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October 31, 2011

The Next Level: Tavon Austin strikes again

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The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

West Virginia junior wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) hasn’t had quite the season he envisioned this year while adjusting to a new offensive system under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen.

Against Rutgers on Saturday afternoon, though, Austin showed his playmaking ability once again. He ripped off an 80-yard rushing touchdown on an end-around play in the first quarter, and sealed the win with a 20-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.

Austin and the No. 25 Mountaineers rebounded from last week’s embarrassing loss to Syracuse to defeat Rutgers on the road, 41-31. The junior finished with 96 rushing yards on two carries and 67 receiving yards on eight catches.

Austin now has 691 receiving yards and three touchdown catches this season. He leads the Mountaineers with 56 receptions.

For his efforts against Rutgers, Austin is your Next Level Player of the Week.

West Virginia junior safety Terence Garvin (Loyola) had two solo tackles (five total) and a pass breakup in the win.

Honorable mention

• Colorado State sophomore linebacker Shaq Barrett (Baltimore native, Boys Town (Neb.) grad) returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown and had four solo tackles (nine total) in the Rams’ 38-35 loss to UNLV.

• North Carolina senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) wreaked havoc on Wake Forest in the Tar Heels’ 49-24 win Saturday. The senior forced and recovered a fumble on a 9-yard sack early in the first quarter, intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and led the team with seven solo tackles (nine total). Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) led the Demon Deacons with 88 receiving yards on six receptions, while junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) had three solo tackles (five total) in the loss.

• Virginia freshman wide receiver Darius Jennings (Gilman) caught a 53-yard first-quarter touchdown pass in the Cavaliers’ 28-21 win against Miami. It was the first collegiate touchdown for Jennings, who finished with 78 receiving yards and 23 kickoff return yards. Virginia senior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins (Westminster native, Good Counsel grad) had two tackles in the win.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) recovered a fumble, recorded a 10-yard sack, broke up three pass attempts and had a team-high five solo tackles (eight total) in the No. 14 Hokies’ 14-10 win against Duke.

Other contributions

• Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) had a solo tackle (four total) and a pass breakup in the 37-14 win against North Texas.

• Army junior slotback Kelechi Odocha (Atholton) had four rushes for 32 yards in the Black Knights' 55-0 win against Fordham.

• Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) forced a fumble and had two solo tackles (seven total) in the Huskies’ 35-20 loss to Pittsburgh.

• East Carolina sophomore defensive end Derrell Johnson (Cardinal Gibbons) had a 5-yard sack in a 34-13 win against Tulane.

• Maryland junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) led the team with six solo tackles (11 total) and broke up a pass in the Terps’ 28-17 loss to Boston College. Sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) had two tackles in the loss.

• Michigan freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Owings Mills native, Good Counsel grad) had two solo tackles (three total) and broke up two passes in the Wolverines’ 36-14 win against Purdue.

• New Mexico freshman safety Zach Dancel (Ellicott City native, Good Counsel grad) had a solo tackle (five total) in the Lobos’ 42-0 loss to Air Force.

• Penn State freshman cornerback Adrian Amos (Calvert Hall) returned a kickoff 23 yards and had a tackle in the Nittany Lions' 10-7 win against Illinois.

• Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) had 23 receiving yards on four catches in the Orange’s 27-10 loss to Louisville.

• UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) had 215 passing yards (8-for-13, two interceptions) and 18 rushing yards in a 59-14 loss to Marshall.

• UTEP sophomore defensive lineman Horace Miller (Dunbar) had three tackles in a 31-13 loss to Southern Miss.

Getty photo of Tavon Austin by Patrick McDermott / Oct. 29, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Hills' team stays unbeaten

Perry Hills made sure his Pittsburgh Central Catholic squad would enter the postseason undefeated.

On Friday night, the Maryland-bound quarterback guided the Vikings (9-0, 6-0 in conference) to a 49-7 win over Fox Chapel.

Leading the way for the Vikings was the combination of Maryland-bound senior quarterback Perry Hills, who went 15 for 17 for 227 yards with one touchdown, and senior wide receiver Brandon Farrell, who caught six passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.

• UM cornerback recruit Sean Davis rushed for 142 yards on 16 carries (including an 8-yard touchdown run) and returned a kickoff 84 yards for a score in helping Maret (D.C.) to a 30-6 win over Saint James.

• Terps quarterback pledge Caleb Rowe guided Blue Ridge to a 50-20 win over Union County (S.C.).

Quarterback Caleb Rowe ran for a 3-yarder and tossed a 34-yarder to Brennen Griffin.

• Maryland linebacker commitment Stefan Houston caught a touchdown pass in Clarksburg's 30-12 loss to Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

Freshman Joey Nacci started in his place and threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Stefan Houston on the the Coyotes opening drive, which started after a B-CC fumble.

• UM linebacker recruit Avery Thompson found the end zone once in Grassfield (Va.) High's 21-14 loss to Oscar Smith.

Grassfield (8-1, 7-1) answered on its next possession when Avery Thompson scored from 29 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 9:54 left.

Basketball recruiting

• Maryland-bound center Shaquille Cleare checked out the Terps' scrimmage Saturday while he was on his official visit.

And, finally, there was Shaquille Cleare, the 6-foot-9, 285-pound center from The Village School in Houston who is Maryland’s top recruit for 2012-13. Cleare, who has orally committed, sat in the lower stands wearing a black sweat suit and black cap and frequently talking with Turgeon.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:56 AM | | Comments (1)
        

October 28, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland's chances with two of its top power forward targets appear to have gone from slim to none.

In a blog post for ESPN.com, Brewster (N.H.) Academy's Mitch McGary wrote that he's focusing on Duke, Florida and Michigan.

I love Maryland, but I just don’t think that it’s the best fit for me and I’m still looking at North Carolina, but, like I said, I don’t really know what’s going on with their scholarship situation after their latest commitments.

The father of Amile Jefferson, meanwhile, gave Adam Zagoria a list of seven schools that did not include the Terps.

Musgrove said his son is considering seven schools at this point: Kentucky, Stanford, N.C. State, UConn, Villanova, Temple and Ohio State.

Other 2012 power forward targets that Maryland has been mentioned in connection with include Robert Carter, a four-star prospect from Snellville, Ga., and Charles Mitchell, a three-star player from Marietta, Ga.

• Terps shooting target Torian Graham is scheduled to visit Maryland next weekend, while UM center pledge Shaquille Cleare plans to make his official visit to College Park this weekend, according to InsideMDSports.

Terry Henderson, a three-star shooting guard from Raleigh, N.C., who drew some interest from Maryland over the summer, committed Monday to West Virginia.

Last season, Henderson averaged 22 points, six rebounds and shot 47 percent from behind the arc. Henderson, who will be a shooting guard for the Mountaineers, also had offers from Virginia Tech, George Mason, Richmond and Rutgers.

Football recruiting

• Maryland offensive line commitment Nick Brigham was honored this week by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta.

Brigham, the lineman of the week, was a lead blocker in Marist’s 42-12 victory over Lithonia. Marist rushed for 226 yards on 24 carries. Marist led 42-0 at halftime. Brigham has committed to Maryland.

• UM linebacker pledge Avery Thompson's Grassfield High team takes on the Virginian-Pilot's top-ranked team tonight -- Oscar Smith.

Grassfield (8-0, 7-0 Southeastern District) Running back Vincent Lowe has been Grassfield's most reliable rusher, averaging 8.8 yards and totaling 698 yards. Linebacker Avery Thompson is Grassfield's star, and the Maryland commit should be the best defensive player on the field.

• The Washington Post's Recruiting Insider looked this week at local Terps targets Wes Brown (Good Counsel running back) and Eddie Goldman (Friendship Collegiate defensive tackle), plus other football-related topics. Check out the video here.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

October 27, 2011

InsideMDSports: The latest on Nate Britt Jr.

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Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


After a busy stretch that included visits to Maryland, North Carolina and Arizona, the recruitment of Gonzaga (D.C.) junior point guard Nate Britt Jr. has seemingly cooled a bit. Gonzaga coach Steve Turner said Britt, the No. 4 point guard and No. 13 player overall in 247Sports’ 2013 rankings, doesn’t seem to be on the verge on a commitment and is focused on working out and preparing for the season.

“Not yet. I know he and his family are looking at a lot of things, but they haven’t mentioned anything like that to me,” Turner said.

While the Terps and Tar Heels are believed to be the primary contenders for his commitment, Britt continues to list Maryland, UNC, Arizona, Virginia, Georgetown and Villanova.

“I think he definitely wants to find a place where he can form a relationship with the coaching staff, and like with any player, he’d like the opportunity to play,” Turner said.

Britt received an offer from Carolina and visited Chapel Hill earlier this month. The Tar Heels already have a commitment from 6-foot Iowa guard Marcus Paige, a senior, but Turner said that’s unlikely to eliminate the Heels from contention.

“Certainly that’s something he knows, but he’s also seen coach [Roy Williams'] system and he knows he plays multiple guards,” Turner said.

Maryland’s staff, meantime, has been to Gonzaga several times since school started – not only to see Britt, but also to check out a few of his teammates on a talent-laden Purple Eagles squad.

“I think they’re doing a great job," Turner said. "I think they’re making a lot of inroads in the area and making it clear that they want [recruits] to stay home. I’ve been impressed with how after they got the job, they hit the ground running."

Maryland has been keeping tabs on Gonzaga forward Kris Jenkins, a close friend and teammate of Britt’s. At 6 feet 5, though, it remains to be seen if his size will preclude ACC-level scholarship offers. Gonzaga also has a sophomore and a pair of freshmen to keep in mind. Turner believes Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof, a 6-7 sophomore and the son of former Maryland football star -- and current M Club president -- Aziz Abdur-Ra'oof, has high-major potential.

He's also high on freshman guards Brian Crawford and Franklin Howard. Crawford is a 6-1 pass-first point guard, while Howard is a fast-growing 6-4 combo guard. All three play for travel program Team Takeover.

As for Britt, it’s unknown when he’ll make a decision, but he and his father have long maintained they don’t plan on an extended recruiting process, hence the frequent campus visits. It wouldn’t be surprising if he were to commit before the end of his junior season – or perhaps earlier – but things seem to be in a holding pattern for now.

Maryland’s other top guard prospects in the 2013 class, Houston twins Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, are expected to visit College Park this fall. But their father, Aaron Harrison Sr., told InsideMDSports Wednesday that no visit has been scheduled yet.

Stay tuned ...

-- Story by Jeff Ermann

To gain access to all of InsideMDSports.com's premium Terps sports and recruiting content, click HERE.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

October 26, 2011

Baltimore's Division I hoops players for 2011-12

With the first exhibition games being played this week, the 2011-12 college basketball season is officially under way.

Last season, the Baltimore area was well-represented in college hoops, with 66 players from here on Division I rosters. There will be even more to follow this year.

By my count, 71 local players -- from Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County -- are playing for DI programs this season.

Morgan State leads the way with four local products, while DePaul and Loyola have three apiece. Bryant, Georgetown, High Point, Maryland, Memphis, Navy, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Quinnipiac and UMBC each have two Baltimore-area players.

Check out the complete list below, and leave a comment or shoot me an email if there's anyone I missed.

