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August 31, 2011

New series coming: Sweet 16

While we all patiently wait a month-and-a-half or so for the start of the 2011-12 college basketball season, I've got a little something coming on the blog that will hopefully get us primed for the year.

Thursday will be the debut of ‘The Sweet 16,’ an occasional series that will profile the – you guessed it – 16 best returning Division I college hoops players from the Baltimore area. The selections were made based on prior success and projections for this coming season.

The series isn’t really a ranking, per se, of the top 16 players from the area. After the 16th player has been featured, I’ll set up a bracket-style tournament with polls on the blog for everyone to vote on who they think is Baltimore’s top college hoops player.

There were some really tough omissions -- namely Texas A&M’s Naji Hibbert (Baltimore native, DeMatha graduate) and Morgan State’s Aric Brooks (St. Frances). (It's also entirely possible that I forgot someone worthy. With more than 65 DI players from here, it's hard to keep track of everyone). Akron’s Chauncey Gilliam (Columbia native) also would have been under consideration had he not sat out last season as a transfer from UMBC. He’ll have a chance to make the cut next year, along with this year’s freshmen and any JUCO transfers.

We’ll get things started Thursday with the first of three local guys playing for an in-state school.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Q&A with Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell

fang-mitchell-2011.jpg It's been an unusual recruiting cycle for Coppin State men's basketball coach Fang Mitchell.

Mitchell guided the Eagles to a 16-14 record last season, but his team lost four scholarships -- three this year and one next season -- because of Coppin's Academic Progress Rate. With 10 scholarship players coming back for another season, Mitchell had no scholarships to give for the 2011 class.

Mitchell also had to deal with questions about his future at Coppin thanks to his expiring contract. In May, after months of uncertainty, the university gave the 63-year-old coach a three-year extension.

While there were no new recruits to talk about this year, Mitchell spoke to Recruiting Report last week about his 2011-12 Eagles squad:

We'll start with the departures. Talk about the guys you've lost.

We lost Branden Doughty. He transferred. He went to Bowie [State]. So we did lose him. And we really only bring three starters back because we lost [Vince] Goldsberry and Ceslovas [Kucinskas]. This is probably one of the deeper squads that we’ve brought back, though. We’re bringing back some of our top scorers when you look at the offensive end.

How important is it for you to have all that experience returning?

Well after last year and learning a lot of new faces adapting to Division I basketball, I think with a year under their belt, they understand what to expect. I thought that was a major problem in the [MEAC] tournament because for the students, it was their first time going through that experience. There’s nothing like experience. After they went through that year, I do think they’re going to be a lot better prepared for the tough road schedule that we normally have. They understand the system a lot better. They understand me a lot better. Hopefully that will turn into a smoother transition for us.

Goldsberry is certainly a big loss in that he was a four-year player and your starting point guard. How do you make up for that?

Well that’s going to be tough. That’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to have some people step up. Akeem Ellis is a key player. He played small forward for us last year. We’re hoping he can adapt to the point guard spot. That will help, along with Tony Gallo. At least he had the experience of being through this. And we look for them to be able to help us in that transition to try to help relieve the loss of Vince Goldsberry. No question, he was one of the quickest guards in the conference. He did a lot for us as far as leadership is concerned.

And how do you try to replace Kucinskas?

That’s a little tougher because he’s a big, strong banger. We haven’t been able to bring in anyone else that’s his size. But we do have a person that didn’t play last year – a 6-8 kid named Logan Wiens. We’re looking for him to come in and try to help.

Wiens redshirted last year after transferring from a JUCO. What does he bring to the table?

Well he is a very intelligent player. He passes well, but he can put the ball on the floor and he can also shoot it. He just adds shooting. We led the conference in 3-point shooting, and Logan adds another 3-point shooter. He won’t hurt us there. He won’t give us the posting that Ceslovas gave us inside, but he does give us another scorer. He does rebound. I’m happy to have him because he can be the missing link that we need to fill that spot.

Are there are any non-scholarship guys you've added?

Well people came to us and there’s people that wanted to walk-on and recognized that we didn’t have scholarships. But they were seeing it as an opportunity to be able to come here and more or less play. We benefited from that. We got a couple players that want to walk-on. It’s a situation where there’s nothing you can do. You just bring them in. There’s no scholarships, but we focused on bringing people in for 2012 as well.

What will be the identity of this team, especially compared to some of your previous teams?

It’s different because of the fact that it’s more of a scoring team than a defensive team. We’ve had a lot of success because of our defense and not necessarily our offense. It is different. But we were making progress toward the end of the year on the defensive end. The way I look at it is if we start from that point on and continue to get better, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.

Who are you counting on to step up this year?

I think Jordan Lee will step his game up. Last year came after a year of him being away from playing. It’s always that next year that you’re getting used to the system. I think that he’ll step up his game this year and be the player we’ve always known he was capable of being. We still would look for solid contributions from Michael Harper, who has been very consistent. He was our leading scorer. And I do think Akeem Ellis will step his game up and be the guard that we really need.

We’re looking for Tony Gallo to come back also with what he had given us earlier in the year. He had hurt his shoulder, and his average went down a little bit. But we feel he’s going to contribute to our success as well as someone like Michael Murray, who started coming on at the end of the year and contributing to our positive finish.

You obviously didn't have any scholarships to give for 2011, but on the trail with future classes, did the uncertainty over your contract status make things difficult?

It was tough. And I’m glad, in a way, that in recruiting we didn’t have any scholarships. We weren’t hurt as bad as we normally would be with the fact of my contract situation up in the air. People didn’t know if I was going to be here, and it did hurt some. But like I said, that’s what life is all about. You have those ups and downs. Yes, it contributed to [recruiting difficulties] and now because of that some people still don’t know what I’m back. There hasn’t been any formal announcement from Coppin saying that ‘Fang is here.’ People say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that you were back.’ It affects [recruiting], so I’m glad it’s behind me. I’m telling as many people as I can that I’m back, and I will be back for at least the next three years.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

I’m looking forward to just having the opportunity to coach these kids. It’s a great group of young men I had last year. We were like a family. They really care for one another and they really compete. That’s basically all I ask – that they compete and just want to win. I really truly think this group wants to win. They want to do the right things. They’ve done the right things for me academically as well as on the court. We did tremendous in the classroom. I look forward to another year with this group.

With so many returners, what's the expectation for this season?

With the experience coming back, if we can resolve that gap in the middle with Ceslovas not being there, and I’m pretty sure the transition of Akeem Ellis to the point guard spot [will go well], then I’m pretty sure that we should be in the mix this year to challenge for the [MEAC] championship.

Baltimore Sun photo of Fang Mitchell by Karl Merton Ferron / Dec. 4, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:06 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 30, 2011

Gilman's Cyrus Jones taking his time

cyrus-jones-recruiting.jpg A list that started with more than 40 schools was eventually pared down to 10. Countless conversations with college coaches and interviews with media outlets took place during that process, and will continue to occur throughout the next several months. But for Cyrus Jones, the chaotic existence of being a highly coveted four-star recruit has never been a bother.

“It wasn’t as hectic as I thought it was going to be. I think I’ve managed it well,” said Jones, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound wide receiver and cornerback. “It’s a pretty enjoyable process. It’s stressful at times, with calls and things like that. But it’s been reassuring, just to see my hard work paying off.”

Jones has picked up right where Virginia freshman Darius Jennings – his former Gilman teammate – left off as Baltimore’s most heavily recruited senior football prospect. For proof of that, look no further than Jones’ Top 10: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Maryland, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

A high-profile recruitment is something Jones has gotten used to over time. Thanks to an All-Metro 2010 season at cornerback in which he also accumulated 1,240 all-purpose yards and scored nine touchdowns running, receiving and returning kicks, Jones earned most of his scholarship offers before winter break of his junior year.

“You pretty much know when you get offers, the schools you’re going to be strongly interested in,” Jones said. “Coming into the process, there are schools that catch your eye. ... You weed through the first ones, focus on schools you’re seriously interested in. It’s going pretty well.”

Some schools on the list have obvious ties to Jones. His father – Dunbar boys basketball coach Cyrus Jones Sr. – played basketball at West Virginia. Ohio State has recruited several players at Gilman before, and Greyhounds assistant Stan White is a Buckeye legend. Virginia, of course, features Jennings.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Jones said. “It’s a plus. … I’ve visited down there and I really like Coach Mike London and what he’s done with the program. It’s close to home. It doesn’t hurt that Darius is there. … As far as West Virginia and my father going there, that’ll be a great plus, but it’s not really why I’m interested in them. I just like their coaching staff. I’m interested in seeing what they do offensively this season under Coach [Dana] Holgorsen. It looks like they’re moving in the right direction.

“Every school that’s on my list has something unique that stands out about them. All of them are real good academic opportunities, which is a big aspect as far as my recruitment goes. And all of them have great football.”

There’s also the possibility of staying close to home and playing for Maryland. Jones said location is not a factor at all in his recruitment, and proximity is “not really” why he’s considering the Terps.

“I’m just real excited to see what they do this year,” Jones said. “Coach Randy Edsall is a real good guy. My cornerbacks coach at Gilman (Keith Kormanik) actually played for him [when Edsall was the defensive backs coach at Boston College]. He just kind of helped me to get to know him more. He showed me what he did when he was at school. I’m just looking forward to seeing how they do.”

Much of the buzz surrounding Jones’ recruitment has centered on two of college football’s most bitter rivals: Auburn and Alabama. Jones said the Tigers and Crimson Tide “have been recruiting me the hardest” since the beginning of his junior season.

“I like them a lot, probably just a little bit more than everyone else,” Jones said. “They’ve been real consistent and I have great relationships with the coaching staffs. It’s in the SEC, so it’s the top level of competition in college football.”

Jones said the coaching staffs at Auburn and Alabama are torn about what position he’d play in college. The Tigers initially said he’d be a corner, but have also discussed plans to use him in the Wildcat and find other ways to get him the ball on offense. Alabama, meanwhile, has talked about playing Jones in the slot, on kick returns, and in some nickel packages.

“It’s really a toss-up on what I want to play,” Jones said.

Jones has tentative plans to announce his college decision at the Under Armour All-American Game in January. He has scheduled official visits to Virginia Tech (Sept. 17) and Notre Dame (Oct. 22), and plans to set up official trips to Auburn and Alabama as well. He’s unsure what school will receive his fifth visit, but is committed to taking a fifth trip.

“Alabama and Auburn, I just felt real comfortable when I went down there and visited,” Jones said. “Virginia Tech, I haven’t visited yet. I haven’t visited Notre Dame, and that’s a faraway school. Why not use an official visit to see them when I don’t have to pay for it? That’s kind of my mindset for using my visits.”

In Gilman’s first game of the season – a 68-9 win over Maryland Christian – Jones had a 34-yard touchdown run, a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown. Finding a college that allows Jones to showcase that kind of versatility will be priority No. 1 after his senior season ends.

“I just want to put myself in the best position for success to get to the next level,” Jones said. “That’s my goal.”

Baltimore Sun photo of Cyrus Jones by Karl Merton Ferron / Sept. 4, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 29, 2011

Maryland adds center Olexiy Len to roster

The Maryland men's basketball team has added a much-needed post player to its 2011-12 roster.

Olexiy Len, a 7-foot-1, 225-pound center from Antratsit, Ukraine, will start classes in College Park this week, the university announced today. The news of Len's addition was first reported by InsideMdSports.com.

“We are very excited about the addition of Alex to our basketball team,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said in a news release. “To be able to add a player with his ability so late in the recruiting calendar is good for us. We’re fortunate that, prior to our arrival, Alex was being recruited to Maryland. For him to reach this point is a testament to his great family support and his character. I’m looking forward to working with Alex and helping him reach his potential as a player and a person.”

Len averaged 16 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.3 blocks, 1.7 steals and 0.8 assists for Ukraine during the U18 European Championships. The highlight was a 20-point, eight-rebound performance against Israel. During the 2009 U16 European Championships, Len averaged 8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

“It has been a dream of mine to come to the United States to play college basketball,” Len said in a news release. “In Ukraine we do not get to watch much NCAA basketball, but the first time I saw Maryland play was a memorable one. I saw a video of Maryland playing Duke in Comcast Center in 2010 season. I could not believe the atmosphere - 18,000 people, excitement and fans running onto the floor after the victory. It was unbelievable.

