Terps recruit Jake Layman has 'enormous' upside
With his lanky frame, shaggy blonde hair and European-style game, Jake Layman was somewhat of an unknown – and curious – commodity when he joined Leo Papile's nationally renowned Boston Amateur Basketball Club in the spring of 2010.
Layman, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound small forward, was looking to expand his game and gain greater exposure. Papile was more than happy to add that sort of “unique” talent to his powerhouse squad.
“He came into the program, an established team [with] an established system,” Papile said Tuesday. “He came from outside the city, where most of our players don’t come from. And he earned everything he got. He’s a young, developing guy with enormous potential and upside. The best is yet to come.”
Papile is far from the only coach who feels that way about the senior prospect’s potential. Thanks to a breakout spring and summer on the circuit with BABC, Layman added offers from Florida, Louisville, Maryland and Syracuse to a list that already included Boston College, Notre Dame and Providence. Late Monday night, on the heels of his official visit to College Park, Layman canceled trips to check out the Gators, Cardinals and Orange in favor of committing to the Terps.
“It’s a fantastic time for Jake and his family,” said Sean McInnis, Layman’s coach at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass. “They’re really looking forward to being a part of the Maryland family. … He watched a great Maryland football game and wanted to be part of the athletic program. It’s an exciting time for us.”
Layman – who was first recruited by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon when he was at Texas A&M – joined McInnis’ varsity squad at King Philip as a freshman, becoming a double-digit scorer right off the bat. His greatest success came last winter, when he averaged 24.6 points, 15.6 rebounds and 7.1 blocks in leading the Warriors to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association South Sectional title game.
“I think when you look around the country, he’s probably the only kid who’s 6-8 that plays the point,” McInnis said. “Jake has grown up playing that position. He’s such a long kid, too. He has an approximate 7-foot wingspan. Jake has the foot quickness to defend the 2, the 3, and the 4 as well. … I think what Maryland was looking for was a student-athlete that’s going to come in, defend, and play a couple positions while at the same time playing in transition, utilizing some size at the guard position.”
A major step in Layman’s development as a high-major player took place when he joined BABC nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Playing for Papile’s program afforded Layman the opportunity to learn from a veteran coach who also serves as the Boston Celtics’ assistant director of basketball operations. Layman started out as “the 10th or 11th man” on BABC’s top team, but worked his way up to the sixth-man role this year. Papile predicted big things for Layman this year on the circuit.
“He’s one of those guys that had he played at the Euro camp or something like that, the whole scouting community would’ve been excited about him as a professional prospect somewhere in the world,” Papile said. “At 6-9, with the ability to guard guys down on the floor, he’s totally unique for American basketball. He’s a wing. He’s a face-up 4 or a 3 for us. He’s strictly a face-up player. You put him on the ball, and in our defense he just wreaks havoc with his mobility. He was bound to just make an enormous impact on the national scene.”
BABC finished the summer with a 62-4 record, winning the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League championship. Layman wasn’t the most decorated player on the team, but he might have raised his stock more than anyone else in the program.
“If you buy into the theory of guys who bloom later and hit their stride, then Jake Layman is the guy who fits that profile,” said Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s national recruiting analyst. “I think he’ll play the combo forward at Maryland. He’ll stretch the defense with his size. He has really good shooting touch and definitely can be a ball-pressure guy and cause all kinds of matchup problems. I just think with Jake Layman, the best basketball lies ahead of him. This summer he kind of empowered himself, surprised himself, and really had an exceptional run.”
Telep said Layman reminded him of Chandler Parsons, a 6-foot-10 small forward who finished a productive four-year career at Florida last spring and was drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. Layman isn’t the scorer Parsons is yet, but he’s similarly versatile and has a comparable style of play. “He’s definitely going to play behind the 3-point line,” Telep said.
Papile, meanwhile, believes Layman will make his mark as a defensive presence for the Terps right away.
“We used a lot of full-court press,” Papile said. “Ironically, a lot of our full-court stuff is similar to Gary [Williams’] style. For a guy almost 6-foot-9, with the wingspan that he has, it really opened a lot of eyes. It really affected the other team’s on-ball press, trapping at halfcourt with that length and the ability to really move side to side. I think he made his mark defensively prior to his offensive game, which is still developing. But he’s just so damn athletic and he can shoot. He was really an impact guy for us.”
Layman joins Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian guard Seth Allen and Houston center Shaquille Cleare as part of Maryland’s 2012 recruiting class. Layman, a four-star prospect and ESPN.com’s No. 53 overall player in the 2012 class, probably won’t be the last coveted recruit that commits to the Terps this fall.
“It just keeps validating the foundation they’re laying under Mark Turgeon,” Telep said. “They’re getting good players. They’re getting guys who are going to fit what they do. They’re not just going out and getting name recruits. They’re getting coachable guys that are going to buy in, and playing time is going to be there. It’s really going to be up to those kids.”
McInnis, who has coached Layman for almost four years, thinks his star player is up to the challenge.
“There are some tremendous young men [at Maryland] right now that can play the game of basketball,” McInnis said. “They have new players coming in; I know [Cleare] and a gentleman from overseas [Alex Len]. When the full recruiting class is ready, they’ll be able to tell Jake what’s expected of him. But it’s an exceptional opportunity for Jake.”