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November 18, 2011

Moving day for Recruiting Report

After four-plus years and 1,484 posts, Recruiting Report is on the move.

We're switching blog formats here at The Sun, which means this blog will have a new URL. Starting Monday, you can find Recruiting Report at this URL: baltimoresun.com/sports/recruiting-blog.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions on the move.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:03 PM | | Comments (0)
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

While his future teammates prepared for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Shaquille Cleare was making things official with Maryland.

Video surfaced this week of Cleare, a four-star center, signing his letter of intent with the Terps last week at the Village School in Houston. Check it out below.

• PressBox contributor Dave Lomonico wrote a lengthy piece this week on Maryland's coaching staff, with vignettes on Scott Spinelli, Bino Ranson and Dalonte Hill.

"I try to attack them when they're young," Hill said. "You have to get the Terrapin name out there early. … I think Maryland got away from that a bit recently. Hopefully we can get them going on the right path again."

In many ways, Hill is more counselor than car salesman. During one phone conversation, he might give a prospect advice on a family problem. The next, he'll talk about studying for a tough history test. Sometimes he'll give instruction on footwork and shot selection. The point is, Hill never touches on the same subject twice, always trying to offer something different, always keeping the topics interesting.

• Former Maryland center target Robert Upshaw signed this week with Kansas State.

"I was shown some nice and glamorous things," he said. "But, at Kansas State, I saw everything -- classrooms and living situations. I liked how we spent a lot of times on academics and teaching me how I'll get through my day as a regular student. They gave me a good visual."

• GQ wrote a long feature this week on Patterson point guard Aquille Carr. The article even quoted yours truly. Check it out here.

Football recruiting

• The Orlando Sentinel reported this week that Dvario Montgomery, a wide receiver from Winter Park (Fla.) High, eliminated Central Florida from his list and is down to just Maryland and South Florida. The four-star prospect and Rivals.com's No. 167 player in the country visited College Park two weeks ago.

“It was real good,” Montgomery said. “I liked the atmosphere, the only thing about it, it was cold. I could adapt to that fine. Other than that, everything was nice. I loved the coaches. Coach (Randy) Edsall, all of them … they were showing me so much love. They showed me basically everything that happens. The players, everyone was true, there was no messing around … I respected it.”

• Two Maryland commitments will lead Pittsburgh Central Catholic against Upper St. Clair on Friday night in a Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Class AAAA semifinal.

Central Catholic has two players headed to Maryland -- receiver-defensive back Anthony Nixon and quarterback Perry Hills. Nixon was recruited to play defensive back.

• The Washington Post's latest Recruiting Insider video includes discussion on Terps targets and Good Counsel seniors Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown. Check out the video here.

Programming note: The address for Recruiting Report will change next week. Starting Monday, the blog will live here. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about the move.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

November 17, 2011

Sweet 16: Here comes the champ

The inaugural Sweet 16 championship match pitted one DePaul sophomore from Baltimore against another DePaul sophomore from Baltimore.

Forward Cleveland Melvin, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, and guard Brandon Young, a Big East All-Rookie Team selection, battled in the fan voting for the title of Baltimore's best college basketball player.

After one week of voting, a winner has emerged. Melvin, a former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro player out of Lake Clifton, is your champion. Melvin finished with 85 votes, while Young checked in with 66.

On the season, the Blue Demons are 3-0. Melvin is the team's second-leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, and the top rebounder with seven per game. Young is DePaul's third-leading scorer at 15.5 points per game and the top assist man with four per game.

Congrats go out to Melvin, Young and the rest of the Sweet 16 selections.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Towson's hoops class earns rave reviews

The first time Timajh Parker-Rivera heard of Towson was the day that Luke Murray was hired as a Tigers assistant and promptly offered the 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward a scholarship.

Up to that point, Parker-Rivera, a three-star prospect according to Scout.com, was hearing mostly from Charlotte, Seton Hall, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s and Temple. Parker-Rivera was certainly happy to add a scholarship offer to his already lengthy list, but ESPN.com’s No. 2 prospect in Connecticut didn’t give much thought to Towson. Enter first-year Tigers coach Pat Skerry, who changed that line of thinking in a hurry.

“Coach Skerry was recruiting me at Pitt and Providence before he came down,” to Towson, Parker-Rivera said. “But then I had to talk to the other schools recruiting me. Coach Skerry, he was consistent, really consistent. We had good conversations. He just kept fighting for me no matter where I was leaning. I was leaning toward Temple, but he kept fighting and got me down on campus. I liked it there and I chose Towson.”

Parker-Rivera’s story is a familiar one for Towson in compiling its 2012 class. Step one was identifying well-regarded East Coast prospects and offering those players scholarships. After getting past the inevitable “What’s Towson?” moment, Skerry, Murray, Kevin Clark and Kenny Johnson put on the metaphorical full-court press. What resulted in the Tigers staff’s efforts was one of the most surprisingly impressive classes of the fall signing period. Towson’s four-man group was rated by CBSSports.com as the No. 6 Non-BCS Conference recruiting class in the country. The Tigers finished behind just Memphis, Houston, Xavier, UNLV and UTEP. The writers at CBSSports.com were far from the only analysts impressed with Towson's class.

“Let’s just be honest: Towson hasn’t done a whole lot the last few years,” said Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s national recruiting analyst. “Obviously, kids are attracted to the program for a reason. I think it’s probably Towson’s commitment to taking the program to a different level in the CAA. The commitment to building and upgrading has paid off with this staff. The other thing is what the staff has done in leveraging their relationships into commitments. Those are two reasons why I think they’ve been successful with this group.”

In addition to Parker-Rivera, Towson signed Barrington Alston, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Wilmington, Del., Jerome Hairston, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound combo guard from Roanoke, Va., and Frank Mason, a 6-foot, 170-pound point guard from Petersburg, Va. Alston, a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com and Scout.com, picked the Tigers over Delaware, George Mason and VCU. Mason, a three-star prospect according to Scout.com, chose Towson over George Mason, Jacksonville, Kent State and Tennessee State. And Hairston, the No. 114 prospect in the country according to Rivals.com, considered Liberty and Richmond before committing to TU.

Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com ranks Towson’s class just outside the Top 40 nationally in his near misses and potential breakthroughs category. The veteran basketball analyst is high on all four future Tigers – particularly Hairston.

“They’ve got Jerome Hairston, who I think is one of the most underrated players in the country,” Coleman said. “I rate him in the Top 150, and he could easily be ranked in the Top 100. When that jump shot falls, he’s a Top 100 player. … Alston and Mason are both solid guys who I think will compete and be really solid players down the road. The reason why I’ve got [Towson] on the cusp of being in the Top 40 is Hairston and Parker-Rivera.”

Coleman said it was “somewhat surprising” that the Tigers were able to land Hairston, who reportedly had Big East interest in addition to being courted by “most of the CAA.” Towson landing the three-star prospect was “a great selling job” by Skerry and his staff, Coleman said.

Said Telep: “I think the backcourt is secure now. In the CAA, like any other mid-level league, you have to have guards. Mason and Hairston, they’re going to take their lumps just because of how good the league is. But you’re looking at a four-year backcourt, a 1-2 punch of pretty good players. … [And] Parker-Rivera, he’s just going to be the guy everyone falls in love with. He’s just a blue-collar, unheralded junkyard dog.”

Everyone who follows the program knows – as Telep says – that Towson is “not an overnight fix.” The Tigers finished just 4-26 last season, and their best record under former coach Pat Kennedy came during the 2006-07 campaign when TU went 15-17. But with a sparkling new arena on the way and an excellent first recruiting class for Skerry – combined with the 2011 recruits he added last spring – the Tigers hope that their future is bright. Parker-Rivera is definitely a believer.

“[Towson’s past struggles] didn’t bother me as much because I believe the team we have coming together, with me and a couple other kids,” will be very good, Parker-Rivera said. “I’m a winner. I want to win. I’m going to push my team and we’re going to make this thing happen. All schools have to start somewhere. North Carolina had to start somewhere. Duke had to start somewhere. Now Towson has to start somewhere. I’m guessing that can start with me.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:00 AM | | Comments (2)
        

November 16, 2011

InsideMDSports: Britt moving toward decision?

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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.


When his phone began to blow up with text messages a few days ago, Nate Britt Sr. didn’t know what was going on. He quickly learned the barrage was set off by a Tweet by his son, Gonzaga junior point guard Nate Britt Jr., who’d stated that he may be ready to make a college decision earlier than previously expected.

“I had no idea about it,” Britt Sr. said. “But he’s seen pretty much everybody and I think he put that out there because he’s probably ready to make a decision sooner rather than later.”

Still, there’s no specific timetable for a commitment. It could come this month, or it could be sometime in the spring. Britt, a left-handed floor general ranked the No. 12 prospect in the Class of 2013, visited Maryland this weekend to watch the Terps in their season-opener against UNC-Wilmington.

“Everything went well. He enjoyed the game. We had a good time. We didn’t get to talk to coach [Mark] Turgeon, but I called Dalonte [Hill] this morning because I know they’re getting ready to take this road trip,” Britt Sr. said.

The Britts have been thorough in their research of the schools recruiting Nate, including some study of Turgeon’s past work at Texas A&M. This was their first chance, however, to watch Maryland’s first-year coach in live game action.

“The guys were out there battling. That’s all you can ask. I like the way he gets guys in and out. He keeps fresh bodies in the game and that helps them keep fresh legs,” he said. “I saw one of his games at Texas A&M. We had an idea, pretty much, of his style. But I think more than anything else, every coach has his style of play. A good coach is going to alter his style of play a little bit to fit the players he has. I see him doing that.

“With Pe’Shon [Howard] going down, they lost some floor general-ship. I definitely see a need for some senior leadership because I think [Terrell Stoglin] is a different style of point guard than Turgeon is used to over the years because he was a point guard himself.”

With Gonzaga’s season close to starting, Britt is unlikely to take any more trips in the near future, his father said. He said Maryland, Arizona and North Carolina have all been recruiting his son equally hard, while Villanova has been making a push of late. Maryland remains a strong option, but Britt Sr. said there’s no favorite.

“No question. It’s 15, 20 minutes from home. It’s a young team and it’s right at home. I can’t say that they’re the favorite. I spent some time in North Carolina when I was a kid, so I’ve also always followed North Carolina, but I'm also a hometown guy. There’s no favorite from my viewpoint,” he said.

“I’ve told him, when you’re ready, that’s when you come to me. There’s nothing else I can provide for him at this point besides supporting his decision. This is all about him and the work he’s put in.”

-- 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 11:36 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

November 15, 2011

Overview of Baltimore's 2012 hoops class

Twenty-one Baltimore-area basketball players were freshmen at Division I programs during the 2010-11 season. This fall, 20 local players from the 2011 class have joined those DI hoops ranks. Will the 2012 class come close to approaching those numbers? I'll take a closer look at the area's best seniors below this chart of Baltimore's DI freshmen.

