Memo to all national programs plucking ripe apples from the DMV tree - someone just built a higher fence for you apple-snatchers to climb over. It appears that Mark Turgeon has assembled a staff that should make those in the business step back with some trepidation and take heed. Scott Spinelli, Bino Ransom and now Dalonte Hill are the recruiting hydra that Maryland is sporting now. Certainly like most things, it is exciting based on the sheer potential of the thing. The idea that Maryland will be recruiting in the upper echelon of the elite players and actually land a few is mind-boggling, especially two decades of near-misses and frustration.
There is no way that I can ever think more of Gary Williams, the coach and the man. No one bled more red than Gary, no one walked into the eye of the storm like Gary did when he first came to this morass that was Maryland basketball in the wake of the Len Bias tragedy and the excessive (very unfairly handed down, I would add) NCAA penalties there-after. The admissions departed circled their wagons and Gary was left to work within a system that would reject top players at the wink of an eye. While Lawrence Moten, Donyell Marshall, Jeff Green, Shane Clark and many others were spurned by the admissions people, Gary had to work within the constrictions set before him. That being said, Gary the recruiter never exactly struck fear into the hearts of the big boys. A few whispers about Gary's temperament, some glad-handing to the AAU mentors, some love and affection under the table, all of things that Gary refused to do - and he was simply left to work within the confines of his realm.
Enter Mark Turgeon, the groans and the whining from the fan base so desirous of a known commodity that they could taunt their rivals with and gladly dream of awesome classes and dazzling dreams of dancing. But this fellow Turgeon, he doesn't know the area, he has no ties, he will bolt Maryland the minute the next big job opens in the Midwest (ah, that could be but anyway .), he's not a media darling, what's he ever done? Who has he ever put in the NBA? Actually, who the heck is he, period? So the fans bemoaned that gloomy weekend when Sean Miller bristled at the suggestion by Kevin Anderson that things should be done a certain way and that Anderson would not be blackmailed into staff raises and so on.
There stands Mark Turgeon, who seems as straight-forward as an arrow, not here to mince words and play games. He is here to win, to build a winner and so far - in only two short weeks - has shown a commitment to assemble a monster recruiting staff that should please, appease, grease and squeeze the fans to death. This is a staff of seasoned big time recruiters who know territories like a travelling salesman (which is a lot of what they do). It won't be like the lottery, our three liberty bells side by side and instant jackpot. They will say hello, we want to win, talk to you later because I have doors to knock on, calls to make and people to see.
The 2012 class was christened by Seth Allen, who sounds more like a Revolutionary War Hero than a ball player. However, the coach scouted him and he liked him and he signed him. Far be it from the complaint from our more vociferous fans who said our ball coach never hit the road much, never saw players or watched them play unless it was absolutely necessary. Well, not totally true but not so far from the mark at times either. Everyone does things their way and well, Gary certainly had his ideas and methods regarding recruiting. Okay, stop nodding to yourself sagely.
What we now have in place is a staff that seems poised to make some big noise. I wouldn't expect any Fab Five classes or Kentucky-like hauls just yet. What I would expect is the staff to work very hard to find top talent, make sure they know they are coveted and sell the product that is Maryland as a place for an education and a place to play basketball. I think it should always be in that order because the NBA is the most exclusive club in the world. I would expect the class to have players who fit the character that Mark Turgeon is seeking. I am soon some things will pop soon but the main thing is to get the targets that we feel we can excel and be comfortable with, not just a checklist of the top 10. A good coach is a chemistry major, putting the right parts on the floor to win titles. See Appendix 2002, Maryland. They don't have to be 5-star studs - but it would help. They don't have to be everybody's All-American - but it would help. They don't all have to be the second coming - but it would help.
And in Mark Turgeon and his three-headed recruiting Hydra of Spinelli, Ransom and Hill, I would pretty much say that without a doubt - help is on the way!