outing.

• UM guard targets and Houston Defenders stars Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison were both standouts at last weekend's adidas Invitational.

[Aaron] Harrison (like his twin brother) can play either of the three perimeter positions. That versatility is a major strength and he can score and distribute. He is probably best on the wing but he can definitely be a combo guard. He is a streaky shooter with range to 22 feet and an excellent slasher thanks to his skill set and strong body.

Football recruiting

• Pittsburgh Central Catholic athlete Anthony Nixon has committed to the Terps.

Nixon, who is 6 feet 2 and 192 pounds, was recruited as a defensive back and is the second Central Catholic player to commit to Maryland, joining quarterback Perry Hills.

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

• Owings Mills Patch this week profiled Maryland-bound defensive end Roman Braglio.

"About a week ago, (McDonogh football coach Dom) Damico pulled me into his office and told me that he will probably make me a team captain," Braglio said. "That's part of the reason that I've been working out so hard this summer. I want to make the next step and be a leader on next year's team."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 14, 2011

Q&A with UMBC coach Randy Monroe

randy-monroe-umbc-2011.jpg The past couple seasons have been extraordinarily difficult for the UMBC men's basketball program, but coach Randy Monroe believes the worst is behind his team.

The Retrievers, who finished 5-25 last season and 4-26 the season before, graduated forward Justin Fry, center Laurence Jolicoeur, guard Travis King and guard Bakari Smith. In their place is a six-man recruiting class.

UMBC this season will welcome Nate Basalyga, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound center from South Abington, Pa., Ryan Cook, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound transfer from Chestnut Hill who graduated from Pallotti, Joey Getz, a 6-foot, 170-pound guard from Philadelphia, Jarell Lane, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound guard from Elizabeth, N.J., Chandler Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward from Indianapolis, Jordan Wejnert, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound guard from Lavalette, N.J., and Will Wise, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Princeton, N.J., to its roster.

Monroe spoke with Recruiting Report this week about his 2011 recruiting class.

Overall, how do you feel about this six-man class?

Obviously, when you lose a big class like that, you have to bring in guys you feel that can help and contribute in some sort of fashion. I like this group of young men. They seem to be very self-sufficient. They do things on their own. They don’t have to be told a million and one times to do things. I kind of like that in a player. They’re very proactive and very assertive. So I like that when a player is able to do those things. This class, I’m excited about it because it’s an exciting time. Obviously, they’re freshmen, but they’re excited about being here and looking to turn the face of the program around. I’m just as excited about it because it’s an exciting time.

Basalyga seems like a big guy that’s battled some injuries over the years. Talk about his development and what you see in him.

He’s a big guy who’s got very good skills. He can shoot the ball out from 17 and 18 feet. He’s a big body who can do a big guy’s job posting on the interior. He’s got terrific hands. He’s a hard worker. So I’m definitely excited about him.

Cook is an in-state guy who is coming to UMBC from a DII school. How did his recruitment play out and what can be expected of him?

Well Ryan just enrolled in the school. We talked about it, and he wanted to try out. He did and [he made the team]. He played locally and is a terrific young man who’s been working extremely hard to improve his game and he’s done a terrific job of that in a short period of time. I’ve been totally impressed with his work ethic and his willingness to be good. He just plays hard every time he steps on the floor. If we can play as hard as he does, if everyone can do that on the regular, we can be fine. He just gives everything he has out there on the floor. That’s part of what makes him a good player. He’s certainly a very good athlete and he’s certainly improved his jump shot. So he’s definitely a young man that we’re very proud to have in our program.

Is he on scholarship?

He’s not. He’s actually a walk-on.

Do you think he’ll be a guy who gets minutes?

Possibly. He certainly has worked his way toward that. So it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

Getz has a reputation as a scoring point guard. What’s his story and what do you expect from him?

He’s a player that was the leading scorer in the Philadelphia Catholic League. He did everything for his team. He was the catalyst on his team. He really made his team go. He averaged about 20 points a game, which led the Catholic League. But at the same time, he was always able to get his teammates involved. That says a lot about his ability as a player, being able to score his own points and keep his teammates involved. He’s a guy at 6-feet who’s able to dunk. He can score in a couple different ways. He’s very competitive. He’s definitely one who will be able to play both guard positions.

Lane played with Chase Plummer at St. Patrick. Is that how you discovered him?

Yeah, we had seen Jarell play with Chase, and the thing I liked about Jarell is that when a lot of things seemed to be going haywire during the course of a game, he was able to keep his composure and lead his team, take his shots and pick his spots. He’s always looking to deliver the basketball to the open man. He’s always doing a good job of passing to the interior. He’s a very unselfish player. I think he’s a very poised player.

Does Lane’s game complement Getz’s style of play?

Yes, I think they do. They definitely would do a really good job of complementing each other. They both know how to win. That’s a valuable commodity.

Chandler Thomas was a late recruit for this class. How did you get involved with him?

Well, we had seen him a couple times on a DVD, and I’ve gone out to see him play. I was just impressed with his drive and his will to play on the interior against guys probably a little bigger than he was. He did a good job of rebounding the ball and knocking down shots and finishing around the basket. He just really played hard. He went to a very good high school in Cathedral Prep in Indianapolis. For a guy his size, he does a terrific job of rebounding the basketball. He really does have a nose for that. He’s also good with the fundamentals. A shot goes up, he blocks his man out and he does not allow him to get any scoring chance. I think he’s really good at that.

After a prep year, is Wejnert ready to contribute?

Well I hope so. I hope he is. He’s a basketball junkie. He loves to play. He’s a very competitive young man. He’s super athletic. And he works on his game constantly. He’s always trying to find ways to better himself. I hope he’s able to come and do that for us, coming in and doing that right away. He’s certainly going to come in and give everything he has because he’s a terrific young man.

Wise is another prep school guy. What do you like about him?

A couple things. One, his drive and determination. He’s got a strong will. He’s a very, very competitive person. He believes in himself, which is something I like a lot. He has a tremendous sense of humor. But he’s got a nice shot and he’s got good post moves. He passes the ball very well for a big guy. He just loves to play the game. He flat-out loves to play. He’s very coachable. And I think that’s so important nowadays. He takes things in, he listens, he digests things and then he goes out and does what he’s supposed to do. I’m really excited about him being a part of our program.

Which of these newcomers are you counting on to contribute?

I’m counting on all of them. I’m counting on all of them. Until you get them in the gym, and they’re all playing together, you just don’t know right now. But I’m high on all six of those guys. To say I’m high on one more so than the other, I couldn’t tell you that right now. But I’m extremely high on all of them.