CollegeNameYearPositionHigh SchoolHometownPrep School / Previous College
AkronChauncey GilliamjuniorforwardBrewster (N.H.) AcademyColumbiaUMBC
BrownJon SchmidtfreshmanforwardFriendsBaltimore
BryantRaphael JordanjuniorguardJohn CarrollBel Air
BryantErick SmithjuniorguardJohn CarrollBel Air
BuffaloAuraum NuiriankhsophomoreforwardArundelBaltimoreCharis Prep (N.C.)
Central Connecticut StateMalcolm McMillanfreshmanguardJohn CarrollBel Air
CharlotteJamar BriscoejuniorguardCardinal GibbonsBaltimore
ConnecticutRoscoe SmithsophomoreforwardWalbrookBaltimoreOak Hill Academy (Va.)
Coppin StateJordan LeejuniorguardLoch RavenBaltimore
DelawareDevon SaddlersophomoreguardAberdeenAberdeenWinchendon Prep (Mass.)
DePaulMontray ClemonsfreshmanforwardPolyBaltimoreMack Academy (N.C.)
DePaulCleveland MelvinsophomoreforwardLake CliftonBaltimoreNotre Dame Prep (Mass.)
DePaulBrandon YoungsophomoreguardFriendship Collegiate (D.C.)Randallstown
DrexelDamion LeefreshmanguardCalvert HallBaltimoreSt. Thomas More (Conn.)
ElonRyley BeaumontsophomoreforwardMount St. JosephMillersville
Florida Gulf CoastDante HolmesfreshmanguardSt. FrancesBaltimoreOldsmar Christian (Fla.)
George WashingtonIsaiah ArmwoodjuniorforwardMontrose ChristianBaltimoreVillanova
GeorgetownHenry SimsseniorcenterMount St. JosephBaltimore
GeorgetownGreg WhittingtonfreshmanforwardOakland MillsColumbia
High PointTre DuncanfreshmanguardSevernMillersvillePrinceton Day Academy
High PointDevante WallacefreshmanguardDunbarBaltimore
Holy CrossDevin BrownseniorguardCityBaltimoreNotre Dame Prep (Mass.)
Idaho StateJakub KusmierukjuniorcenterJohn CarrollLodz, PolandCentral Florida
IPFWIsaiah McCrayfreshmanguardMilford MillBaltimore
LoyolaDylon CormiersophomoreguardCardinal GibbonsBaltimore
LoyolaJordan LathamsophomorecenterCityBaltimoreXavier
LoyolaR.J. WilliamsfreshmanguardSt. Frances
MarylandNick FaustfreshmanguardCityBaltimore
MarylandSean Mosleyseniorguard/forwardSt. FrancesBaltimore
MassachusettsTerrell VinsonjuniorforwardSt. FrancesBaltimore
MemphisAntonio BartonsophomoreguardLake CliftonBaltimoreNotre Dame Prep (Mass.)
MemphisWill BartonsophomoreguardLake CliftonBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
Mississippi Valley StateBrent ArringtonfreshmanguardLansdowneBaltimoreSouthern Sports Academy (Miss.)
MissouriKim EnglishseniorguardRandallstownBaltimoreNotre Dame Prep (Mass.)
MontanaKeron DeShieldsfreshmanguardPallottiBaltimoreVermont Academy
Morgan StateLarry BastfieldseniorguardTowson CatholicBaltimoreToledo
Morgan StateAric BrooksseniorwingSt. FrancesBaltimoreJacksonville
Morgan StateJames HamiltonfreshmanguardMilford MillBaltimore
Morgan StateKevin ThompsonseniorcenterWalbrookBaltimore
Mount St. Mary'sRaven BarberjuniorforwardPaul VI (Va.)Edgewood
NavyWes ClarkfreshmanguardGovernor's Academy (Mass.)Annapolis
NavyDonya JacksonfreshmanguardCalvert HallBaltimoreMercersburg Academy (Pa.)
Notre DameEric AtkinssophomoreguardMount St. JosephColumbia
OklahomaAndrew FitzgeraldsophomoreforwardOwings MillsBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
Penn StateJonathan GrahamfreshmanforwardCalvert HallBaltimore
Penn StateCammeron WoodyardseniorguardWinters MillWestminster
PittsburghDurand JohnsonfreshmanforwardLake CliftonBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
PittsburghAron NwankwosophomoreforwardCityBaltimore
Prairie View A&MBeloved RogersseniorguardPrinceton Day AcademyBaltimoreOral Roberts
PresbyterianRyan McTavishfreshmanguardSouth CarrollMount Airy
QuinnipiacAlex JacksonsophomoreforwardRandallstownBaltimoreFrederick Community College
QuinnipiacRaheem May-ThompsonjuniorforwardTowson CatholicLondon, England
RichmondWayne SparrowfreshmanguardSt. FrancesBaltimore
RutgersGreg LewisfreshmanforwardSt. FrancesRandallstown
SouthernJohn TatumsophomoreguardHowardBaltimoreSouthwest Academy
Stony BrookTommy Brentonjuniorguard/forwardRiver HillColumbia
SyracuseC.J. FairsophomoreforwardCityBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
TempleAnthony LeefreshmanforwardWest Oak Academy (Fla.)Columbia
Texas A&MNaji HibbertjuniorguardDeMathaBaltimore
Texas A&M-Corpus ChristiTerence JonesjuniorguardLake CliftonBaltimoreNotre Dame Prep (Mass.)
Texas SouthernOmar StrongjuniorguardDouglassBaltimoreCecil College
TowsonChristian CollinssophomoreguardParkvilleBaltimore
UMBCRyan CookjuniorguardPallottiLaurelChesnut Hill College
UMBCQuentin JonessophomoreguardMount St. JosephEllicott CityWallace State (Ala.)
UNC-WilmingtonShane ReyboldsophomoreforwardReservoirLaurel
UtahKareem StoreyfreshmanguardTowson CatholicBaltimorePrinceton Day Academy
VermontBrendan BaldjuniorguardSeverna ParkMillersville
Virginia TechAllan Chaney*juniorforwardNew London (Conn.)BaltimoreFlorida
William & MaryMatt RumjuniorguardLoyolaBaltimore
WyomingDerrious GilmorejuniorguardLake CliftonBaltimoreJones County Junior College (Miss.)
XavierIsaiah PhilmorejuniorforwardJohn CarrollBel AirTowson

*Chaney is listed on the Hokies' roster but will not be medically cleared for this season.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:21 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

October 25, 2011

Sweet 16: Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma

andrew-fitzgerald-sooners.jpg The aftermath of Andrew Fitzgerald's sophomore year at Oklahoma was understandably "difficult" for the 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward.

The Sooners had just finished a 14-18 campaign, and the coach who recruited Fitzgerald to Norman – Jeff Capel – had been dismissed after his fifth season.

But Fitzgerald’s disappointment in saying goodbye to Capel was short-lived – especially when he found out who he’d be playing for over the course of his final two college seasons.

“Coach Capel was my guy,” said Fitzgerald, a Pikesville native. “He brought me in, and he’s got a great situation at Duke now being an assistant coach. Lon Kruger came in here and showed us a different kind of atmosphere and a different way to work. Nothing against Coach Capel, [because] I was kind of mad. But at the end of the day, I put it behind me and moved on with my life.”

Fitzgerald gave no thought whatsoever to transferring. For Kruger, the commitment of Oklahoma’s top returning scorer and rebounder was a welcome sign for the transition.

“Everything is new to the guys, so it’s something of an adjustment, that’s for sure,” said Kruger, who left UNLV for Oklahoma and has also been the coach at Florida, Illinois, Kansas State and with the Atlanta Hawks. “But Andrew has been great in terms of grasping everything and doing it with enthusiasm. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Said Fitzgerald: “I had a positive [first] meeting with [Kruger]. After meeting with him, I felt more relaxed and way more comfortable staying here. I felt way more comfortable staying here at Oklahoma.”

Fitzgerald’s development into one of the Big 12’s top young big men has been a long time coming. Ever since he suited up for St. Frances as a freshman, local basketball observers predicted great things for the nimble forward. But an itinerant high school career – Fitzgerald also played at Towson Catholic, Owings Mills and Brewster (N.H.) Academy – raised questions from some recruiting followers.

“Every school that I went to I had great experiences with the players and coaches and everything,” Fitzgerald said. “But I just didn’t have that comfortable feeling at every school.”

The exceptions to that rule were at his final two stops: Owings Mills – where he earned first-team All-Baltimore County honors in 2008 – and Brewster, where he emerged as the No. 6 player in New England for the 2009 class. A consensus four-star prospect, Fitzgerald chose the Sooners that year over Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.

As a freshman, Fitzgerald appeared in 26 games for the Sooners, averaging 4.8 points and two rebounds. Then last year came Fitzgerald’s breakthrough campaign. The Baltimore County resident averaged 12.6 points and five rebounds, earning All-Big 12 honorable mention honors for his efforts.

“It was a great adjustment,” Fitzgerald said. “I had to drop some weight so I could be on the court. … I had to adjust really fast. I adjusted my freshman year, started 11 games that season, then came out sophomore year and started every game. I kept improving from there.”

Kruger said he “didn’t know much about” Fitzgerald before he got the OU job, but his early impressions of the junior forward were extremely positive. What about Fitzgerald’s game stood out to Kruger the most?

“That he can really score,” Kruger said. “He’s got a knack for hitting shots. He’s got good touch on mid-range jumpers, good feel for the game. He really worked hard and improved his conditioning. He’s done a nice job of that through summer and is doing a good job of that this fall.”

Fitzgerald said he couldn’t be happier with his situation in Norman. He’s found stability in the program, and a coach that has experienced the type of success he hopes to accomplish. Fitzgerald’s goal for his junior season is simple.

“Just win. Just win and make the tournament this year,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m not really paying attention to all the media right now because all I know is that this team, right now, is ready to play and win this year.”


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

Roscoe Smith, Connecticut
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
Kevin Thompson, Morgan State
Antonio Barton, Memphis
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Brandon Young, DePaul
Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of Andrew Fitzgerald by Mark D. Smith / Feb. 26, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

October 24, 2011

The Next Level: Perry lifts UAB to first win

The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.


With a starting quarterback in and out with various injuries this season, UAB has looked to sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) several times this season for a spark in the offense. He provided one Saturday against Central Florida.

Passing for 327 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Perry led the Blazers to their first win of the season, after they started 0-6. He went 31-for-42 and threw a pair of interceptions, but his ability to make plays through the air and with his feet (33 rushing yards) gave the Blazers just enough against the nation’s No. 3 defense.

“The satisfaction of winning a football game is mighty big for us,” coach Neil Callaway said in his news conference after the game.

For giving his team a much-needed lift and getting UAB's first win of the season, Perry is this week’s Next Level Player of the Week. He has thrown for 842 yards and rushed for 119 this season.

Honorable Mention

• North Carolina senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) had a pair of sacks and five solo tackles (seven total) in the Tar Heels’ 59-38 loss to No. 8 Clemson.

• Temple junior running back Matt Brown (Peddie School, New Jersey) led the team in rushing with 124 yards on 22 carries in the Owls’ 13-10 loss to Bowling Green. Brown also returned three punts for a total of 46 yards and three kickoffs for a total of 75 yards. Temple senior quarterback Chester Stewart (DeMatha) went 6-for-14 passing for 66 yards and added 14 yards on the ground.

• Syracuse wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) had three receptions for 29 yards as his Orange cruised past West Virginia, 49-23. Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) had 120 all-purpose yards, including 60 receiving yards, while junior safety Terrence Garvin (Loyola) had four solo tackles (five total) in the loss.

Other Contributions

• Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) had two solo tackles (three total) in the Red Wolves’ 34-16 win against Florida International.

• East Carolina sophomore defensive end Derrell Johnson (Cardinal Gibbons) had a solo tackle (two total) in a 38-35 win against Navy.

• Maryland junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Gonzaga) recorded a sack and four total tackles in the Terps’ 41-16 loss to Florida State. Other Maryland performers: Sophomore offensive lineman Cody Blue (Wilde Lake) had a tackle, junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley ) had two solo tackles (five total) and sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) had three solo tackles.

• New Mexico freshman safety Zach Dancel (Good Counsel) had three solo tackles (five total) in a 69-0 blowout loss to TCU.

• Penn State freshman safety Adrian Amos (Calvert Hall) had a 26-yard kick return, two solo tackles and a pass breakup in the Nittany Lions’ 34-24 win against Northwestern.

• UTEP sophomore defensive lineman Horace Miller (Dunbar) had a solo tackle (four total) and a 7-yard sack in a 31-17 win against Colorado State. Colorado State sophomore linebacker Shaq Barrett (Boy’s Town, Neb.) had five tackles in the loss.

• Virginia wide receiver Darius Jennings (Gilman) had a 1-yard reception, and senior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins (Good Counsel) had two tackles in the Cavaliers’ 28-14 loss to North Carolina State.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) had four solo tackles (five total), including one for a loss, as the No. 16 Hokies beat Boston College, 30-14.

• Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) had 46 yards on four catches and 5 rushing yards in the Demon Deacons’ 24-23 win against Duke. Wake Forest junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) had four solo tackles (seven total) in the win.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:09 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Petty powers Raiders to win

A big game for Shawn Petty on both sides of the ball kept Eleanor Roosevelt's undefeated season alive.

Petty, a Maryland linebacker commitment, guided the Raiders (8-0) to a 14-12 win over DuVal.

Faced with a fourth and 8 from his own 32-yard line with less than 5 minutes remaining, Roosevelt senior quarterback Shawn Petty rolled to his right and found Jermaine Boykins open for a 51-yard catch and run that gave the Raiders a crucial first down at the Tigers’ 17-yard line. Petty covered the last 15 yards on the ground, plowing forward from 1 yard out with 3 minutes remaining to give the Raiders a 14-12 lead.

On DuVal's last offensive possession, Petty dropped Tigers running back Stanley Henry for a 3-yard loss that ended the game.

Petty finished the game with 15 carries for 76 yards and 4-for-7 passing for 105 yards.

• Terps wide receiver recruit Amba Etta-Tawo's big performance Friday night helped propel McEachern to a 56-17 win over North Cobb (Ga.).

Indians quarterback Trent Thompson completed 12 of 17 passes for 161 yards and four touchdowns and receiver Amba Etta-Tawo had six catches for 100 yards and a score for the victors.

• UM linebacker commitment Stefan Houston made a big play late for Clarksburg, but it wasn't ultimately enough as the Coyotes dropped a 21-14 double-overtime loss to Quince Orchard.

Clarksburg senior Stefan Houston, who has verbally committed to play football on scholarship at the University of Maryland next year, had other ideas. His leaping block of [Chris] McPherson's field goal attempt sent the game into double overtime.

• UM cornerback pledge Sean Davis had a huge day offensively for Maret (D.C.) in its 54-15 loss to Flint Hill. The future Terp rushed for 141 yards on 18 carries -- including a 52-yard touchdown run -- and caught seven passes for 126 yards.

• Maryland commitments Perry Hills and Anthony Nixon guided Pittsburgh Central Catholic to a 42-7 win over Altoona. Hills was 4-for-6 for 65 yards and one touchdown. Nixon caught two passes for 28 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass from Hills.

• Maryland tight end commitment P.J. Gallo caught three passes for 46 yards in Council Rock South's 35-14 win over William Tennent (Pa.).

“Great thing about being a strong running team is it allows me to get open in the passing game,” Gallo said. “We really played strong (tonight), we were hitting on all cylinders.”

• Terps quarterback commitment Caleb Rowe's Blue Ridge squad lost the South Carolina Region 3-AAA championship when it suffered a 28-24 loss to Greer.

Blue Ridge quarterback Caleb Rowe, with a defender hanging on him, dropped off a screen pass to Tyshawn Richardson that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown and gave the Tigers a 17-7 advantage late in the third quarter.

• An undisclosed injury kept UM wide receiver pledge Malcolm Culmer on the sideline during Willingboro (N.J.) High's 32-7 loss to Pemberton.