“Coach Turgeon brings a new start to Maryland. For me, this is a brand new beginning as well. So, we are in it together. Coach shared with me his vision for the team, and how he could see me fitting in to his system. It felt good, like the right place for me to be. I can see myself coming in and contributing right away and helping our team compete in a great league. I'm extremely excited to be a Terp.”

Len joins a Maryland frontcourt that previously had just three scholarship players in James Padgett, Ashton Pankey and Berend Weijs. It is unclear how many years of eligibility Len will have with the Terps.

Len's play during the 2010 U18 European Championship caught the attention of EuropeanProspects.com.

Athletically, Len is really off the charts for a European player. He can play above the rim and uses this on both ends of the court. He came up with several incredible dunks or catches high in the air that he finished with the alley-oop dunk out of nowhere. Defensively, he is a constant threat for anyone approaching the basket as he has excellent timing and feel for the big block shot. On the rebound situations, he grabs the ball really high with two hands and holds it high in order to finish it immediately on the offensive end. He is present on every rebound with his long arms and if he can not grab it, he can at least put the other players in trouble.

(Credit to Testudo Times for the videos.)

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:39 PM | | Comments (51)
        

Weekend wrap – Rowe fares well in win

The first football game of senior year went just fine for Caleb Rowe.

The Maryland quarterback commitment led his Blue Ridge squad to a 15-13 win over Wade Hampton.

At Greenville (S.C.), Caleb Rowe completed five of 13 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown to lead Blue Ridge (1-0).

• The Gazette conducted a Q&A with Terps athlete commitment Joe Riddle.

Gazette: Does committing to Maryland just lift a huge weight off your back?

Riddle: Yeah. I wanted to get it done before the season started. I’m really excited about going to Maryland. It’s a great place to be. Now I can just focus on the season.

Basketball recruiting

Amile Jefferson spoke to Adam Zagoria from the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Game about the recruiting process.

“I think Mitch [McGary] is involved with Maryland,” Jefferson said, referring to one of the six schools on McGary’s list. “And I have had Maryland say, ‘Tell him that I said hi’ or something like that. And they will give him a call and Mitch will be like, ‘What’s up [to Jefferson]?’

Check out video of McGary shattering a backboard in warmups at the Elite 24 Game here.

• Maryland wing target Andrew White has been offered by Kansas, according to CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman.

• The Oklahoman reports that Marek Soucek could be a "potential roster addition" for Oklahoma State.

A big man with skills – perimeter shooting and passing included – Soucek had been linked with Maryland, Washington, Seton Hall, Providence, Gonzaga and Utah State. Yet growing speculation suggests he could end up at OSU, where his name is listed in the student directory as already enrolled.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:30 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 26, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

More than three months lapsed between the commitment of Seth Allen to Maryland and Wednesday's pledge from Houston center Shaquille Cleare. It's safe to say Terps fans won't have to wait that long for recruit No. 3 to come on board.

The next couple months could feature a flurry of recruiting-related activity, with the Maryland men's basketball staff working now to line up official visits for several 2012 targets. According to ESPNBoston.com, four-star forward Jake Layman will be in College Park next weekend.

Maryland, whom some have viewed as the favorite, has made the cut, and will be his first visit over Labor Day weekend. Syracuse, Florida, Louisville and Wake Forest will be the other schools he will visit.

• The Terps may still be in the running for DeMatha forward Jerami Grant, according to The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman.

Grant’s list: Texas, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, North Carolina State and perhaps Maryland.

• Maryland is one of the final nine schools in the running for Fresno, Calif., center Robert Upshaw, according to ESPN.com's Paul Biancardi. Arizona, Fresno State, Georgetown, Kansas State, Louisville, Oklahoma State, UNLV and USC are the other programs on the list.

• The Terps also reportedly made the cut for Lithonia, Ga., center Robert Carter, who's also considering Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Rhode Island.

• ESPN.com's Dave Telep tweeted Friday that Terps target Mitch McGary has visits lined up to Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke. All but the Kentucky trip are official visits.

• UM shooting guard target Christian Sanders is reportedly scheduled to make an official visit to Colorado next month.

And according to Rivals.com, Colorado will get a Sept. 9 visit from 6-3 combo guard Christian Sanders of St. Thomas High School in Houston. Sanders also has offers from top programs such as Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Vanderbilt, according to the recruiting-based website.

Football recruiting

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette caught up this week with UM recruit Anthony Nixon, who talked about choosing the Terps over his hometown Pitt Panthers.

"Pitt was No. 1, but I I lived in Pittsburgh all my life," said Nixon, who lives in the Hill District. "I wanted to get out of Pittsburgh and get to a new city. Maryland is close enough that I can get back and forth. It's only four hours away. I think they have a good program, a great head coach. It was the best place for me."

Perry Hills, Nixon's teammate at Pittsburgh Central Catholic and fellow Maryland commitment, was mentioned in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story about the area's top returning senior quarterbacks.

If his confidence comes across as cockiness, it should be noted that Hills also stars in a sport built around individual achievement — wrestling. Hills was the WPIAL Class AAA champion at 189 pounds last winter and has more than 100 victories in his career. And despite committing to a college, he intends to wrestle in the upcoming season, as well.

• Maryland wide receiver commitment Amba Etta-Tawo caught a 42-yard touchdown pass to help his McEachern squad to a 26-17 win over North Gwinnett (Ga.).

Amba Etta-Tawo posted 86 yards on five catches, while [Victor] Brannon added 78 yards on five grabs.

• Terps quarterback pledge Caleb Rowe was mentioned prominently in The Greenville (S.C.) News' preview of the Blue Ridge football team.

Rowe passed for 4,967 yards and 44 touchdowns over the previous two seasons. That was an average of 248.4 yards and more than two touchdowns per game.

• UM defensive back recruit Alvin Hill made a crucial catch in Luella (Ga.) High's 25-10 win over Villa Rica.

Hill’s catch came two drives later, as Luella sat with a third-and-17 on their own 21. Hill pulled down the 32-yard pass and the Lions would score on the 72-yard drive, converting the point after to make it 25-10.

• The Washington Post's James Wagner wrote this week about how five-star defensive tackle Eddie Goldman has put Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) on the national stage.

As he grew and developed, Goldman turned into a budding star. The summer of his sophomore season he received a scholarship offer from Maryland, his first. The offers began pouring in, more than 50 in all now — though he recently pared his list to seven (it still includes the Terrapins, as well as Auburn and Alabama, the past two NCAA champions).

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

August 25, 2011

Isaiah Armwood talks George Washington pledge

isaiah-armwood-gw.jpg After transferring from Villanova last week, Isaiah Armwood didn't waste any time in finding a new school. The Baltimore native and 2009 Montrose Christian grad committed to George Washington on Wednesday night.

“[George Washington] just kept sticking in my head more than any other schools,” Armwood said Thursday. “It just came down to a decision I had to make that was best for me. GW is what was best for me. … The campus, it was not too far from home. And GW is a great school. I came from a great school in Villanova as well. That always stuck in the back of my mind.”

Armwood, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward, also visited Maryland and was interested in Iowa, Texas Tech and Virginia. But GW presented Armwood with an opportunity to be part of a new era under former Vermont coach and Maryland assistant Mike Lonergan.

“Coach Lonergan, he doesn’t want to limit his players,” Armwood said. “[His players] can just express everything they can on the court. With this year off, it’s just an opportunity to expand my game even more.”

Armwood said he bonded with the entire Colonials staff. Pete Strickland, a former North Carolina State assistant, tried to recruit Armwood to Raleigh out of high school. Armwood was also familiar with GW assistant Kevin Sutton, who formerly led the Montverde (Fla.) Academy program and competed against Montrose Christian.

“They’re veteran,” Armwood said of the staff. “Most of [the coaches] are older guys and experienced coaches, except for Coach [Hajj] Turner. So they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re talking about. … I could tell that I was fairly important to them. Just when I talked to the assistant coaches, they were just constantly explaining how much better I would get there, and how they would work with me.”

In his sophomore season at Villanova, Armwood averaged 2.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 17 minutes. After sitting out this year at George Washington, he’s hoping to make a much bigger impact for the Colonials than he did for the Wildcats.

“I wasn’t told that [I would start], but I plan on doing that next year,” Armwood said. “[I’m] just [looking forward to] getting there, getting to know my teammates and getting on the court with my teammates.”

Armwood is set to start classes at George Washington on Monday. The next step in his college basketball career can’t come soon enough.

“[I’ll] just [bring] flat-out effort every night,” Armwood said. “I’m there to play. I’m just looking forward to getting to know my teammates and be with a good group of guys.”

U.S. Presswire photo of Isaiah Armwood by Jim O’Connor / Jan. 20, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:47 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Q&A with Navy coach Ed DeChellis

ed-dechellis-2011-navy.jpg With nine players returning to Annapolis this year, Ed DeChellis will have a good deal of veteran experience on his first Navy men's basketball team.

The former Penn State coach will also have plenty of new talent to work with at the Academy.
DeChellis welcomed seven freshmen to the Midshipmen roster this summer: Kevin Alter, a 5-foot-6, 140-pound guard from Rumson, N.J.; Wes Clark, a 6-foot, 170-pound guard who is from Annapolis and graduated from Governor's Academy in Byfield, Mass.; Donya Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard who graduated from Calvert Hall in 2010 and did a postgrad year at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy; Chall Montgomery, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard from Cleveland who teamed with Jackson at Mercersburg; Worth Smith, a 6-foot-6, 197-pound forward from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian; Jared Smoot, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound center from Crown Point, Ind.; and Jon Ward-Adams, a 6-foot, 170-pound guard from Center Moriches, N.Y.

DeChellis spoke to Recruiting Report last week about the Mids' 2011 class.

You got the Navy job in May. It was certainly late in the game from a recruiting perspective, so what was your first move?

Well my first move was to make sure all the kids were still committed to the Academy. Immediately, once I accepted the job, I just called all the kids and talked to all of them. We kept the dialogue going through the rest of May and June. All the kids stayed with their commitment to Navy. They all arrived here in June for plebe summer and are all doing well. In the course of the summer we got a chance to meet them and their parents, and we’ve had an opportunity over the course of the summer in July and August to see them every day, talk to them and watch them play. We’re allowed to do that over here as part of the plebe sports period. Then [we’ve just been] building relationships. Recruiting is all about relationships. We’re trying to build them over the course of time here.

How much of the class was already compiled when you got the job?

All the guys were committed and had their appointments. My job was just to make sure they all still came and were still committed. We were able to do that.

Donya Jackson’s a local guy who led Calvert Hall to a BCL title and followed that up with a strong prep year at Mercersburg Academy. What are you expecting out of him?

Well first of all, it’s really hard because I haven’t had a chance to see the kids a lot. I didn’t watch them in a high school situation. I watched some tape we have laying around here on some guys. But Donya is a very, very talented young man. I think, first of all, he’s gifted athletically. He really shoots the ball well and he’s competitive. He loves to play. I think he’s going to be a very, very good player here and hopefully in the Patriot League. But he has a high skill-set and he has a high, competitive motor. He just loves to play. He loves to compete and he’s very athletic.

navy-plebes-2011.jpg Kevin Alter is an undersized point guard who came to Navy straight out of high school. What are you looking for from him?

He’s a very tremendous shooter, a great communicator, has great leadership skills and handles the ball very well. And he’s just a tough, competitive kid and a competitive person. But he makes shots. He just makes open shots. He makes the other guys on the team better.

Wes Clark is an Annapolis native who seems to be steeped in the Academy’s traditions. What do you like about him?

Well, I think he’s got leadership skills and a certain level of toughness to him. Again, he’s a competitive person. I think he’s a good perimeter shooter. He’s a combo guard that we can play in a couple different places.

Chall Montgomery teamed with Jackson at Mercersburg. What does he bring to the table?

He’s very, very athletic. He’s a high-energy guy, a strong, tough kid who can score off the dribble. He’s more of a drive-to-the-basket type of player right now. He can be a very good rebounder and a very good defender. He’s got long arms and he’s just a tremendous athlete. He brings that aspect to our program. So he’s kind of a kid who can play multiple positions.

Jon Ward-Adams is another incoming point guard. What do you like about his game?