Do you feel like you addressed all the needs you wanted to in this recruiting class?

I think we have addressed our needs. I think we have some size and I think we have some perimeter players. Now it’s just a matter of getting them all together and getting them to jell and play together, and I think that’s a big part of it right there. If we can do that, we should be well on our way.

Nick Groce and Matt Conway have left the program, correct?

Yes. Conway wanted to go back down to Florida, where he’s originally from. Groce is back in Maryland.

So you return Jamar Wertz, Chris De La Rosa, Adrian Satchell, Chase Plummer, Brian Neller and Jake Wasco. It seems to be a solid mix of veterans and young guys. What are you looking for from your returners?

Well those guys certainly have had a couple years of experience under their belt now. We’re definitely looking for them to provide the guidance and leadership that they need to help our young guys along. I think that’s very important. I think that’s very key. I think they’re chomping at the bit trying to get started with the new year. They’ve certainly proved that in the spring working out and making themselves better to prepare for the upcoming season. I’m looking for their guidance more so than anything else.

Do you think this group can help get UMBC back on the right track?

Yeah, I’m excited. People always say, ‘What’s wrong at UMBC?’ Certainly, it’s a good program just like anything else, but programs lose juniors and seniors. They have to replace those juniors and seniors. It’s hard some times when you’re replacing them with freshmen and sophomores. They need to learn how to play college basketball. That happens just about everywhere across the country. You’ll see teams deal with that and have to make those adjustments. Or they go through that transition period. I’m excited about this group and they’re excited about wanting to play and having a good season. So I’m definitely looking forward to coaching them.

Baltimore Sun photo of Randy Monroe by Steve Ruark / Feb. 9, 2008

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:21 PM | | Comments (0)
        

B'more Finest's 15U team wins at Big Shots

An "up and down" AAU season for Aaron Williams' B'more Finest 15-and-under team turned completely positive last weekend.

The first-year, Under Armour-sponsored program won the Big Shots Myrtle Beach I championship Saturday with a 50-36 win over South Carolina-based TMP in the title game.

“They came out in this tournament with a different look, like they were ready to play,” said Williams, a St. Frances assistant who previously coached for the Baltimore Assault and Crusader Nation organizations. “We had June off, had a lot of individual workouts. They bonded in this tournament to get the win.”

photobig.jpg

St. Frances’ Allen Costley led the way for B’more with 16 points in the title game.

“He does a little bit of everything,” Williams said of Costley, a 6-foot-4 small forward.

Patterson’s Kwyten Brooks led the team in scoring the first game of the tournament with 18 points. Broadneck’s Alex D’Alessio – son of Loyola assistant coach Luke D’Alessio – led B’more in assists in the championship game with nine.

“He played very well,” Williams said. “He’s like an extra coach out there sometimes.”

St. Frances’ Tevin Costley -- Allen’s cousin – and Arundel’s Darian Bryant also provided important contributions for B’More Finest.

Harris “hit some big shots for us throughout the tournament,” Williams said. “When we needed to bust the zone, he lit them up with jump shots.”

In the frontcourt, Kenwood center Trevis Buckhannon “blocked a lot of shots and rebounded well,” while Chapelgate small forward Isaiah Harris-Winn “really stepped up big in the championship game, came in with a lot of energy. It was probably one of his best games of the whole summer.”

B’More Finest was down three players in Myrtle Beach. Tommy Heard (Milford Mill) was out with a rib injury, while Dunbar point guard Dre Gibson (the team’s “most consistent scorer throughout the summer”) and Good Counsel center Shane Eberle were unable to make the trip.

Williams said his team, which travels to West Virginia this weekend for a Hoop Group tournament, was “very excited” to bring home the Big Shots championship.

“They felt like they probably should have won a few earlier in the summer that they let slip through,” Williams said. “You could tell in this championship game, they came out focused to win this. They weren’t going to leave Myrtle Beach without a championship.”

Handout photo courtesy of B'More Finest.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 13, 2011

Stock of Terps target Jake Layman is rising

Sean McInnis always expected Jake Layman to develop into a Division I recruit. But what the King Philip Regional High coach couldn't predict was just how emphatically his star player "exploded" onto the high-major basketball scene.

Layman, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound small forward from Wrentham, Mass., has followed up an acclaimed season with McInnis’ Warriors with an eye-opening summer playing for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club. Thanks to his play on the AAU circuit, Layman has emerged as a highly touted recruit – and a prime Maryland target.

“He’s tremendous,” McInnis said. “If you look at the stats from the Nike [Elite Youth Basketball League], there was a game he went 8-for-8 from 3-point range. Down in Texas he went 9-for-10 in one game. Jake has a tremendous outside shot [and] he takes it to the rim very strong. He’s got a lot of finesse and has an almost 7-foot wingspan.”

Layman’s ascent to the top level of high school basketball can be traced back to the recreation centers in Wrentham and nearby Norfolk, where McInnis first met the lanky wing. In the fall of 2008, McInnis was a first-year varsity boys coach and Layman a freshman starter at King Philip, which was coming off 57 straight losses. Right away, Layman and McInnis changed the Warriors’ fortunes.

“He averaged about 10 points a game,” as a freshman, McInnis said. “We’re in a very tough league in Massachusetts, one of the top leagues in the state. Then all of a sudden he just exploded. Last year he was averaging in the mid-20s. … He brought everything that you could ever imagine to our team. He also averaged in the high teens in rebounds, nearly double digits in blocked shots. He was outstanding in the open court. He’s a great leader. Jake is just such a tremendous asset to our program. It’s not just the team and what he brings to his team. It’s what he brings to the program and the community.”

Layman, who helped King Philip to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association South Sectional title game, probably would have played center for another high school program. But in McInnis’ system, Layman plays the 1 and the 2. A “long, lean athletic kid that can play outside and run the floor so well,” Layman has drawn comparisons to Andrei Kirilenko and Corey Brewer for his style of play.

Off the court, McInnis says Layman has immersed himself in community service.

“He’s a young man who spends eight hours every Saturday coaching youth players,” McInnis said. “We’ll get home at 11 at night on the bus, and the next thing you know he’s in the gym eight hours later to spend another eight hours with the kids. He also has helped to start the program where we go into the elementary schools. He reads to young kids in town. He’s helped establish an anti-bullying program. So this is not just a basketball player that somebody’s getting. Jake has been brought up in our system. He has really dedicated himself to being part of the community. “

Layman was a regional recruit earlier in his high school career, but his performance with BABC this summer has taken his recruitment to another level. McInnis said it’s hard to keep track of Layman’s scholarship offers.