Basketball recruiting

Torian Graham, a four-star shooting guard from Arlington Country Day (Fla.) and D.C. Assault member, has scheduled an official visit to Maryland, according to InsideMDSports.

• The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke to Robert Carter after the four-star power forward's official visit to Georgia Tech.

What about UGA? How did Carter’s Georgia Tech compare to his UGA visit a week earlier? Which was better? “I haven’t really had time to sit down and talk to my coaches and parents about both of the visits,” Carter said. “I’d say they were both good. Both schools have their advantages. I don’t have a leader.”

What’s next? Carter will go to Florida and Florida State the next two weeks, and is deciding between Kentucky and Maryland for his fifth and final official visit.

• The Philadelphia Inquirer had an update Saturday on the recruitment of Amile Jefferson.

The 6-8 forward trimmed his list of schools to Temple, Villanova, Kentucky, Stanford, North Carolina State, Maryland, Connecticut, and Ohio State.

"He's visiting Kentucky this weekend, Stanford next weekend, and North Carolina State the weekend after that," Allen Rubin, an editor and recruiting analyst for Hoop Scoop recruiting services, said of Jefferson's official visits.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:40 AM | | Comments (4)
        

October 23, 2011

Gaels' Phillip Lawrence talks Marist pledge

Phillip Lawrence had a clear objective heading into his official visit to Marist over the weekend.

The Mount St. Joseph senior wasn’t looking to be swayed by the Red Foxes coaching staff or wowed by the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., campus. A decision from Lawrence – who unofficially visited the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school in August – had already been made.

“Oh, I was going to commit,” Lawrence said. “I just wanted to make the commitment [on my] official and make it more meaningful. And I wanted my mother and my grandmother to see [the campus]. They saw it and loved it there. They loved everything.”

With his family’s seal of approval, Lawrence gladly accepted Marist’s scholarship on Saturday, picking the Red Foxes over offers from Jacksonville, Loyola, Radford, Rider and Siena.

phillip-lawrence-recruiting.jpg

“It feels great,” Lawrence said. “Everybody’s congratulating me and I feel like I did it. I had a good summer and it paid off. Playing for Philly’s Finest really paid off.”

After a so-so junior season at Mount St. Joseph, Lawrence went to Philadelphia to live with his father over the summer, and subsequently saw his stock rise substantially thanks to his play on the circuit with Philly’s Finest. Playing for the high-profile AAU program – which also featured five-star recruit Amile Jefferson – put Lawrence in prime position to impress college coaches. The 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward took advantage of that exposure almost immediately.

“[Marist] offered in the middle of July and said I was their No. 1 recruit,” Lawrence said. “They really wanted me. … It’s a great feeling when somebody just wants you and does everything they can to get you. All the praise and congratulations, it’s a great feeling.”

Lawrence said Marist resonated with him immediately. He was familiar with the competitiveness of the MAAC, and was intrigued by how the coaching staff said he’d fit into their dribble-drive system as a wing forward.

An unofficial visit to Marist two months ago hooked Lawrence on the school. Saturday’s trip, meanwhile, confirmed everything he had thought about the program since then.

“After watching practice, seeing how the team is run, and after walking around the campus, I thought ‘Yeah, this could be my future home for the next four years,’” Lawrence said. “They have everything. The facilities are brand new, the locker room is awesome [and] the team was great. I had a great time. I fit the offense and their style of play.”

Lawrence said he “loves the coaching staff” and can’t wait to suit up for the Red Foxes next fall. Until then, he has business to attend to at Mount St. Joseph.

“Now that my recruiting is finished,” Lawrence said, “I’m focused on getting bigger, stronger, improving my skills and winning a championship.”

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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:31 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

October 21, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The Maryland men's basketball program hosted Sam Cassell Jr. on an official visit last weekend, but it'll be awhile before the Terps learn whether or not the Baltimore native will end up in College Park.

According to MidAtlanticHoops.com, Cassell "will not make his decision until spring." The former Towson Catholic combo guard, who is spending a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., is reportedly also receiving interest from Butler, Missouri, Florida State and Washington, among others.

• Terps target Robert Carter has an official visit lined up this weekend to another ACC school.

Robert Carter traveled to UGA last weekend and will go to Georgia Tech on Friday. He also will visit Florida, Florida State and either Maryland or Kentucky.

• Maryland forward target Amile Jefferson is scheduled to visit Kentucky this weekend.

Football recruiting

• Maryland athlete commitment Joe Riddle will spend the next several weeks on the injury list.

Linganore running back Joe Riddle will miss 4-6 weeks after breaking a bone in his lower leg against Walkersville on Friday, according to Linganore coach Rick Conner.

• MaxPreps.com this week profiled Noah Spence, a five-star defensive end from Bishop McDevitt High in Harrisburg, Pa.

Spence's numbers may be down, but that hasn't deterred coaches from Penn State, Florida, Notre Dame, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Southern California, Maryland and LSU from continuing to call him. His voicemail box is full, and he rarely answers his phone, opting to have recruiters go through his father Greg, who stresses that Noah enjoy his senior year of high school and concentrate on his grades and his season — in that order.

• The Gazette this week looked at two highly touted Good Counsel juniors and Terps targets: cornerback Kendall Fuller and tailback-linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.

Their play last year and so far this season has not gone unnoticed by the college scouts. O’Daniel recently picked up offers from Rutgers (N.J.), Iowa and Wisconsin to give him 10 college suitors , including Maryland, Syracuse (N.Y.) and Pittsburgh (Pa.).

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:21 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

InsideMDSports: Kendall Fuller a wanted man

insidemdsports.jpg

Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


While many of his fellow juniors are still awaiting their first scholarship offers, Kendall Fuller of Good Counsel High in Olney already has a large group of colleges willing to take a commitment – a list that recently grew to a baker’s dozen with California offered the sought-after cornerback.

“I’m a little surprised, but I knew I’ve been working hard and showing my potential, so I’m not that surprised, really,” Fuller said.

Fuller has no favorites yet and has only visited two of the 13 schools to have offered him: Maryland and Virginia Tech. He was in attendance for the Terrapins’ season-opening win over Miami.

“I loved the atmosphere of the game and we got to see the new uniforms, and talk to the coaches,” he said.

Offensive line coach Tom Brattan and assistant recruiting coordinator Ryan Steinberg have been the point men in Fuller’s recruitment, while head coach Randy Edsall has been putting in work as well.

Brattan and Steinberg “are definitely cool guys, down-to-earth guys. You can have a conversation with them,” Fuller said. “I’ve talked to Coach Edsall a few times, and he’s also sent me a couple of letters.”

A speedy 5-11, 181-pound cornerback who resides in Baltimore, Fuller has played a starring role for Good Counsel, which is 7-0 and ranked No. 10 in the nation by USA Today. The Falcons, who continue to produce loads of BCS recruits – including current Terps commitment Mike Madaras – are the second-ranked team in the East, behind only Don Bosco Prep (N.J.).

Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame are among the other schools to have offered Fuller, a four-star prospect likely to be one of the top-rated senior prospects in the Mid-Atlantic next season.

Fuller doesn’t have any visits scheduled and hasn’t fully delved into the recruiting process. He’s got no timetable for when he’d like to make his decision.

“I have no clue yet,” he said. “I’m looking for a good family environment, a good atmosphere and good coaches. I’m pretty sure once I start taking visits I’ll know more about what I’m looking for.”

He did say the local aspect makes Maryland appealing.

“It’s always good to keep the hometown team in mind,” he said. “They’re definitely up there.”

-- Story by Jeff Ermann

To gain access to all of InsideMDSports.com's premium Terps sports and recruiting content, click HERE.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

October 20, 2011

Sweet 16: Roscoe Smith, Connecticut

roscoe-smith-connecticut.jpg Roscoe Smith committed to Connecticut with the goal of eventually competing for championships. He just didn't envision that happening in Year 1 of his college career.

“No freshman ever expects to win a national championship your first year,” Smith said. “It’s a miracle. It was completely crazy that we actually did it.”

For Smith, freshman year with the Huskies was an ideal introduction to high-major college basketball. While Smith was a star at Walbrook for three years and one of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy’s top players as a senior, recasting himself as a role player to help UConn win the national championship was a seamless transition for the 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward.

“If [playing a supporting role bothered him], he didn’t show it,” said UConn assistant coach Kevin Ollie. “He came in and played his role. He came in and got minutes on the defensive end. We needed a person of his versatility to stick the 1 through the 4. He just had great ability to play multiple defensive positions and bring energy. That’s what he did when he came in.”

Many former five-star recruits expect to be double-digit scorers right off the bat in college. But Smith said he was fine doing whatever Jim Calhoun and the rest of the Huskies staff requested in order to win games. The stat sheet reflects Smith’s willingness to do whatever he was asked. The former Walbrook star appeared in 41 games for UConn, starting 33. He averaged 6.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 25.4 minutes.

Ask Smith about his individual performance, and he’ll talk at length about the team’s success.

“Each game felt like a championship game – the first exhibition game to the last game against Butler,” Smith said. “We just continued to play hard and get better as a team. In the NCAAs, we just kept playing and having fun.”

Highlights for Smith included a 17-point, seven-rebound performance against Bucknell in the second round of the NCAA tournament; 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in the Huskies’ Big East Championship game win over Louisville; 16 points and three blocks at St. John’s; 11 points and eight rebounds at Marquette; and 12 points on four 3-pointers, plus three blocks and two steals, against Tennessee. The list goes on and on.

“If he wasn’t having a good scoring night, he did rebounding,” Ollie said. “He’s just a versatile guy like that. Hopefully he continues to see himself like that. I just don’t see him as being a jump shooter. Roscoe can do a lot of things on the basketball court. Hopefully he continues to do that. We love Roscoe and the energy and the personality [he brings] to our team and swagger to our team. He’s just a remarkable young man. Hopefully he’ll continue to play with that intensity through this season.”

Smith said the most challenging part of last season was getting used to the pace of the game and handling the seemingly nonstop schedule of games, workouts and practices. After an offseason spent in the gym, Smith thinks he’s better equipped to handle the grind as a sophomore. He doesn’t appear to have bought into the post-championship hype. Smith said he spends what little free time he has playing video games. Ollie, meanwhile, can tell that Smith worked hard in the offseason.

“[He’s improved] just off the bounce, pump fakes, getting into the lane during games a little bit more,” Ollie said. “Just his basketball IQ has grown. … I love that he’s a versatile wing. I see him as a 3, but definitely we can go small and we can give the other team mismatches putting him at the 4, which we did a lot last year. But I do see him at the 3, too. He has things about his game which are going to make him a lethal 3-man.”

It’s been almost three years since Smith helped Walbrook to the Class 4A state semifinals and earned his second straight Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection. He doesn’t get back to Baltimore much anymore – just two or three visits since the Huskies won their championship. But everything he learned here has stuck with him.

“I’m just not playing for myself,” Smith said. “I’m also playing for the University of Connecticut and all the Baltimoreans that came out of Baltimore to UConn – Josh Boone, Rudy Gay. I’m just continuing the great history of all the Baltimore guys that came to UConn and were successful.”


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
Kevin Thompson, Morgan State
Antonio Barton, Memphis
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Brandon Young, DePaul
Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of Roscoe Smith by Bob Donnan / April 2, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

October 19, 2011

Antoine Allen takes long road back to DI hoops

antoine-allen-south-alabama.jpg Bouncing from one friend's apartment to another and just scraping to get by was not at all what Antoine Allen envisioned for himself when he gave up a promising basketball career for a shot at hip-hop stardom.

Over a two-year span, Allen went from playing at college basketball's highest level to near-homelessness.

“I didn’t want my family to know anything,” said Allen, a 2008 Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection from Lake Clifton. “I told them one thing, but I knew what it really was. Things [were] going rough, but I didn’t want my family to worry. It was very hard. I went through so much.”

While Allen’s family – including his two-year-old son Chaise – was kept in the dark about his living situation, the former Lakers star eventually started to have second thoughts about giving up on his education. What finally brought Allen back from the brink of destitution was his self-professed first love: basketball.

“I know how much it meant to my family, just for me to continue to play basketball and even get my degree,” Allen said. “I have talent, man, and I just felt I was wasting it. I didn’t want to waste it. I was going through a lot. But you live and you learn. I’m the first guy in my family to ever go to college. I can’t let that go. That’s big on me. I just feel I have something else to accomplish for myself and my family.”

On Monday, Allen took a major step in securing a better future for his family by committing to South Alabama – a Sun Belt Conference program that last made the NCAA tournament in 2008.

“I just think it’s a great choice,” said Butch Estes, Allen’s coach at Palm Beach (Fla.) State College. “He saw there were some connections that he can make there and I think he’ll return to the music industry when he’s done [with basketball]. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it in the hip hop scene. He’s got the possibility of really being big-time some day.”

Getting back to Division I basketball has been a long time coming for Allen. But his long-awaited return to the game shouldn’t be a surprise to those who knew him best back home.

Hoop dreams

Allen grew up in East Baltimore’s Chapel Hill projects, spending the majority of his free time playing ball, while also dabbling in music. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound combo guard was a prolific scorer for Lake Clifton and on the circuit with Cecil Kirk. As a senior, Allen averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, leading the well-balanced Lakers (25-2) to Baltimore City and Class 3A North regional championships.

“What was so attractive was his approach to the game,” said longtime Cecil Kirk coach Anthony Lewis. “His toughness and take-no-prisoners attitude, he utilized that and mobilized that on the offensive end, becoming an extremely effective scorer and really tenacious on defense.”