CollegePlayerPositionHigh SchoolHometownPrep School
BrownJon Schmidt forwardFriendsBaltimore
Central Connecticut StateMalcolm McMillan guardJohn CarrollBel Air
DePaulMontray Clemons forwardPolyBaltimoreMack Academy (N.C.)
DrexelDamion Lee guardCalvert HallBaltimoreSt. Thomas More (Conn.)
Florida Gulf CoastDante Holmes guardSt. FrancesBaltimoreOldsmar Christian (Fla.)
GeorgetownGreg WhittingtonforwardOakland MillsColumbia
High PointTre Duncan guardSevernMillersvillePrinceton Day Academy
High PointDevante Wallace guardDunbarBaltimore
IPFWIsaiah McCray guardMilford MillBaltimore
LoyolaR.J. Williams guardSt. FrancesBaltimore
MarylandNick Faust guardCityBaltimore
Mississippi Valley StateBrent Arrington guardLansdowneBaltimoreSouthern Sports Academy (Miss.)
MontanaKeron DeShields guardPallottiBaltimoreVermont Academy
Morgan StateJames HamiltonguardMilford MillBaltimore
NavyWes Clark guardGovernor's Academy (Mass.)Annapolis
NavyDonya Jackson guardCalvert HallBaltimoreMercersburg Academy (Pa.)
PittsburghDurand JohnsonforwardLake CliftonBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
PresbyterianRyan McTavishguardSouth CarrollMount Airy
RutgersGreg Lewis forwardSt. FrancesRandallstown
UtahKareem Storey guardTowson CatholicBaltimorePrinceton Day Academy

Six local players were expected to sign letters of intent during the fall signing period. Loyola is the biggest beneficiary of Baltimore-area talent this year. The Greyhounds have commitments from St. Frances center Josh Forney and former Milford Mill small forward Tevin Hanner, who's currently doing a post-grad year at the Phelps School in Pennsylvania. A second Panthers signee -- and arguably Baltimore's most highly ranked senior -- is point guard Daquan Cook, who has signed with UNLV.

Milford Mill's Isaiah Miles, who had three standout years for Glenelg Country School, has committed to St. Joseph's, while North County's Cliff Cornish will play for High Point, and Mount St. Joseph forward Phillip Lawrence is headed to Marist. Cornish and Hanner played for Crusader Nation on the circuit, Forney and Cook suited up for Under Armour's B'more Finest, Miles competed for Nike Baltimore Elite, and Lawrence was a member of Philly's Finest.

While the college plans for those six players are set in stone, there is still plenty of unsigned talent from Baltimore that should be on the market heading into the spring.

The headliner among Baltimore's guards is Sam Cassell Jr., a former St. Frances player who has spent the past two years at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. Cassell, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound point guard, is a lights-out shooter who took an official visit to Maryland last month. The Nike Baltimore Elite prospect will likely end up at a high-major or mid-major-plus program.

Other guards to watch include:

Donte Pretlow, a Dunbar and Nike Baltimore Elite player who has received serious interest from Morgan State, among others.

Evan Singletary, another Dunbar guard who played for Under Armour B'more's Finest this summer. Singletary has received interest from Radford and several other mid-to-low-major schools.

• Annapolis Area Christian's Connor Lipinski and Archbishop Spalding's Greg Brown, both of whom starred for Maryland 3D over the summer. Lipinski had received interest from the Citadel, Mount St. Mary’s and Navy, while Brown was hearing from Boston University, Old Dominion and Radford.

• Crusader Nation players Gavin Stephenson and Chase Cormier. Stephenson, an Atholton senior who transferred from Mount St. Joseph, is a 6-3 guard with a strong academic profile and interest from NJIT, American and Stony Brook. Cormier, the younger brother of Loyola sophomore Dylon Cormier, has generated lots of Division II interest and some low-DI inquiries. His Milford Mill teammate Tyson Smith, who played for B'more's Finest, is another potential DI guard.

• Two St. Frances guards and B'more Finest players in Miles Code and Tyrus Costley. Code, 6-2, and Costley, 6-3, should play significant supporting roles for the Panthers this season.

• Three Lake Clifton products in Lionel Greene, Aaron Parks and James Boone. Prep school could be a possibility for all three Cecil Kirk players. Greene is a combo guard who transferred from City. Parks and Boone are point guards.

Bryan Harris, a former Southern High combo guard who's currently doing a prep year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va. Harris averaged 18 points as a senior and generated some DI interest coming out of high school.

Several senior forwards from the Baltimore area are also on the DI rader, including:

Kayel Locke, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound power forward from McDonogh who claimed offers from Appalachian State, Boston University, Delaware, Hartford, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Stony Brook, Towson, UMBC and UNC-Greensboro. An MIAA A Conference first-team selection as a junior, Locke had a great spring and summer for Nike Baltimore Elite on the circuit. The main schools still involved with him are Appalachian State and UNC-Greensboro, while Harvard has also expressed interest in him recently.

Jarred Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward from John Carroll who should be a solid mid-major-plus prospect. Jones, another Nike Baltimore Elite player, is being recruited by a variety of CAA, Atlantic 10 and MAAC schools.

Cedric Blossom, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound forward from Montrose Christian. Blossom, a Howard County native who started his high school career at Hammond, was Crusader Nation's leading scorer this summer. An excellent student, Blossom is hearing from Dartmouth and Holy Cross.

Cody Joyce, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound power forward who's doing a post-grad year at Massanutten Academy. The Southern High grad committed to Marist last June only to have his offer rescinded just two days later. Joyce has interest from a few Ohio Valley and Ivy League schools.

Shakir Brown, a 6-foot-5 small forward and two-star prospect according to ESPN.com. Brown, who transferred from St. Frances to Patterson for his senior year, is the No. 52 small forward in the country according to ESPN.

Antonio Manns, a 6-foot-5 forward who helped Digital Harbor to the Class 2A state championship as a junior, has received some mid-major interest.

• Two Cecil Kirk players in Kyle Thomas, a 6-foot-5 small forward from Milford Mill, and Chaz Brown, a 6-foot-7 power forward from Poly, could be DI guys.

Former Forest Park star Quentin Judd is absolutely a Division I talent, but the 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard is likely bound for junior college next year. Foresters coach Greate White said Judd left prep school in North Carolina to come back to Baltimore and tend to family issues.

Several sophomore JUCO players from Baltimore will likely be DI-bound come spring. Antoine Allen, a former Lake Clifton star who spent his freshman year at Miami, will finish his college career at South Alabama after spending this season at Palm Beach (Fla.) State College. Former Edmondson power forward Stanton Kidd has signed with North Carolina Central. Derrell Edwards, Kidd's teammate at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, should join the DI ranks as well.

Devon Branch, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard from Aberdeen, is a prolific scorer for Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kan. Branch claims several mid-major offers.

Others to watch include: Davon Usher, a 6-foot-5 wing at Polk State College (Fla.) who played for Digital Harbor; Antoine Myers, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard at Pensacola (Fla.) State College who played for Forest Park; Jaquan Jones, a 6-foot guard at Dayton (Fla.) State College who played at Lake Clifton; Karee Watson, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound center at Wallace State in Hanceville, Ala., who played at Lake Clifton; Carlos Smith, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward at Baltimore City Community College who played for Forest Park; Donte Stuckey, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard at BCCC who played for Walbrook.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:13 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

November 14, 2011

The Next Level: Perry powers UAB comeback

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.

Trailing 35-17 in Saturday’s game against Memphis, UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) engineered the largest fourth-quarter comeback in program history.

Perry led three fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 69 or more yards to cap the improbable comeback, as the Blazers scored 24 unanswered points. The sophomore tossed a career-high 410 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, and added 47 on the ground.

With the 41-35 win, the Blazers claimed the “Battle for the Bones” trophy for the third straight year.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the play of Perry, whose 457 total yards ranks third in UAB history for a single game. He completed 28 of his 48 passes, without an interception.

This season, Perry has thrown for 1,616 yards and seven touchdowns (seven interceptions) and rushed for 238 yards and a score. For his role in the Blazers’ record-breaking comeback, Perry is your Next Level Player of the Week. He earns the honor for the second time this season.

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Honorable mention

• Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) had another huge game, catching 10 passes for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Orange’s 37-17 loss to South Florida. Lemon had a 10-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter and a 58-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.

• Temple junior running back Matt Brown (Baltimore native, Peddie School grad) rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown in the Owls’ 24-21 win against Miami (Ohio). Brown also returned four kickoffs for a total of 53 yards.

• Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown and had 72 receiving yards in the Demon Deacons’ 31-28 loss to No. 9 Clemson. Wake Forest junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) forced and recovered a fumble and had four solo tackles (six total) in the loss.

• West Virginia junior wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) hauled in nine catches for 126 receiving yards and added a 67-yard kickoff return and a 50-yard punt return in the Mountaineers’ 24-21 win against No. 18 Cincinnati.

Other contributions

• Boston College freshman quarterback Josh Bordner (Century) scored his first career touchdown, a 3-yard run in the first quarter of the Eagles’ 14-10 win against North Carolina State. Bordner had 21 rushing yards on six carries.

• Central Michigan sophomore safety Leron Eaddy (River Hill) had an interception and a solo tackle (three total) in the Chippewas' 43-28 loss to Ohio.

• Colorado State sophomore linebacker Shaq Barrett (Baltimore native) had four solo tackles (14 total) and a pass breakup in the Rams’ 18-15 loss to San Diego State.

• Maryland junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) had four solo tackles (12 total) in the Terps’ 45-21 loss to Notre Dame at FedEx Field. Terps junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Severn native, Gonzaga grad) had a solo tackle (four total, one for a loss).

• Michigan true freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Owings Mill native, Good Counsel grad) had a tackle in the Wolverines’ 31-14 win against Illinois.

• Pittsburgh sophomore linebacker Carl Fleming (Franklin) had an interception and two solo tackles (three total) in the Panthers’ 21-14 win against Louisville.

• Rutgers sophomore linebacker Nick DePaola (Hereford) had a solo tackle in the Scarlet Knights’ 27-12 win against Army.

• Virginia freshman wide receiver Darius Jennings (Gilman) returned two kickoffs for a total of 24 yards in the Cavaliers’ 31-21 win against Duke. Cavaliers’ senior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins (Westminster native, Good Counsel grad) had two solo tackles (four total) in the win.

• Virginia Tech sophomore cornerback Kyle Fuller (Mount St. Joseph) had two solo tackles (four total) in the No. 10 Hokies’ 37-26 win against No. 21 Georgia Tech.

• UTEP sophomore defensive lineman Horace Miller (Dunbar) had a tackle (0.5 for a loss) and a quarterback hurry in a 22-17 win against East Carolina.

U.S. Presswire photo of Jonathan Perry by Marvin Gentry / Nov. 12, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Petty's season ends

What proved to be the last game of Shawn Petty's high school career was a forgettable one.