“He’s got a bunch. I know that they’re coming in seriously day by day,” McInnis said. “[Boston College], Maryland, Notre Dame, Florida, Wake Forest, Pitt -- these are schools we’re in contact with daily. And there’s so many more that we’ve been talking to. The key is finding Jake the proper fit coaching-wise, academic-wise and institution-wise. If the kid can fit those things, we know the basketball will come through with all these schools. We want to make sure it’s the right fit for Jake with the coaches and the community. He’s a firm believer in the community.”

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Scott Spinelli started recruiting Layman when they were still at Texas A&M. Their pursuit of Layman continued when they moved on to College Park, culminating with a scholarship offer earlier this month. McInnis said Layman’s impressions of Turgeon have been positive.

“Turgeon and Spinelli are two dynamic people,” McInnis said. “They are outstanding, family type of people. They do such a great job recruiting. They have been watching Jake and have been involved with Jake since [they were at Texas] A&M. They have been tremendous. They’re both tremendous people. Jake is extremely interested in Coach Turgeon as a person and a coach. He loves the Maryland area. His family has some very strong connections to the Maryland area.”

McInnis said Layman will likely sit down with his family and coaches in August to evaluate his offers and formulate a list of schools. Layman will probably start making official visits in September. McInnis said his star player is looking for a school with “a very strong coach … great academics … and a program that’s active with the community.” With those elements in place, everything on the court for Layman should take care of itself.

“I see Jake as somebody who’s going to contribute as a freshman if put in the right position,” McInnis said. “Jake is going to continue to develop. He’s somebody who’s consistently getting better. The sky’s the limit. He has to tap into the full potential of his ability. I’m just excited to watch him grow as a basketball player. I think he’s going to help out a program for four years.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:52 AM | | Comments (6)
        

July 12, 2011

Maryland 3D wins Big Shots tourney in S.C.

Marty Lipinski's Maryland 3D 17-and-under basketball team was down a few players heading into last week's Big Shots AAU tournament in Myrtle Beach, but you'd never know it based on the results.

With three class of 2013 players called up for the South Carolina trip, Maryland 3D cruised to the tournament championship game, topping the Texas Cagers in double overtime for the title.

“We never had any practices,” said Lipinski, whose team won six games in three days, culminating with Friday night’s championship. “The organization is pretty much the same thing throughout the age groups. We do that so kids can move between groups and not miss a beat. We were strong right from the very beginning.”

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3D was led by Greg Brown (Archbishop Spalding), Lavon Long (Mount St. Joseph), Joe Eads (Centennial), Yannick Zanfack (St. Maria Goretti) and Connor Lipinski (Annapolis Area Christian). The team also received contributions from point guard Grant Harris (Miller School, Severn native), point guard B.J. Durham (Marriotts Ridge) and shooting guard Taylor Leabhart (AACS).

Brown led 3D in scoring during the tournament at 13 points per game. Lipinski said the 6-foot-1 combo guard is being recruited by Boston University, Old Dominion and Radford.

What pushed 3D over the top, Lipinski said, was the team’s size advantage. Eads, “a big, strong inside guy,” is about 6-7, as is Mount St. Joseph’s Long. The two rising juniors made the most of their call-up to the 17-and-under squad.

“Lavon is a big-time player,” Lipinski said. “That evened it up. That leveled the playing field right there. … He averaged about 10 points a game. But he was just a physical guy inside. … He was just a different factor for us on the boards.”

Eads has received some low-major Division I interest. Long already claims offers from Dayton and VCU, with James Madison, Massachusetts, Northeastern, Robert Morris, St. Joseph’s and Virginia Tech expressing interest. Lipinski said Flyers coach Archie Miller was in the stands scouting Long during 3D’s last game.

Zanfack, a 6-foot-5 wing, averaged 10 points and shot the ball “very well” for 3D. Connor Lipinski – Marty’s son – averaged about 10 points and five assists. The 5-10 point guard is being recruited by the Citadel, Mount St. Mary’s and Navy. He and Brown were named co-MVPs.

Marty Lipinski said several coaches told him they were impressed with the discipline and unselfishness with which 3D played. Lipinski, who has coached for the 3D organization since 1999, said he appreciated the well-balanced composition of his team.

“It was just nice to just pull up the young kids that wanted to win and prove themselves,” Lipinski said. “They wanted to do it. They wanted to go to Myrtle Beach.”

Handout photo of Maryland 3D courtesy of Marty Lipinski.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Video: Houston Defenders at adidas Invitational

The Houston Defenders were in action last week at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis, and InsideMdSports.com was on hand to film Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Christian Sanders and Shaquille Cleare throughout the tournament. Here are highlights of the Terps targets in Indy.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:07 AM | | Comments (2)
        

July 11, 2011

Weekend wrap – Terps after Ibeh, Layman

The Maryland men's basketball program continues to target new big men for the 2012 class.

Prince Ibeh, a four-star prospect, is considering Baylor, Florida, Maryland, Texas, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, according to CBSSports.com.

The 6-foot-11 big man from Naaman Forest (Tex.) has made an impression with his excellent shot-blocking and rebounding ability. Ibeh has great length and athleticism, and is improving offensively. Because of his size and instincts, he projects as an immediate impact player defensively.

ESPN.com's Dave Telep tweeted Saturday that Maryland is in the mix with Jake Layman, a 6-foot-8 forward from Wrentham, Mass.

BC led Pre-summer for Jake Layman. Maryland offered and that gap is closed and Terps moving on up.

• Terps point guard target Andrew Harrison earned rave reviews from Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

An exceptional talent, Harrison has impressed with his court vision and passing ability. With his size and scoring ability, he is an elite prospect at any of the three perimeter positions.

• Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson spoke to NBE Basketball Report at the LeBron James Skills Academy.

The Friends Central standout has visited Villanova and Temple because both schools are in the Philadelphia area and he said he hopefully wants to visit Ohio State and Maryland soon.

• The Clarion-Ledger wrote this weekend about Pearl (Miss.) forward Twymond Howard.

The college coaches have taken notice. Howard has scholarship offers from Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Baylor, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgetown, Maryland, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

Howard, who averaged 22.8 points (including a career-high 45) and 11.7 rebounds says he doesn't have a favorite among that list yet.

• Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard Nate Britt told NBE Basketball Report that the Big East "is my favorite conference."

Britt told NBE Saturday that he has offers from Virginia, Georgetown, Villanova, Arizona, Pitt, Rutgers and Seton Hall. His list is BIG EAST heavy and that is how Britt would prefer it to be.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:26 PM | | Comments (1)
        

July 10, 2011

Pa. tight end P.J. Gallo 'fell in love' with Terps

P.J. Gallo "honestly didn't know much" about Maryland when the Terps first started recruiting him last winter.