After graduation Allen headed to Mississippi Elite Christian Academy, an upstart prep-school program that allowed him to showcase his scoring ability and earn several high-major scholarship offers. Allen eventually signed with Miami over Central Florida, Florida State, Providence and Virginia.

antoine-allen-hurricanes.jpg In Coral Gables, Allen excelled in the classroom. The broadcast journalism major was selected to the 2010 All-ACC Academic team. But on the court, Allen struggled to make an impact. He appeared in just 17 games for the Hurricanes as a freshman, averaging 2.9 points and 8.1 minutes.

“Probably toward the end of the season [I decided to transfer],” Allen said. “I kind of had my mind made up. It just wasn’t a good situation. I wish the best for all [those] guys. It just wasn’t the best situation for me. I just wanted to move on somewhere else.”

From there, Allen headed to UNC-Wilmington, where former Lake Clifton star and Miami point guard Kevin Norris was an assistant coach. His time in North Carolina lasted through summer school before Allen decided to move back to Miami to focus on his budding rap career.

A musical interlude

Allen caught the music bug at a young age, but really started taking hip-hop seriously and thinking about it as a potential career when he played for the Hurricanes.

“In Miami, it’s definitely one of the best music places,” Allen said. “I felt like I was getting a great opportunity, performing and meeting all the people I needed to meet. I was definitely making strides. It was going good for me.”

Allen split his time last year between Miami and Los Angeles, writing and performing his unique brand of “feel-good music in the club that’ll get you ready to go out there and get it.” Allen -- who goes by Tweez -- recorded songs and even shot a video.

antoine-allen-tweez.jpg “I was doing music and helping provide for my family and just grinding extremely hard,” Allen said.

But while Allen was pleased with his progress in making connections and developing himself as an artist, he soon discovered just how tough it was to make it in the music business.

“The music industry is so up and down,” Allen said. “I learned at the end of the day that it’s very inconsistent. To tell you the truth, I went through a hard time. They say you never know how good it is until it’s gone. I reached a point in Miami where I didn’t have no one to rely on. I didn’t want to tell my family I was homeless. I didn’t have nowhere to stay. I came out there myself, [and] I still had to work hard and get back on the grind. I had to work hard because nobody was going to give me anything. I put my mind together, getting back on track and staying focused.”

Getting back on track came with a realization: Allen desperately missed playing basketball.

Back in the game

Allen had kept in a touch over the years with Chris Cantino, a 6-foot-7 forward from Philadelphia that he had met at a Five-Star camp years ago. Cantino had moved on to Palm Beach State -- a junior college powerhouse about an hour north of Miami -- and invited Allen to take part in some open gyms over the summer.

After “not touching a ball” for a year, Allen was working out every day, going to the YMCA on a regular basis, and feeling at ease back in his natural element playing in open gyms with a consensus Top 10 JUCO program.

“It came back, but you can tell I was still rusty and it was going to take a little time,” Allen said. “Now I feel good. My body feels good. My athleticism is back, my shooting is back, my handles are back.”

At Palm Beach State, Allen was back playing with the caliber of player he became accustomed to competing against in Miami. Among the Panthers’ more notable players are South Florida center commitment Waverly Austin, the preseason junior college player of the year, former Texas forward signee Kevin Thomas, and former Marshall recruit and Baltimore native Mike Cheatham (City).

It didn’t take much convincing for Estes, the Palm Beach State coach, to add Allen to his roster.

“First of all, he’s an outstanding student – an All-Academic ACC kid, so he’s a unique junior college kid,” Estes said. “He’s got the grades, he’s a very solid player, and his maturity really is welcomed here as we deal with a lot of young kids trying to find their way. His leadership and maturity is going to be an amazing piece of what could be a good story for us. Besides that, he can really score and he can really guard. And he’s a good kid. It’s almost a wow factor.”

Said Allen: “Everyday I’m thankful he gave me another opportunity to play basketball.”

College coaches have made a habit of recruiting Estes’ Panthers program, so Allen had ample opportunities to impress. It wasn’t too long before scholarships started to flow in, with High Point, Marshall, South Alabama and Towson among the most interested programs.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that had he played in the spring, he would have been recruited at the highest level,” Estes said.

The future

Once Allen visited South Alabama’s campus last weekend, any temptation he might have had to try for another high-major offer was forgotten. Ronnie Arrow -- who has guided the Jaguars to three NCAA tournament appearances and three Sun Belt championships -- made it clear from the start that Allen was his top combo guard target.

“The way they presented it to us was that they had all the pieces but a wing guard who can really score,” Estes said. “[Allen] was kind of like, in their words, the missing link or the missing piece. We did our research and all that, and it turned out to be true. He was definitely their first choice. They gave him their first offer, gave him so many days to consider it. I think that made him feel very special.”

Allen had remembered watching South Alabama in the NCAA tournament in 2008. After talking it over with Arrow, he became convinced that the Jaguars were not far off from making it back – especially with Allen on the roster.

“I didn’t even have to go on another visit to know what I found in South Alabama,” Allen said. “I have two years left, so I have to have a successful career for the next two years. I have to do work, so Coach [Arrow] was telling me I’ll come there next year and we’re going to be good. We’ve got [the reigning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year] down there ... and with the guards we’ve got going there next year, we’ve got a lot of potential.”

Allen said he’s looking forward to playing this season with Palm Beach State. After that, he’s hoping to make the most out of his time at South Alabama by earning his degree and leading the Jaguars back to the postseason. His post-grad goals include playing professional basketball and continuing to work on his music. He’s more focused now on songwriting than performing.

Going from the ACC to the Sun Belt – with several stops in between – certainly doesn’t seem like the ideal basketball journey. But Allen is just content to have another shot at getting his college diploma and living out his basketball dreams.

“The way I see it, when I finish my career, I want to be able to have a movie about my life,” Allen said. “I’ve been through so much. But at the end of the day, God had me go through it to make me a stronger person today. Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe in that. Everything will work its way out. I’m thankful, man.”

Photo credits: 1.) Baltimore Sun photo of Antoine Allen by Patrick Smith / April 3, 2009; 2.) U.S. Presswire photo of Antoine Allen by Steve Mitchell / Dec. 19, 2009. 3.) Handout photo of Antoine Allen courtesy of wix.com.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

October 18, 2011

Sweet 16: Cleveland Melvin, DePaul

cleveland-melvin-blue-demon.jpg There were more than a few college hoops observers that openly wondered whether Cleveland Melvin was good enough to play in the Big East.

Questions about the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward’s ability were widespread in the days after his commitment to Connecticut in the fall of 2009. And while many of those scouts, writers and fans abandoned their critiques after Melvin and the Huskies parted ways a few months later, the sting of skepticism in his ability stuck with the Lake Clifton grad.

Melvin’s freshman season at DePaul last year subsequently became a chance for him to “prove the doubters wrong.”

“A lot of people never thought I could play in the Big East, that I wouldn’t get as much minutes and playing time at UConn,” Melvin said. “So I definitely proved them wrong. I stayed focused and just worked hard to get where I’m at now.”

Where Melvin is at now is a place where hardly anyone – even his biggest supporters – could have predicted. The Blue Demons big man is coming off a freshman season in which he averaged 17.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in conference play, earning Big East Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts.

Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell -- who counts Melvin as his first commitment at DePaul -- called it “a mild surprise” that the 2009 Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro player was so successful as a freshman.

“He’s always been kind of a secondary guy on good teams – and maybe not even secondary. That might be generous,” Purnell said. “Maybe the third guy on really good teams. … [But] in Cleveland’s mind, he always thinks he’s going to be a really good player and get better. I think he’s been in situations where he’s always gotten better.”

Whether he was playing with Lake Clifton or for Cecil Kirk on the circuit, Melvin always produced. In his senior year, Melvin averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in helping the Lakers to a 29-0 season, which culminated with the Class 3A state championship.

After graduation, Melvin and Lakers teammate Antonio Barton left Baltimore for Fitchburg, Mass., where they starred for Notre Dame Prep. Purnell was impressed with what he saw out of Melvin, who had already visited the Chicago campus when he got the job. Landing the Baltimore native was a top priority for the former Clemson coach, who kept his recruiting pitch to Melvin simple.

“He just [said that he wanted] me just to play hard and play my style, run the court and use my quickness to get past bigger guys that guarded me,” Melvin recalled. “He just told me to play hard every time I step on the court. That’s what I’ve done so far.”

Playing time was an important factor in Melvin's recruitment, and Purnell provided plenty of minutes for the former Lakers star. The early stages of Melvin’s freshman year, however, had some rocky moments.

“He wasn’t ready to play in the beginning, but I thought he could be really, really good,” Purnell said. “[I said], ‘I think he is the best-potential big guy, but he’s not ready right now.’ He didn’t start in the beginning. There were a few games he didn’t really play a lot. But he kept getting better and better. In the Big East, the light went off. The rest is history. He’s tremendous.”

The real breakout for Melvin came right after the New Year, when he averaged 26.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in games at Cincinnati and Georgetown. DePaul struggled through a 7-24 season (including a 1-17 mark in conference play), but Melvin was a consistently reliable scorer and rebounder for the Blue Demons.

“At first it was kind of hard playing for a struggling team, kind of rebuilding,” Melvin said. “But as the season went on … I stayed focused because I didn’t want to get down on myself, mess up the team chemistry. I helped my team stick together with it. It was hard, but I just kept playing.”

Purnell said Melvin’s freshman experience is “going to pay dividends for us starting this year, and the fact that he’s been part of winning and he doesn’t like to lose. … The thing that most benefited him is that he is a relentless competitor and learner. He likes being coached. He wants to be coached. There’s never any resistance from him in coaching and wanting to learn.”

Melvin spent the majority of his summer in Chicago, working out, taking classes, and bonding with his two Baltimore teammates Brandon Young and Montray Clemons. Purnell said he’s been impressed so far by Melvin’s strength, his outside shooting, and his leadership. If the Blue Demons are going to have success under Purnell, Melvin will be “critical” to that turnaround.

“He doesn’t like to lose. He’s not satisfied,” Purnell said. “[Leadership from him is] far more powerful [than it is from the coaching staff]. … I think he can be very good. He was an All-Big East type of player, [and] you know what that means. If you’re an All-Big East player, the sky’s the limit.”


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

Kevin Thompson, Morgan State
Antonio Barton, Memphis
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Brandon Young, DePaul
Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of Cleveland Melvin by Dennis Wierzbicki / Feb. 19, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:48 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

October 17, 2011

Keith Booth added to Loyola women's staff

keith-booth-loyola.jpg Former Maryland men's basketball assistant coach Keith Booth has found a new home.

Booth, who spent seven seasons on Gary Williams' staff, was hired Monday as an assistant for the Loyola women's basketball team.

"We are ecstatic to have Keith Booth join our Loyola women's basketball program and excited that he is able to return home to Baltimore to continue his coaching career," Loyola coach Joe Logan said in a news release. "Keith brings with him a unique perspective, which I am looking forward to and I know our whole program will benefit from."

With the Greyhounds' hiring of Booth -- a Dunbar legend who helped the Terps to four NCAA tournaments as a player -- all three assistants on Williams' last Maryland staff have found work. Bino Ranson was retained by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, and Rob Ehsan was hired by Seth Greenberg at Virginia Tech.

"Keith's accomplishments speak for themselves," Logan said. "He has won at every level and we are looking forward to him developing our players into winners both on and off the court."

Baltimore Sun photo of Keith Booth by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Sept. 30, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:07 PM | | Comments (1)
        

The Next Level: Matt Brown stars for Owls

The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

matt-brown-temple-owls.jpg Despite backing up one of the top running backs in the nation, Temple junior running back Matt Brown has quietly put together a quality season. More evidence of this came Saturday against Buffalo.

Brown, a Baltimore native and Peddie School (N.J.) grad, ripped off a 52-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, as the Owls ran away with a 34-0 win against the Bulls. Brown finished with 120 rushing yards on just 12 carries.

Temple starter Bernard Pierce leads the country with 17 touchdowns, while averaging more than 120 rushing yards, but Brown has still found a way to be effective this season. He has 443 rushing yards (6.2 yards per carry) and another 443 return yards (337 kick, 106 punt) this season.

For his efforts against Buffalo, Brown is your Next Level Player of the Week.

Owls senior quarterback Chester Stewart (Hanover native, DeMatha grad) went 7-for-11 passing for 58 yards in the win.

Honorable Mention

• Maryland junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) led the Terps with eight solo tackles (10 total) and two pass breakups in the 56-45 loss to No. 8 Clemson. Junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Severn native, Gonzaga grad) had a solo tackle (four total). Terps sophomore offensive lineman Cody Blue (Wilde Lake), sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) and junior defensive lineman Alvin Thomas (Long Reach) each had a tackle.

• New Mexico freshman safety Zach Dancel (Ellicott City native, Good Counsel grad) recorded his first collegiate interception in the second quarter of Lobos’ 49-7 loss to Nevada. Dancel also had a solo tackle (four total).

• Virginia senior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins (Westminster native, Good Counsel grad) had three solo tackles (seven total) in the Cavaliers' stunning 24-21 upset of No. 12 Georgia Tech in Charlottesville, Va. Freshman wide receiver Darius Jennings (Gilman) returned two kickoffs for a total of 29 yards for the Cavaliers.

Other contributions

• Central Michigan sophomore safety Leron Eaddy (River Hill) had a solo tackle (four total) in the Chippewas' 35-28 loss to Eastern Michigan.

• Colorado State sophomore linebacker Shaq Barrett (Baltimore native) had five solo tackles (nine total) in the Rams’ 63-13 loss to No. 5 Boise State.

• Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) had four solo tackles (seven total) and a pass breakup in the Huskies’ 16-10 win against USF.