He’s had some injuries with an ankle, but he’s a kid that’s a natural point guard in the sense that he tries to make other guys better. He can make open shots and he’s strong. He about 6-foot, 6-foot-1 and strong. But he’s had some ankle issues that we hope to get cleared up there. We want to get him on the floor. I haven’t seen as much of him as some of the other guys.

What’s the role you see Worth Smith filling as a freshman and down the road?

He’s like 6-7, a long, athletic guy who blocks shots and shoots the ball from the perimeter. He’s just a hard-working kid. Again, he’s like a face-up 4 that can play some 3. He has a pretty good skill-set and he makes plays. He just makes plays out there. He seems to have a nose for the basketball.

Smoot’s the biggest guy on the team at 6-10. Will he be counted on right away in the post?

Well he’s a big kid, takes up a lot of space and is very good around the basket. He’s a very competitive kid. He wants to do well. He’s strong, a big kid at 6-11, 245 or so. He’s a big kid, is strong, can run and jump and can block shots. He has got very good timing and he’s a very good shot-blocker. I think he’s a kid that will continue to get better and better. He’s a kid that you walk in and you kind of go, ‘Wow.’ He’s a very, very promising looking young guy.

Overall, are you pleased with this incoming group? Are there any needs that weren’t addressed?

Well, it’s a little more difficult [to assess] because you can’t watch [the whole team play]. The plebes, we’re allowed to watch them during the summer a little bit. We have a feel of what they can do. I really don’t have a feel of what the returners can do. We start classes next Monday, then individual workouts with the guys. We just met as a staff, talked about individual workouts and evaluations to see what the returning guys can do, skill-wise, and what they can’t do. Once we figure out what guys can do, we can better prepare for the season offensively and defensively. It’s kind of a learning process for us as coaches as well. We’re trying to figure out what guys’ strengths are.

How much has your past in the Big Ten helped in recruiting?

It’s paid off for us. We’re involved with some pretty good kids that we’ve been able to gain interest from, so I think that’s really helped out. As a staff, we have Kurt Kanaskie and Dan Earl, two of my assistants from Penn State with great connections. Jason Crafton stayed from the previous staff, as well as Aaron Goodman. Our other young guy, D.J. Black, came from Penn State as a film guy. So we have a pretty experienced group and we’ve been able to get involved with some kids. We’ve had several unofficial visits already. But people certainly know about you, and parents come to campus and read all about that stuff and what we’ve been able to accomplish as coaches. It’s been good that way. One thing we’re going to try to do where they maybe haven’t been doing at the level I’d like to see is really work with the prep school, NAPS, up in Newport, and try to use that to our advantage trying to recruit guys and really talk to them about the benefit of playing at NAPS. Basically, you’re getting that year of maturity and development under your belt before coming here to the Academy.

What are your expectations for your first season in Annapolis?

Well we want to win. The expectation is going to be a Patriot League championship and get to the NCAA tournament. That’s winning three games in March. I think we’ve got a couple seniors -- like Jordan Sugars -- who have played a lot of minutes and are proven players. We have a couple sophomores who have proven themselves, like Isaiah Roberts and J.J. Avila. J.J. was an all-Patriot League player. We’ve got very good building blocks. We’ve got to develop some guys, but put [the newcomers around the returners] and I think we can be pretty successful. It’s sort of an unknown, but that’s the fun in it for us as a staff. We look forward to it. We’re really excited about it and we’re looking forward to the season and hope good things come our way. We’re not going in saying, ‘Hey, we’ve been there.’ But our expectation is to be good and our expectation is to win and our expectation is to get to the NCAA tournament. Whether it’s Year 1 or Year 2 or Year 3, whenever it may be, that’s what we want to do.

Photo 1: U.S. Presswire / Ed DeChellis / Feb. 24, 2009

Photo 2: Handout photo of Navy's freshmen class courtesy of William Russell

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:32 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 24, 2011

Shaquille Cleare 'fell in love with Maryland'

For Shaquille Cleare, there was always something about Maryland he just couldn't shake.

The 6-foot-9, 285-pound center from The Village School in Houston had strong feelings about the Terps from the start, even with an unexpected coaching change in the midst of the recruiting process.

“He was really, really intrigued by Coach [Gary] Williams. That’s what got it started,” said Village School coach Don Harvey. “When Coach Williams left, Shaq was a little down about that. So we had to get him back up. The next school on his list was [Texas] A&M, and then [Mark] Turgeon ended up going to Maryland, so that made it even more [attractive]. … I think he fell in love with Maryland.”

On Thursday morning, Cleare made it official with Maryland, committing to the Terps over offers from Arizona, Baylor, Miami, South Florida, Texas and Texas A&M. A four-star prospect and the No. 29 prospect nationally according to Rivals.com, Cleare joins Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian guard Seth Allen as part of Maryland’s 2012 recruiting class. Cleare decided to become Turgeon’s second recruit shortly after returning to Texas from a trip visiting his family in their native Bahamas.

“[Turgeon] loves him,” Harvey said. “He thinks he’s a great low-post player. He runs the floor well and thinks Shaq can shoot the jumper. He has a lot of respect for Shaq. He’ll put him in a good spot to play well there. It’s a great place for Shaq."

Cleare came to the United States from the Bahamas as a plus-sized ninth-grader. Then a 6-foot-7, 255-pound post player, Cleare was a raw talent in need of coaching, conditioning and skill development.

“My impression was that he had a lot of upside,” Harvey recalled. “He wasn’t a great player at that time. I don’t even think he was Top 500 as far as his ranking. We had a load of work to do to get him where he is right now. He’s got a great motor right now. He has just totally progressed over the years. He has turned into a great player.”

A Bahamian boys program was responsible for Cleare settling in Houston, but his first living situation in the U.S. didn’t last long. Before Christmas that first year, Cleare left the program and was looking for a place to live. He quickly turned to his coach.

“He asked me at that time, could he move in with me. [I said], ‘Absolutely not,’” Harvey said with a laugh. “But as time went on, we got to know him and fell in love with him. We brought him over, went to church [and] had dinner one weekend, three years ago. He never left after that.”

Cleare’s gradual development as a post prospect culminated this spring and summer with the Under Armour-sponsored Houston Defenders on the AAU circuit. He quickly emerged as a highly coveted national recruit – and essentially a must-get for Maryland. Van Coleman, publisher of Hot100Hoops.com, watched Cleare “15 or 20 times” over the past few months, and rated the future Terp as the No. 35 prospect in the country and one of the “top three or four low-block scorers” in the 2012 class.

“He has tremendous hands, surprisingly quick feet and bounce, which is one thing with his body that you don’t necessarily expect,” Coleman said. “A lot about him reminds me of [Boston Celtics power forward] Glen Davis, Big Baby, in that he has surprising quickness, he can rebound and he really knows how to score. He can step out and hit the 12-to-15 foot jump shot.”

Coleman thinks Cleare would be even more effective if he lost 15 or 20 pounds – a definite possibility in a college strength-and-conditioning program. Earning a McDonald’s All-American Game nomination isn’t out of the realm of possibility “if he really starts strong this season.” After high school, Coleman expects big things out of Cleare in College Park.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts from Day One,” Coleman said. “He needs to work on his lateral quickness as a defender, but he uses his size well to get people off the block. I think from Day One, he’s a guy that comes in, starts, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he becomes the go-to guy for them on the interior.”

James Padgett and Ashton Pankey will be the only scholarship post players on Maryland’s 2012 roster, making Cleare a likely candidate for the Terps’ starting center spot as a freshman.

“That’s one of the reasons why he chose to go ahead and get it done,” Harvey said. “He’s looking to start. He’s a big-time player. That’s part of the reason, and hopefully a lot of guys will follow him there.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:58 AM | | Comments (29)
        

August 23, 2011

Daquein McNeil living up to the hype

Daquein McNeil left Baltimore last summer to spend his sophomore year at Vermont Academy in sleepy Saxtons River, Vt.

When the 6-foot-3, 170-pound combo guard returned to Charm City in the spring, he did so with an improved game, an elevated profile and a notable difference in his “maturity level.” McNeil put what he learned in Vermont to practice all spring and summer long on the circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite’s 17-and-under team.

“Even though I’m like the youngest one on the team, I’m kind of like the big brother,” McNeil said Saturday after the Bmorehoops.com National All-Star Game at The Dome. “[I try to] keep everyone in sync so everything’s going good.”

Coming off a sophomore season in which he was ranked the No. 5 player in New England for his class and the No. 1 player in Vermont, McNeil picked up where he left off with Nike Baltimore Elite. Despite his youth, he emerged as a go-to scorer for the team and a legitimate high-major recruit.

CBSSports.com noted that at the Peach Jam, McNeil "impressed onlookers with his consistent scoring ability, getting to the rim and also knocking down outside shots." In Scout.com’s post-summer rankings, McNeil was listed as a four-star prospect and the No. 17 shooting guard in the 2013 class.

McNeil claims offers from Louisville, Richmond, Rutgers, South Florida, VCU and Washington. He listed the Spiders and Rams as early favorites in his recruitment.

“Richmond has been recruiting me since I was a freshman. And I like [assistant] coach [and Baltimore native] Jamal Brunt,” McNeil said. “VCU, I like their coaches too. We just have a strong bond.”

At the 2010 Bmorehoops.com All-Star event, McNeil said that he liked " Maryland a lot" and was hearing regularly from Terps assistant coach Bino Ranson. McNeil said Saturday that he is no longer being recruited by Maryland.

“I thought they were, but then when I mentioned them in one of my interviews, it came back [to me that] they’re not,” he said. “[It doesn’t bother me] at all. That puts a chip on my shoulder, makes me play harder, that my [home-state school is] not recruiting me.”

McNeil said he’s enjoyed his time home this summer, but is looking forward to his return to Vermont Academy for his junior year. He teamed last year with former Towson Catholic guard and Montana signee Keron DeShields. This year former Dunbar guard and fellow Nike Baltimore Elite player Jamel Artis will join McNeil at Vermont Academy.

“[I’m] so excited,” McNeil said. “It’s going to be so much fun. He doesn’t understand it yet, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:25 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 22, 2011

Gaels' Phillip Lawrence has Division I options

A summer spent in Pennsylvania was just what Phillip Lawrence needed to raise his profile.

Lawrence, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound forward from Mount St. Joseph, lived with his father in Philadelphia and spent the spring and summer on the circuit with Philly’s Finest.

“It went great,” Lawrence said Saturday after the Bmorehoops.com American All-Star Game at The Dome. “I had a great summer, I got a lot more looks, a couple offers. And the team was good overall. I played with Amile Jefferson.”

phillip-lawrence-recruiting.jpg

Playing on the same team with Jefferson – a five-star prospect and Scout.com’s No. 4 power forward in the 2012 class – ensured that Lawrence would be seen by plenty of Division I coaches. Lawrence made the most of that opportunity, particularly at the Summer Classic East in King of Prussia, Pa. The Gaels senior was named one of the "biggest stock risers" by Hoop Group Elite.

“[My role was] basically to run the floor, get rebounds, play defense and make my shots,” Lawrence said. “I’d go inside-outside, like a wing forward.”

Lawrence, who could play the 3 or the 4 in college, has picked up offers from Marist – where he was scheduled to make an unofficial visit today – and Radford. He has also received interest from Coppin State, Iona, Loyola, Rider, St. Bonaventure and a host of Ivy League schools.

A 3.5 student, Lawrence said he is “definitely” interested in playing in the Ivy League. He is taking an SAT prep course now and is shooting for a 1600 or better when he takes the test again this fall.

“I’ve visited Penn. I really like Penn,” Lawrence said. “Basically it’s Penn, Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth [and] Yale. All those [schools] have been in contact.”

Patuxent photo of Phillip Lawrence by Drew Anthony Smith / Jan. 25, 2009

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:42 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Terps pledge Sean Davis 'unbelievably smooth'

Mike Engelberg told Sean Davis' parents up front that their son would play college football.

That assertion may have seemed somewhat farfetched at the time, considering Davis was just a 125-pound freshman. But Engelberg, the head football coach at Washington’s Maret School, was confident – and realistic – about Davis’ long-term potential.

“I was honest with him. His size would dictate what level [he would play],” Engelberg said. “Had he not grown to 6-1 and was instead a 5-8, 5-9 corner, he’d be a hell of a Division II or 1-AA player. But he turned into a Division I kid. Coming into last year, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he was a mid- to high-Division I player. It was just a matter of getting schools to take a real look at him.”

Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland and North Carolina were among the many Division I programs to offer Davis a scholarship. Late last week, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound defensive back committed to the Terps.

“He developed an incredible relationship with Coach [Randy] Edsall,” Engelberg said. “He did an unbelievable job recruiting him.”

Davis, a Temple Hills native, started his Maret career as an undersized player who saw some backup time for the varsity squad as a freshman. Engelberg said Davis’ development was gradual, but his long arms were an indicator that a growth spurt was in his future.

“Obviously, he’s no longer small,” Engelberg said. “He’s always been just an absolutely devastating hitter. He had a little body, but as he kept growing and getting bigger and stronger, he’s just the same player – just in a pro player’s body.”

Maret, a private school with just 300 students in its upper school, typically sends its best football players to Ivy League, Patriot League and NESCAC schools. Davis, however, was an exception to the rule. He first got on Maryland’s radar when former Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin was recruiting Maret wide receiver Ryan Simpson, who eventually ended up at Harvard.

“Then Sean hit it off with Coach Edsall at Connecticut’s camp last summer,” Engelberg said. “Once Edsall got the Maryland job, we got him to camp. Truth be told, he [earned his offer] at camp with the way he ran. They knew he could play, but when he ran his 40, that sealed the deal.”

Engelberg said Davis, who ran a 4.42 at Maryland’s camp, impressed the Terps coaches with his athleticism and his versatility.

“He’s unbelievably smooth,” Engelberg said. “It’s effortless when he backpedals, turns and swivels. … At the Division I level, that’s what they’re looking for more than anything – how well they move their hips. He has a nose for the football and he can get it done.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:20 AM | | Comments (1)
        

August 19, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The past week has been an eventful one for Dominic Woodson.

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound power forward from Round Rock, Texas transferred to Vermont Academy for his junior season and reportedly picked up a Maryland offer.

Woodson, a three-star prospect, also has offers from Connecticut, Michigan State, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UTEP and Vanderbilt, according to Rivals.com.

At Vermont Academy, Woodson will team up with Baltimore natives Jamel Artis and Daquein McNeil, both of whom have received interest from the Terps. Check out a quick video of Woodson after the jump.

• Two Maryland targets were highlighted in ESPN.com's rankings of the 2012 class' top power forwards: Mitch McGary and Amile Jefferson.

Amile Jefferson (Philadelphia/Friends Central) has the build of a small forward, and may ultimately project at that position, but right now the pure scorer does his best work attacking the rim, either in transition or operating out of the mid-post in a half-court set.

• Terps target Jake Layman received mention in ESPN.com's article about the 2012 class' top small forwards.

High-major programs are in strong pursuit of Jake Layman (Wrentham, Mass./King Phillip Regional), as he proved to be one of the most efficient players in the country. Plus, he's a winner.

Daniel Dingle, a 6-foot-7 forward from The Bronx who lists UM in his top seven, talked to Adam Zagoria about his recruitment.

Auburn and Arizona will likely receive official visits because of their distance, while “Temple and Seton Hall I’ll do unofficial because they’re right there,” he said.

Don’t count out Missouri, and assistant coach Tim Fuller, either.

• Maryland women's commitment Lexie Brown was featured in a Wall Street Journal story about basketball-playing daughters of former pro athletes.

The same is true of Lexie Brown, who said she was able to spend countless hours when she was younger developing her skills at her father's pro-level training facility in Orlando. (The family moved to Atlanta last summer.) He also showed her clips from his playing days but only after he edited them. "His dunk videos, that's about it," Lexie said. "That's his pride and joy right there."

Football recruiting

• The Terps made the cut for Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, a five-star prospect who trimmed his list to seven.

Goldman, who has offers from virtually every major Division I school in the country, has chosen, in no particular order: Alabama, Auburn, California, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland and Miami, Friendship Collegiate Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said.

• CBSSports.com ranks Maryland's 2012 recruiting class eighth in the ACC.

Randy Edsall has taken some heat for not connecting with several local high schools but he's grabbed some good local athletes nevertheless. Quarterback Shawn Petty has impressed during the summer and Mike Madaras is an offensive lineman anybody would love to have.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:30 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 18, 2011

Report: Terps land cornerback from D.C.

Sean Davis, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound defensive back from the Maret School in D.C., has committed to Maryland, according to The Washington Post.

Davis, perhaps Maret’s most heavily recruited player ever, also had offers from Boston College and Connecticut, as well as schools such as Towson, Ohio and Marshall.

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:46 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Armwood talks transfer, potential destinations

isaiah-armwood-transfer.jpg A European vacation turned out to be Isaiah Armwood's farewell tour with Villanova.

Armwood, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward from Baltimore, decided shortly after the Wildcats returned from their foreign tour this week that he would be transferring from the Big East school.

“Me and Coach [Jay] Wright sat down, I’d say three or four days ago. We made the decision -- the best decision for me -- to transfer and leave Villanova,” Armwood told Recruiting Report today. “It was very hard. I didn’t want to leave because I’ve been there for so long. I’m so adapted to the people there.”

Armwood, a Montrose Christian grad, played sparingly as an underclassman. He averaged 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17 minutes per game as a sophomore for the Wildcats. But heading into his junior season, Armwood was named a team captain and started every game for Villanova overseas this month. The Wildcats played five games in France and the Netherlands from Aug. 9-14.

“There was a good chance I was going to start” this season, Armwood said. “I just wanted to have an opportunity to get to the next level. I thought the best opportunity was at a school other than Villanova.”

Armwood, who’s back in Baltimore now, said he is leaning on his parents and high school coach – Montrose Christian’s Stu Vetter – for advice in picking a new school. There are five programs that Armwood is currently interested in: George Washington, Iowa, Maryland, Texas Tech and Virginia.

Armwood said he hasn’t “really talked to Maryland yet,” but he “always liked” the school growing up.

“Being from Baltimore, Maryland has always been a big school,” Armwood said. “They’ve got a new coaching staff, and they’re just rebuilding the whole team and program. … I could maybe see myself fitting in with what they’re trying to build.”

George Washington is the other program on Armwood’s list that’s close to home. The Colonials are led by Mike Lonergan, the former Vermont coach and Terps assistant who’s in his first year in Foggy Bottom. GW's coaching staff is a definite draw for Armwood.

“[George Washington assistant] coach [Pete] Strickland recruited me out of high school [when he was at North Carolina State]. Coach [Kevin] Sutton, he’s an assistant coach and I’ve played against him many times [when he was the coach at Montverde Academy in Florida]. I know him very well. I’m real familiar with what they do. I think that would be a good possibility.”

Iowa’s in the mix thanks to assistant coach Andrew Francis, a former administrative assistant/video coordinator on Wright’s Wildcats staff.

“[Iowa's] a lot like Villanova, the way they do things,” Armwood said. “I like the way Villanova did things.”

Chris Walker, another former Villanova assistant, helped the Red Raiders secure a spot on Armwood’s list. Armwood said he likes Walker and thinks that Billy Gillispie is “a great coach.”

“The coaches are real good and they’re in a real good conference,” Armwood said. “I could see myself fitting in with the way they play, running the high-low offense.”

Virginia, meanwhile, made contact with Armwood today.

“They’re in the ACC obviously,” he said. “I don’t know much about them, but that’s another school I’m considering.”

Armwood plans to pick a new school “in the next couple of weeks.” He’d like to be able to visit a couple campuses, but he’s not sure if that’s possible because of the impending start of the school year.

“The process is just talking to the coaches, seeing what they have to offer, seeing what schools best fit me and everything,” Armwood said. “It’s more about basketball than the school or the campus right now. … I just want to be able to exploit everything I can do. I don’t want to be limited in any things I can do.”

McClatchy-Tribune photo of Isaiah Armwood by Ron Cortes / Jan. 15, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:43 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Bmorehoops.com event set for Saturday

A collection of Baltimore's best high school basketball talent is scheduled to participate in the seventh annual bmorehoops.com All-Star event at The Dome on Saturday.

Admission to The Dome – located near the corner of Biddle and Eden in East Baltimore – is free. There’s also free food and drinks during the event, which starts with a middle school game at 2 p.m. followed by the freshmen, sophomores and two showcase games for juniors and seniors.

Some of the most notable participants scheduled to play Saturday are:

Daquan Cook: 6-foot-2 senior guard from St. Frances who committed to UNLV last month.

Sam Cassell Jr.: 6-foot-4 combo guard from Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) who has several high- and mid-major offers.

Isaiah Miles: 6-foot-7 forward who has reportedly transferred to Milford Mill from Glenelg Country School for his senior year. Miles is a potential high-major prospect.

Josh Forney: 6-foot-8 senior center from St. Frances who committed to Loyola earlier this month.

Kayel Locke: 6-foot-5 senior power forward from McDonogh who has offers from Appalachian State, Boston University, Delaware, Hartford, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Stony Brook, Towson, UMBC and UNC-Greensboro.

Lionel Greene: former City guard set to spend his senior season at Lake Clifton.

Charles Tapper: 6-foot-4 power forward who has committed to play football at Oklahoma.

Aquille Carr: 5-foot-6 guard from Patterson ranked 59th in the country for the 2013 class by ESPN.com.

Daquein McNeil: 6-foot-2 junior combo guard from Vermont Academy with early offers from Richmond, Rutgers, South Florida, VCU and Washington.

Kameron Williams: 6-foot-2 junior guard from Mount St. Joseph with early offers from Dayton, Miami, Richmond, Towson and VCU.

Daxter Miles: junior combo guard from Dunbar that should be one of the city league’s top players this year.

Check out bmorehoops.com for more information.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:15 AM | | Comments (2)
        

August 17, 2011

Video: Josh Selby at the Melo League

With the NBA lockout in full swing, Memphis Grizzlies second-round draft pick Josh Selby was able to spend much of his summer playing in the Melo Pro-Am League.

The former Lake Clifton star scored 51 points in the league's championship game at St. Frances last week, earning MVP honors for his efforts. Check out video of Selby in the title game below.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)
        

August 16, 2011

Where are they now? Former Terps footballers

Maryland coach Randy Edsall is officially introducing his 2011 football team at media day in College Park today.

Across the country, meanwhile, several Terps transfers and one-time commitments are suiting up for other programs. Here’s a class-by-class look -- starting in 2008 -- at where those players ended up.

Class of 2008

Tyler Bass: A late addition to Maryland’s 2008 class, Bass was released from his letter of intent before beginning his Terps career. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound dual-threat quarterback ended up at Memphis, where he appeared in six games (starting three) over his first two seasons, throwing for 774 yards (63-for-94 passing), seven touchdowns and five interceptions, while rushing for 259 yards and two touchdowns on 56 carries. As a junior, Bass played in just one game. He later transferred to Florida A&M, where he entered fall camp as a backup.

Zach Brown: The former Wilde Lake linebacker’s on-again, off-again dalliance with Maryland ended when he signed with North Carolina in February 2008. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has been a standout performer for the Tar Heels. As a junior, Brown was second on the team in total tackles with 72, in addition to intercepting three passes.

Teddy Dargan: The former Milford Mill defensive tackle missed the cut academically and didn’t sign with any college program as a senior. Dargan eventually made his way out to Arizona Western College, where he grayshirted in 2009 while earning his high school diploma. Dargan wasn’t listed on the team’s 2010 roster.

Gary Douglas: The 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back from Durham, N.C., played sparingly during his three years in College Park, rushing for 81 yards as a redshirt freshman and appearing in just two games during an injury-plagued sophomore season. Douglas left Maryland in the spring.

Eteyen Edet: A late addition to the 2008 class from Friendly High in Fort Washington, Edet missed NCAA qualifying standards and headed to Milford Academy in New York for a post-grad year. His stint at Milford was short-lived, with Edet eventually resurfacing at North Carolina Tech in Charlotte. The Terps parted ways with Edet, and the 6-2, 245-pound linebacker signed with North Carolina A&T. He was listed last season on the roster for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Masengo Kabongo: A 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle who was born in the Congo, Kabongo made a minimal impact in his three years in College Park. He left Maryland after his redshirt sophomore year and ended up at Stony Brook. Kabongo was named a preseason All-Big South selection in Phil Steele’s College Football Review.