The rising senior tight end from Council Rock South in Holland, Pa., was, however, eager to learn about all that College Park had to offer. Terps recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach John Dunn was happy to fill Gallo in on all things Maryland.

“He got me to come down for a visit, and I really fell in love,” with Maryland, Gallo said. “I went there for a second visit for the spring game. I had a great time. It was awesome. And then from that spring game out, I kind of knew that was the place I wanted to go.”

Gallo made things official with the Terps on Tuesday and -- after informing other college coaches of his decision -- made his commitment public Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound prospect received 12 scholarship offers, but had narrowed his list to Maryland, North Carolina and Syracuse.

Dunn, a former Tar Heels tight end who graduated college in 2005, was instrumental in Maryland landing Gallo.

“Coach Dunn did a great job of selling the school, informing me about it, telling me about it. He really got me to fall in love with the school,” Gallo said. “We really built a great relationship over this recruiting process. It really does help having a younger coach you can relate to.”

Gallo emerged as a potential Division I recruit during his sophomore year, when he started at tight end and defensive end for the Golden Hawks. As a junior in Council Rock South’s triple-option offense, Gallo caught 12 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the future Terp recorded 93 tackles and five sacks.

College coaches were split on what position would be a better fit for Gallo.

“I was recruited by about five schools to play defensive end. I like both [positions], but I preferred tight end,” Gallo said. “It basically came down to North Carolina and Maryland, and North Carolina [wanted me at] defensive end and Maryland was tight end. I did like Maryland a little bit more, but it was an added bonus to play tight end, especially in Gary Crowton’s offense, which is a great tight ends offense.”

Gallo will join a Terps team in 2012 that will feature three senior tight ends in Matt Furstenburg, Devonte Campbell and Ryan Schlothauer and one junior in Dave Stinebaugh.

“They said they’re going to need help,” Gallo said. “Hopefully I can come through and be the tight end of the future for Maryland.”

Gallo, who’s considering a major in business at Maryland, plans to be at Byrd Stadium for the Terps’ season opener against Miami. He’s counting the days until it’s his turn to suit up for Maryland.

“I’m going to work as hard as possible and be the best player that I can and help the program as much as I can,” Gallo said. “I’m always going to give 110 percent on the field and off the field. I’m going to do what I can to help the program.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:34 AM | | Comments (3)
        

July 8, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Maryland men's basketball coaching staff has been out in full force for the beginning of July's open evaluation period, which started this week.

Never was that more evident than Thursday at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis during the Houston Defenders' game against D.C. Assault. The Washington Post's Josh Barr reported that Mark Turgeon, Bino Ranson and Dalonte Hill were on hand to watch point guard targets Andrew Harrison and Nate Britt do battle.

In the end, Britt — perhaps tired in his second game of the day after an overnight bus trip — struggled a bit against the 6-foot-6 Harrison’s size, and finished with 10 points, Harrison had 19 and Houston squeaked out a 65-64 victory.

Andrew Harrison gave MaxPreps.com a list of schools after the game.

Harrison, ranked No. 5 by CBSSports.com/MaxPreps, listed Maryland, Kansas, Kentucky, Baylor, Arizona, Texas, Texas A&M and North Carolina.

• Rivals.com's Eric Bossi scouted Maryland combo guard commitment Seth Allen at the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia.

After a bit of a slow start, the 6-foot-2 rising senior got things rolling a bit on Thursday. He can shoot from outside, creates offense for himself and is a sneaky athlete. He looks to be one of those guys who will serve the role of designated jump shooter in college.

The Washington Post's Eric Prisbell caught up with Allen after the event.

“I am very excited about Maryland,” Allen said. “But I am playing right now like I don’t have a scholarship, like I am still fighting for one.”

• Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer updated the recruitment of Houston center Shaquille Cleare.

Shaquille Cleare of the Houston Defenders said he likes Maryland a lot, but it is no guarantee that he will commit there. He named Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Maryland as the other schools in the mix.

• National Recruiting Spotlight conducted an extensive interview this week with DeMatha center Bee Jay Anya.

Another thing that will certainly impact Anya’s decision is the coaching carousel this off-season in college basketball. Says Anya, “I had a good relationship with the Maryland coaches but then [former head coach] Gary Williams left and I haven’t had the chance to talk to the new staff at Maryland.”

• MaxPreps.com this week profiled Maryland forward target Amile Jefferson.

His play has attracted the attention of Villanova, Temple, Maryland, North Carolina State, Connecticut, Ohio State and Harvard. What's made Jefferson that much more attractive to college scouts is the versatility he's added to his game. The No. 14 player in the recently released MaxPreps Class of 2012 rankings is no longer a back-to-the-basket player who relies on his teammates to feed him.

• The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer's Dan Wiederer spoke to Brewster (N.H.) Academy coach Jason Smith for his take on Terps target and five-star center Mitch McGary.

"Through his first month here, as much skill as he had, he spent an awful lot of time floating out to and all around the perimeter," Smith says. "So we took a day to introduce him to the paint. We measured him and showed him that he was 6-10. And while it's great to step out and be able to knock down shots, we stressed with Mitch that he had to grapple inside and do the dirty work as well."

Almost instantly, the message sunk in.

• Baltimore Sports & Life conducted a Q&A this week with CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello, who included his take on the recruitment of Nate Britt.

He’s a heavy Georgetown lean, with Duke (and maybe UNC) as the other team who could seriously threaten for him.

• ESPN.com's Adam Finkelstein was impressed by Clarksburg center Andre Walker at Hoop Mountain's Super Week II.

He combines his size and length with great mobility for a guy his size and good touch that extends all the way out to 18 feet. DePaul and Maryland are working on him early, but that list is bound to grow by the end of the summer.

Football recruiting

• The Terps got a commitment this week from P.J. Gallo -- a tight end from Council Rock South in Holland, Pa. -- according to Scout.com. Check back with Recruiting Report later for more on Gallo's pledge.

• Greenbelt Patch spoke to Eleanor Roosevelt quarterback/linebacker Shawn Petty about his commitment to Maryland.

“I’ve been here for, like, six years now,” he said, “so I mean, I really like the Terrapins. I’ve been to a lot of games and things like that.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

July 7, 2011

Revisiting 2010 hoops recruiting for local DIs

Recruiting Q&As with Loyola's Jimmy Patsos and Towson's Pat Skerry have been completed, while UMBC's Randy Monroe is on deck for next week followed by the rest of the state's Division I men's hoops coaches throughout the rest of the summer.