• Michigan freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Owings Mills native, Good Counsel grad) had three solo tackles (six total) in the No. 11 Wolverines’ 28-14 loss against No. 23 Michigan State.

• Ole Miss senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey (Southwestern) had a 14-yard sack and three solo tackles (four total) in a 52-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama.

• Penn State senior long snapper Jon Rohrbaugh (Howard) had a solo tackle in the Nittany Lions’ 23-18 win against Purdue.

• North Carolina senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) had three tackles (four total) in the Tar Heels’ 30-24 loss to Miami.

• Rutgers sophomore linebacker Nick DePaola (Hereford) had a solo tackle in the Scarlet Knights’ 21-20 win against Navy.

• UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) went 1-for-2 for 18 passing yards in a 37-20 loss to Tulsa.

• UNLV freshman wide receiver Mike Horsey (Dunbar) had a solo tackle in the Rebels’ 41-14 loss to Wyoming.

• UTEP sophomore defensive lineman Horace Miller (Dunbar) had a tackle in a 44-7 win against Tulane.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) had two tackles (three total) in the No. 19 Hokies’ 38-17 win against Wake Forest. Demon Deacons sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) had 37 receiving yards on five receptions, while junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) had three solo tackles (five total) in the loss.

U.S. Presswire photo of Matt Brown by Howard Smith / Oct 15, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (1)
        

Weekend wrap – Culmer's switch pays off

Malcolm Culmer will play wide receiver at Maryland. It's a position he's flourished in at Willingboro (N.J.) High.

But on Friday night, the future Terp was switched to running back, and the move paid off for his Chimeras squad. Culmer rushed for 113 yards on nine carries to propel Willingboro to a 34-20 win over Delran.

“[Culmer's] last touchdown was just phenomenal,” [Delran coach Pete] Miles said. “It was all him. That burst, that last 40 or 50 yards — that’s a kid going to Maryland. It’s obvious right there, that’s the difference between a Division 1 football player and a regular high school kid.”

• UM linebacker pledge Shawn Petty came up big on both sides of the ball for Eleanor Roosevelt in its 20-12 win over C.H. Flowers.

Roosevelt (7-0) got two touchdown runs and a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Shawn Petty. From his linebacker spot on defense, Petty also had a significant impact on the game, as he covered Flowers' standout tight end Monte Taylor, who did not have any catches on Saturday.

• Maryland-bound linebacker Stefan Houston powered Clarksburg offensively in its 20-0 win over Magruder.

Stefan Houston caught a 55-yard touchdown pass and threw a two-point conversion pass to lead the No. 10 Coyotes past the Colonels.

• Terps quarterback recruit Caleb Rowe guided Blue Ridge to a 44-20 win over Chapin (S.C.).

Rowe, who completed 17 of 24 passes, threw touchdowns of 6 yards to Bryton Griffin, 31 yards to Martin Harbin and 9 yards to Brennen Griffin.

• Maryland wide receiver commitment Amba Etta-Tawo found the end zone in a big win for McEachern.

McEachern’s Amba Etta-Tawo scored from 43 yards out on a Trent Thompson completion in the second quarter of a 52-14 win at Pebblebrook.

• Terps cornerback recruit Sean Davis rushed for 86 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 41 yards in Maret's 28-14 loss to Avalon.

• UM athlete pledge Joe Riddle was knocked out early of Linganore's 14-12 loss to Walkersville.

The Lancers played nearly the entire second half without star running back Joe Riddle, who left the game with what Conner believed is a high-ankle sprain. Riddle's status for next week's game at Thomas Johnson is uncertain.

Basketball recruiting

• The Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Robert Carter, who made an official visit over the weekend to Georgia.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder took an official visit to UGA over the weekend, and will make a recruiting trip to Georgia Tech on Friday. Carter will also visit Florida, Florida State and either Kentucky or Maryland within the next few weeks.

• JUCORecruiting.com offered a scouting report on Terps target Torian Graham based on his play at the The Hoop Exchange Fall Exposure Series in Orlando.

The other side of [Arlington Country Day’s] bookend wings definitely stands on his own. Torian is as talented and athletically gifted as any player in the country. He has a terrific stroke and is unbelievably quick with the basketball. He is a tough kid who always plays hard and has played through several injuries. Memphis, Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, NC State and a dozen other BCS schools are all hoping to land this big-time prospect.

• NBE Basketball Report profiled Vermont Academy junior center Dominic Woodson, who has drawn early interest from Maryland.

[Vermont Academy coach Jesse] Bopp said that Woodson has collected scholarship offers from TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Illinois. In addition, Bopp mentioned that other schools involved are Florida, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt and Maryland.

• Maryland target Amile Jefferson took a trip over the weekend to check out the defending national champs.

The only other senior on hand was 6-7 forward Amile Jefferson from Philadelphia (Friends Central High), who is on an official visit to UConn this weekend.

• Terps power forward target Charles Mitchell reportedly visited Seton Hall over the weekend.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:37 AM | | Comments (1)
        

October 14, 2011

Towson suspends shooting guard RaShawn Polk

rashawn-polk-towson.jpg Pat Skerry will be without Towson's top returning scorer for an indeterminate amount of time this season.

The first-year Tigers coach announced Friday that RaShawn Polk, a senior shooting guard from Greensboro, N.C., has been indefinitely suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

"There is a greater standard of conduct associated with the privilege of being a member of the Towson men’s basketball program,” Skerry said in a news release. “We will not tolerate anyone not living up to their commitment.”

Polk averaged 11.6 points last season, good for third on the team behind Isaiah Philmore (who transferred to Xavier) and Braxton Dupree (who left Towson to pursue a professional career in Israel). After Polk, Towson's most experienced returners are Robert Nwankwo, a senior forward who was academically ineligible last season, and Erique Gumbs, a redshirt sophomore who averaged 3.6 points (12.3 minutes per game) in 30 appearances.

The biggest beneficiaries of Polk's absence could be freshman wing Deon Jones and freshman shooting guard Will Adams, who signed with the Tigers in 2008, was later diagnosed with cancer and eventually beat stage 4B Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Towson opens its season Oct. 29 with an exhibition game against Holy Family.

Baltimore Sun photo of RaShawn Polk by Lloyd Fox / Feb. 27, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:52 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Loyola's Jordan Latham gets NCAA waiver

A big addition to the Loyola men's basketball team will contribute one year earlier than expected.

The NCAA ruled recently that Jordan Latham, who transferred from Xavier after the 2010-11 season, would not have to sit out this season as a redshirt. The former City standout will be eligible to play for the Greyhounds immediately, a source close to the situation confirmed Friday.

Latham, a 6-foot-8, 249-pound power forward, was a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection in 2010. He appeared in 16 games for the Musketeers as a freshman. At Loyola, Latham will join a frontcourt that already features double-digit scorers in Shane Walker and Erik Etherly.

Loyola tips off its season next Thursday at Reitz Arena with Late Night with the Hounds. Click here for more info.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:06 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

A familiar name to Baltimore basketball followers is scheduled to be on hand for Maryland Madness tonight.

According to InsideMDSports, former St. Frances and Towson Catholic combo guard Sam Cassell Jr. will make an official visit to College Park this weekend.

Cassell, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound prospect in the 2012 class, is in his second year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. The Terps first became involved with Cassell over the summer thanks to his play on the circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite.

NBE coach Carlton "Bub" Carrington told Recruiting Report in August that the level Cassell ended up at "was 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.”

Check out video below of Cassell from the 2010-11 season at Notre Dame Prep.

• Terps center target Robert Carter is taking an official visit this weekend to Georgia.

"I am looking for the school that I know what I can come in and do," Carter said. "The biggest thing I want to figure out on my officials is just how the school breaks down, what they do in their scheme. I know all of the schools I am considering like to use their bigs a lot, and that is why I narrowed it down to them. Hopefully that will help me decide where I want to plan to sign during the early signing period."

• DukeHoopBlog.com conducted an interview this week with the father of Terps target Mitch McGary.

Recently, reports came out that Mitch was nearing or had made a decision. However, Tim [McGary] refutes that notion “He hasn’t made a decision. I just talked to him tonight (Monday night) and we talked about it a little bit. He’s coming home Wednesday night and we’re going to sit down and talk about it. They get a four or five day break this weekend so he’s flying in to O’Hare and my older son will pick him up. We’ll be able to sit down and sort things out.”

Amile Jefferson's high school coach told Adam Zagoria that the five-star prospect could wait until the spring to sign "if he doesn’t feel ready."

[Jason] Polykoff said Jefferson’s list currently includes Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Temple, Villanova, Stanford, UConn, Kentucky, Ohio State, N.C. State and Maryland.

• Two of Maryland’s top 2013 targets are scheduled to be in Lexington on Friday night for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness.

The Wildcats had several other younger players scheduled to attend, but the only ones making unofficial visits will be twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison from Texas. Both are ranked in the top 10 in the Class of 2013.

• Former Maryland center target Prince Ibeh has committed to Texas.

Ibeh averaged 6.5 points, nine rebounds and 5.2 blocks last season. He is clearly still a work in progress on offense. But, [his high school coach Jeff] Clarkson said, that was one reason why he decided on Texas. The Longhorns have helped develop raw big men such as Dexter Pittman and further in the past, Chris Mihm.

• The Washington Post's latest Recruiting Insider video includes talk about Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard Nate Britt picking up a North Carolina offer. Check it out here.

• The Terps women’s basketball program will host a top 2012 prospect this weekend, according to ESPN HoopGurlz.

Jordan Adams, at No. 6, is the highest-rated player in the ESPN HoopGurlz Top 100 still undecided on where she will play her college basketball. This weekend, the combo guard from Santa Ana, Calif., will make a trip across the country to College Park to visit Maryland. Maryland's 2012 recruiting class made a big leap two weeks ago when center Malina Howard of Twinsburg, Ohio, picked the ACC school over Notre Dame. A potential verbal commitment from Adams would only help Maryland continue to move up the rankings toward a potential top five recruiting class for the 2012.

Football recruiting

• The Virginian-Pilot wrote a feature this week on Terps linebacker commitment Avery Thompson, who missed a critical time in the recruiting process to be with his family.

But instead of staying in Chesapeake, Thompson moved with his mother, Elsie, and sister, Sydney, to South Korea after the 2010 season to spend six months with his father, Antonio, an Army lieutenant colonel.

"I had never been out of the country before, so I was looking forward to going," Avery said. "But at the same time, I wasn't sure how my recruiting process would be affected had I stayed here. I think it would have been a little bit better, but I had to be with my family."

• The Carroll County Times this week profiled UM athlete recruit and Linganore senior Joe Riddle.

Through hard work in the weight room and on the practice field, the now 6-foot-1 Riddle, currently in the midst of his senior season, has put on what he estimates to be 50 pounds of muscle during the last three years, now weighing 200 pounds. He's seen tremendous gains in his strength and already impressive speed, and has developed into not only a key starter for the Lancers but into one of the top rated players in the entire state.

• Maryland quarterback pledge Caleb Rowe was selected to play in the 75th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

“We’re going to obviously try to throw it down the field a little bit,” [South Carolina coach Chuck Jordan of Conway High] said. “But, at the end of the day, if you can’t run the ball you won’t be successful in this game. Caleb Rowe has a presence about him. I really like the way he handles himself. He really has a way of encouraging people around him, and I like the intangibles that come with Caleb. Joey [Copeland] brings us a different type of quarterback. He has the ability to run the ball probably more so than Caleb. Caleb is more of a field general. Joey is a little more versatile.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:33 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

October 13, 2011

Sweet 16: Kevin Thompson, Morgan State

kevin-thompson-morgan.jpg Commemorative basketballs line the walls of Todd Bozeman's office, with each one signifying an important moment in his Morgan State tenure.

There are basketballs to remember MEAC championships, NCAA tournament appearances, wins over high-major opponents like Maryland and Arkansas, and several other notable accomplishments. For each of those highlights, Kevin Thompson was there.

“He’s been part of every last one of them,” Bozeman said of the Baltimore native.

Thompson has been one of the most integral parts to the success of Bozeman’s Bears over the past three years, which makes it all the more puzzling that the former Walbrook star finds himself suspended indefinitely from the team just weeks before the beginning of his senior season.

“[The suspension is] for a violation of team rules,” Bozeman said. “It’s something to be handled in-house. It is what it is.”

Bozeman wouldn’t comment on when Thompson might be reinstated, but when he is, Morgan will have a preseason All-MEAC selection at its disposal. Thompson, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound center, has been a double-double threat on a nightly basis ever since he first suited up for the Bears three years ago. That kind of production was exactly what Bozeman envisioned for Thompson when he first saw the Baltimore Select player at an AAU tournament in New York.

“I thought he was out of shape and overweight, but I thought he had skills and could really pass the ball,” Bozeman recalled. “He had good footwork for a kid that size. I thought that he could also rebound. … He was getting interest, but not a whole lot. Then I was on him the rest of the summer.”

Thompson’s senior season at Walbrook didn’t go quite as planned. He got injured early on and had surgery on both his knees. From there, Bozeman said, “everybody kind of dropped off him.” The Bears, though, were persistent in their pursuit.

“I always thought he could be a double-double guy. I really did,” Bozeman said. “I actually told him, ‘You could come here and be one of the top rebounders in the country. You could lead the conference in rebounding and be a low-post presence.’ I felt if he got in shape, really worked hard, I thought he could be an outstanding talent.”