Tyler Urban: A versatile fullback and defensive end from North Huntingdon, Pa., Urban switched his pledge from the Terps to West Virginia before Signing Day 2008. He has played in 37 games for the Mountaineers, starting 14. The 6-foot-5, 251-pound senior played tight end his first three seasons, but entered fall camp as an inside receiver. He has caught 17 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns at West Virginia.

Class of 2009

Ryan Donahue: After spending two seasons as a reserve linebacker in College Park, the Montvale, N.J., native transferred to Connecticut, where he was reunited with former Terps defensive coordinator Don Brown. Donahue will sit out this season and have two years of eligibility starting next fall.

Ricky Hart: A 6-foot-2, 325-pound offensive guard from Folkston, Ga., Hart committed to the Terps in June 2008. Maryland reportedly pulled his offer because of concerns regarding his academics, and Hart signed that February with Memphis. He played in eight games for the Tigers in 2010, but isn’t listed on their 2011 roster.

Travis Hawkins: One of the most highly rated recruits of the Ralph Friedgen era, Hawkins played in just eight games as a reserve safety during his redshirt freshman year last fall. The Quince Orchard grad transferred to Delaware last winter. Hawkins had a standout spring game for the Blue Hens and entered fall camp as a probable starter at cornerback.

Zach Kerr: The Quince Orchard grad signed with the Terps in 2008 but did a postgrad year at Fork Union before enrolling at College Park in January 2009. Kerr lasted two seasons with the Terps as a reserve defensive tackle before leaving the team this summer. Kerr would have reportedly been academically ineligible for the 2011 season.

Avery Murray: The 6-foot-0, 230-pound linebacker played in 10 games as a true freshman for the Terps in 2009. He was slated to compete for a starting job last fall, but instead transferred to Coastal Carolina to be closer to his Florence, S.C., home. Murray is not listed on the Chanticleers’ 2011 roster.

Caleb Porzel: The speedy running back from Good Counsel rushed for 75 yards on 30 carries as a freshman, but struggled academically and left College Park in the summer of 2010. He resurfaced last fall at East Central Community College in Mississippi.

Ryan Schlieper: The Wexford, Pa., native backed out of his Terps commitment when his hometown school -- Pittsburgh -- came calling. Schlieper redshirted his first year at Pitt and appeared in three games as a redshirt freshman last season. The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder entered camp as the Panthers’ backup at left guard.

Class of 2010

Nermin Delic: The 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end played as a true freshman in 2010 for Kentucky and recorded five tackles. Delic briefly left the Wildcats because of a variety of injuries, but later rejoined the team.

Sean Fitzpatrick: A 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end from Pittsford, N.Y., Fitzpatrick switched his pledge from Maryland to North Carolina well before Signing Day. He redshirted last season for the Tar Heels.

Javarie Johnson: A one-time Miami commitment and four-star prospect, Johnson graduated from Dunbar (D.C.) early and enrolled at Maryland in January 2010. He lasted one semester before transferring to New Mexico. The 6-foot-3, 222-pound linebacker will have four years of eligibility starting this fall.

Brice Laughlin: The 6-foot-3, 324-pound defensive tackle dropped his Terps commitment when Kentucky offered him a scholarship in December 2009. He redshirted as a freshman. Laughlin isn’t listed on the Wildcats’ 2011 roster.

Tyler Smith: A highly touted quarterback prospect from Easton, Pa., Smith left Maryland in the spring. He is now competing for the starting job at Elon.

Class of 2011

There were several defections in this recruiting class – some by Maryland’s choice, some not – because of the coaching change.

• Tight end Ryan Malleck signed with Virginia Tech.

• Defensive end Dontez Tyler signed with Old Dominion.

• Linebacker Jimmy Stewart signed with Vanderbilt.

• Cornerback Michael Williams signed with the Terps but later gave up his football scholarship to pursue track.

• Defensive end Quinton Jefferson will stay in Pittsburgh this semester and deal with a medical issue. Edsall said Jefferson will join the team in January.

• Whereabouts unknown: running back Delonte Morton and offensive tackle Larry Mazyck.

Leave a comment below if there’s anyone I missed, or if you know the location of any player.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:26 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Where are they now?
        

August 15, 2011

Weekend wrap – Terps in mix with Murphy

Maryland is one of eight programs still in the running for Kamari Murphy.

Murphy is mulling Miami, Oklahoma State, UConn, Missouri, Temple, Florida, Auburn & Maryland, according to his AAU coach, Dana Dingle.

Murphy, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound power forward from Brooklyn, N.Y., plays for the Long Island Lightning on the AAU circuit. The three-star prospect, who will do a post-grad year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., finished his high school career at Lincoln High -- the alma mater of Terps forward James Padgett. Murphy is an AAU teammate of Daniel Dingle, another reported UM target.

Check out video of Murphy after the jump:

• Terps shooting guard target Christian Sanders took an unofficial trip to Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys had shooting guard Christian Sanders in for a visit over the weekend. Sanders is a 6-foot-3 prospect who plays at St. Thomas High in Houston. He holds offers from OSU, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and Colorado and is being recruited by others.

• ESPN.com's Dave Telep tweeted Sunday that Terps target Mitch McGary was planning to make an unofficial visit to Florida on Monday. The five-star prospect narrowed his list last week to Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:51 AM | | Comments (21)
        

August 12, 2011

Southern's Joyce, Harris to team up again

Southern forward Cody Joyce received an eye-opening introduction to college basketball this summer when he accepted a scholarship from Marist only to be told two days later that the offer had been rescinded.

“I give him a lot of credit,” said Will Maynard, a longtime Southern assistant who took over as head coach this month. “He was upset for a couple days, which is to be expected. But he took the mentality that if one school offered me a Division I scholarship, you know what? I can get another one.”

Joyce took the next step toward a potential DI future this week by signing on to do a post-grad year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va. Joyce will play for a former teammate of Maynard’s at Shepherd University in Chad Meyers.

“He needed a big and it was just the perfect match,” Maynard said. “Cody worked out and they liked what they saw.”

Joyce will be joined at Massanutten by combo guard Bryan Harris, who averaged around 18 points for the Bulldogs as a senior.

“I always thought he could be … a Division I basketball player,” Maynard said. “Coaches were concerned about whether he could make that transition from off-guard to the point.”

Maynard said he’s excited for Joyce and Harris to prove themselves at the prep-school level and potentially earn DI offers. He’s also looking forward to his first season leading his alma mater.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “When you lose eight seniors that have been together four years, it’s very challenging. But I’m very excited about running the program. I’m very fortunate to have coached under somebody like Ray Bowen. He gave me a lot of freedom as an assistant. He’s fully prepared me for this day. I understand it’s not something that’s going to be easy. Success isn’t going to come overnight. Hopefully it will, but I just want to run a nice, clean program with kids that are playing hard and having fun while they’re doing it.”

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

Weekly recruiting roundup

An ACC rival's loss could potentially be Maryland's gain.

Torian Graham, a four-star shooting guard from Durham, N.C., withdrew his commitment this week to North Carolina State.

"Nothing bad happened at State," said Graham, who's ranked the No. 24 prospect in the country by ESPN. "I felt like I made my decision too fast and didn't give other colleges a chance to recruit me."

Joe Davis of ScoutsFocus.com tweeted Thursday that Graham has heard from Baylor, Clemson, Florida State, Kentucky, Maryland and Texas since he backed out of his N.C. State pledge.

Graham has played in the past for D.C. Assault, the Washington-based AAU program where Terps assistant Dalonte Hill got his coaching start. Graham's guardian, meanwhile, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Kentucky was "at the top" of Graham's list.

• Maryland made the cut this week for Brewster (N.H.) Academy center Mitch McGary. His father spoke to Adam Zagoria about his plans for visits.

“He’s going to go to Florida this week. And we’re going ty try to visit Kentucky and North Carolina and Duke. He’s already been to those other two [Maryland and Michigan].”

Daniel Dingle, a 2012 forward from the Bronx, narrowed his list of schools to seven.

The 6-foot-7 wing lists Arizona, Maryland, Seton Hall, Missouri, Auburn, Temple and UMass as his final choices.

• Maryland forward target Amile Jefferson stole the show Monday in the adidas Nations title game.

The Friends' Central senior had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead USA 2012 Blue to Monday's 114-107 victory over USA 2013 Red in the final of the Adidas Nations tournament in Los Angeles.

The 6-8 combo forward was named the game's MVP.

• Northstar Basketball recently caught up with Houston Defenders shooting guard Christian Sanders.

Sanders first listed Stanford, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado. He said all but KU have offered and noted, "That would probably be my top six."

• Pearl (Miss.) forward Twymond Howard provided CBSSports.com with a list of schools that did not include Maryland.

Howard said he noticed Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest the most at his games during the July live period. He holds offers from those three, as well as Mississippi State, Arkansas, Baylor and West Virginia.

• Minnesota shooting guard Isaiah Zierden, who reportedly drew some Maryland interest, committed this week to Creighton.

Zierden had planned to make an official visit to Creighton this fall, along with trips to four other schools from which he had offers — George Mason, Jacksonville, Wofford and Manhattan. But he said he decided Sunday night that the other trips would be unnecessary.

Football recruiting

• The Terps are one of seven finalists for Bishop McDevitt (Pa.) defensive end Noah Spence.

Spence had scholarship offers from colleges across the country and his finalists are Penn State, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Florida, USC and Notre Dame.

• Two Maryland commitments earned spots on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's list of Pennsylvania's Top 30 senior football players.

19. P.J. GALLO, TE, 6-4, 225, COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH – Had 12 scholarship offers before committing to Maryland in early July. North Carolina was his other top choice.
20. ANTHONY NIXON, DB, 6-1, 190, 4.5, CENTRAL CATHOLIC – Also a standout receiver. Committed to Maryland in July. Central Catholic QB Perry Hills also is committed to Maryland.

• Terps quarterback commitment Caleb Rowe had a strong showing this week at the FCA Football Jamboree at North Greenville University

University of Maryland recruit Caleb Rowe completed 6 of 7 passes for 124 yards, including a 69-yard scoring strike to Bryton Griffin, as Blue Ridge downed Hillcrest 17-10.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:45 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 11, 2011

Baltimore area's 2011 FBS players

College football players across the country reported for camp this week, including 79 players from the Baltimore area at Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

In preparation for The Next Level -- a weekly series written by an intern-to-be-named-later during football season that tracks how Baltimore players are faring for their college programs -- I looked through all 120 FBS rosters, finding 79 players from here (Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Howard County and Harford County).

The ACC is the most well-represented conference with 24 local players, followed by the Big East with 13 and the MAC with 12. There are seven players with Baltimore ties at independent schools. The SEC and Big Ten are next with six, Conference USA (three), WAC (two) and Sun Belt (one). The Big 12 and Pac-12 are the only conferences in the country without a Baltimore-area player on a roster.

Maryland leads the way with 12 players from this area. West Virginia is next with six local players, followed by Temple (five), Navy (four), Virginia (four), Wake Forest (four), Penn State (three), Buffalo (two), Connecticut (two), Michigan (two), New Mexico (two), Notre Dame (two), Pittsburgh (two), Rutgers (two), South Carolina (two) and Virginia Tech (two).

Check out the full list after the jump. Let me know if there's anyone I missed.