With that in mind, now's as good a time as any to revisit predictions made for the 2010 classes. Last September I picked a headliner and sleeper for all nine Div. I programs in Maryland.

Here's a look at how I fared in those predictions:

Maryland

What I wrote -- Headliner: “Point guard Pe’Shon Howard may see the most time of any freshman, but Mychal Parker comes to College Park with the highest expectations.”
What they did: Parker averaged 1.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 6.2 minutes in 13 games. Howard averaged 5.4 points, 3.2 assists and 18.5 minutes in 33 games.
Who it should have been Terrell Stoglin. The point guard from Tucson, Ariz., was Maryland’s second-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. Stoglin shot better than 46 percent from the field and appeared in all 33 Maryland games, starting 15.
What I wrote – Sleeper “How much stronger [Berend] Weijs gets will determine how much time he sees this season, but the Terps have a need for a shot-blocking presence off the bench.”
What he did: Weijs averaged 1.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 5.2 minutes in 23 games.
Who it should have been Haukur Palsson. The forward from Iceland saw action in 32 games, averaging 10.1 minutes and shooting better than 41 percent from 3-point range.

Towson

What I wrote – Headliner: Cephas "Oglesby is an athletic shooting guard who Tigers coach Pat Kennedy said 'explodes to the rim.'"
What he did: Redshirted. He has since transferred.
Who it should have been: Dre Conner was the only member of Towson’s 2010 recruiting class who didn’t redshirt. The guard from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., averaged 5.5 points, appearing in all 30 games and starting 10. Conner transferred after the spring semester.
What I wrote – Sleeper: Jamel Flash. "The 6-foot-11 freshman needs to add strength, but he “runs like a deer [and] loves the game,” Kennedy said."
What he did: Redshirted
Who it should have been: No other options.

Loyola

What I wrote – Headliner: Dylon Cormier “impressed at the Baltimore Summer League and will have every opportunity to win the starting point guard job for the Greyhounds.”
What he did: Cormier started 27 games for the Greyhounds. The Cardinal Gibbons grad averaged 8.1 points, logging. 26.7 minutes per game.
Who it should have been: Cormier
What I wrote – Sleeper: "Pierson Williams comes to Loyola after a solid career at Taft High, a renowned basketball powerhouse in Los Angeles."
What he did: Williams averaged 1.6 points and 6.1 minutes in 15 games.
Who it should have been: Justin Drummond. The Upper Marlboro native proved to be an explosive scorer off the bench for the Greyhounds, averaging 9.8 points in 21 appearances. Drummond, the heavy favorite to start for Loyola at the 3 this season, shot 46 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range.

UMBC

What I wrote – Headliner: Travis King. “The New Haven, Conn., native should bring leadership and toughness to a UMBC squad fresh off a 4-26 season.”
What he did: King was the third-leading scorer (8.9 points per game) on a 5-25 team. He started 16 games for the Retrievers.
Who it should have been: King
What I wrote – Sleeper: “Chase Plummer was rarely the focal point on a St. Patrick (N.J.) High team that featured Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Kentucky commitment Mike Gilchrist, but the 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward is a rugged rebounder with high basketball IQ."
What he did: Plummer averaged 6.7 points and shot better than 43 percent from the field, appearing in all 30 games for UMBC and starting four.
Who it should have been: Plummer

Navy

What I wrote – Headliner: J.J. Avila. “Mids coach Billy Lange called the 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward a ‘phenomenal outlet passer, a physical kid who just has a high IQ for the game.’”
What he did: The McAllen, Texas native was Navy’s second-leading scorer (11.5 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (5.3 per game). He led all Patriot League freshmen in scoring, rebounds, 3-pointers (53), steals (54) and blocks (18).
Who it should have been: Avila
What I wrote – Sleeper: “Thurgood Wynn was a steadying presence in Georgetown Prep’s backcourt with Hoyas freshman Markel Starks. While Starks drew most of the attention, Wynn ‘just continues to get better and better’ in Lange’s opinion.”
What he did: Wynn scored 1.5 points per game in 25 games. He averaged 4.8 minutes.
Who it should have been: Isaiah Roberts was a Patriot League All-Rookie selection after averaging 5.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals. The guard from Pennsauken, N.J., was a valuable rotation player for the Mids, appearing in all 31 games and starting 14.

Morgan State

What I wrote – Headliner: Larry Bastfield. “Bastfield, who started two years for the Rockets, is the favorite to take over at the 1 for the Bears. Aric Brooks, a former St. Frances star who transferred from Jacksonville in 2009, will also be a featured player in his first season at Morgan.”
What he did: Bastfield started all 31 games for the Bears, averaging 5.1 points and a team-best 3.4 assists.
Who it should have been: Brooks was Morgan’s third-leading scorer at 10.2 points per game.
What I wrote – Sleeper: Ian Chiles. "The 7-foot-1, 265-pound freshman is a massive yet raw center who sat out last season as a non-qualifier. It’ll take some time for Chiles to develop, but his ceiling is high."
What he did: Chiles averaged 1.3 points and 0.8 rebounds in 19 games.
Who it should have been: Justin Black, a freshman from DeMatha, played in all 31 games, averaging 7.2 points and 2.1 assists.

Coppin State

What I wrote – Headliner: “A first-team junior college All-American at Herkimer (N.Y.) Community College, Akeem Ellis has the on-court resume and off-court demeanor Fang Mitchell desires. The longtime Eagles coach is counting on Ellis, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound forward, to bring scoring and leadership to his squad.”
What he did: Ellis started all 30 games for the Eagles and was the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.2 points and second-leading rebounder at 5.8 per game.
Who it should have been: Ellis
What I wrote – Sleeper: “At 6-7, 230 pounds, Merced (Calif.) College forward Logan Wiens is a shooter with size who can stretch the floor for the Eagles.”
What he did: Redshirted.
Who it should have been: Antonio Williams, a 6-foot-6 power forward from Poughkeepsie , N.Y., averaged 6.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. He started 28 games and shot 54 percent from the floor.

UMES

What I wrote – Headliner: Dishawn Bradshaw, “who played junior college ball at ASA College in New York City, should provide immediate scoring punch for the Hawks.”
What he did: The St. Frances grad was UMES’ second-leading scorer at 9.2 points per game. According to CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman, Bradshaw intended to transfer.
Who it should have been: Bradshaw
What I wrote – Sleeper: “There’s nothing flashy about Mike Spence’s game, but his no-nonsense approach could fill a need for Hawks coach Frankie Allen right off the bat.”
What he did: Spence played in 16 games, averaging 0.6 points and 0.4 rebounds. He has since transferred to Division II Virginia State, according to Goodman.
Who it should have been: Shooting guard Louis Bell was the Hawks’ best 3-point shooter at 37.9 percent. The Washington native averaged 3.9 points in 14.5 minutes per game.