Bozeman was proven correct by Thompson, who redshirted his first year while recovering from his surgeries, but teamed with Itchy Bolden, Reggie Holmes, Marquise Kately and others during the 2008-09 season to lead the Bears to their first-ever NCAA tournament bid. In the MEAC championship game, Thompson had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The next year, Bolden and Kately were gone, but Thompson and Holmes powered Morgan to another NCAA tournament. That 2009-10 season, Bozeman said, was the best he’s seen of Thompson.

“He was third in the country in rebounding and the outstanding player in the MEAC tournament,” Bozeman said. “That was Reggie’s senior year. We won 27 games. [Thompson] was defensive player of the year. He could have easily been the player of the year.”

Junior year was more of the same for Thompson from a statistical standpoint. He averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds – posting 13 double-doubles on the season – and was named to the MEAC All-Tournament team. But Morgan missed out on the postseason, and during the offseason, Thompson had the issue that led to his suspension.

“He still has some growing up to do,” Bozeman said. “If he really puts in the effort, he could have an outstanding career. It’s one thing to say it and another to put the time in. You can’t go to the bank and expect to withdraw money if you haven’t made a deposit.”

Bozeman said he’s counting on senior forward Ameer Ali, senior point guard Larry Bastfield and junior wing Anthony Hubbard for leadership. Bozeman is hopeful that Thompson takes care of his business in the coming weeks, and closes out his Morgan career in a positive way.

“[I want him to] lead, really work and develop a worker’s type of attitude,” Bozeman said. “If he does that, he really could lead the nation in rebounding. And he could be a force to be reckoned with … and end his career like how he started, which would be in the postseason.”


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

Antonio Barton, Memphis
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Brandon Young, DePaul
Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of Kevin Thompson by Jamie Rhodes / Dec. 27, 2010

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:17 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

October 12, 2011

InsideMDSports: Carter readying for trips

insidemdsports.jpg

Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


The recruitment of prized power forward Robert Carter of Shiloh High in Snellville, Ga. – one of the top prospects on Maryland's recruiting board – is about to hit the homestretch.

Carter, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound power forward ranked No. 30 in the Class of 2012, is about to embark upon a series of official visits that will go a long way in determining his college destination. Carter will visit Georgia this weekend, and will set up a visit to Maryland in the next day or two, said Winfred Jordan, director of the Atlanta Xpress basketball program for which Carter plays.

“I think he’s going to talk to the Maryland coaches [this week about a visit date],” Jordan said. “They were here last week, or it may have been the week before.”

Terps assistant Bino Ranson has been the point man in Maryland’s recruitment of Carter, an exceptionally skilled big man who has a top five of Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Maryland.

“I’ve talked to [Maryland’s coaches about Carter]. We’ve talked about [how] he’s probably the most skilled four-man in the country," Jordan said. "They talked all about Maryland’s history, which, being a basketball guy, was exciting for us. They showed us video of some of the players who’ve gone on to the NBA and talked about the national championship. They’ve been one of the top 10 basketball programs in the history of the NCAA. Not everybody can say that. Maryland has great tradition."

Carter, Jordan said, is an analytical young man who’s spent a lot of time evaluating each of the programs he’s considering. Armed with that knowledge, he’ll visit all five schools in order to get a feel for the intangibles.

“He wants to get a feel for the coaches, the campuses and the teammates," Jordan said. "He wants to put himself in the right situation. He’s a very patient young man and he’s looking at it as a once-in-a-lifetime decision."

There’s been talk that Carter will be difficult to lure from the South, which is true to some extent, according to Jordan.

“He’s extremely close to his parents. He’s the youngest child of, I think, nine children and there’s a big gap; I think the next-youngest is 30,” he said. “I think that is a factor, but the kid is very mature and knows he may have to sacrifice if there’s a better situation for him.”

Carter will take his official visits in short order and make a November decision, Jordan said. Stay tuned …

-- Story by Jeff Ermann

To gain access to all of InsideMDSports.com's premium Terps sports and recruiting content, click HERE.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

Dunbar football notes: McManus lines up visits

deontay-mcmanus-recruiting.jpg DeonTay McManus committed to West Virginia in June, but was up front in his intentions to take trips to other schools.

Now the time has come for the Dunbar senior wide receiver to start taking his five official visits.

“We’re setting them up this week,” Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said Tuesday. “He is a solid commitment to West Virginia. The coaches are fine” with McManus taking visits elsewhere.

Smith said McManus plans to make trips to Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Oregon and West Virginia.

McManus, a four-star prospect and Rivals.com's No. 165 player nationally, has helped the No. 7 Poets to a 5-1 record this season. In the classroom, Smith said McManus’ GPA is up to a 2.8, putting him in good position to meet NCAA qualifying standards.

“He’s going to be ready to go,” said Smith, who added that McManus is under consideration for the Under Armour All-America Game in January.

Other Dunbar recruiting notes

• Cornerback Terrence Williams is taking an official visit to UTEP on Oct. 29. He’ll set up a visit to Toledo after that. “Terrence is a shutdown corner,” Smith said. “I call him Williams Island. No question he’s top shelf, one of the best" in the state.

• Linebacker Lavar Highsmith has offers from Elon, Marshall and Youngstown State. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior will take an official visit to Marshall after the season. “He’s an explosive, aggressive linebacker,” Smith said.

• Linebacker Ernest Hawkins, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior, is being heavily recruited by Purdue. “He’s taking an official there after the season,” Smith said. “He still has a lot of schools showing a lot of interest.”

• At least two young Poets are already being closely monitored by a couple notable college programs. Junior defensive end Marvin Gross has interest from Maryland and an offer from UTEP. Sophomore quarterback William Crest, meanwhile, has “an unofficial offer” from West Virginia. “West Virginia was his first offer,” Smith said. “He’s already been to Maryland for two visits. [Terps coach] Randy Edsall was on the sideline for one of our games. He was excited about him.”

• UTEP is 2,000 miles away from Baltimore in El Paso, Texas. So what's the connection to Dunbar? Miners sophomore defensive end Horace Miller, a former All-Metro player who led the Poets to three straight state titles. “Horace laid the groundwork for Dunbar,” Smith said. “Andre Patterson recruited Horace at UNLV. [Miller] signed with Louisville [and later transferred to UTEP, in part because] Coach Patterson is [now] the defensive coordinator at UTEP. Coach [Mike] Price and Coach Patterson, they really love what our guys bring. They’re interested in bringing out more of our kids.”

Baltimore Sun photo of DeonTay McManus by Lloyd Fox / Sept. 17, 2011

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

October 11, 2011

Sweet 16: Antonio Barton, Memphis

antonio-barton-memphis-tigers.jpg Antonio Barton heard the whispers and read the comments.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard -- some people said and wrote -- was just riding older brother Will Barton’s coattails to a high-major basketball scholarship.

“It was just like rumors on the internet,” Antonio Barton said. “I would read it. [They said] that I would be a good practice player, or I was just a throw-in for my brother. Those type of things.”

It took all of one game at Memphis for Barton to show how foolish those anonymous commenters were in their dismissal of him. In Barton’s first career regular-season game, the 2009 Lake Clifton graduate scored a game-high 17 points, in addition to contributing five steals, four assists and three rebounds in leading the Tigers to a 104-40 win over Centenary.

That game was the first of many in which Barton proved that he not only belonged at a big-time basketball school, but that he was one of the most promising freshman point guards in the game. On the season, Barton was Memphis’ fifth-leading scorer at 8.2 points per game. He started 12 games for the Tigers, who finished 25-10, including a 10-6 mark in Conference USA.

Needless to say the thought of proving people wrong served as motivation for the former Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection.

“I couldn’t wait to get to practice,” Barton said. “I never let what people say get to me. I never got upset by what I heard. I just pushed harder. It made me stronger.”

Josh Pastner landed commitments from the Barton brothers two months after he was elevated to head coach. Will got most of the attention, but Pastner said he was just as excited to add Antonio to his roster.

“Most people thought, ‘Oh, you took Antonio just to get Will.’ Absolutely not,” Pastner said. “That was the perception, but had anyone seen this kid play? Has anyone done an evaluation? This kid can flat-out play. He helped us win a lot of basketball games. He’s a hard-nosed, blue-collar, does-his-job, low-maintenance, old-school basketball player. That’s who he is. And we were fortunate to have him. I love the kid. I mean, he was our leading scorer in the NCAA tournament game. That guy’s a player and we were fortunate to have him. I knew that he was going to be a good player when he signed.”

That NCAA tournament game – a 77-75 opening-round loss to Arizona – was probably the most high-profile affirmation of Barton’s ability to play at the high-major level. Barton got the start for the Tigers that day. In his 35 minutes of action, he scored 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting (including 3-for-4 from 3-point range) and grabbed four rebounds.

The individual highlight of freshman year for Barton, however, came in a 63-62 win at Central Florida in February. Barton scored 14 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer – on an assist from his brother – as time expired.

“It was thrilling,” Barton said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening. We were down. It was just a feeling as good as can be expected.”

Said Pastner: “I think he definitely had a chip on his shoulder. He played terrific. He had a great freshman year. You look at what he did in shooting at the end of the game [against UCF]. He stepped up big time and helped us get the W.”

Barton, who did a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., after helping Lake Clifton to an undefeated season that culminated with the Class 3A state championship in 2009, spent most of his summer in Memphis. He worked on adding strength, developing his point-guard skills and improving his mid-range game. Barton, who’s interested in studying sports management and criminal justice, also took classes. He said his GPA is just shy of a 3.0.

Barton did carve out some time to come back home to Baltimore, where he said he spent much of his time visiting his 2-year-old daughter Skyy.

“She knows exactly what’s going on,” Barton said. “She came to a couple games. She ran on the court a couple times. Every time after games, she’ll come into the locker room. She knows her daddy is here trying to make a better future for her.”

On the court and off, Barton’s off to a good start at Memphis in making that happen.


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Brandon Young, DePaul
Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of Antonio Barton by Peter Aiken / March 18, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:25 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

October 10, 2011

The Next Level: Zach Brown powers UNC

The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

With Louisville driving into North Carolina territory on a 16-play drive in the second quarter, Tar Heels senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) made his first interception of the season.

Brown’s defensive play all day Saturday helped North Carolina improve to 5-1 with the 14-7 win. Brown led the team with four solo tackles (11 total). The senior is one of top playmakers in the ACC this season and a leader on the Tar Heels defense.

With fellow starting linebacker Kevin Reddick out with injury, Brown became the vocal leader of the defense.

“We talked about Zach Brown changing his hat a little bit this week,” interim head coach Everett Withers said in his post-game news conference. “Kevin [Reddick’s] been saying, ‘You need to be here. You need to be there.’ Zach had to be that guy today.”

The 6-foot-2 outside linebacker has a team-high 42 tackles and five for a loss, including 2.5 sacks this season.

If he continues his production, Brown could find himself in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft, according to several pundits. Because of his play Saturday, Brown is this week’s Next Level Player of the Week.

zach-brown-tar-heels.jpg

Honorable mention

• Temple junior running back Matt Brown (Baltimore native, Peddie School grad) had 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries in the Owls’ 42-0 rout of Ball State. Owls senior quarterback Chester Stewart (Hanover native, DeMatha grad) went 10-for-13 passing with 160 yards and a touchdown. He also gained 30 yards on the ground.

• Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) tossed his second touchdown pass of the season and had 60 receiving yards on four catches in the Demon Deacons’ 35-30 win against No. 23 Florida State. Junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) returned an interception 50 yards and recorded three solo tackles (four total).

• West Virginia junior wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) had a 12-yard touchdown reception and 74 total receiving yards as the No. 16 Mountaineers cruised past Connecticut, 43-16. The touchdown spurred a 26-point run by West Virginia. He also had 51 punt-return yards and 31 kickoff-return yards. West Virginia junior safety Terrence Garvin (Loyola) had four solo tackles (five total) and a team-leading two sacks. Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) had a sack and four solo tackles in the loss.

Other contributions

• Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) had two solo tackles (0.5 sacks, three total tackles) in a 24-19 win against Louisiana-Monroe.

• East Carolina sophomore defensive end Derrell Johnson (Cardinal Gibbons) had a solo tackle (two total) in a 56-3 loss at Houston.

• Maryland junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Severn native, Gonzaga grad) had his best game of season with three solo tackles (nine total) and a pass breakup in the Terps’ 21-16 loss at No. 13 Georgia Tech. Terps junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) had five solo tackles, including one for a loss, and sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) had four solo tackles (seven total), including three for a loss.

• Michigan freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Good Counsel) had four solo tackles (five total) in the Wolverines’ 42-24 win against Northwestern. Michigan freshman safety Josh Furman (Old Mill) had a tackle in the win.

• Penn State freshman safety Adrian Amos (Calvert Hall) had two solo tackles and a pass breakup in the Nittany Lions’ 13-3 win against Iowa.

• Rutgers sophomore linebacker Nick DePaola (Hereford) had two solo tackles in the Scarlet Knights' 34-10 win against Pittsburgh.

• Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) had two receptions for 32 yards in the Orange’s 37-32 win at Tulane.

• UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) had 195 passing yards (18-for-36 with an interception) and 47 rushing yards on nine carries in the Blazers' 21-3 loss to Mississippi State.

• UNLV freshman wide receiver Mike Horsey (Dunbar) had two solo tackles in a 37-0 loss at Nevada.

• Utah State senior wide receiver Xavier Martin (Joppatowne) had 22 yards on three receptions in the Aggies' 63-19 win against Wyoming.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) had six solo tackles (eight total) in the No. 21 Hokies’ 38-35 win against Miami.

• Western Michigan freshman defensive tackle Brendon Gannon (Cardinal Gibbons) had a tackle in a 45-21 win against Bowling Green.