CollegeNameHigh SchoolPositionYear
AkronJoe PetridesArchbishop Curleydefensive endsophomore
ArkansasKiero SmallCardinal Gibbonsfullbackjunior
Arkansas StateDarron EdwardsDunbarcornerbacksenior
ArmyKelechi OdochaAtholtonslotbackjunior
Boston CollegeJosh BordnerCenturyquarterbackfreshman
BuffaloRudy JohnsonMcDonoghwide receiverfreshman
BuffaloKendall PattersonDeMatha *defensive tacklefreshman
Central MichiganLeron EaddyRiver Hillsafetysophomore
Colorado StateShaquil BarrettBoys Town (Neb.)!linebackersophomore
ConnecticutJerome JuniorArchbishop Curleysafetyjunior
ConnecticutTim WillmanReservoirdefensive tacklesophomore
East CarolinaDerrell JohnsonCardinal Gibbonsdefensive endsophomore
IowaJim PoggiGilmanlinebackerfreshman
Kent StateTerrell JohnsonArchbishop Spaldingoffensive linemanfreshman
KentuckyTravaughn PaschalArundeldefensive endfreshman
MarylandCody BlueWilde Lakeoffensive linemansophomore
MarylandTyrek CheeseboroMilford Millwide receiverfreshman
MarylandAdrian CoxsonCitywide receiverfreshman
MarylandA.J. FrancisGonzaga (D.C.) @defensive tacklejunior
MarylandEric FranklinArchbishop Curleysafetyjunior
MarylandTroy JonesSt. Paul'squarterbackfreshman
MarylandDavid MackallEdmondsondefensive endsophomore
MarylandGreg ParcherArchbishop Spaldinglong snappersophomore
MarylandMatt RobinsonAtholtonsafetysophomore
MarylandRyan SchlothauerEastern Techtight endjunior
MarylandDave StinebaughPerry Halltight endsophomore
MarylandAlvin ThomasLong Reachdefensive linemanjunior
Miami (Ohio)Mwanza WamulumbaMeadedefensive linemansophomore
MichiganBlake CountessGood Counsel #cornerbackfreshman
MichiganJosh FurmanOld Millsafetyfreshman
MississippiWayne DorseySouthwesterndefensive endsenior
Mississippi StateJames CarmonCityoffensive tacklesenior
NavyAlex BoddifordLoyolaoffensive guardsenior
NavyEvan CampbellChesapeake-AAoffensive tacklejunior
NavyBeau HaworthArchbishop Spaldingoffensive guardjunior
NavySam von ParisJohn Carrollfullbacksophomore
New MexicoZach DancelGood Counsel $safetyfreshman
New MexicoEmmanuel McPhearsonDeMatha %wide receiverjunior
North CarolinaZach BrownWilde Lakelinebackersenior
Notre DameLane ClellandMcDonoghoffensive tacklesenior
Notre DameDennis MahoneyBoys' Latinoffensive tacklesenior
Penn StateAdrian AmosCalvert Hallsafetyfreshman
Penn StateJon RohrbaughHowardlong snappersenior
Penn StateDonovan SmithOwings Millsoffensive linemanfreshman
PittsburghSam ColluraDeMatha ^tight endfreshman
PittsburghCarl FlemingFranklinlinebackersophomore
RutgersNick DePaolaHerefordlinebackersophomore
RutgersVince DePaolaHerefordfullbackfreshman
San Jose StateBrandon DriverParkvillecornerbacksenior
South CarolinaBen HarveyGood Counsel &defensive backfreshman
South CarolinaAdam YatesHerefordkickerjunior
SyracuseAlec LemonArundelwide receiverjunior
TemplePat BoyleCalvert Halloffensive linemansenior
TempleSean BoyleCalvert Halloffensive linemanjunior
TempleMatt BrownPeddie School (N.J.) ~running backjunior
TempleGary OnuekwusiDunbarlinebackersophomore
TempleChester StewartDeMatha <quarterbacksenior
UABJonathan PerryDunbarquarterbacksophomore
UNLVMike HorseyDunbarwide receiverfreshman
Utah StateXavier MartinJoppatownereceiver / returnersenior
UTEPHorace MillerDunbardefensive linesophomore
VirginiaDarius JenningsGilmanwide receiverfreshman
VirginiaMarco JonesBoys' Latindefensive endfreshman
VirginiaE.J. ScottGood Counsel >wide receiverfreshman
VirginiaNick JenkinsGood Counsel +defensive tacklesenior
Virginia TechCorey FullerWoodlawnwide receiverjunior
Virginia TechKyle FullerMount St. Josephcornerbacksophomore
Wake ForestMichael CampanaroRiver Hillwide receiver / returnersophomore
Wake ForestJoey EhrmannGilmanlinebackerjunior
Wake ForestHunter GoodwinGilmanoffensive linemanfreshman
Wake ForestKevin JohnsonRiver Hillcornerbacksophomore
West VirginiaTavon AustinDunbarwide receiverjunior
West VirginiaJohn BasslerFrancis Scott Keyoffensive linemanjunior
West VirginiaJeff BraunWinters Milloffensive linemanjunior
West VirginiaRyan ClarkeDeMatha =fullbackjunior
West VirginiaTerence GarvinLoyolasafetyjunior
West VirginiaMalek ReddRiver Hillwide receiversophomore
Western MichiganBrendon GannonCardinal Gibbonsdefensive tacklefreshman

* Abingdon native
! Baltimore native
@ Severn native
# Owings Mills native
$ Ellicott City native
% Columbia native
^ Elkridge native
& Columbia native
~ Baltimore native
< Hanover native
> Ellicott City native
+ Westminster native
= Glen Burnie native

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:01 AM | | Comments (4)
        

August 10, 2011

Q&A with UMES coach Frankie Allen

One year ago UMES coach Frankie Allen was looking forward to welcoming six new players onto the Hawks' roster.

Today, just one member of that six-man class -- sophomore guard Louis Bell -- remains in Princess Anne. UMES has just four returners coming back off last season's 9-22 team.

Allen was a busy man this offseason in putting together his 2011-12 roster. He added former Colorado and Northern Illinois coach Ricardo Patton and Marlon Terry as assistants, and recruited a seven-man class.

The new additions to the Hawks are: Olatunji "T.J." Kosile, a 6-foot-11 center from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss.; Pina Guillaume, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Blinn College in Texas who played his freshman year at Binghamton; Ron Spencer, a 6-foot-9 forward who transferred from Tennessee-Martin; Akeem Anderson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Northwest Mississippi Community College; Gregory Womack, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla.; Percy Woods, a 6-foot combo guard from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.; and Ishaq Pitt, a 6-foot-3 point guard from St. John Vianney in New Jersey.

Allen spoke to Recruiting Report this week about his 2011 recruiting class.

Last year you brought in a six-man class, but just one of those players remains. Because of those departures, you’re bringing in another big class of seven guys this year. What happened with last year’s group, and how will you integrate this incoming class with your four returners?

As we spoke last year at this time, [I was] very excited about the incoming class. It just didn’t seem to pan out the way we anticipated. I have to look back every year and analyze where we’re headed with the program. The recruiting process, it’s not an exact science. Obviously there were some issues with performance as well as some issues with [us not having] very good team chemistry. At the end of the year, we basically had to make some decisions with some players not coming back, transferring to other places. So we’re bringing in another big recruiting class. It’s not an ideal type of thing, but I think I got it right this time in terms of recruiting the right kinds of kids with the right kind of chemistry, and maybe just a little bit better talent level. Obviously, time will tell. We’ll proceed with things this year with a little more cautious optimism. Maybe I misread my team a little bit, expecting a little bit higher than what they should have been. Then factor in what was just not a really good mix with last year’s team. So basically, we’re starting with another bigger class.

Kosile was the lone fall signee. What do you like about his potential?

[He’s] 7-foot and a strong defender, capable around the basket offensively. I thought we were not big enough last year and not tough enough. So I had to address that in my recruiting needs. I wanted more size and I wanted more versatility and I wanted more toughness. T.J., as far as his size and his toughness and the work ethic that he displays, that makes him a really strong recruit for us. He basically was under the radar a little bit because he had been injured. He’s coming out of junior college but he’ll have three years of eligibility. He missed a year because of injury. I really feel good about his presence in the middle.

Guillaume has already had some success at this level. Is he an instant-impact guy?

I think so. He’s a 4-man at 6-9. I’ve been watching some tape. One of my assistants saw him in the recruiting process. He’s very versatile. When I talk about size, versatility and toughness as being three components we wanted to add in this year’s recruiting class, [he has them all]. At 6-9 he can put it on the floor, dribble and [shoot the] jump shot. I think he’s a very capable defender and rebounder. Like I said, he’s got good skills offensively with his back to the basket and facing the basket. He can step out and shoot the mid-range jumper and be an outside threat. I really feel very fortunate that we were able to get him. He has played at the DI level, things didn’t work out there, he went back to the junior college level, and we were able to get him to come up here and play on the Eastern Shore. He has good size for a 4-man, obviously with a lot of versatility and again, with toughness.

Spencer’s another guy with DI experience under his belt. Will he factor in to the rotation once he’s eligible?

We tried to recruit Ron out of high school our very first year, coming in as a new staff. But Ron is very athletic. At 6-9, he can really run the floor, can play the 4 or the 5 position. He just has a high motor. He really gets up and down the floor. Defensively, he’s a presence, a good rebounder, shot blocker. He brings a lot of energy. That’s what I really admire about Ron. He’s got a good work ethic. He had shoulder surgery, which set him back at Tennessee-Martin. He’s from New Jersey and saw an opportunity to get a fresh start here, only about two-and-a-half, three hours from his home. Ron can come in and give us a lot more size than what we’ve had in the past.

When will he be eligible to play?

His first game will be in December, right after the first semester ends. He can play after the 16th of December. I think we have a game on the 17th. We’ve got a couple other games during the Christmas holiday. He’ll be there for the full MEAC season.

What are you looking for in terms of contributions from another JUCO guy in Anderson?

Akeem can play the 3 or the 4. He’s a great defender, obviously is a good scorer and has good handles. He can put it on the floor, get to the basket, and he’s an excellent rebounder. He can guard positions 1 through 4. One of the things I like about him is how he defends. We were trying to address certain needs, and he’s an excellent defender for us. So many teams in our league have a quality 3-man. For the perimeter position in our league, [we hope Anderson can] really get out and defend some of the other teams’ better wing players.

Womack comes in with a reputation as a strong 3-point shooter. Can he help you out with that right away?

He’s got good size also, but he can really stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting. Teams are now playing a lot more zone defense. Teams are having some success playing the zone, and we as coaches go as the trend goes. … So sometimes the best way to crack the zone defense is with outside shooting. Gregory can do other things. He’s a good rebounder, a solid defender, and just a solid player. He’s kind of a no-nonsense type of guy that gets the job done for you. He played on a really outstanding junior college team. He’s leaving after his freshman year, so again, he had three years of eligibility remaining.

What does Woods bring to the table? Do you see him as a combo guard?

He’s a combo guard that can really score and defend. I think we got a lot better defensively from last year to this year. He can really defend, but he can also score. He’s got great quickness, he’s athletic, he takes the ball in traffic and at 6-1 can dunk it. Coming out of high school down there in Prince George’s County, he was an All-Met performer. We’re really excited about him.

Pitt’s the lone true freshman and the lone true point guard. What are your expectations from him?

He’s a quality point guard with a great body at 6-3, 6-4 and 200-plus pounds. He can really defend, and he really just knows how to play. He’s a pass-first point guard looking to get other players involved. He just has an excellent basketball IQ. The kid’s a winner with a tremendous work ethic. He loves the game. He’s come by our office – these guys were here for summer school, just trying to get acclimated before the start of the fall semester. He’s the kind of guy who wants to come in and talk with you. He’s been working out in the weight room. He’s just a tremendous kid to be around. And he exudes leadership. He’s a freshman coming out of prep school, so he’s a little bit older than a normal freshman. But on our squad, because of the position he plays and in talking with him and being around him, he’s just one of those natural leaders. He’s the type of young man that other players really rally behind. I’m really excited about his future.

Overall, do you feel this class addresses all your needs? And which of these newcomers will be counted on right away?

I’ll tell you what: I really see all of those guys making significant contributions. We only have four guys returning from last year’s team: our leading scorer, Hillary Haley, he returns; Tyler Hines returns, who was a starter for us; Lou Bell, who played in a reserve role; and Mark Robertson, who played in a reserve role but also started. You have seven new guys and four guys returning. It’s going to be a competition out there for those positions. I really feel like everything’s really wide open with the new guys coming in. I feel like we got a shot in the arm with this recruiting class. Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. I really feel with these new guys and their work ethic, they’ve been doing the strength and conditioning thing, these guys are on their own and I really just see these guys bonding. I look for it to be a very competitive preseason. The most important thing right now is having the right kind of kids with the right kind of mindset. That’s probably what I’m most excited about.

What are your expectations for this season?

Obviously as a coach, we’re talking about the first week or so in August. I’ll try to proceed with cautious optimism. The MEAC is really a strong conference. There are a lot of good teams in our league. My second year here we came very close to getting in the top half of the league. There are 13 teams in the league now, but in years past your top five teams have gotten a bye in the tournament. But obviously we haven’t finished in the top part of the conference among the top-tier teams. That’s what we’re really trying to set our sights on – being in the top level of the league. I know our work is cut out for us. With a lot of new players, we’re trying to get these guys to mesh. Hopefully by the time we get into conference play in January, hopefully we see the fruits of our labor in terms of recruiting. I know only time will tell. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I do feel good about this group. Hopefully this season is a breakthrough season in terms of getting in the top tier of the conference.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (1)
        

August 9, 2011

Terps make the cut for Mitch McGary

The Maryland men's basketball program is still in the running for Brewster (N.H.) Academy center Mitch McGary.