Mount St. Mary’s

What I wrote – Headliner: Julian “Norfleet, a 6-foot-2 combo guard who also received interest from UAB, East Carolina and Old Dominion, is known for his long-range shooting.”
What he did: Norfleet lived up the hype, averaging 9.2 points and converting 60 3-pointers (second-most on the team). The freshman logged more minutes (1,040) than any other Mountaineer.
Who it should have been: Norfleet
What I wrote – Sleeper: “Josh Castellanos’ senior statistics – 10 points and five assists per game – were modest, but the 6-foot-1 point guard possesses just about every intangible a coach could want.”
What he did: The Orlando native appeared in all 32 games, scoring 4.2 points. Castellanos was second on the team in assists with 80.
Who it should have been: Castellanos

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:29 PM | | Comments (6)
        

July 6, 2011

Shawn Petty talks Terps commitment

Shawn Petty is probably best known in Prince George's County high school football circles as Eleanor Roosevelt's starting quarterback, but the rising senior will have a different primary role once his freshman year of college begins.

Petty, a rising senior for the Raiders, committed Sunday to Maryland, which offered him as a linebacker.

“[I was] flexible,” Petty said of his college position. “It didn’t really matter.”

Petty joined the Raiders’ varsity as a sophomore and assumed the starting quarterback job. As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound prospect started both ways.

“He started at linebacker the first four games of the season and played really well,” said Eleanor Roosevelt coach Tom Green. “Then he broke his collarbone. He came back before the playoffs. He didn’t play defense because I didn’t want him to get injured again.”

With commitments from quarterbacks Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, the Terps had no need for another player at that position. But Petty’s strength and athleticism made him an ideal fit at middle linebacker. All he needed to do was impress the Maryland coaches at a recent one-day camp in College Park. Petty said he didn’t feel any pressure heading into camp.

“I just went out there knowing what I can do,” he said. “After the one-on-ones is when [the coaches] started talking to me a lot. They were asking for my information and [I thought] they were going to offer.”

Petty, who said he also received interest from Kansas, Iowa and Pittsburgh, got the Maryland offer the last weekend of June. There was little doubt what his ultimate decision would be.

“I was already pretty sure when it first happened that I was going to commit,” Petty said. "I had to talk to my family first. They all had no problem with it. It’s right down the street.”

Green, who coached Maryland running back Davin Meggett at Surrattsville and Terps defensive end Isaiah Ross in his first year with the Raiders, said Petty brings a lot to the table on either side of the ball.

“He moves really well,” Green said. “He’s a big kid, he’s strong, he’s a good tackler, and he knows football. Starting at quarterback for three years helps. I’m happy for him though.”

Petty said he’s been working out a lot and is excited to indulge in the more physical elements of football that come with his college position.

“I’m just ready to see what they have in store for me,” Petty said. “I’m ready to play at the next level.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:37 PM | | Comments (2)
        

July 5, 2011

One year later: John Crowder's death

This month should have been one of the most important times in John Crowder's life.

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward from Mount Carmel would have had the chance to hit the road with Nike Baltimore Elite for the open evaluation period this month. College coaches would have had ample opportunities to scout Crowder. And the rising senior would have likely finished his run on the circuit with several Division I scholarship offers.

Tragically, that scenario was not to be. One year ago today, Crowder was shot and killed in Northeast Baltimore. He was 17.

In memory of Crowder's passing, check out this video tribute from Capitol Hoops. His portion of the video ends at 3:39.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:35 PM | | Comments (3)
        

Q&A with Towson coach Pat Skerry

pat-skerry-towson-2011.jpg Two months ago, Pat Skerry was formally introduced as the Towson men’s basketball program’s new coach.

In the ensuing 50-plus days, the former Pittsburgh and Providence assistant landed four recruits and two transfers, while hanging on to two incoming prospects who originally signed with Towson during the Pat Kennedy era.

“We hit the road April 8 with the recruiting period,” Skerry said. “The rest of the month was wild.”

Skerry got commitments from combo guard Kelvin Amayo (Riverside, N.J.), forward Marcus Damas (Bay Shore, N.Y.), wing Deon Jones (Hockessin, Del.) and forward Jervon Pressley (Charlotte, N.C.). The new Tigers coach also landed two Big East transfers in guard Mike Burwell (South Florida) and forward Jerrelle Benimon (Georgetown). Philadelphia shooting guard Will Adams and Richmond, Va., point guard Kris Walden, meanwhile, also stayed on board with Towson, giving the Tigers eight players to join five returners in redshirt freshman forward Jamel Flash, redshirt freshman forward Alex Giergan, sophomore forward Erique Gumbs, senior center Rob Nwankwo and senior guard RaShawn Polk.

Check out Ken Murray's story in today's Sun for more on Towson’s rapid roster transformation.

Skerry spoke with Recruiting Report recently about the Tigers’ 2011 class.

You take the job, Braxton Dupree has left and Isaiah Philmore follows suit. You have several scholarships to work with but it’s really late in the game. What was your first move?

I actually never met Braxton. Braxton left before I got the job, and Isaiah was just about out the door. The one thing is, there are always players. My thought coming in was we have to have a couple really good classes of guys to build our foundation – this year and next year. We want guys who want to be here. We’re going to do some different things. [Dupree and Philmore] seem like good guys, obviously good players. We jumped into it with players we can get. We’re very happy with the guys we have on staff. They did a really great job of getting these guys so late in the process.

Damas has three years of eligibility left coming out of Westchester (N.Y.) Community College. Was he a qualifier straight out of high school? Did he redshirt? What’s his story?

He redshirted. I love the fact that he has three years. The prior staff had done a good job recruiting him initially. He had come down here unofficially. We jumped in right away. Obviously it was getting late, and there were some bigger programs that had kind of come in trying to do some things. But he always really liked Towson and he was excited to come down here. He’s a guy that can play a couple different positions. He’s long and athletic. He’s got to get stronger and more consistent with his shot, but he’s a versatile guy with length.

What position will he play?

I think he’s a 3 that you can play some at the 4.

Jones seemed to be a guy with a lot of other options. How did you swoop in there?