McClatchy-Tribune photo of Zach Brown (celebrating with Jabari Price) by Robert Willett / Oct. 8, 2011

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Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Etta-Tawo stars in loss

A big day from Amba Etta-Tawo wasn't enough for his McEachern High squad Friday night.

The Maryland-bound wide receiver's top-ranked team dropped a 12-10 game to Hillgrove (Ga.).

Amba Etta-Tawo paced McEachern’s receiving corps with nine catches for 137 yards.

• Terps commitments Perry Hills and Anthony Nixon led Pittsburgh Central Catholic to a 60-6 win over Plum.

Hills and Nixon were pulled out of the game before the end of the first half. Hills completed 6 of 8 passes for 186 yards and two touchdown passes, including a 60-yard touchdown pass to Nixon.

• Maryland-bound linebacker Shawn Petty guided Eleanor Roosevelt to a 48-6 win over Laurel.

Raiders' quarterback Shawn Petty threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns and also added 101 yards rushing. Roosevelt remained unbeaten (6-0) heading into next Saturday's game against 5-1 Flowers.

• UM quarterback recruit Caleb Rowe threw one touchdown pass as his Blue Ridge squad suffered its first defeat of the season -- a 29-28 loss to Clinton (S.C.).

Caleb Rowe passed to Bryton Griffin for a 26-yard touchdown later in the opening quarter.

Basketball recruiting

• Dave Telep reported late last week that Mitch McGary's decision is up in the air.

Michigan, Duke, North Carolina and Florida would have to be considered viable options. You hear less regarding Maryland and Kentucky. Round and round we go, where McGary lands, no one knows. During the Recruiting Nation show Paul Biancardi nailed it. “The thing that is absolutely sure about Mitch McGary is that he’s unsure about where he wants to go.”

• ESPN HoopGurlz wrote about the impact of Malina Howard's commitment to Maryland.

The ACC school moved from No. 18 in the ESPN HoopGurlz recruiting class rankings up to No. 6. Howard, a 6-foot-3 post from Twinsburg, Ohio, gives Maryland a replacement for Lynetta Kizer to anchor the middle for the next four years. Howard, rated the No. 1 post in the class, is an accomplished high school player.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:14 AM | | Comments (0)
        

October 7, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The recruitment of Amile Jefferson does not appear -- at least publicly -- to be wrapping up any time soon.

The Daily Orange -- Syracuse's student newspaper -- profiled the Maryland power forward target this week, checking in with coaches and analysts about the five-star prospect's recruitment.

Jefferson, the No. 12 power forward in his class, is currently in the midst of making official visits to schools and meeting with coaches. He's already taken unofficial visits to North Carolina State, Villanova, Temple and Maryland, and he took an official visit to Ohio State last weekend, [Friends' Central head coach Jason] Polykoff said. The head coach said Jefferson also plans to visit Connecticut and is interested in Syracuse, among others.

Cedric Jones coaches Jefferson's AAU team, Team Philly, and said Jefferson met with Stanford on Tuesday. Polykoff said four more colleges were meeting with him at home or in school on Wednesday.

• The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote Friday about Terps targets Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and Kentucky's pursuit of the twins.

Andrew said the scholarship offer from UK was “an honor and flattering.” The twins made an unofficial visit to Lexington last fall after the Lucas camp. It also happened to be the time the UK fans were camping out waiting for tickets to Big Blue Madness, which left an impression on Andrew.

“That was crazy,” he said. “You could tell how much the fans love basketball there.”

• Terps point guard target Nate Britt, a 2013 prospect from Gonzaga (D.C.), picked up an offer this week from North Carolina.

The younger Britt has a slew of scholarship offers and is believed to be considering those from Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia, North Carolina Villanova, Arizona and UCLA. Duke also is recruiting Britt, but has yet to offer a scholarship.

• Former Maryland center target Robert Upshaw has reportedly narrowed his list of schools to Fresno State, Georgetown, Kansas State and Louisville.

Football recruiting

• Maryland linebacker commitment Stefan Houston had 19 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown, and caught four passes for 89 yards in powering Clarksburg to victory Thursday night.

The Maryland recruit shined on defense, returning an interception for a touchdown, and on offense, scoring twice more including the game-winner in the final minutes, but it was the outpouring of emotion that left Houston exhausted after he led Clarksburg to a stunning 26-21 victory over Gaithersburg in a meeting of Montgomery County playoff hopefuls on Thursday night.

• UM athlete recruit Joe Riddle helped Linganore to a 42-7 win over Tuscarora on Thursday night.

Following [Tyler] Thompson's sack, Riddle found the end zone from 9 yards out, stretching the football over the goal line as a pair of defenders tried to drag him to the turf. Riddle had 108 yards on 12 carries in the first half.

• Terps defensive back pledge Sean Davis carried the ball six times for 36 yards in Maret's 22-0 loss to the Potomac School on Thursday.

• Maryland defensive end target Noah Spence told ESPN.com that he's "not really decided at all" on his college choice.

During the summer, Spence named a top seven of Florida, Maryland, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State and USC. He now says that he has re-opened it to include just about everyone again and is wide open.

• ESPN.com's Dave Hooker caught up with Maryland wide receivers coach Lee Hull to talk about the Terps' recruiting efforts.

"There's a lot of talent here," Hull said. "Our goal recruiting is to keep the in-state players in state at Maryland. The players that we feel through our evaluation that can help us win an ACC title and a national championship, those are the kids that we want those guys to stay home and not go other places and play."

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Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

October 6, 2011

Sweet 16: C.J. Fair, Syracuse

cj-fair-syracuse.jpg Big things were expected out of C.J. Fair after his All-Metro sophomore season at City.

The 6-foot-8 small forward was a surefire high-major prospect after leading the Knights that season to the Class 2A North Region semifinals. But over the next two years, Fair tore his ACL and missed his entire junior season with the Knights, and then left town to play with former Lake Clifton star Will Barton at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. With his two-year absence from local high school competition, Fair felt like he may have faded from the Baltimore basketball scene’s collective consciousness

“Once I fell off the radar, and then I went to prep school, I was away from the city,” Fair said. “A lot of people forgot me back home. I haven’t played there since 10th grade. I don’t think many people had big expectations for me.”

Jim Boeheim, however, was resolute in his belief that the potential Fair showed as a sophomore – and during his year at Brewster – was anything but an aberration. While the knee injury led to Fair’s plummet down the national rankings – from a borderline five-star prospect to Rivals.com’s No. 94 prospect in the 2010 class – the Syracuse coach was confident that he had a future star in Fair.

“After he got hurt, some people might have lost some interest in him,” Boeheim said. “We thought he was a good player and knew he would come back. I saw him in the summer and then I saw him at Brewster when he was up there. You could see that he hadn’t gotten back all the way. With knees, it usually takes a full year, for some it takes a year and a half. But you could see that he was on his way back. … I think he’s going to surprise people some day. He’ll be one of the best players out of the Baltimore area some day.”

That praise comes from a man intimately familiar with two of Baltimore’s all-time greats: former Towson Catholic stars and current NBA players Carmelo Anthony and Donte Greene. Fair didn’t have the impact either of those Baltimore natives had in their freshmen seasons with the Orange, but Fair was “one of [Syracuse’s] steadiest guys.” With averages of 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 18.6 minutes per game, Fair offered a reminder to everyone back home why he was so highly regarded early in his high school career.

Fair said he was confident coming into his freshman year at Syracuse, but realistic in his assessment of the Big East landscape.

“Coming in, you always hear how tough it is and how hard you’re going to work to beat a team, no matter how low their record is or how high,” Fair said. “Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect. Coming into the Big East, it was like a different season. Every game you’ve got to turn it up that much higher. It’s really physical. Early on I had a hard time adjusting because the league is so physical. Sometimes the refs don’t call every bump or hit.”

Eventually, Fair settled into a sixth-man role for the Orange, and flourished in the latter half of the season. His best games came against conference opponents. Fair scored 16 points at Pittsburgh, 10 at Marquette (on 5-for-7 shooting), 12 against Georgetown (6-for-9 shooting), 11 points and 12 rebounds against Louisville and a season-high 17 points against Rutgers. In the Orange’s opening-round win over Indiana State in the NCAA tournament, Fair contributed 14 points and seven rebounds.

“He might have gotten lost in the shuffle a little bit after he got hurt,” Boeheim said, “but I think he’s a lot better than people thought coming out. He’s a really, really good player. He’ll be one of the top players in his class. I think that’s why we’ve been very fortunate. Baltimore has been a good area for us. This guy, he’s going to make his mark, for sure.”

While his college debut was impressive, Fair was far from satisfied. He spent most of the summer back in Baltimore, working out every day at the Merritt Athletic Club downtown. He added seven pounds of muscle to his previously lanky frame, and worked hard to extend the range on his jumper.

“I just want [Syracuse fans] to know that I really worked on my game a lot this summer, I improved a lot,” Fair said. “It will show on the court. I think they can expect to see a better, improved C.J. Fair. If I get better, and I know my teammates got better, it’ll be a good, promising year.”

Boeheim has been impressed so far with what he’s seen out of Fair this fall. It’s clear to the Syracuse coach that the sophomore small forward dedicated himself over the summer to getting stronger and becoming a better shooter. There’s no question, Boeheim said, that Fair has made “a big improvement” since the end of the 2010-11 season.

“He’ll have more of an impact,” this season, Boeheim said. “He’ll get more time. We’ll look to him a little bit more when he’s in there. It’s probably one of the most well-balanced teams we’ve had in a long time. I think he’s one of the key guys for us. But he’s on a tremendous path. I think he can be a dominant player before he leaves here.”


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

Brandon Young, DePaul
Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of C.J. Fair by Howard Smith / Feb. 21, 2011

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Categories: The Sweet 16
        

InsideMDSports: Terps working on Irish recruit

insidemdsports.jpg

Editor's note: Each week, InsideMdSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.


After making an early commitment to Notre Dame, Potomac cornerback Ronald Darby has continued to evaluate his options. The fastest prospect in the entire 2012 class, he’s been peppered with phone calls from reporters and recruits since early this past summer, so he’s understandably become somewhat reserved when talking about the recruiting process.

We did, however, catch up with Darby briefly Monday night to chat about where he stands. Darby visited Maryland for the season opener against Miami and said he plans to attend at least another Maryland game sometime this fall. Is he still committed to Notre Dame?

“Yeah,” he said, “as of right now.”

The prized defensive back, rated the No. 6 cornerback and No. 66 player in the Class of 2012, said a few schools continue to attempt to pry him from the Irish.

“I hear from Maryland, Florida and Auburn. I’m not sure right now though,” he said.

The 5-foot-11, 174-pound local is being recruited to Maryland by assistant coach Lee Hull.

“He’s just been telling me they’ve got a good program and that I should come there and represent my home state,” he said.

Darby said he’s unsure where he may visit during the remainder of the fall and doesn’t know when he’ll decide on his college future. It’s safe to say Maryland’s staff will continue to pursue him – not only is he a top-100 prospect, but one at a position of need for the Terps – but at least for now, he’s playing it close to the vest.

-- Story by Jeff Ermann

To gain access to all of InsideMDSports.com's premium Terps sports and recruiting content, click HERE.

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October 5, 2011

Malina Howard discusses her Terps pledge

Malina Howard can’t recall how many visits she has made to College Park over the past three years.

But what the 6-foot-5 center from Twinsburg (Ohio) High is able to quite clearly remember is how she felt during her latest trip to Maryland’s campus, which took place last weekend.

“I was very much undecided” between Maryland and Notre Dame, Howard said. “I had been confused for awhile, confused between the two. I was just waiting for that feeling, and Saturday afternoon, after we had a meeting, it finally hit me that I really felt like I belonged there. It feels great. I’m really excited to finally have figured out where I’m going.”

With her commitment Saturday, Howard became the centerpiece of another highly touted Maryland recruiting class. A five-star prospect and ESPN.com’s No. 7 player nationally, Howard joins 6-2 forward Tierney Pfirman (four stars, No. 22 player overall) and 5-6 point guard Chloe Pavlech (four stars) in Terps coach Brenda Frese’s 2012 class.

Pavlech played an important role in Howard announcing her decision. The two Ohio natives and Sport City U AAU teammates were sitting next to each other at an off-campus Italian restaurant with nearly the entire Maryland team.

“[Pavlech] stood up and said, ‘Malina has an announcement.’ [Then] I said I was committing,” said Howard, who noted that Pavlech never pressured her into picking the Terps. “All the players were there, all the coaches were there. They were screaming and happy. It was very emotional.”

Howard’s college decision was a long time coming. When Julie Solis got the Twinsburg coaching job before the 2009-10 season, Howard was already a nationally known commodity with several high-major offers. While the future Terp has had that level of fame since before her sophomore year, Solis said the attention never affected her work ethic or attitude.

“There’s a ton [of attention] surrounding Malina, in the state and nationally,” Solis said. “She’s just a regular, humble young lady. Because of that, it’s been my pleasure to coach her. She’s been nothing but fantastic through the years. She’s great academically, great athletically, and also just a great person. … Her teammates have tremendous respect for her. Her opponents have tremendous respect for her. She just loves the game and plays the game hard. She handles herself with [great] maturity off the floor.”

For Solis, Howard easily lived up to the hype over the past two seasons. As a junior, Howard averaged 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in leading the Tigers to the Ohio Division I state championship. For her efforts, she was named the Cleveland Plain-Dealer Player of the Year and the Ohio Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year. There’s not much Howard hasn’t accomplished at the high school level. For college coaches, Howard was the total package.

“For her size, she defends very well [and] defends along the perimeter,” Solis said. “She’s very versatile for her size. Offensively, she does very well with her back to the basket. She has improved her game from the outside. She’s a very good shooter from 3, and has the ability to get to the basket.”