According to ESPN.com's Dave Telep, McGary has narrowed his list of schools to six: Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland and Michigan.

"I stayed low in July but I talked to coaches on Facebook and stuff like that," said McGary. "Some of the schools like Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky, they've got great coaches there. I like Michigan and Maryland in the rebuilding stage and they gave me good vibes. Florida's pretty good and they do a lot of similar things with guys like me who are versatile."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:51 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Sam Cassell Jr. emerges as 'a high-major talent'

sam-cassell-jr-2012.jpg Every so often during his junior year at St. Frances, Sam Cassell Jr. showed flashes of high-major potential.

After leaving the Panthers to spend his senior year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., moments where Cassell looked like a future big-time college player became increasingly regular. A standout summer on the circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite subsequently vaulted the 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard to a different level of attention from colleges.

“Right now I’m getting interest from [schools in] the Big East, ACC and SEC,” Cassell said Monday. “I always dreamed about it and it’s coming true.”

Cassell, who will return to Notre Dame Prep this fall for a postgrad year, said he grew “an inch-and-a-half” and added “probably 15, 20 pounds” of muscle over the past year. He said he averaged “around 14 or 15 points and … six assists” for the Crusaders, demonstrating an assertiveness his game may have lacked earlier in his high school career.

“My ball-handling and my aggressiveness [improved],” Cassell said. “I wanted to score all the time. I wasn’t very aggressive [at St. Frances]. I was a laid-back type of player. Now I go after everything.”

Nike Baltimore Elite’s Carlton "Bub" Carrington said “maturity” was the biggest difference he saw in Cassell this summer. Carrington said he thinks Cassell could be an even better 3-point shooter than his father.

“At the end of the day, he can make shots. He can make the mid-range shot, and he can shoot the long ball,” Carrington said. “He was our leading scorer at one time until he had to miss the L.A. trip because he was doing his schoolwork. Then he came back and he [said], ‘I’ll do whatever you need me to do right now.’ I thought he was terrific.”

Several high-major programs are now involved with Cassell, including Arkansas, Butler, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Missouri, South Florida, TCU, Villanova and Washington. Being recruited by the Terps and Wildcats, in particular, was unexpected.

“All the Big East and ACC schools, they were all surprising,” Cassell said. “That shows how hard I’ve been working.”

Cassell admitted that he has “always thought about going to Florida State” – his father’s alma mater. And having grown up in Baltimore, Cassell is also intrigued by what Maryland has to offer.

“The thing I really like is [that the Terps] have a new coach,” Cassell said. “I’m looking forward to watching this year, the offense they run and all that stuff. The fan base that they have, I love schools that have a lot of fans [like Maryland].”

Cassell said he currently has no favorites in his recruitment, but he’s hoping to trim his list of schools to five by the time school starts this fall. He’ll take his official visits, but is not necessarily set on signing during the fall period in November.

Carrington isn’t sure where Cassell will eventually end up, but the level at which the point guard plays is “up to Sam.”

“If he wants to be a passer first and a scorer second, I think he can play high-major ball because he has skills that translate,” Carrington said. “He can make shots. To what level he goes, it’s really up to him. He’s definitely a high-major talent.”

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 8, 2011

Weekend wrap – Harrisons star at adidas Nations

Three Maryland targets have played crucial roles for USA 2013 Red at the adidas Nations tournament in Carson, Calif.

Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and Nate Britt have all reportedly played well for USA 2013 Red, which meets USA 2012 Blue for the championship at 7 p.m. tonight.

Aaron Harrison is the team's leading scorer at 15.7 points per game. He's also averaging four rebounds and 1.5 assists. Andrew Harrison is the third-leading scorer at 12 points per game, and the second-best rebounder at 4.7 per game. He's also averaging a team-best 2.8 assists. Britt, the Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard, has averaged 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

Tonight's title game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr wrote Friday about Maryland's pursuit of Britt.

Over the next few weeks, Britt became quite familiar with the sight of Turgeon and his assistant coaches, visiting the College Park campus so they could begin to build a relationship and playing multiple games for his D.C. Assault travel team in front of Turgeon and his assistant coaches.

• The Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal had an update today on Terps center target Mitch McGary.

Among the schools still in the mix for McGary are North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, Purdue, Marquette, Louisville, Texas and Indiana.

• New Maryland target Andrew White talked to NBE Basketball Report about his visit over the weekend to West Virginia.

“Still no favorites,” said White of his recruitment, “but it was a real good impression because from seeing the practice and offense I can see myself in that system.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:46 AM | | Comments (4)
        

August 6, 2011

St. Frances grad Dante Holmes makes his pick

dante-holmes-fgcu.jpg Dante Holmes' college career will unfold more than 1,000 miles away from his home, but there will be no shortage of Baltimore influences on the former St. Frances star at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Holmes, a two-time Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection who signed with the Eagles on Friday, will play for a head coach who is Johns Hopkins' all-time leading scorer and an assistant who is considered one of Charm City's most accomplished point guards.

Andy Enfield, who landed the FGCU job after five seasons as an assistant at Florida State, scored 2,025 career points for the Blue Jays and finished his Hopkins career by setting an NCAA career record for best free-throw percentage (92.5 percent). Kevin Norris, who will serve as Enfield's top assistant after one year at UNC-Wilmington, was a standout point guard at Lake Clifton before starring for four seasons at Miami.

Both coaches were instrumental in Holmes' decision to sign with Florida Gulf Coast, a Division I program in Fort Myers, Fla., that competes in the Atlantic Sun conference.

"The first thing that came to mind was loyalty," Holmes said Saturday. "The first day [Enfield] got the job, I got the first scholarship, the first offer."

Holmes said he'll have the opportunity to compete for a starting job as a freshman. The Eagles coaches expect him to play the 1 and the 2.

“Dante has a chance to make a significant impact on our program,” Enfield said in a news release. “He brings toughness and an immediate defensive presence to our team. Offensively, his ability to attack the basket and draw fouls will be a benefit to our offensive scheme. Our coaching staff thinks Dante will have a special career at FGCU.”

After leading St. Frances to the MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League crowns as a senior, Holmes committed to Marshall. When he came up short of NCAA qualifying standards, Holmes headed to Tampa for a prep year at Oldsmar Christian, where he averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The 6-foot-3, 191-pound combo guard was rated the No. 17 prep school prospect by D1 Hoops Report.

“Dante’s competitiveness, toughness and ability to be a great on-the-ball defender are three ways he can make an early impact at FGCU,” Oldsmar Christian coach Ryan Pannone said in a news release. “He has a natural ability to score thanks to his size, strength and good pull-up jump shot game."

Holmes said his postgrad year was beneficial for his game, and it also opened him up to the possibility of staying in the Sunshine State for college. He didn't want to rush his college choice, however, and decided to take his time this summer to make sure Florida Gulf Coast was the right fit.

"I didn’t want to make the wrong decision. I just didn’t want to rush into another opportunity," Holmes said. "[My friends and family] were happy I was committing. They couldn’t wait for me to commit. ... They’re excited for me, to see me leave and step on a college basketball court."

Holmes is scheduled to leave Baltimore for Florida in less than two weeks. He can't wait to be part of something new at FGCU.

"I’m ready," Holmes said. "I’m excited to see what college is like, see how the first year is going to be, how different it is from high school and AAU basketball. … Whatever it takes for us to win, I’m willing to do." 

Baltimore Sun photo of Dante Holmes by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Jan. 22, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:12 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 5, 2011

Boys' Latin tackle Pyke commits to Georgia

Recruiting-greg-pyke.jpg


Greg Pyke was on his way to make a visit to Virginia Tech Thursday, when the Boys' Latin senior offensive tackle and his parents heard a report on the radio about a man carrying a gun at the Blacksburg campus.

With the school on lockdown, and the memory of the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech on his mind, Pyke never made it to Blacksburg.

Instead, he and his parents continued down to the University of Georgia, where the coveted recruit gave his commitment Friday.

"[Thursday] we were on the way down, and we heard on the radio that there was a guy with a gun," Pyke said. "We called the [Virginia Tech] coaches, and they told us that the school was on lockdown. Obviously they take that very seriously because of what happened four years ago. So we told them it was probably best if we just rescheduled, and we just kept on going down to Georgia."

There, Pyke felt at home, and he made his commitment.

"The campus, the coaches, the atmosphere. Coming from a small school like Boys' Latin, to be able to compete at the SEC level was definitely a factor," said Pyke, who has family in Georgia and was also considering Maryland and Penn State.

Pyke -- who spoke on the phone Friday evening while watching Georgia practice -- said he "had a feeling" he was going to commit to the Bulldogs when he arrived at the Athens campus, which he had already previously visited. Boys' Latin coach Ritchie Schell said Pyke was already "smitten" with Georgia, so he didn't feel that the gun scare at Virginia Tech (police never found a gunman) was the deciding factor.

The opportunity to compete for playing time as a freshman was a key factor, though. Pyke said he was told by Georgia's coaches he'd likely get that chance because the Bulldogs are expected to lose five senior linemen to graduation.

Up until this summer, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Pyke wasn't even squarely on Georgia's radar.

Schell said he sent film to the school and didn't hear a response. But when Pyke showed up at a Georgia camp this June, Schell said it didn't take more than an hour before the Bulldogs were offering Pyke a scholarship.

Pyke is a also Division I caliber lacrosse player. He said Friday that he'll likely continue to play both lacrosse and basketball this school year, but after that his focus will shift to football.

When he does, Schell said he doesn't expect his player to have any trouble adapting to what's widely believed to be the most competitive conference in the country.

"He's one of those kids who come around once in a lifetime," Schell said. "The kid moves like a gazelle, and he's nasty, too. He can play. He can play down there."

Photo of Greg Pyke by Lloyd Fox / The Baltimore Sun / May 25, 2011

Posted by David Selig at 7:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Gilman LB Devon Porchia commits to Pitt

Recruiting-devon-porchia.jpg

Devon Porchia has the speed and strength to create trouble as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.

But one of the main reasons the Gilman senior was so heavily recruited -- and committed to Pittsburgh on Friday -- is his ability to also drop back in coverage.

"I definitely feel like it is [important] to be able to drop back in coverage, because most of the soft spots [in a defense] are there," said Porchia, who also had offers from Wake Forest, Cincinnati and Buffalo. "[Coaches] definitely brought that up a lot in talking to me."

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Porchia has started for Gilman since his sophomore year. He acknowledges being undersized for a college linebacker at this point, but he anticipates redshirting a year to get bigger and also adapt to the Panthers' defensive scheme.

He said he was recruited to play a similar role to the one he now fills for the Greyhounds.

"He plays our strong-side outside linebacker, and he has really good range," Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell said. "He's 6-2 and he has long arms, which allows him to rip blockers off him and then use his speed."

Russell praised Porchia's ability to drop back in coverage, but he also noted that Porchia shouldn't be discounted as a pass-rusher.

"He can do both," Russell said. "He packs a pretty good punch when he hits you, so we like to bring him off the edge some, too. And he's very valuable for us in stopping the run."

Russell said Porchia had a few sacks last season and also finished with two interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown in a win over Good Counsel).

Porchia also showed his burst when he had the occasional opportunity to carry the ball as a running back last year.

His first carry went for a 45-yard gain against Loyola.

Porchia said he doesn't expect to get many carries this fall, but that's not a concern of his.

"Just getting better -- that's always the main goal for me," he said. "That and trying to get another ring."

Photo of Devon Porchia (No. 22) by Karl Merton Ferron / The Baltimore Sun / Sept. 04, 2010

Posted by David Selig at 4:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

In the aftermath of last month's open period, at least three new names have since popped up on the Maryland men's basketball program's radar.

ESPN.com's Dave Telep tweeted Wednesday that the Terps have offered Terry Henderson, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound shooting guard from Raleigh, N.C.

Mom and dad are from [Maryland]. Said he'll officially visit Terps.

The Terps are also now reportedly in the mix with Daniel Dingle, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward from the Bronx.