The Terps linebacker commitment and Eleanor Roosevelt quarterback rushed for 73 yards on 14 carries, but went just 3-for-11 for 28 yards and two interceptions in the Raiders' 13-8 loss to C.H. Flowers in a Class 4A South Region semifinal.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Petty, who has verbally committed to play college football at the University of Maryland. “We’ve been working hard for this season trying to get the state championship. We came out here and didn’t play too well. Flowers is a great team. They got the win.”

• Maryland-bound quarterback Perry Hills threw a 23-yard touchdown pass in leading Pittsburgh Central Catholic to a 31-14 win over Mt. Lebanon in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Class AAAA quarterfinals.

• The high school career of Malcolm Culmer ended Friday with Willingboro's 56-8 loss to Haddonfield in a South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinal.

On offense, Willingboro (4-5) could only produce 64 first-half yards, 32 of which came on Malcolm Culmer's touchdown pass to fellow senior Isaac Williams late in the second quarter. Culmer, who is committed to Maryland to play receiver, split snaps at quarterback with junior running back Tyrik Clouden.

• UM wide receiver commitment Amba Etta-Tawo helped McEachern to a 56-12 win over Benedictine in the first round of the Georgia Class AAAAA playoffs.

After a Cadet punt attempt was foiled by a high snap, McEachern set up its next scoring drive at the Benedictine 41. It only took four plays as [Trent] Thompson hit Amba Etta-Tawo on a 26-yard pass play. Kell Parham finished the drive with a 7-yard score to make it 14-0.

Basketball recruiting

• NBE Basketball Report ranked Terps center pledge Shaquille Cleare the No. 7 impact recruit in the ACC.

Cleare should fill a huge void in the middle for Maryland and become the top low post scoring option very quickly.

• Maryland-bound small forward Jake Layman was at Comcast Center on Sunday night to see the Terps' 71-62 win over UNC-Wilmington. Combo guard signee Seth Allen was planning to be there. Gonzaga (D.C.) junior and Terps point guard target Nate Britt was also in attendance.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:01 AM | | Comments (0)
        

November 11, 2011

Weekly recruiting roundup

The first recruiting class of the Mark Turgeon era at Maryland was unveiled to high acclaim Wednesday.

Most recruiting analysts were impressed by the Terps' three-man group of center Shaquille Cleare, small forward Jake Layman and combo guard Seth Allen.

Scout.com gave the Terps a No. 12 ranking for their 2012 class. Right behind was CBSSports.com, which handed out the No. 13 ranking. Next came MaxPreps.com, which put Maryland at No. 14 nationally, followed by ESPN.com's No. 17 ranking. Maryland didn't crack Rivals.com's Top 25.

"We're very pleased with our class for 2012 so far," Turgeon said in a news release. "We've added three quality players with great character who will fit in with our Maryland Basketball family."

The first-year coach said he expects to add others to Maryland's 2012 class.

• The Boston Herald was on hand for Layman's signing ceremony. Check out the video below.

• One 2012 prospect who probably won't be part of Maryland's class is Torian Graham. The Terps are "no longer pursuing" the four-star shooting guard, according to InsideMDSports.

• Maryland power forward target Robert Carter signed with Georgia Tech.

A big forward (250 pounds) rated 21st among the nation's seniors according to ESPN, Carter is also ranked seventh among the nation's power forwards by ESPN. He is rated a four-star recruit by Rivals, who ranked him 28th overall and 11th among power forwards.

Daniel Dingle, a 6-foot-7 forward from the Bronx who reportedly received some UM interest, signed this week with Temple.

Dingle rewarded [Fran] Dunphy’s loyalty Tuesday morning, choosing the Owls over Miami, Seton Hall and Auburn.

• The Sun Gazette of Williamsport, Pa., was on hand for the signing ceremony of Maryland women's commitment Tierney Pfirman.

"It was amazing," said Pfirman. "Coming out of South Williamsport and going to a Division I ACC school, I was a little nervous, but signing those papers meant a lot and it's the next four years of my life and to just see the support and the crowd that came out tonight just meant everything in the world to me."

• Terps women's pledge Chloe Pavlech was also scheduled to sign her letter of intent this week.

"In my coaching experience Chloe stands out as the most committed and self-motivated player I have coached," Sycamore coach Paula Hayden said.

As a junior, Pavlech averaged 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Football recruiting

• Maryland-bound quarterback Caleb Rowe is one of five finalists for South Carolina's Mr. Football award.

Rowe, who has committed to the University of Maryland, passed for 2,325 yards and 31 touchdowns for Blue Ridge, which saw its season end with a 44-34 loss to York in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs Friday.

• Terps athlete commitment Joe Riddle will not return this season for Linganore's playoff run.

Riddle said his broken fibula is healing properly. He hopes to have his cast removed in a week and replaced by a walking boot.

• The Detroit News this week profiled Good Counsel wide receiver and Terps target Stefon Diggs.

The full vetting of those attributes will take place during official visits. At the moment Michigan and Cal (whom Diggs indicated will receive first official), are the surest destinations. Talk centers around Auburn, Virginia and Florida as the favorites for the other three.

• The Washington Post spoke to Eddie Goldman's father about the five-star prospect and Terps target's visit to Alabama.

“The game atmosphere was mad crazy,” [Eddie] Muhammad said. “Even before the game, the people in the streets, it’s a whole other planet down there.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

InsideMDSports: A class of Turgeon's own

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.


When he was hired in May to succeed Gary Williams, Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon’s first priority was to upgrade the level of talent in the program. He put together a crew of assistants known for their recruiting prowess and he hit the recruiting trail hard, bouncing from one AAU event to the next, eventually securing his No. 1 prospects at three different positions.

All three recruits – Houston big man Shaquille Cleare, Massachusetts forward Jake Layman and Virginia combo guard Seth Allen -- faxed Maryland their signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's early signing period. Thus, on the six-month anniversary of his hiring at Maryland, Turgeon was able to speak publicly about them for the first time.

“We’re really excited about the three guys we signed,” said Turgeon, whose class ranks 16th-best in the nation according to 247Sports.

“It’s huge. Players help you win games. It’s obvious. Our best teams [at Texas A&M] were when we had our best players.”

In Cleare, the Terps scored a 6-foot-8, 270-pound anchor, a potentially dominant rebounder and the sort of physical presence the program has often lacked in recent years. A native of the Bahamas ranked the No. 31 player in the Class of 2012, Cleare will play significant minutes at center next winter. Assistant coach Bino Ranson was the point man in Maryland’s recruitment of Cleare, getting the Terps to the top of his list under Williams and helping Turgeon gain a verbal commitment in late August.

“Shaq will give us a big, physical presence in the paint. He will be a great defender and low-post scorer for us, and for his size, he is a very explosive athlete. He is a great young man who really wanted to be at Maryland,” Turgeon said.

Layman is the No. 68 player in the country according to 247sports, while some other services have him ranked as a top-50 recruit. At 6-foot-8, he’s versatile enough to play anywhere between the shooting guard and power forward spots, though it seems likely he’ll spend most of his time at small forward. An excellent shooter and defender, Layman is a late-bloomer who exploded this summer, becoming a top target for programs like Syracuse, Louisville and Florida.

Assistant coach Scott Spinelli was the primary recruiter for Layman, who committed after an official visit in early September.

“I always liked Jake since the first time I saw him in the summer [of 2010], his height and his skillset,” Turgeon said. “Jake is a very skilled and explosive athlete who is improving at a big-time rate. Jake has all three phases in his game with the ability to knock down the 3, shoot the mid-range, plus get all the way to the basket. He is also a tremendous defender with great anticipation. Jake comes from a great family, and we are excited about welcoming into our basketball family.”

Allen won’t come to Maryland with the acclaim of his current classmates, largely because he was hobbled for most of the summer with an ankle injury, missing several events and sometimes playing through the injury. But the 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard, who averaged more than 24 points per game as a junior at Fredericksburg Christian (Va.), is an explosive athlete with a pure stroke from 3-point range.

Allen and Turgeon shared strong mutual interest when the latter was at Texas A&M. So when Turgeon was hired at Maryland, Allen committed almost immediately, choosing the Terps over Virginia and others. He’ll play both guard spots at Maryland.

“He’s just a basketball player. He wants to be a point guard and he’s good with the ball in his hands. Being a former point guard, hopefully I can help him. But he can also play the two, so he gives us some leeway,” Turgeon said.

Turgeon had been recruiting all three players at Texas A&M. Cleare had listed Maryland first and A&M second prior to Turgeon’s move, while both Layman and Allen said they liked the Aggies but didn’t want to go that far from home. Still, Turgeon said he hasn’t noticed a significant decrease in the difficulty of luring players to College Park as compared to football-crazed College Station.

“It’s hard everywhere. Recruiting is hard. You’ve really got to work at it and you’ve got to be lucky. For us to get [to Maryland] in May, this is pretty good. Selfishly, we’d like to add another piece or two,” he said.

“Recruiting’s never easy. You could win four straight national championships, and recruiting still wouldn’t be easy.”

Aside from their respective high school credentials, Maryland’s three signees represent an influx of size. Maryland’s recent recruiting classes often lacked size, especially in the frontcourt, and the team struggled to rebound against opponents in the size-packed Atlantic Coast Conference. With this class, along with the addition of freshman 7-footer Alex Len, the Terps are on their way back toward being able to match-up size-wise in the physically challenging Atlantic Coast Conference.

“We were looking for length and we still are. I think to compete at the highest level, you’ve got to have good players, but you’ve also got to have size,” he said.

Turgeon also noted that all three signees are quality young men from good families. The class could add stability to a program that's been hit hard by attrition in recent years; between 2007 and 2010, seven signees -- Braxton Dupree, Shane Walker, Steve Goins, Gus Gilchrist, Jin Soo Kim, Haukur Palsson and Jordan Williams -- have exited College Park early for various reasons.

Turgeon’s not done yet. As expected, he hopes to sign five players in this class; he wants to sign another guard and a power forward in the spring cycle. He said there were a few players he anticipated signing, including one who went elsewhere – likely Texas guard Christian Sanders (Stanford) – and a few who remain in play, some of whom may be in a holding pattern because of academics.

“We’re still plugging away on a lot of situations,” Turgeon said.

Maryland swung for the fences this summer, targeting several prized national blue-chippers. But power forward Mitch McGary chose Michigan, Georgia big man Robert Carter decided he’d like to stay close to home and Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson faded after Layman’s commitment. And high-flying North Carolina wing guard Torian Graham is no longer listing Maryland; a source close to Graham told Inside Maryland Sports that the Maryland’s staff opted to stop pursuing him.

It’s likely that several new targets will emerge soon with the season tipping off. The Terps continue to recruit Georgia power forward Charles Mitchell and Baltimore guard Sam Cassell Jr., who’s prepping this year Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass. Mitchell hasn’t begun to take official visits while he works to shore his academics, while Cassell – the son of former NBA star Sam Cassell -- lists Maryland as his top choice but won’t sign until the spring.