I tried to recruit his brother (former Virginia, current Rider guard Jeff Jones) a little bit when I was at Providence. I know the family a little bit. And he was still available. Obviously, Kenny Johnson, who’s on our staff, had coached him [with Team Takeover]. So we had a pretty good connection there. He fit the type of athletic wing defender that we wanted. He goes to a very good school academically. He’s a kid that’s going to get stronger and improve his consistency on his jump shot. He had a very good senior year. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware, and he was on the same team with [Syracuse signee] Trevor Cooney, who’s a terrific player. He had a very good senior year. We’re very excited about his upside.

Amayo was a pretty big-name guy who seems like a potential centerpiece. Who did you beat for him and what did you like about him?

The New Jersey, Philadelphia area should be good for us. It’s only a three-hour ride, it’s close to home but no distractions. I actually recruited [Amayo] at Pittsburgh in case Ashton Gibbs left his name in the draft. We were fortunate to get him down here. Luke Murray has done a terrific job with him. He had a good visit here, he visited Seton Hall, and he came down and visited College of Charleston, which had a terrific year. But we were able to sign Kelvin and are really excited about it. He’s a combo guard that can make plays for himself and for others with the ball. He’s very strong at 212 pounds, about 6-4. The program that he played for, NIA Prep, has done an unbelievable job. Coach Rudy King has really built the program into a powerhouse pretty quickly. They had four or five Division I signees this year, won 26 or 27 games.

Is he a guy you could potentially build around in the coming years?

Yeah, any freshman’s got a chance, but he knows that. He’s a guy I think can be very, very good here immediately.

Pressley’s the biggest guy you’re bringing in. Will he have a pretty good chance to play right away?

Yeah, he’ll have an opportunity. We expect him to compete and play right away. He’s 6-8, 225, very long and athletic. He has a 7-2 reach. He’s got some ability to shoot it, put it on the floor. He’s a versatile forward, a versatile frontcourt guy. He took an official visit to Missouri. They offered him a scholarship. With hard work, he’s got a chance to be pretty special.

Adams battled cancer, signed two years ago, but now is ready to play. What’s he been up to and how’s he looking?

It’s an unbelievable story. Pat [Kennedy] and his staff, I thought when he signed a couple years ago, it was a very good sign. He was a terrific player out of high school. I thought he could really shoot the ball. Obviously, his character is beyond belief. What he’s been able to overcome is unbelievable. His weight is back, he’s in summer school and he’s working hard. We need him to make shots and be another guy that will guard and be an interchangeable guy. I also think he could become a very good leader.

Walden was a Kennedy recruit. Did you know much about him and if not, what did you discover?

I didn’t know about him. He was signed early. He can really shoot the ball, he works hard, he’s strong and he’s a terrific student from a great family. He really wanted to be here at Towson. That really excites me. He can be a point guard for us. He has a chance to play right away. There are a lot of new faces, and we need to get better at handling the ball.

Burwell is a transfer from South Florida. He has to sit out a year, but what are you looking for when he’s ready? And how did you get involved with him?

Kevin Clark recruited him, as well as I did, at Providence. We love his size, and he can really shoot the basketball. He had a great post-grad year at South Kent, a New England prep school. He led the state of New Jersey in scoring the year before. He just may have gotten caught in the wrong position or a numbers crunch down there. He was looking for a change of scenery. So we’re excited about him. After his sit-out year, we’re hopeful he can step in because we’ll lose a pretty good scorer in Ray Polk. The chance to be an impact scorer on the perimeter will be there for him right away.

How important were preexisting relationships you and your staff had in terms of putting together this class?

Once we got here, we had a great product here to sell that maybe some people didn’t know about. Recruiting is about relationships. I think all the guys on staff have a lot of relationships. We needed players who are ready to play right away. We need to have a great recruiting class every year. That’s the only way you can get really good in this league.

Is this the type of class that you’d want every year, or, from a quality standpoint, do you plan on aiming higher?

I want to be better. We maybe got a somewhat late start, but there’s always good players out there. We were fortunate to get some guys that had a chance to play right away. They’ve got to come in and work right away. But understand they’re committed to being students first, and being extremely hard-working and great teammates.

Are you going to focus on the Northeast in recruiting?

Well I thought coming in, from Northern Virginia up to New England, I think has the most talent in the country. I think we’ve got guys in Kenny Johnson and Duane Simpkins who have ties in Northern Virginia up through Maryland. Luke [Murray] and Kevin [Clark] and I spent the majority of our years recruiting Philly up through New England. I felt like we had to have an in [in those geographic areas] for all those players.

How important is Baltimore in raising Towson’s profile?

I’ve been at a couple schools where I’ve had guys from Baltimore and had a keen understanding of the great high school and AAU programs. We have to get the best players in our backyard and keep them home, especially the guys that want to stay home. So recruiting is about hard work and making sure you find guys that are the right fit. We want them all.

Overall, are you pleased with this recruiting class?

I’m excited, but the reality is that none of these guys have scored a point or grabbed a rebound yet either. I love that there’s work to be done as well. I think these guys have the ability, and it’s there for them to earn it right away.

Has everything gone pretty much according to plan for you so far?

I mean, it’s been great. Everyone here at Towson has been very supportive. They understand this is a great opportunity. With the visibility of our league and the new arena coming, we can really turn the corner. Basketball can be a great entrance-way into your university, and we have a super, super university here. It’s a great front door to our wonderful house. This is as good a time as any over these next few years to make that happen. As we build this thing, build it quickly, I get the sense that everybody wants to be on board.

Baltimore Sun photo of Pat Skerry by Jed Kirschbaum / April 5, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

July 4, 2011

Terps WR recruit Malcolm Culmer 'a deep threat'

Malcolm Culmer planned on participating in one-day camps at Maryland and Rutgers two weekends ago, but the Willingboro (N.J.) wide receiver and cornerback never made it to Piscataway.

“I was actually working at the Rutgers camp for the one day,” said Willingboro coach Reggie Lawrence. “[Culmer] called [from College Park] and said he wasn’t going to be there. I wasn’t totally surprised.”

Culmer had earned the scholarship he had long coveted and promptly committed to the Terps. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound prospect also considered offers from Buffalo, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State, among others.

Lawrence wasn’t taken aback by Culmer’s decision last month based on a variety of reasons -- most notably Culmer’s familiarity with the Terps program. Lawrence took his team to two team camps at Maryland, and Culmer also came to College Park for a Junior Day event in the spring. His fourth visit to Maryland was the day he committed.

“[Culmer] and his mother loved the campus,” Lawrence said. “From the time we were there, they loved the distance from home and he liked coach [Lee] Hull, the receivers coach. He was recruiting him and working with him the past couple camps. He felt real comfortable.”