Howard always thought Maryland offered a promising opportunity for her on the court. She could, conceivably, fill the role currently occupied by senior Lynetta Kizer, who Howard says she “really admires.” She also developed a great relationship with Frese. And academically, Maryland had everything the prospective kinesiology student wanted.

“I want to be a physical therapist, so I’m hoping to go to PT school,” said Howard, who has a 4.29 GPA and is ranked 11th in her class. “All the professors I talked to really love what they’re doing and really care about their students. … [The Maryland coaches] knew how important it was for me to be able to get my studies done. I wanted to be able to finish my major in three and a half years, so I can start my graduate studies early. I just like being challenged in school.”

Howard said the reaction to her Terps commitment has been extremely positive. She’s excited to get started on her Maryland career in 2012, when she’ll join a veteran team that could be a national contender.

“We’re hoping we can do some big things my freshman year and I can contribute a lot,” Howard said. “I’m determined to do whatever the coaches want me to do.”

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October 4, 2011

Sweet 16: Brandon Young, DePaul

brandon-young-depaul.jpg During his last summer on the circuit as Clemson's coach, Oliver Purnell became intrigued by an under-the-radar point guard from one of the country's top AAU programs.

“I saw Brandon [Young] an awful lot with Team Takeover that summer,” Purnell recalled. “I was always very impressed with him. He really had a tremendous upside.”

Purnell was far from the only major Division I coach in the summer of 2009 who became enamored with Young, a Randallstown native who eventually signed with DePaul over Central Florida, Marquette, Massachusetts, Miami and South Florida. While the Tigers never became involved in the Friendship Collegiate Academy standout’s recruitment, Purnell never forgot the 6-foot-4, 195-pound point guard.

Five months after Young signed his letter of intent, Purnell stunned the college basketball world by leaving Clemson to take the Blue Demons’ head coaching job. Priority No. 1 for Purnell was convincing Young to stay on board.

“It was clear that [Young and his mother] liked DePaul and they liked Chicago,” Purnell said. “It was really up to me to reassure them about the plan for him and how important he was for us in the new regime. We just set about doing that, sat down with his mother. We had an outstanding rapport right from the start.”

Young never wavered on his DePaul commitment, becoming Purnell’s point guard of the future – and present. While the Blue Demons labored through a 7-24 season in Purnell’s first year on the job, Young emerged as a notable bright spot, cementing his status as one of the Big East’s rising young stars.

“I was a freshman playing in the Big East, the toughest conference in the country,” Young said. “I struggled at first, got frustrated. Then I started getting the hang of it. … It was all coming along. But it’s good now.”

The 2010-11 season was a trial by fire for Young, who started all 31 games for the Blue Demons and logged 30.4 minutes per game. Young, who played two seasons at Randallstown High and two at Friendship Collegiate in D.C., finished the year averaging 12.6 points – second on the Blue Demons behind fellow Baltimore freshman Cleveland Melvin – and a team-best 3.7 assists.

For Young -- who was considered by some analysts to be more of a mid-major prospect before the summer of 2009 -- excelling against Big East competition was an initially surprising realization.

“I’m thinking to myself, I can play in the Big East with these players,” Young said. “I always knew that I could play with certain people as long as I worked hard enough. Hard work is going to pay off.”

A seven-win season for DePaul certainly was lacking in team success, but Young had numerous individual highlights. He made SportsCenter’s Top 10 twice in one night – a February loss at St. John’s.

“I had the buzzer-beater shot from almost three-quarters court,” Young said. “Then I made this crafty layup on this big man. Both of the highlights against St. John’s were on SportsCenter. Everybody was blowing [my phone] up, people saying I made the Top 10 and stuff like that. I never pictured myself or even saw myself making those kind of plays, let alone being on a big sports channel.”

For his efforts, Young was selected to the Big East All-Rookie team. Purnell said Young’s freshman-year success wasn’t necessarily something he “would have drawn up,” but he was extremely pleased with his young point guard’s progress.

“You have a sense that this guy has got a chance to be really good, and more importantly, a guy who can become a cornerstone,” Purnell said. “You can’t pay for that kind of experience. As we watched him during the year, he made some mistakes, yeah, but there are also some bright spots and you realize this guy has a chance to be a special player.”

Young spent most of his summer in Chicago, save for a couple trips home to Baltimore and an exhibition tour with DePaul in France. He continued bonding with Melvin and Blue Demons freshman Montray Clemons – a Baltimore native and Poly grad. “We’re always around each other,” Young said. “Me, Montray and Cleve, we’re always laughing, joking. It’s just a family thing.”

Purnell, meanwhile, is looking for more consistency out of Young in his sophomore year. The DePaul coach saw plenty of growth in the point guard’s game in France. It was evident that Young had dedicated his summer to getting stronger and working on his jumper. For Young, an offseason in the gym was completed with one thought in mind.

“I’m trying to win games. That’s what I’m trying to do,” Young said. “We’re trying to win games. Whatever I have to do to make the team win games, that’s what I’m going to do.”


The Sweet 16 is an occasional series profiling the 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area. Players were selected based on prior accomplishments and projections for the upcoming season.

Previous Sweet 16 selections:

Sean Mosley, Maryland
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Devin Brown, Holy Cross
Eric Atkins, Notre Dame
Brendan Bald, Vermont
Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte
Dylon Cormier, Loyola

U.S. Presswire photo of Brandon Young by Richard Mackson / March 5, 2011

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Categories: The Sweet 16
        

October 3, 2011

The Next Level: Countess steps up for Michigan

The Next Level is a weekly Recruiting Report feature that focuses on natives of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County who appear on NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision rosters. Chris Eckard, a senior at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Sun sports department intern, is your author.

Just a week after impressively filling in for injured starter Troy Woolfolk, Michigan true freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Owings Mills native, Good Counsel grad) continued to earn coach Brady Hoke’s trust with another solid outing against Minnesota.

Countess forced a fumbled and tied a team-high with four tackles in the 58-0 win, helping Michigan to a 5-0 start in Hoke’s first season. Last week, the 5-foot-10, 176-pound cornerback tied the team-high with seven tackles against San Diego State.

“As a true freshman you can get guys who get wide eyes when they come on the field,” Michigan senior defensive lineman Ryan Van Bergen said after the team’s win against San Diego State. “He was much focused. He has a swagger about him and he’s very confident in his abilities.”

The freshman has 10 solo tackles and three pass breakups this season.

For his efforts against Minnesota, and an extra boost from last week, Countess is this week’s Next Level Player of the Week. Wolverines freshman safety Josh Furman (Old Mill) had a solo tackle (three total) in the win.

blake-countess-michigan.jpg

Honorable mention

• Army junior slotback Kelechi Odocha (Atholton) scored the game’s final touchdown on a 14-yard carry in the fourth quarter of Army’s 45-6 blowout win of Tulane. The score marked Odocha’s first touchdown in his three-year collegiate career.

• Colorado State sophomore linebacker Shaq Barrett (Baltimore native who attended high school in Nebraska) continued his impressive season with a sack, forced fumble and nine total tackles in a loss to San Jose State, 38-31.

• West Virginia junior safety Terrence Garvin (Loyola) had a sack, an interception and six total tackles in the Mountaineers’ 55-10 win against Bowling Green. West Virginia junior wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) had 97 all-purpose yards (67 receiving).

Other contributions

• Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) forced a fumble and had a solo tackle in the Red Wolves’ 26-22 win against WKU.

• Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) had a solo tackle (six total) and a pass breakup in the Huskies’ 38-31 loss to Western Michigan.

• Maryland sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) had a team-high two sacks and recorded three solo tackles (four total) in the Terps’ 28-3 win against Towson. Other Terps performers: junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) broke up a pass and recorded three solo tackles (six total); junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Severn native, Gonzaga grad) recovered a fumble; defensive tackle Cody Blue (Wilde Lake) had a solo tackle (three total); freshman wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro (Milford Mill) earned time on special teams and recorded two tackles; junior defensive lineman Alvin Thomas (Long Reach) recorded a tackle.

• Ole Miss senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey (Southwestern) had a solo tackle (three total) in the Rebels’ 38-28 win against Fresno State.

• New Mexico freshman safety Zach Dancel (Ellicott City native, Good Counsel grad) had a solo tackle in the Lobos’ 42-28 loss to New Mexico State.

• North Carolina senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) had four tackles, including one for a loss, in the Tar Heels’ 35-20 win against East Carolina. East Carolina sophomore defensive end Derrell Johnson (Cardinal Gibbons) had two tackles (five total) in the loss.

• Penn State freshman safety Adrian Amos (Calvert Hall) had a solo tackle (two total) in the Nittany Lions’ 16-10 win against Indiana.

• Pittsburgh sophomore linebacker Carl Fleming (Franklin) had a solo tackle in the Panthers’ 44-17 romp of South Florida on Thursday night.

• Temple senior quarterback Chester Stewart (Hanover native, DeMatha grad) couldn’t replicate his performance from last week against Maryland, finishing with 173 passing yards and a touchdown in the Owls’ 36-13 loss to Toledo. Stewart went 10-for-20 with two interceptions. Temple running back Matt Brown (Baltimore native, Peddie School grad) had 114 all-purpose yards (106 KR, 10 rushing, 2 PR), while Temple senior lineman Pat Boyle (Calvert Hall) had a solo tackle.

• Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) led the Orange with 54 yards receiving on four receptions as they fell 19-16 in double overtime to Rutgers.

• UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) threw for 196 yards on 19-for-39 passing and scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter in a 24-23 loss to Troy.

• Utah State senior wide receiver Xavier Martin (Joppatowne) had a 13-yard reception in the Aggies’ 27-24 loss to BYU.

• Virginia freshman wide receiver Darius Jennings (Gilman) returned four kickoffs for a total of 101 yards, including one for 32 yards, in the Cavaliers’ 21-20 victory against Idaho. Jennings also had two carries for a net of 1 yard.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joesph) had a solo tackle (two total) and a 9-yard punt return in the Hokies’ 23-3 home loss to undefeated Clemson.

• Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) had four receptions for 31 yards and a 36-yard completion in the Demon Deacons’ 27-19 win against Boston College. Wake Forest junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) had three tackles in the win.

US Presswire photo by Rick Osentoski / Blake Countess forces Minnesota wide receiver Brandon Green to fumble / Oct. 1, 2011

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Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Football recap; McGary note

Maryland linebacker commitment Avery Thompson played a critical role in Grassfield High's 21-0 win over Hickory (Va.).

Grassfield's Avery Thompson picked off two passes and returned one 30 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

• A big day from Maryland linebacker recruit Stefan Houston was not enough for Clarksburg in its 30-12 loss to Northwest.

The Coyotes looked as though they would run away and hide in the first quarter, thanks to the duo of Darrell Howard and Stefan Houston. Howard put his team on top with a 75-yard punt return, and Houston made a sliding touchdown grab of junior quarterback Michael Sheehan 31-yard delivery.

• Maryland quarterback pledge Caleb Rowe guided Blue Ridge to a big win over Chapman (S.C.).

Quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns. The Maryland commitment added another 36 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to lead Blue Ridge to a 62-17 win.

• Terps linebacker commitment Shawn Petty returned from a foot injury that sidelined him last week to lead Eleanor Roosevelt to a 26-6 win over Parkdale.

The University of Maryland recruit threw for 193 yards and tossed touchdown passes to Tamlin Antoine and Tyrone Temoney. Petty also ran for 40 yards and a touchdown, and Jermaine Boykins added a rushing touchdown for the Raiders, who improved to 5-0.

• Maryland defensive back pledge Sean Davis helped Maret to a 38-20 win over Theodore Roosevelt (D.C.). Davis carried the ball eight times for 119 yards and a touchdown. He also caught eight passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

• UM athlete recruit Joe Riddle powered Linganore to a 49-0 win over Frederick.

Joe Riddle, Frederick County's leading rusher entering the game, amassed 87 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. The senior chipped in a 30-yard touchdown catch as well to pace the Lancers (4-1) in first half.

• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Mike White wrote Saturday that if he had to pick a player of the half year, Terps commitment Anthony Nixon would merit serious consideration.

Nixon impacts a game on both sides of the ball - as a receiver and defensive back. He is most certainly one of the best receivers in the WPIAL. Heading into this week's games, Nixon was the WPIAL's third-leading receiver with 23 catches.

Basketball recruiting

• Terps target and Brewster (N.H.) Academy power forward Mitch McGary revealed in his latest blog for ESPN.com that he is unlikely to make any more visits. The five-star prospect, who has made official trips to Duke, Michigan and North Carolina, wrote about all six schools on his list.

With Maryland, I love that they fed the post a lot last year with Jordan Williams. They also get out in transition. Same with Florida, they play a really fast tempo.

ESPN.com's Dave Telep tweeted his take on McGary's recruitment this morning.

If I were to set the odds, I'd install Michigan as the favorite w/McGary at this juncture. College recruiters concerned about UM the most.

• Former Maryland target Arnaud Moto committed Saturday to Wake Forest.

Adala Moto in July narrowed his choices to Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida, UCLA and Vanderbilt. He had taken official visits to Wake Forest, Miami and Vanderbilt, but will cancel trips planned to Virginia Tech and Florida the next two weeks.

• The Maryland women's basketball program landed a commitment over the weekend from Malina Howard, a 6-foot-5 post player and five-star prospect.

"I made an official visit to Notre Dame the weekend of Sept. 16th and visited Maryland this weekend,'' said Howard. "I narrowed it down to those two schools at the end of July because they spent a lot of time recruiting me.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:45 AM | | Comments (9)
        
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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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