Turgeon again said Wednesday he won’t add players just for the sake of adding players. It’s conceivable the staff could bring in just one more player and hold an extra scholarship for the 2013 class, in which Maryland will likely be targeting point guards to succeed Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin. Gonzaga (D.C.) point guard Nate Britt and Houston twins Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison are believed to be the staff’s top priorities in the junior class. All three fall inside of the top-15 in 247Sports’ 2013 rankings.

Britt’s recruitment could come down to a Maryland-North Carolina tussle, and he’ll likely make a decision before the end of his junior year. The Harrison twins are a top priority for Kentucky, while Villanova, UCLA and Baylor may be wildcards.

Maryland remains a legitimate contender as well; Ranson and Turgeon have built strong relationships with the 6-foot-4 duo and their father. They're also friends and summer teammates of Cleare, though that relationship seems unlikely to seal the deal.

-- 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 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

November 10, 2011

Sweet 16: Championship

The inaugural Sweet 16 championship has come down to teammates.

DePaul point guard Brandon Young (133 votes) defeated Missouri guard Kim English (29 votes) in one semifinal, setting up a title match with DePaul forward Cleveland Melvin (138 votes), who bested Syracuse forward C.J. Fair (20 votes).

So who gets your vote for Baltimore's best basketball player? Blue Demons fans, vote away!

sweet-16-championship-2011.jpg

Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Stanton Kidd signs with North Carolina Central

stanton-kidd-north-carolina.jpg Ever since high school, Stanton Kidd has played with a "huge chip" on his shoulder.

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward was lightly recruited out of Edmondson, overlooked in favor of some of his more highly ranked Baltimore City classmates, and largely forgotten when he left town for junior college in the summer of 2010.

“Coming from Baltimore, with all the talent we’ve got -- Josh Selby, Will Barton, Roscoe Smith, C.J. Fair -- it’s hard coming out of that world because they were the big focus,” Kidd said. “I had my fame there, too. Guys knew I could ball. But I kind of got overlooked from the spotlight.”

At JUCO powerhouse South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, Kidd got his chance to shine. While he hasn’t been the centerpiece of the Texans like he was with the Red Storm, Kidd has received ample opportunities to prove to Division I programs that he could play at that level.

On Wednesday, Kidd’s persistence with the game paid off. The former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro player signed a letter of intent to attend North Carolina Central.

“It feels good to know that you’ve got somewhere to go after junior college,” Kidd said. “I just fell in love with [North Carolina Central on] the visit. I went home, thought about it for awhile. I had a couple other schools that wanted me. But I had to go [someplace where I wouldn’t] play in nobody’s shadow. With me going to N.C. Central now, I’m going to be in the spotlight. It’s going to be a real experience for me. Now I can take the game-winning shot, get my teammates involved and make plays.”


Kidd averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Edmondson during the 2009-10 season, leading the Red Storm to their first-ever Baltimore City Division I championship. He received a smattering of Division I interest – mostly from Morgan State – but he came up short of a qualifying SAT score and headed to junior college.

At South Plains, Kidd had a solid freshman season, averaging a team-high 5.9 rebounds and scoring 7.9 points per game. Kidd, who registered three double-doubles and played 23 minutes per game, helped the Texans to the Region 5 junior college tournament.

Most of Kidd’s recruiting process took place this fall, thanks to his performance at a couple key JUCO showcases. Bradley, Central Connecticut State, Indiana State, Iona, Quinnipiac and Wichita State were among the programs that inquired about Kidd, but North Carolina Central pursued him the hardest from the start.

“N.C. Central is the only one I visited,” Kidd said. “It seemed like when other schools were jumping on me, it seemed like I was their second choice. [I think they thought], ‘If we can’t get this kid I really wanted, let’s see if we can go get Stanton Kidd.’ I wanted to go to a team where I was a priority. I was N.C. Central’s priority. I knew they wanted me.”

The Eagles coaches have told Kidd that he’ll play the 3 and the 4. He should have a prominent role as a junior for North Carolina Central, which finished 15-15 last season – its first non-losing year since 2004-05 – and 10-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Playing for a MEAC school means that Kidd will get three chances a year (at Morgan State, at Coppin State and at UMES) to play in his home state.

“That’s a bonus,” Kidd said. “I already know what kind of atmosphere it’s going to be when I come back home and play Coppin, Morgan or UMES.”

Kidd is off to a strong start to his sophomore season. The Texans are 2-0, and Kidd scored 10 points in the first win of the season. The former Red Storm star is hoping for a JUCO national championship this year, and two postseason appearances at his future college home.

“Oh man, I’m bringing everything that I’ve got,” Kidd said. “I’m coming to leave it all on the floor. I’m trying to promise a MEAC championship, going to bring them to The Dance. I’m trying to get to The Dance. We’ve got to work hard, but I’m going to get there.”

Photo of Stanton Kidd courtesy of South Plains College.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

November 9, 2011

Recapping the Sweet 16

While voting continues to crown Baltimore's best college basketball player, here's a chance to revisit the inaugural Sweet 16.

As part of our college basketball preview this week, I condensed all 16 profiles into 16 vignettes for Friday's print edition of The Baltimore Sun.

If you've already read each of the 16 articles in the series, there's no need to check out the rest of this blog post. But if you want a (relatively) quick summary of Baltimore's top DI players, this blog is for you. Check out each vignette after the jump.

16. Dylon Cormier, Loyola

Jimmy Patsos was ecstatic to keep Cormier home for college. The Greyhounds coach was not only getting a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro player in Cormier, but also a player that would later prove to be his top local recruiter.

After Cormier's pledge, Loyola landed commitments from St. Frances point guard R.J. Williams, Xavier transfer and City grad Jordan Latham, Milford Mill small forward Tevin Hanner and St. Frances center Josh Forney. Williams is now a freshman at Loyola and Latham is a sophomore, while Hanner and Forney will arrive next fall. Patsos credits Cormier, a 2009 Cardinal Gibbons grad, with starting the Baltimore-to-Loyola movement.

"He gets active in the recruiting process," Patsos said. "He tells them what he really likes about Loyola and playing in the league. He loves the league. He's just a great guy."

Cormier's freshman-year success certainly aided his recruiting pitch. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound combo guard started 27 of 30 games for the Greyhounds as a freshman, averaging 8.1 points and three rebounds. Cormier expects his role to expand this season.

"This is the best team I've seen in years at Loyola," Cormier said. "We'll be tough to play. We're [one of] the biggest, strongest teams in the league this year. I'm real excited about this season. We've got a lot more to show."

15. Jamar Briscoe, Charlotte

Briscoe, a 2008 Cardinal Gibbons grad, sat out the 2009-10 season after transferring from North Carolina Central, where he was the second-leading freshman scorer in the country. His sophomore-year production came up a bit short of what he accomplished against a lower level of competition as a freshman, but Briscoe easily proved himself to be one of the Atlantic 10's top newcomers.

"I'd say he had a really good year," said Charlotte coach Alan Major. "Just with our limited numbers, it really puts almost an unfair kind of pressure to ask a guy to handle the ball, take care of the ball and take great shots, defend at a high level and play 35-plus minutes a game. … But … for what we asked him to do, I thought he had a very good season."

A 5-foot-10, 165-pound point guard, Briscoe started 28 games, averaging 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals. He guided the 49ers (10-20) to three huge upsets: a 49-48 win over then-No. 7 Tennessee, a double-overtime triumph at Georgia Tech, and a 66-62 home win over Xavier. He's hoping for more noteworthy victories as a junior.

"I want to win, man," Briscoe said. "I'm trying to win. Like I said when I came here, I want to win. I know I've got the chance to play in the A-10, but I want to play in the Atlantic 10 championship. Everybody's got a chance — every team in the conference. But I want to win it, man. I really do."

14. Brendan Bald, Vermont

Expectations among Vermont fans were likely tempered for Bald last season after the former Severna Park star averaged just 2.9 points and 9.9 minutes as a freshman. But John Becker, a Catamounts assistant who was elevated to head coach after the 2010-11 season, wasn't dismayed by Bald's debut. He expected the 2009 Anne Arundel County Player of the Year to make major strides as a sophomore, and Bald delivered.

"He did really well offensively and defensively in the league," Becker said. "He can really guard and take the opposing team's best wing player out of the game."

Bald finished his sophomore year as Vermont's second-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game and its top 3-point shooter at 41 percent. He also served as a lockdown defender on the wing. For his efforts, Bald was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to earning third-team all-conference honors. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing is primed for an even bigger role this season.

"I'm definitely going to be looked on as an aggressive scorer, and I'm still going to have to lock up the other team's best player," Bald said. "I'm going to have a larger role this year. My team's going to depend on me a bunch. We've got a lot of good guys coming back, a lot of guys that are going to step up. … I think we're going to have a good year and surprise some people in the postseason."

13. Eric Atkins, Notre Dame

After four years as Mount St. Joseph's starting point guard, primarily coming off the bench for the Irish was a strange feeling for Atkins. But the two-time Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection had no problem whatsoever playing a supporting role for Notre Dame, which went 27-7 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.

"I think I had a really good experience as a freshman last year," Atkins said. "Coach Brey told me before the season that pretty much everything was going to be done just the way it happened. He told me how my playing time was going to be. I knew how it was going to play out."

Atkins may have had a modest season statistically for the Fighting Irish last year (averages of 5.8 points, 3.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds), but the 6-foot-2, 183-pound sophomore proved to Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and other Big East observers that his best was yet to come.

"I'm just looking for him to make a big jump so that by the end of the season, Eric Atkins will be referred to as one of the better guards in the Big East," Brey said. "I feel strongly about his career here. It makes me sleep well at night, knowing he's the guy running the team for three more years."

12. Devin Brown, Holy Cross

When Brown wasn't working on his game this summer, the City grad was interning at GE and plotting his post-graduate plans for entering the business world. That summer balancing act of books and basketball was typical for Brown. Over the past three years at Holy Cross, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior has emerged as a seemingly model student-athlete at the academically rigorous institution.

"One of the [business] professors pulled me aside and said, 'He's absolutely going to be a star,'" said Holy Cross coach Milan Brown. "[This is] what kids who go to Holy Cross do. They're going to play and be about academically trying to set themselves up for the future and where they're going to work. He goes just as hard going for 30 points as he does in [in the classroom]. He's done both. He's talked a lot about being good in both avenues."

Devin Brown's academic success mirrors his basketball prowess. As a junior, Brown averaged a team-best 15.6 points, reaching double figures 21 times. Brown converted on 81.1 percent of his free throws and 36.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. The former Knights standout, who was a second-team All-Patriot League player last season, would trade all his individual accolades for a winning senior season with the Crusaders (8-21).

"I wish I would've been able to do more to help the team — taking [better] shots, grabbing more rebounds, finding the open man, getting a few more steals, motivating my teammates better when I'm on the bench, pushing the team more in practice," Brown said. "A lot of things I could have done."

11. Kevin Thompson, Morgan State

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 Thompson, who averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds for the Bears as a junior.