Culmer joined the Willingboro varsity team as a sophomore, and Lawrence was immediately struck by “his quickness and his speed.” The future Terp experienced some growing pains that year, but Lawrence said he “knew that [Culmer] would be a Division I football player” in a BCS conference. As a junior, Culmer put all those pieces of potential together.

“I think as junior year began, he was more confident in himself,” Lawrence said. “Once he became more confident … he scored touchdowns on reverses, pass plays, punt returns, interceptions. So we always knew that every time he touched the ball, he had the ability to go the distance.”

Culmer finished his junior year with 14 total touchdowns (including eight receiving) and a 27 yards-per-catch average. Thanks in large part to Culmer’s play, the Chimeras made a run to the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals.

While Culmer was recruited by several programs – included Illinois – as a cornerback, Lawrence said he expects Culmer to start out at receiver at Maryland. Lawrence isn’t quite sure how the Terps plan to utilize Culmer, but he’s “the type of kid that can probably play in any offense you put him in.”

“He’s a deep threat,” Lawrence said. “He’s one of those guys with the ability to take it the distance every time you have the ball. We’ll use him on crossing routes, and he’s not afraid to go over the middle. But he has the ability to take it the distance.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:57 PM | | Comments (4)
        

July 1, 2011

Marist rescinds scholarship offer to Cody Joyce

On Tuesday, Cody Joyce accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Marist. Two days later, the Southern graduate was informed that the Red Foxes were withdrawing the offer.

“They offered him a scholarship and he accepted,” said Pete Medhurst, Joyce’s father. “They called us, welcomed us to the family, [said] ‘Here’s when school starts, when he’ll move in.’ And [Marist coach] Chuck Martin called us [Thursday] afternoon and basically said the athletic director is not letting [them] take Cody.”

Medhurst said Marist athletic director Tim Murray told his wife on the phone that the school couldn’t accept Joyce because they were “over-enrolled.” Efforts to reach Murray through email Friday night were not immediately successful. Coaches are forbidden by NCAA rules from commenting on unsigned prospects.

Joyce, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound power forward, fielded interest from New Hampshire, South Dakota State and UMBC, but Marist was the most involved Division I program. Joyce was invited last month to take an unofficial visit to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and then invited again earlier this week for an official visit. Martin offered Joyce a scholarship, and the former Southern star said he “committed on the spot.”

Medhurst and his wife were informed by Martin on Thursday that the scholarship to Joyce was being rescinded. Joyce’s parents wrestled with the decision about whether or not to tell their son the news. After a sleepless night, the Medhursts told Joyce on Friday.

“Obviously he’s extremely disappointed,” Medhurst said. “Cody has done nothing wrong throughout the whole process. He’s the real victim in this. We’re all disappointed.”

While Medhurst’s still not certain of the reasons for Marist withdrawing Joyce’s offer, he’s not blaming Martin for what happened.

“Honestly, we don’t think Chuck’s done anything wrong here,” Medhurst said. “Chuck told me it was the most difficult phone call he had to make in his years of coaching. I take him at his word on that. He’s been completely open and honest.”

The next step for Joyce is unclear at the moment. The All-Anne Arundel County player will visit Goldey-Beacom, a Division II program in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday, and Massanutten Military Academy, a prep school in Woodstock, Va., on Tuesday.

“Our case would be if a year of prep school does Cody any good, that a lot of Division I schools would be recruiting him next year,” Medhurst said. “Do you take that chance? Could you play for a prep school and be right in the same spot, taking a DII scholarship and saving your family $25,000, $30,000? This is the tough part of the decision.”

Joyce, who averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds as a senior, is fully qualified academically. Medhurst is hopeful that his son moves on from this disappointment and finds the right situation soon.

“It just seems like the process kind of betrayed him a little bit this time,” Medhurst said. “But he’s a kid that I’m sure will be resilient. He’s going to make the best of whatever happens, and we’ll go from there. I’m sure when August comes, whatever school he’s at will have an outstanding student-athlete.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:35 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

Thanks to his play at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., last month, Nate Britt's stock is at an all-time high.

CBSSports.com called Britt, a rising junior from Gonzaga (D.C.) and Terps target, the "best point guard in the country" regardless of class.

Georgia Tech, Florida, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Marquette, Duke, Maryland and Seton Hall have all reached out.

Britt isn’t ready to think about trimming his list or taking unofficial visits yet.

• Ardmore.Patch.com this week profiled Terps forward target Amile Jefferson.

While Jefferson finds himself in the position as one of the most coveted power forwards in the nation, it has not been through happenstance. He’s consistently consistent. Think Tim Duncan on a high school level, not flashy by any means, but a player who is fundamentally sound and does everything well. That’s Jefferson’s game. His talent was forged by dedication, attention to detail and a never-ending desire to win.

• Guard Christian Sanders was scheduled to visit Kansas this week, according to the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal World.

Christian Sanders, a 6-foot-2 senior-to-be from St. Thomas High School in Houston, will make an unofficial recruiting visit to KU on Thursday, ESPN’s Dave Telep reports. He has visited Stanford and also has Maryland, Texas and Colorado on his early list. He’s son of former KU guard Brad Sanders

• DeMatha forward Jerami Grant updated his recruitment from the Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy in Chicago.

As far as colleges, Grant listed Miami, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Syracuse, Rutgers, Clemson and Maryland.

• CBSSports.com got an update on "stock-riser" and Terps forward target Arnaud Moto.

While he doesn’t have a set school list, Moto said he wants to visit Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Wake Forest in June. He is also hearing from Miami (Fl.), Maryland, Seton Hall and Georgia Tech.

• Lost Letterman wrote this week about Terps center target Shaquille Cleare.

“I have seen Cleare blossom over the years. Now, I see him as a 6-foot-9, 280-pound player whose skills are off the charts,” Cleare’s high school coach Don Harvey said, according to Vype, a high school sports magazine.

Football recruiting

• Terrapin Station caught up this week with UM quarterback pledge Caleb Rowe.

“As a quarterback I just try to be a leader, getting the ball out to the playmakers and letting them play football,” he said. “I’m a leader, so I can lead a team. I feel like I can make all the throws, I can scramble a little bit, and I can throw on the run so I feel like I’m a pretty versatile player.”

• Maryland-bound offensive lineman Stephen Grommer was named to the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal's All-Area Boys Track second team.

Grommer is the Region III-4A champion and finished third in the county and fifth in the state meets.

The Washington Post and the Frederick News Post both wrote commitment stories on Terps athlete pledge Joe Riddle, a rising senior from Linganore.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:41 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        
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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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