Wing Daniel Dingle, one of the city’s top unsigned seniors out of St. Raymond, was offered by Miami and Maryland. The two ACC schools join Temple, UMass, Seton Hall, Auburn and Arizona in colleges he is considering.

Rivals.com reported that UM has also offered Andrew White, a 6-foot-6 small forward and a four-star prospect. White plays for Mychal Parker's alma mater, The Miller School.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, told NBE Basketball Report that "Maryland, Miami, Florida, West Virginia and Iowa are the schools coming at him the hardest."

“For my officials I’ll probably take one to Maryland,” Macon said. “Right now that’s the only one I have lined up to take an official to. I’d probably take one to Iowa too, but Maryland is the only one I know [about] for sure.”

• Maryland center target Mitch McGary was the best senior prospect ESPN.com's John Stovall saw during the open period in July.

McGary has worked to improve his skill level in the past year and he can now put the ball on the floor effectively for a post player and hit the occasional 3, and is an excellent passer. McGary consistently impacts the game like few in the class and he is definitely the most consistently productive big in the 2012 class.

• ESPN.com's Paul Biancardi wrote that Terps targets Aaron and Andrew Harrison were the best underclassmen he saw in July.

Andrew is a big point guard who distributes the ball with great instincts, with his box score often showing more assists than points. He can play an up-tempo, fast-break game or execute a half-court offense. Aaron is a scoring guard by nature, who get buckets in many ways, but what stands out is his NBA range. He is confident and comfortable in taking and making big shots.

• Northstar Basketball spoke to DeMatha center Bee Jay Anya at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando last week.

Anya said he holds offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Syracuse, Texas, Kansas, UCLA, Seton Hall, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Villanova, and more. He is also receiving interest from Duke.

Football recruiting

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr reported last week on what new DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks perceived to be a rift with the Maryland coaching staff

“It’s odd. We have kids there that are successful currently. We’re right down the road from Maryland. I am bewildered that we haven’t established some sort of relationship “

Trey Edmunds, a four-star linebacker from Ringgold, Va., committed Friday to Virginia Tech. He also considered Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:52 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

August 4, 2011

St. Frances' Josh Forney talks Loyola pledge

josh-forney-loyola.jpg Josh Forney couldn't help but notice a trend developing in the Loyola men's basketball program over the past year.

It started with former Cardinal Gibbons combo guard Dylon Cormier having a standout freshman year for the Greyhounds last season. It continued last December when point guard R.J. Williams – Forney’s teammate at St. Frances – committed to Loyola. Then came a pledge from Milford Mill small forward Tevin Hanner in March, followed by a transfer to Loyola from Xavier by former City standout Jordan Latham in May.

Earlier this week, Forney joined the Baltimore-to-Loyola movement by committing to the Greyhounds.

“It was just something I wanted to get off my chest,” Forney said Thursday. “They were very excited about the commitment. … It’s a real comfortable atmosphere.”

Forney has experience playing with all four of those aforementioned future teammates. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound center teamed with Williams to help St. Frances to the 2010 MIAA A Conference championship. Forney played with Latham during the beginning of his high school career at City. And he suited up with Cormier and Hanner years ago with the Crusader Nation AAU program.

“It makes me feel real good coming in. I already played with all of them a good amount of time,” Forney said. “I won’t have to do a lot of adjusting, just come in and play my game, my kind of basketball.”

With Williams and Greg Lewis (Rutgers) leading the way for the Panthers last year, Forney took on a supporting role, averaging around “six or seven points, nine or 10 rebounds and a couple blocks” as a junior. St. Frances athletic director and assistant coach Nick Myles said Forney is still developing offensively, but “defensively, he’s ready.”

“He’s going to rebound on both ends and he’s going to defend,” said Myles, who also coached Forney this summer with the B’more Finest AAU program. “Offensively, he’s gotten a lot better. Josh bangs the whole time, rebounds at a high level [and] defends the post at a high level.”

Forney was offered by Loyola before his junior season, thanks in large part to his play during open gyms at St. Frances. Greyhounds assistant coach Luke D’Alessio was the point man in Forney’s recruitment. Forney also received interest from Delaware, Drexel, Florida Gulf Coast, Radford and St. Joseph’s, but he was leaning toward Loyola "the whole way.” He likes the role coach Jimmy Patsos envisioned for him as a freshman.

“Whenever the team needs a bucket, I’m the go-to person in the post to get a bucket whenever they need it,” Forney said. “I’m more of a defensive player. I’m a grinder. I’ve been working on my quickness and speed, just working on being that big guy. At St. Frances, I’m the next big man, so I’ll do my part to step up and get to the cup and get buckets.”

Forney said he’s looking forward to his senior season at St. Frances, where he’ll be reunited with B’More Finest teammate Daquan Cook (UNLV). He also can’t help but look ahead to the 2012-13 season, when he and Hanner join Williams, Latham and Cormier on the Greyhounds’ distinctly Baltimore-influenced roster.

“They can expect a person that’s going to just be an all-out dog for Loyola,” Forney said. “I’m going to come in and give everything they want. Everything they want, I’m giving it on the court. I’m doing all the dirty work. Anything.”

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:46 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

August 3, 2011

UMBC lands transfer from St. Bonaventure

Randy Monroe was sold on Brett Roseboro from the start. The only problem for the UMBC men's basketball coach was that several high-major programs were also interested in the 6-foot-10 forward from Quakertown (Pa.) High.

“We recruited Brett in high school, recruited him very hard,” Monroe said. “We saw at that time a tall, lean young man who had good skills. He was able to pop out and hit the outside shot, roll to the basket and play with some aggressiveness. We really liked his upside and thought he could be a very good player for us. He went and had a couple good weekends in the fall, and that led to him being recruited by the likes of Marquette, St. John’s and Rutgers. It was a tough battle with that type of recruitment. He opted to go to Marquette. He wasn’t there very long. He ended up at St. Bonaventure.”

After two uneventful seasons in upstate New York, Roseboro decided it was time for a transfer. Monroe, meanwhile, was eager for another chance to coach him. Roseboro recently accepted UMBC’s scholarship offer. He’ll redshirt this year and have two seasons of eligibility with the Retrievers, starting during the 2012-13 season.

“We’re very happy to have him be part of our program and our family,” Monroe said. “I think the sky is the limit for the young man. I think he’s a very nice young man, very respectful, takes coaching and takes criticism. I think he’ll have a nice future at UMBC.”

Roseboro averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds for Quakertown as a senior in 2008-09, shooting 45 percent from the field and 70 perfect from the free throw line. He had a breakout performance with his Lehigh Valley Elite Heat AAU team at the is8/Nike Tip-Off Classic, scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against the Juice All-Stars. High-major interest ensued, but his time at Marquette was short-lived. The summer before his freshman season, it became clear that minutes for Roseboro with the Golden Eagles would be scarce.

At St. Bonaventure, Roseboro appeared in 44 games over two seasons. He averaged 1.2 points and 1.8 rebounds as a sophomore. After the season, Roseboro asked for and was granted his release. Roseboro’s former coaches reached out to UMBC, and Monroe reciprocated that interest. The competition to land Roseboro this time around was certainly different than what the Retrievers experienced two years ago.

“I don’t know if we had to battle with anybody, per se. To be honest with you, I didn’t really care,” Monroe said. “I knew the kid. We had a prior relationship, prior to him being recruited at the highest level. When he said he was available to leave, we believe in second chances, especially if the person is a good person with high character.”

While Roseboro has seen limited action at the Division I level, Monroe is confident that he’ll make an impact in Catonsville.

“I think he’s able to shoot the basketball, I think he’s a good rebounder and he finishes around the basket,” Monroe said. “He brings those ingredients to our program, which I like. He’s probably about 35 pounds heavier [than he was in high school]. I definitely like that. He’ll be able to practice with us [this season]. He won’t be able to travel with us. He’ll be able to learn our system, understand how we do things. I think he’ll definitely help us out next year. He’s excited to get started, and we’re excited to get started with him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:38 AM | | Comments (0)
        

August 2, 2011

Terps pledge Avery Thompson wants to 'be great'

Coming from a military family, Avery Thompson has grown up accustomed to order and discipline.

In Maryland’s Randy Edsall, Thompson and his family found a coach who famously values many of those same principles.

“I think they just love the fact that he runs a tight ship,” said Martin Asprey, Thompson’s coach at Grassfield High in Chesapeake, Va. “You know where you’re going to stand, what’s expected of you. … They were impressed with the organization, how Maryland is going about looking to recruit.”

Asprey said Edsall made it very clear where Thompson stood by offering the 6-foot-3, 195-pound linebacker a scholarship. Thompson, who was also receiving interest from Boston College, Virginia and Virginia Tech, pledged to the Terps late last week.

“He’s a great kid,” Asprey said Tuesday. “I think Avery felt it was a great place for him academically. … [His family] lived up there for like three years when he was young. His parents feel a connection with the area. It’s real diverse, a lot of diversity, which I think Avery loves.”

Thompson moved with his family to Chesapeake as a middle school student. He first caught Asprey’s eye as a hard-working eighth-grader. After a freshman season spent at defensive end and tight end, Thompson was brought up to the Grassfield varsity as a sophomore linebacker.

“We kind of felt like he was going to have the opportunity to get a scholarship,” Asprey said. “He’s so rangy. He has a great range of motion and covers [a lot of] ground. And he’s not scared to be physical. Just transitioning to linebacker and learning coverages, playing on his feet, he did that really well.”

Thompson took another step forward during his junior year, leading the Grizzlies in tackles with 35 solo stops and 78 assists. He also contributed nine tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

Edsall discovered Thompson when Grassfield came up to Connecticut for a team camp. Edsall kept tabs on Thompson when he moved on to Maryland, and Terps offensive line coach Tom Brattan served as the go-to recruiter. Asprey said Thompson’s speed (he’s been clocked in the 4.4 range) was one of many things that stood out to the Terps staff.

“From what I understand, they like his length, his range, and he can run and do a lot of things in space,” Asprey said. “I think that’s what they love about him.”

Thompson, who has a 3.7 grade-point average, is expected to play on the outside and rush the passer at Maryland. Asprey thinks the Terps will be very pleased with their latest commitment.

“I think he kind of looked at [College Park] as a home away from Chesapeake, Va.,” Asprey said. “He’s very dedicated and very loyal to our program. He really wants to excel and be great. … I think he’s very happy. He really felt like the weight on his chest is off him.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:17 PM | | Comments (0)
        

August 1, 2011

Weekend wrap – Notes on Jefferson, Britt, more

Amile Jefferson still has a lengthy list of schools jockeying for position in his recruitment.

The Philadelphia forward and Terps target told NBE Basketball Report that he's hoping to "get up to Maryland" and several other schools this summer.

Jefferson did mention that NC State and Illinois are the programs likely recruiting the hardest. But whatever program does get him is likely going to have to beat out hometown program Villanova for his services, as Jefferson has many friends on the team now and in the future, including Class of 2012 commits Savon Goodman and Daniel Ochefu.

• The Terps are seriously in the mix for Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard Nate Britt.

“Virginia, Maryland, Villanova, Arizona [and] Georgetown,” said Britt when asked what schools were recruiting him the hardest.

• Houston Defenders shooting guard Aaron Harrison was named a top performer at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando by SLAM.

He’s very confident in his shot and proved to have range that goes well beyond the perimeter. In the championship game, Harrison had a game-high 18 points. He can also easily step in and draining mid-rangers. Putting the ball in the floor and distributing is also in his repertoire.

• CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello offered a scouting report on Terps small forward target Jake Layman based on his play at the AAU nationals.

Layman has broken out as much as anyone the past few weeks, with some saying he’s a future pro. The King Phillip (Mass.) product is very long and skilled on the wing, but is athletic and quick enough to guard any perimeter position.

• The Washington Post's Josh Barr spoke to Arnaud Moto's high school and AAU coaches about the four-star forward cutting Maryland from his list.

“The rest of the staff was hot on him, but [Mark] Turgeon was shaky because he didn’t really see him play,” said Keith Stevens, who coaches Adala Moto on the Team Takeover travel team. “Which I think is a bad move.”

Danuel House, a 6-foot-6 wing from Sugar Land, Texas, gave Scouts Focus' Joe Davis a Top 5 list sans Maryland.

Danuel House of Texas Pro gave me a top 5 of Houston, Texas, Baylor, Arizona & Louisville.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:22 AM | | Comments (7)
        
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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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