If Bozeman has his way, Thompson will be part of a few more tribute-worthy moments this season. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound center has played in two NCAA tournaments, but the Bears missed out on the postseason last year. Bozeman hopes Thompson, a Walbrook grad, is saving his best effort with the Bears for last.

"[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."

10. Sean Mosley, Maryland

Mosley is the first person to admit that his junior season was a disappointment. The Terps missed the postseason, and the second-leading scorer in Maryland high school history averaged just 8.1 points and shot 26.9 percent from 3-point range. First-year Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, however, is a firm believer in Mosley's ability, and is counting on the former St. Frances star to be a leader and a major producer for the Terps this season.

"He's a much better shooter than I thought looking at his numbers," Turgeon said. "His form is good shooting the ball. Hopefully it'll carry over in games. He's a much better shooter. He's tough kid, a strong kid who guards multiple positions because of his strength. He's just a great leader for us. You can tell he's serious about doing what's best for the team and leaving his mark. He's been great."

Mosley may not have turned into the college player some analysts predicted four years ago. But the 6-foot-4, 210-pound wing has no regrets about his time in College Park, and he's eager to end his career on a high note.

"It's a blessing to be here at the University of Maryland," Mosley said. "I'm playing at the highest Division I level. The three years have been great. We've been to the [NCAA] tournament two out of the three years I've been here, got [an ACC championship] ring when I was here. This is my last year. I just want to go out being remembered and having a great season, making the tournament and playing my best. Last year wasn't the best season for me or the [team]. But I think this [coaching] change is definitely for the better. We're looking forward."

9. Antonio Barton, Memphis

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard read the comments and heard the whispers about him 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.

"This kid can flat-out play," said Tigers coach Josh Pastner. "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 [vs. Arizona]. 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."

8. Brandon Young, DePaul

Jerry Wainwright recruited Young to Chicago but was fired before he ever got a chance to coach the Randallstown native. Despite the coaching change, Young never wavered on his DePaul commitment, electing to become former Clemson coach Oliver 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."

Young 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 Washington, 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. Purnell is counting on the Big East All-Rookie team member to produce even more as a sophomore.

"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."

7. Devon Saddler, Delaware

After graduating from Aberdeen in 2009, Saddler headed to Winchendon (Mass.) Prep for a post-grad year. Suddenly, the Delaware commitment was fielding interest from DePaul, North Carolina State, Oregon, Rutgers, Washington and other high-major schools. But Saddler never wavered in his pledge to the Blue Hens, who were treated to an outstanding freshman season from the 6-foot-2, 205-pound combo guard. Saddler averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 rebounds and was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year.

"Winning Rookie of the Year in such a tough league, such a highly regarded league … is quite an accomplishment," said Delaware coach Monte' Ross. "He brought a different type of intensity to our team from Day 1. I think other guys on our team really, really appreciated that. We were better from Day 1 [because of] the type of competitor he was and what he was bringing to the program."

Rookie success hasn't gone to Saddler's head. If anything, individual accolades have made Saddler hungrier for his Blue Hens to be a winning program. He's ready to do everything he can to help Delaware — which went 14-17 overall and 8-10 in conference play last season — rise in the CAA standings.

"I'm pleased so far, but I'm not settling," Saddler said. "I think this year is going to be my breakout year. [I hope] to have a great year this year. I'm working out, my jump shot is falling now [and] I'm getting more comfortable shooting off the dribble. This year might be my year. I might go off."

6. Roscoe Smith, Connecticut

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."

The stat sheet reflects Smith's willingness to do whatever he was asked. The former Walbrook standout 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."

UConn will be without Kemba Walker's services this year, meaning Smith and other Huskies will be counted on for increased production. Ollie thinks Smith is up to the task.

"[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."

5. C.J. Fair, Syracuse

The 6-foot-8 small forward was a surefire high-major prospect after leading City to the Class 2A North Region semifinals in 2008. 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 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.

That feeling was erased during the 2010-11 season, when Fair flashed his potential for the Orange. The former Knights star averaged 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 18.6 minutes per game. Fair hopes a summer spent working out in Baltimore will ensure that he sees more minutes as a sophomore.

"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."

Jim 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."

4. Kim English, Missouri

Throughout his three years in Columbia, English has taken pride in his ability to lead. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior is one of the most quotable Tigers, a social-media superstar, a campus leader, and one of the Big 12's top guards. But the 2010-11 season, fell short of English's expectations. The junior averaged 10 points and a career-high 25.8 minutes. But the Tigers, who started the season 14-1, fell to Cincinnati in a second-round NCAA tournament matchup.

"Last year was real freelancing, loosey-goosey," English said. "But that style worked my first two years when we didn't have as much talent. Last season, we had seven or eight guys who could get buckets on their own. That much freedom had us bumping heads a lot and not really focusing on defense."

Senior year could be much different for English. Frank Haith left Miami to replace Mike Anderson — who left for Arkansas — as Missouri's coach, and English likes what he's seen so far out of the new system. Leaving the program in an even better place than how it was when he arrived is of the utmost importance to the former Randallstown star.

"It could be the best of my four years here — that's saying a lot," English said. "We were an Elite Eight team that won 31 games my freshman year. Next season we got to the second round. Last season was a crazy-talented team. We started the season Top 15, got to No. 8 in the country, and then we fell apart. We had so much talent, but just didn't jell together. Our chemistry now is better. We could easily be better than those three teams. But we have to do it every single day in practice. We really are preparing the right way. I'm just excited to get started."

3. Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma

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," said Fitzgerald, who played his junior season at Owings Mills before finishing his high school career at Brewster (N.H.) Academy. "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."

First-year Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said he "didn't know much about" Fitzgerald before he got the Sooners job, but his early impressions of the junior forward were extremely positive. What about Fitzgerald's game stood out to Kruger the most?

"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, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward, has simple goals for his junior season.

"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."

2. Cleveland Melvin, DePaul

The former Lake Clifton 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."

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.

"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."

1. Will Barton, Memphis

Anything less than dominance was completely foreign to Barton. During the summer of 2008, Barton starred for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit, earning Top 10 national rankings from Scout.com, ESPN.com, MaxPreps.com and PrepStars.com. Months later, Barton's storybook senior year at Lake Clifton ended with the Lakers capping a 32-0 season with the Class 3A state championship. Then came his prep year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy in which he averaged 20.8 points and was named the 2009-10 New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A Player of the Year.

That track record of success — along with a steady stream of media hype — probably would have made any player overconfident to an extent. Barton was no different. But while the former five-star prospect couldn't possibly live up to the unreasonable predictions that some assigned to him, Barton went out and did the best he could.

"[Freshman year] was a little harder than I thought it would be," Barton said. "It didn't go exactly as I planned it to be. I still had a great freshman year, but not great with the expectations I had for myself. In my mind, as a freshman, [some people thought] I actually had a great year. To me, I played OK. An OK season. Good learning experience."

Barton's "OK season" amounted to averages of 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He played in all 35 games, starting 25, and was the second-leading freshman scorer in Conference USA. He was was selected to the All-Conference USA third team and the All-Freshman team.

"Let's keep in mind that he had a good year," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. "He was our leading scorer, our second-leading rebounder, leading assist man. He had a real good freshman year. That's why he's a preseason Wooden Award [candidate]."

Barton is getting accustomed to being a nationally recognized player. CBSSports.com ranked him the No. 32 player in the country, and he's still considered a potential NBA prospect. But talk of jumping to the league as soon as possible has ceased. Barton's priorities, it seems, have been altered a bit.

"Towards the end of [last] season, that's when I started to say, 'For us to win basketball games and perform at a high level, I have to put all my thoughts into my team and my coaches.' If I'm not winning and producing at the college level, I'll never have to worry about the NBA. … I'm just focusing on what I have to do — dominating college basketball."

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:49 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Marcellous Bell talks Binghamton pledge

Over the past few years Crusader Nation has been one of Baltimore's top producers of Division I basketball talent. But the local summer-league program isn't limited to having players just from the Charm City area. Marcellous Bell is an example of that.

Bell, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior from DeMatha, was Crusader Nation’s primary ball-handler over the summer. Thanks to his play on the circuit, the Bowie resident received interest from Binghamton, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris and Stony Brook, before ultimately committing to the Bearcats earlier this month.

“The thing about Binghamton getting him is that they got an extremely smart guard,” said Crusader Nation coach Fred McCathorine. “Basketball-wise, school-wise, it’s the whole nine yards. Marcellous understands when to push the ball. He’s one kid on our team who I’ve said will someday down the line be a coach, because he’s just that smart about the game.”

Bell said Binghamton first started recruiting him during the summer of 2010. The Bearcats were the first program to start heavily pursuing him.

“It progressed,” Bell said. “They obviously knew my high school coaches and everything, got in contact with them, and [they were] just recruiting me through the process.”

Bell visited the America East school and fell in love with the campus. He liked the coaching staff and was impressed by the academic offerings. Bell is interested in studying business management, finance or psychology.

“I really liked [Binghamton and] gravitated to,” the school, Bell said. “And my dad and I thought it was great. [I can get a] great education, too. That’s a big factor. I just decided to make my commitment. I thought it was the right choice.”

McCathorine is confident that Bell will provide great leadership for the Bearcats and make an impact sooner rather than later.

“He’s a great shooter,” McCathorine said. “He can run the point, run a program, [and] he sees the floor very well.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

November 8, 2011

Analysts weigh in on Terps' 2012 hoops class

Mark Turgeon is still five days away from his first regular-season game at Maryland, but the Terps' first-year coach has already delivered on one important promise he made six months ago.

During his introductory news conference in College Park on May 11, the former Texas A&M coach assured those in attendance that he was “going to recruit like crazy.” On Wednesday – the first day of the week-long fall signing period – the fruits of Turgeon’s labor on the recruiting trail will be on display. Maryland is poised to sign a Top 25 class, culminating a hectic period for Turgeon and his coaching staff.

“You have to understand something about how difficult it is when you take over as a new staff,” said Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s national recruiting analyst. “It’s not like it was 10 years ago, because usually your big class is your second class. For them to have been able to string together a group like this, with two Top 100 guys – and they may not even be finished – it’s a very good sign.”

Maryland’s aforementioned Top 100 recruits are Shaquille Cleare, a 6-foot-9, 285-pound center from The Village School in Houston, and Jake Layman, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound small forward from King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass. The Terps’ third recruit is Seth Allen, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound combo guard from Fredericksburg (Va.) Christian. All three players are expected to sign their letters of intent this week.

“We have [the class] ranked No. 3 overall in the ACC, in the Top 25 as of [Tuesday],” said Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels. “Obviously, that could change in the next day or two. But that’s where we have them right now. This is a great group. This is a really strong start for Turgeon and his guys. I think pulling Cleare out of Texas is a big deal. Jake Layman is a guy who really blew up and is in the Top 50. Then with a local kid like Seth Allen, it’s a strong start. I’m sure the coaching staff is pleased.”

The center

The consensus headliner for the Terps is Cleare, who was first recruited by Maryland’s previous staff. Turgeon continued the Terps’ pursuit when he got the job, and beat out Arizona, Baylor, Miami, South Florida, Texas and Texas A&M for the four-star prospect’s services.

“They got a player who I think is a difference-maker on the low block in Shaquille Cleare,” said Van Coleman of Hot100Hoops.com. “He’s as an efficient a big man as there is in this class offensively on the block. He’s the kind of guy that can be a four-year player, a nucleus guy on the block who can lead the team very deep into the NCAA tournament down the road. He has that kind of potential. The biggest thing as a junior and senior is keeping him in the program. But I think he’s a four-year guy who can be a difference-maker with the ability to score.”

Said Telep: “Shaquille Cleare is going to be the rock. He’s just a big kid and we probably have him undervalued as a scorer. I think he’s going to have broad enough shoulders to carry the post and do work there for Maryland. I look for him to have a huge career there.”

Scout.com ranks Cleare the 37th best prospect nationally in the 2012 class, while ESPN.com (No. 39), Hot100Hoops.com (No. 39) and Rivals.com (No. 44) all rate the future Terp as a Top 50 player.

The forward

While Cleare was a well-known, highly coveted commodity among high-major coaches before the spring AAU period, Maryland’s next highest-rated recruit was a relatively unknown prospect nationally before he emerged over the summer. Layman had offers from Boston College, Notre Dame and Providence, but thanks to his play with the Boston Amateur Basketball Club in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, the four-star prospect added scholarships from Florida, Louisville, Maryland and Syracuse. He eventually canceled official visits to check out the Gators, Cardinals and Orange, committing to the Terps over Labor Day weekend.

“I think he has a chance to be like Chandler Parsons on steroids,” Telep said of the former Florida forward and Houston Rockets second-round draft pick. “He’s got a degree of skill to him. He’s got great length. In college basketball, coaches talk about length nowadays and how they use length on offense. Layman is going to bring both of those things. He was one of the most efficient players in the EYBL in terms of shooting and getting steals. I think both of those things are going to translate well to the ACC.”

Added Coleman: “I really like Jake Layman. He’s long, athletic, can shoot the 3 and put it on the floor. He’s so versatile. I think he’s going to play the wing forward at 6-8 in college. He’s one of those kids that can really open up the floor.”

Layman is ranked the No. 41 senior prospect in the country by Scout.com, while ESPN.com rates him No. 53 and Rivals.com lists him at No. 110.

The guard

The third member of Maryland’s 2012 class was the first commitment of the Turgeon era. Allen pledged to the new Terps coach five days after Turgeon accepted the Maryland job. Allen was a target of Turgeon’s at Texas A&M, so the relationship between player and coach had been established months prior to Turgeon's arrival in College Park.

While Turgeon was clearly sold on Allen’s ability, the scouting world shifted to discovery mode. Playing for a regional AAU team in the Virginia-based Hoop Boothe program, Allen wasn’t on the radar of most national services. Nagging injuries over the summer, meanwhile, prevented him from showing scouts what he could do.

Coleman said he hasn’t seen much of Allen, but from what he knows the future Terp is solid in the open court and can play both guard spots. Telep saw Allen play briefly at a Reebok-sponsored camp over the summer, but Allen was struggling with an injury then.

“He’s the real X-factor of this class,” Telep said. “I don’t know if we have a great evaluation on him. It’s difficult to say with any kind of certainty what level of impact he’s going to have at Maryland. I know this – the staff is excited about him and obviously they saw something that got their attention.”

The future

The harshest critics of former Maryland coach Gary Williams often pointed to his recruiting approach, which – in the later years, at least – consisted mostly of him in a closer’s role, while his assistants did the majority of the scouting and relationship-building. Daniels says this Maryland staff is “built to recruit well,” and the three assistants have been praised for their work on the trail. Turgeon has also done his part to be a noticeable presence as much as possible.

“You’ve got a guy in Dalonte Hill that knows the D.C. area really well,” Daniels said. “You’ve got a guy in Bino Ranson who knows the Baltimore area really well. Then you’ve got Scott Spinelli, who’s been all over. I think you’ve got three really good recruiters on this staff.

“[And] I certainly think Coach Turgeon is active. I think he’s made it clear with this recruiting staff, this coaching staff, that he’s going to recruit. He’s done really well getting on the road and being visible. I think Mark Turgeon is doing a great job. He’s a pretty good recruiter. They have to be pretty happy with this first class.”

Like almost any other recruiting class, there have been several missed targets along the way. There are also still a few prospects – namely point guard Sam Cassell Jr. (Baltimore native at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.), shooting guard Torian Graham (Arlington County Day in Jacksonville, Fla.) and power forward Charles Mitchell (Marietta, Ga.) – that have been mentioned in connection with the Terps. Coleman, Daniels and Telep all expect Maryland to add at least one more recruit in the spring period. For now, though, Telep says Terps fans should enjoy what Turgeon and company have delivered.

“There’s no reason not to be ecstatic,” Telep said. “To have two guys in the Top 100 in Shaquille Cleare, who’s going to be a frontcourt anchor, and Jake Layman, who they won in a massive recruiting battle. It’s a successful first class out of the gate.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:11 PM | | Comments (3)
        

November 7, 2011

Sweet 16: Moving on to the Final Four

And then there were four.

The voting has closed for the Elite Eight, leaving us with just four players left in the inaugural Sweet 16 bracket.

Voting for the Final Four can be found after the jump. I'll leave it open until Tuesday afternoon. Here are the results of the round-of-eight.

• In the biggest upset of this tournament, DePaul's Brandon Young (121 votes) easily defeated Memphis' Will Barton (40 votes). This is the same Will Barton that is a preseason Naismith Player of Year and Wooden Award candidate. So how did Young knock off the No. 1 seed? Credit goes to BlueDemonsNation.com, which featured one message board poster hilariously urging DePaul fans to "represent Chicago well and stuff the ballot box!" Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that this title will come down to Young vs. Cleveland Melvin?

• Missouri's Kim English (56 votes) defeated Connecticut's Roscoe Smith (38 votes).

• Syracuse's C.J. Fair (78 votes) defeated Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald (35 votes).

• DePaul's Cleveland Melvin (134 votes) defeated Maryland's Sean Mosley (33 votes).

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:39 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

The Next Level: Alec Lemon's career day

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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.

Despite his team's loss to Connecticut this past weekend, Syracuse junior wide receiver Alec Lemon (Arundel) found a way to continue his impressive season with a career-high 157 receiving yards on nine catches.

Lemon caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to tie the game at 7, but the Orange couldn’t hold on and fell 28-21 for the second straight week. Connecticut junior safety Jerome Junior (Archbishop Curley) had an interception and five solo tackles (seven total) in the win.

Lemon’s performance, though, earned him a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll Monday. He leads the Orange with 531 receiving yards and 47 receptions this season. The Crofton native now has 106 career receptions, which ranks him fifth all-time at Syracuse.

For his performance against the Huskies, Lemon is your Next Level Player of the Week. He earns the honor for the second time this season.

Honorable mention

• Arkansas State senior cornerback Darron Edwards (Dunbar) had an interception, forced a fumble and recorded two solo tackles (three total) in a 39-21 win against FAU.

• North Carolina senior linebacker Zach Brown (Wilde Lake) forced a fumble and had four solo tackles (nine total) in the Tar Heels’ 13-0 loss to North Carolina State.

• West Virginia junior wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) had seven receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown in the Mountaineers’ 38-35 loss to Louisville. He also had 161 kickoff return yards and 20 rushing yards, for a total of 271 all-purpose yards. West Virginia junior safety Terence Garvin (Loyola) had six solo tackles (seven total) in the loss.

Other contributions

• Boston College freshman quarterback Josh Bordner (Century) rushed for 45 yards on seven carries and completed a 37-yard pass in the Eagles’ 38-7 loss to Florida State.

• Maryland junior safety Eric Franklin (Archbishop Curley) led the Terps with 10 solo tackles (12 total) in the Terps’ 31-13 loss to Virginia. Terps junior defensive tackle A.J. Francis (Severn native, Gonzaga grad) had a tackle in the loss. Virginia freshman wide receiver Darius Jennings (Gilman) returned two kickoffs for 24 yards and had a pair of catches, while Cavaliers senior defensive tackle Nick Jenkins (Westminster native, Good Counsel grad) had a solo tackle (two total) in the win.

• Michigan freshman cornerback Blake Countess (Owings Mill native, Good Counsel grad) had four solo tackles (six total) and a pass breakup in the Wolverines’ 24-16 loss to Iowa.

• New Mexico freshman safety Zach Dancel (Ellicott City native, Good Counsel grad) had four solo tackles in the Lobos’ 35-7 loss to San Diego State.

• Rutgers sophomore linebacker Nick DePaola (Hereford) had a tackle in the Scarlet Knights’ 20-17 win against South Florida.

• Wake Forest sophomore wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) had six receptions for 74 yards in the Demon Deacons’ 24-17 loss to Notre Dame. Wake Forest junior linebacker Joey Ehrmann (Gilman) had two solo tackles (seven total) in the loss.

• UAB sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry (Dunbar) passed for 149 yards and a touchdown, while adding 17 yards on the ground, in a 56-13 loss to No. 14 Houston.

• UNLV freshman wide receiver Mike Horsey (Dunbar) had a tackle in the Running Rebels’ 48-21 loss to Boise State.

• UTEP sophomore defensive lineman Horace Miller (Dunbar) had two solo tackles (six total) in the Miners' 41-37 loss to Rice.

• Temple junior running back Matt Brown (Baltimore native, Peddie School grad) returned five kickoffs for 96 yards and had 17 rushing yards on five attempts in the Owls’ 35-31 loss to Ohio. Temple senior quarterback Chester Stewart (Hanover native, DeMatha grad) went 1-for-3 for six passing yards.

U.S. Presswire photo of Alec Lemon celebrate his touchdown reception by Michael Ivins / Nov. 5, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:25 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Next Level
        

Weekend wrap – Petty powers Raiders again

Shawn Petty's Eleanor Roosevelt squad will enter the Class 4A state playoffs on a high note.

Petty, a Maryland-bound quarterback and linebacker, directed the Raiders (10-0) to a 27-20 win over previously unbeaten Suitland on Saturday.

Shawn Petty was effective in the passing game, completing 7 of 15 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. B.J. Antoine made an acrobatic one-handed catch for a 30-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Petty rolled out of the pocket, signaled for receiver James Warren to break his route and go deep and then lofted a ball that Warren snagged and took to the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown.

• Maryland cornerback commitment Sean Davis rushed for 155 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, caught three passes for 34 yards, and returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown in Maret's 42-0 win over Sidwell Friends.

• Terps commitments Perry Hills and Anthony Nixon guided Pittsburgh Central Catholic to a 42-14 win over Peters Township.

The Vikings' Luigi Lista-Brinza returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, and quarterback Perry Hills completed 6 of 10 passes for 157 yards. He twice connected with Anthony Nixon on touchdown passes of 10 and 66 yards, respectively. Nixon finished with four receptions for 102 yards.

• UM quarterback recruit Caleb Rowe's high school career came to an end as Blue Ridge dropped a 44-34 game to York in the first round of the South Carolina Class AAA playoffs.

Rowe completed 18 of 35 passes for 216 yards, but the Cougars made him work, sacking him five times in five plays in one second-quarter sequence.

• Maryland wide receiver commitment Amba Etta-Tawo caught two touchdown passes in McEachern's 63-14 win over Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.).

[Trent] Thompson found Amba Etta-Tawo from 30-yards out for his second scoring pass and a 14-0 Indians’ lead.

• Terps athlete recruit Malcolm Culmer found the end zone once in Willingboro (N.J.) High's 14-12 loss to Northern Burlington.

Malcolm Culmer went in from 12 yards to put Willingboro up 6-0 in the first quarter.

• UM linebacker pledge Stefan Houston's senior season ended with Clarksburg's 20-13 loss to Springbrook.

Maryland-bound senior Stefan Houston chipped in 32 rushing yards.

Basketball recruiting

Torian Graham, a four-star Maryland shooting guard target, did not visit College Park over the weekend, according to ESPN.com's Dave Telep.

• ESPNHoopGurlz offered a breakdown of the Maryland women's basketball program's 2012 recruiting class.

Maryland is currently No. 6 in the ESPN HoopGurlz class rankings. The addition of Malina Howard to the Terrapins' recruiting class gave them an elite post scorer who can hold down the middle for years to come. As finalists in the sweepstakes for both Adams and Prince, Maryland will look to add to its 2012 fortunes and potentially break into the top five classes in the country. The additions of both [Alexis] Prince and [Jordan] Adams would even put Maryland in the discussion to move up as high as No. 2 overall in the 2012 class rankings.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:28 AM | | Comments (1)
        

November 4, 2011

Sweet 16: Moving on to the Elite Eight

The first round of voting for the inaugural Sweet 16 is complete.

Eight of Baltimore's best Division I college basketball players remain. The first-round results are listed below. Voting for the Elite Eight is after the jump. We'll keep it open until Monday afternoon.

• Memphis' Will Barton (110 votes) defeated Loyola's Dylon Cormier (38 votes)

• DePaul's Brandon Young (193 votes) defeated Morgan State's Kevin Thompson (95 votes)

• Missouri's Kim English (77 votes) defeated Notre Dame's Eric Atkins (50 votes)

• Connecticut's Roscoe Smith (107 votes) defeated Holy Cross' Devin Brown (26 votes)

• Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald (90 votes) defeated Vermont's Brendan Bald (82 votes)

• Syracuse's C.J. Fair (87 votes) defeated Memphis' Antonio Barton (53 votes)

• DePaul's Cleveland Melvin (210 votes) defeated Charlotte's Jamar Briscoe (192 votes)

• Maryland's Sean Mosley (114 votes) defeated Delaware's Devon Saddler (34 votes)

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Weekly recruiting roundup

Maryland quarterback commitment Caleb Rowe is a finalist for South Carolina's Mr. Football award.

Blue Ridge quarterback Caleb Rowe: Rowe, a Shrine Bowler who has committed to Maryland, has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns.

• McDonogh defensive end and Terps commitment Roman Braglio was the focus of this week's Baltimore Sun Varsity Q&A.

Is it true when you committed to Maryland you had just met with the coaches, walked out, talked to your dad and then went back in and said, "I want to be a Terp"?

Yeah. [Maryland defensive line coach Greg] Gattuso told me to come down and watch practice to see if I like the way he coaches, if that would fit my style of playing. After the practice it was me, Coach Gattuso, Coach [Keith] Dudzinski and my father. We sat there and talked for two or three hours. I had been to a lot of schools, but that was the first time we had a talk like that and we talked as friends, so I could see a future relationship building right there. I just didn't know how to say it. I walked out and asked my father, "How do I say it?" He said, "What do you mean, how do you say it? Walk back in there and say you want to be a Terp." Coach Gattuso was walking out and he was like, "Roman, what's wrong?" I said, "Nothing, Coach. I want to be a Terp." He threw me over his shoulder and ran into Coach Edsall's office like, "We got him. We got him."

• The Washington Post this week profiled Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) defensive tackle and Terps target Eddie Goldman.

Maryland’s offer, which came when James Franklin, a Terps assistant at the time, and [Friendship coach Aazaar] Abdul-Rahim met Goldman at a takeout restaurant in Northeast. Now, the Terps are one of seven finalists on Goldman’s list, along with Alabama, Auburn, California, Clemson, Florida State and Miami.

Basketball recruiting

• Maryland's three-man 2012 recruiting class is now ranked 25th in the country by Rivals.com.

Four-star post player Shaquille Cleare is a physical presence who should have a significant impact on the ACC. Layman is a talented combo forward with a smooth shooting stroke and upside. Allen, a shooting guard, rounds out the class.

• Former Maryland power forward target Mitch McGary committed Thursday to Michigan.

"It was kind of hard," McGary said of looking past the glamour factor of some schools. "A lot of different people were saying where I should go, but in the end, it's my decision. (Michigan) is where I wanted to go to school. I'd like to make an impact the first year, put my footprint on the program and building it back up."

• Two 2012 prospects with Maryland offers are making official visits elsewhere this weekend, according to ESPN.com's Dave Telep. Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson, who is reportedly no longer considering the Terps, is scheduled to visit North Carolina State. Georgia power forward Robert Carter, meanwhile, is headed to Florida.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:38 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Weekly recruiting roundup
        

November 3, 2011

North County's Cliff Cornish to High Point

cliff-cornish-high-point.jpg It was difficult for Cliff Cornish to sort through all the interest he was receiving from various Division I college basketball programs.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward from North County was recruited by Boston University, Central Connecticut State, Kent State, La Salle, Morgan State and Stony Brook, among others. But one program – High Point – quickly stood out from all the rest.

“They saw him … at every tournament we played in, from West Virginia to Vegas to L.A.,” said Fred McCathorine, Cornish’s coach with the Crusader Nation basketball program. “They got to see him play a lot of games – six in West Virginia, eight in Vegas and nine in L.A. They got to see a lot of Cliff Cornish play.”

Cornish couldn’t help but notice the intensity of the Panthers staff’s pursuit. After making two trips – an unofficial and an official visit – to the North Carolina school, Cornish’s mind was made up. He committed to High Point late last week.

“I’m still happy with my decision,” Cornish said. “I knew I was going there as soon as I [visited]. It just felt right as soon as I stepped on campus after talking with the coaches and players.”

Cornish spent the first two years of his high school career at Cardinal Gibbons. When the Baltimore Catholic League school closed after the 2008-09 school year, Cornish transferred to St. Paul’s, where he said he averaged “probably 14 points and nine rebounds” as a junior. But the 45-minute commute from Cornish’s Anne Arundel County home to St. Paul’s became too much, and he decided to finish high school at nearby North County.

It was Cornish’s play with Crusader Nation, however, that put him on the radar of so many mid-major schools. McCathorine said most college coaches had similar praise for Cornish’s game.

“One was how well he runs for us and how strong he is,” McCathorine said. “And how well he passed the ball. On the interior, he passes very, very well for a big man. Cliff gets up and down the floor. He might be a 3 actually.”

Cornish said he “never heard of” High Point before the Panthers coaches started recruiting him. He immediately did his research on the program and the university, and liked what he saw. After his first visit, Cornish was pretty much sold.

“As soon as I went there, I wanted to stay,” Cornish said. “It’s just immaculate. There’s no trash. It’s like a gated community, just like on television. … Everybody is just nice to you. Just a lot of stuff to do on campus.”

Cornish, who’s considering a major in sociology, said he bonded quickly with Panthers assistant coach Ahmad Dorsett, a former Mount St. Mary’s and Bowie State assistant. Dorsett isn’t the only High Point member with Maryland ties. Former Dunbar star and Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro guard Devante Wallace is a freshman there, as is guard Tre Duncan, a Severn grad who spent last year at Princeton Day Academy.

“I was surprised to find out there are guys from” Maryland, Cornish said.

McCathorine thinks Cornish could factor in to High Point’s rotation as a freshman. He’s versatile enough to play the 3 or the 4, he’s comfortable playing out on the wing – High Point’s offensive style is similar to Crusader Nation’s – and he’s a good mid-range shooter. Cornish said he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to see action next fall.

“It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Cornish said. “I want to bring a championship there.”

Handout photo of Cliff Cornish courtesy of Crusader Nation.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local recruiting
        

InsideMDSports: Hill scouting local prospects

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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.


During a decade-plus as the head coach at National Christian Academy, Trevor Brown has had his share of Division I basketball prospects. The small private school in Fort Washington was the original home of Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley, and the place where Dante Taylor (Pitt) went from little-known prospect to McDonald’s all-American.

Maryland’s previous basketball staff, though, didn’t spend much time recruiting there, the lone exception being Taylor, whom the staff didn’t begin to pursue seriously until he’d already received offers from a bevy of high-major programs.

“They never recruited the kids. Until you start to do that, local kids are going to continue to leave the area,” Brown said.

But that appears to be changing; assistant Dalonte Hill has been to the school twice this fall to see sophomore point guard John Davis.

Davis is a 6-foot-2 combo who’s beginning to emerge as a high-major prospect entering his first year as the Eagles’ starting point guard. He’s been somewhat under the radar because the AAU team he plays for, Team Disciple, isn’t a well-known outfit. He also didn’t play a starter’s role as a freshman last year on a senior-laden team, though he did play quality minutes, scoring 31 points off the bench in one game.

“He could have started, trust me," Brown said. "He’s pretty good. He’s more of a combo right now but he has the IQ and the skill to be a point. For the next three years I’m just going to play him at the 1. He can really score, that’s his thing."

The 14-year-old Davis, who’s also attracting attention from Georgetown, Seton Hall and others, attended Maryland Madness at Hill’s invitation. Though he’s just beginning to think about recruiting and doesn’t have any favorites, Hill has made sure Maryland is an early mainstay in his recruitment.

“Dalonte has been in the gym a couple of times," Brown said. "Dalonte and I have a long relationship."

Barring attrition and a redshirt this season for Pe’Shon Howard, the Terps will have two guards leaving the program in 2014. While the staff continues to pursue guard prospects in the current junior class, Davis looks poised to be among the top local guards in the following group.

“He’s just a scorer," Brown said. "He’s athletic, he can shoot it, he gets into the paint at will and he can pass. That kid’s pretty good."

Hill will also likely be keeping tabs on Eagles junior Zaccary Douglas. Brown, not one to over-hype his players, believes the 6-foot-8 forward could end up being a prized national recruit. Seton Hall has already offered, while Towson, George Washington and East Carolina are showing serious interest.

“He’s only 16 and I think he may end up being 6-9, 6-10," Brown said. "He can put it on the floor, play inside. If this kid ends up being 6-9 or 6-10, he’s going to be pretty good. I think one thing that’s kept him [little-known] is he’s too daggone unselfish and we had an upper class-heavy team last year. He started for me for half of his freshman season.

“People notice John because he’s really athletic and with guards, you can see it really early. But to be honest with you, Zaccary Douglas is going to be really good.”

-- 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 8:43 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: InsideMDSports
        

November 2, 2011

Sweet 16: Vote on Baltimore's best DI player

What started on Sept. 1 with a look at Loyola's Dylon Cormier ended Nov. 2 with a feature on Memphis' Will Barton. The 16 best Division I college basketball players from the Baltimore area -- in my opinion -- have been accounted for.

Now comes the interactive part of The Sweet 16. I set up a bracket below matching up all 16 players. After the jump, there are polls for each matchup. I'll keep voting on this round open until Friday morning. We'll keep the voting going until a champion is crowned. This will culminate with a recap of the series next week on the blog and in print as part of The Sun's college basketball preview. For a refresher on all 16 players, scroll down below the polls.

Let the voting begin ...

sweet-16-bracket-2011.jpg








Will Barton, Memphis
Kim English, Missouri
Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma
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

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

Sweet 16: Will Barton, Memphis

will-barton-memphis-tigers.jpg The expectations placed on Will Barton before his freshman season at Memphis were undeniably lofty.

The 2009 Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year was a Top 10 recruit and Scout.com’s No. 1 shooting guard in the country. He had just finished a post-grad year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy in which he led the Bobcats to the National Prep Championship and earned MVP honors for the tournament. And some NBA Draft analysts considered the former Lake Clifton star a potential one-and-done player.

“I was very aware of,” the hype, Barton admitted. “I heard what people were saying, talking about me. I was very aware of it.”

Josh Pastner, whose first commitments as Memphis’ coach were from Will and younger brother Antonio, could sense that the 6-foot-6, 182-pound swingman might have been reading too many of his own press clippings. The second-year coach made it his priority early in the season to make Barton understand just how much development was needed in his game.

“I think with Will, there was talk of all that,” Pastner said. “But I knew when I saw Will play – and I told Will this when we signed him – ‘if you can be a one-and-done, great. But you’ve got a long way to go before then. You’ve got to get a lot better.’ I told him, [the NBA] ‘should be so far out of your mind. Anyone who’s telling you that, they’re not aware [of what it takes].’ You have to get so much stronger and better. I think early on, he was just trying to get used to the college game.”

Anything less than dominance was completely foreign to Barton. During the summer of 2008, Barton starred for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit, earning Top 10 national rankings from Scout.com, ESPN.com, MaxPreps.com and PrepStars.com. Months later, Barton’s storybook senior year at Lake Clifton ended with the Lakers capping a 32-0 season with the Class 3A state championship. Then came his prep year at Brewster in which he averaged 20.8 points and was named the 2009-10 New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A Player of the Year.

That track record of success – along with a steady stream of media hype – probably would have made any player overconfident to an extent. Barton was no different. But while the former five-star prospect couldn’t possibly live up to the unreasonable predictions that some assigned to him, Barton went out and did the best he could.

“[Freshman year] was a little harder than I thought it would be,” Barton said. “It didn’t go exactly as I planned it to be. I still had a great freshman year, but not great with the expectations I had for myself. In my mind, as a freshman, [some people thought] I actually had a great year. To me, I played OK. An OK season. Good learning experience.”

Barton’s “OK season” amounted to averages of 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He played in all 35 games, starting 25, and was the second-leading freshman scorer in Conference USA. Barton’s versatile play last season was instrumental in Memphis claiming the conference championship. In the title game against UTEP, Barton contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists. In the second-round NCAA tournament loss to Arizona, Barton recorded 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

“Let’s keep in mind that he had a good year,” Pastner said. “He was our leading scorer, our second-leading rebounder, leading assist man. He had a real good freshman year. That’s why he’s a preseason Wooden Award [candidate].”

Barton, who was selected to the All-Conference USA third team and the All-Freshman team, is getting accustomed to being a nationally recognized player. CBSSports.com ranked him the No. 32 player in the country, and he’s still considered a potential NBA prospect. But talk of jumping to the league as soon as possible has ceased. Barton’s priorities, it seems, have been altered a bit.

“He’s playing at such a high level right now because of his focus and his maturity,” Pastner said. “His mindset is different, and he’s focused on the front of the jersey in terms of just focusing on this Memphis team. By him doing that, it allows us to just get the job done and play at a very high level. I think Will is going to have a really good year.”

Said Barton: “Towards the end of [last] season, that’s when I started to say, ‘For us to win basketball games and perform at a high level, I have to put all my thoughts into my team and my coaches.’ If I’m not winning and producing at the college level, I’ll never have to worry about the NBA. … I’m just focusing on what I have to do – dominating college basketball.”

Early returns on Barton elevating his game as a sophomore are promising. He stayed in Memphis most of the summer, working on his conditioning, his jumper and his body. The notoriously skinny guard has added nearly 17 pounds of muscle to his lanky frame. And he made progress in the classroom during summer school. Pastner said both Bartons are on pace to graduate in three years.

“[Will has] just got this mentality, this focus. Just his maturity level is different,” Pastner said. “He can be a very, very good player when he’s shooting the 3-point shot. He can still shoot the ball, and just make a dynamite living getting into the paint. He’s been fantastic so far. I’m excited for him.”

Barton is cautiously optimistic about this season – both in terms of team success and from an individual standpoint. He loves Memphis and considers it a “second home.” But he’ll never forget where he came from or how he came to be considered the top college player from this city. For Barton, Baltimore remains an inescapable and influential part of him.

“I always tell people that if I wasn’t from Baltimore, I wouldn’t be as good as I am right now,” Barton said. “Coming from Baltimore, you’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to be tough to take the bumps – not just on the court, but just in life. There’s a lot of violence, a lot of shooting, a lot of drugs. Me coming from there and the things I had to go through, I had to overcome a lot. But I played hard and thank God that occurred. I’m still skinny, but what I am now is just [about] where I’m from. … [So I’m just] going to compete in every game, work as hard as I can, have a very successful season and a better season than last 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:

Kim English, Missouri
Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma
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 Will Barton by Douglas Jones / Feb. 9, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        

November 1, 2011

Sweet 16: Kim English, Missouri

kim-english-mizzou.jpg Kim English wasn't surprised when Mike Anderson left Missouri for Arkansas. And while many fans were perplexed when the Tigers tabbed Miami coach Frank Haith as Anderson's replacement, English stayed "even-keeled" as always.

Part of that reaction is just the nature of English’s personality. The former Randallstown star says he never gets too high or too low. But English’s familiarity with Haith -- who recruited him heavily to play for the Hurricanes four years ago -- also played into his response to the coach’s hiring.

“[Haith] called me when he first got the job,” English recalled. “He said, ‘I told you I’d be your coach someday.’”

English, who said he “almost committed to Miami,” learned more about Haith from his former Cecil Kirk teammate Jack McClinton, an All-ACC performer for the Hurricanes. With that knowledge in mind, English made it his personal mission to help Mizzou fans come to believe what he already did – that Haith was the right man for the job.

“Fans over here were giving him a hard time,” English said. “Here in the Midwest, all they know of the ACC is Duke and Carolina. They didn’t have any clue who he was. Miami’s league record wasn’t stellar. They were kind of upset. That name kind of came out of the blue for them. The next day at the press conference, I kind of had to settle people down here and let them know. I think they all wanted [VCU’s] Shaka Smart, but we had to get someone who was a proven BCS recruiter, and he is that. He is a really, really good recruiter. He’s been a recruiter at Texas, Texas A&M and Miami. He definitely is a good man for the job.”

Throughout his three years in Columbia, English has taken pride in his ability to lead. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound senior is one of the most quotable Tigers, a social-media superstar, a campus leader, and one of the Big 12’s top guards. The roots of English’s development into a nationally recognized college basketball player can be traced back to Baltimore.

English didn’t pick up the game seriously until he was 13. He started out at Mount Royal, competing with Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech), Sean Mosley (Maryland) and Donte Greene (Sacramento Kings, Syracuse) on a regular basis. English moved over to Cecil Kirk at 15, teaming with Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies, UConn), Chester Frazier (Illinois), Jahmar Young (New Mexico State), Jamal Barney (Loyola), Paris Carter (New Mexico State) and several other future Division I players.

“I was just blessed to play with that wealth of talent and just travel and learn from the best players,” English said. “And my dad was really the biggest part of my learning curve, being a sponge for whatever he taught me. I just kind of took what he said as law.”

English started his high school career at Towson Catholic before transferring to Randallstown and leading the Rams to the Class 2A state championship in 2007. The second-team All-Metro selection headed to Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., for a post-grad year, and subsequently became a consensus high-major recruit. English ended up choosing Missouri over Cincinnati, Miami and Tennessee, among others. With three NCAA tournament appearances in three years, English has never regretted that choice.

“I wanted to go somewhere I could leave a legacy,” English said. “Right now, it’s all going well. I’m part of the winningest class in school history with 77 wins. All that stuff is kind of expected in my eyes. You’re remembered by championships. That’s my focus. That’s my goal. That’s what I worry about – being remembered for championships.”

Freshman season set the bar for success pretty high. English appeared in all 38 games, starting 13 and averaging 6.5 points for the Tigers, who won 31 games, went 18-0 at home and made it to the Elite Eight. English followed that debut campaign with a strong sophomore season. He led the Tigers in scoring at 14 points per game, and was named to the All-Big 12 third team for his efforts. Missouri ended its season with a second-round loss in the NCAA tournament to West Virginia.

The 2010-11 season, meanwhile, fell short of English’s expectations. The junior averaged 10 points and averaged a career-high 25.8 minutes. But the Tigers, who started the season 14-1, fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Cincinnati.

“Last year was real freelancing, loosey-goosey,” English said. “But that style worked my first two years when we didn’t have as much talent. Last season, we had seven or eight guys who could get buckets on their own. That much freedom had us bumping heads a lot and not really focusing on defense.”

Early returns on the Haith era at Missouri have been positive in English’s opinion. Adapting to Haith’s system – which English said has more structure and places a greater emphasis on defense than Anderson’s system – has been challenging. But the players have responded positively, and English's hopes for success are as high as ever.

How he is remembered clearly matters to English. His carefully cultivated legacy is an impressive one so far. But it should come as no surprise to anyone that's followed English's career that leaving the program in an even better place than how it was when he arrived is of the utmost importance to him. From what he's seen so far this season, making that happen is a realistic goal.

“It could be the best of my four years here – that’s saying a lot,” English said. “We were an Elite Eight team that won 31 games my freshman year. Next season we got to the second round. Last season was a crazy-talented team. We started the season Top 15, got to No. 8 in the country, and then we fell apart. We had so much talent, but just didn’t jell together. Our chemistry now is better. We could easily be better than those three teams. But we have to do it every single day in practice. We really are preparing the right way. I’m just excited to get started.”


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:

Andrew Fitzgerald, Oklahoma
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 Kim English by Denny Medley / Feb. 5, 2011

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:04 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: The Sweet 16
        
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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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