Terps Hot on Jefferson

The Maryland Terrapins are pressing hard for the 2012 forward from Wynnewood, PA.

Those following the recruiting trail over the past few weeks have heard the name Amile Jefferson pop up more and more frequently as of late. Well, the hype is real. After, putting up 20 ppg and 12 rpg this past season at Friends Central (Wynnewood, PA), Jefferson has been tearing up the AAU circuit.

Most recently at the NBA Players' Association Top 100 this past week, Jefferson led the event in scoring despite a very serious hand injury. “It was a pretty serious injury,” said Jefferson. “I dislocated my pinky finger 3 times in one game and it was getting really hard to play even after I would pop it back in. But I finished up the game and eventually played the rest of the weekend with a splint.”

His outstanding display of toughness this past weekend is just a small part of the game that makes Amile Jefferson so special. His versatility on the court is often exalted along with his incredible knack for scoring. “I like to play the 3 or the 4, but I usually play a combo 4 position where I'm able to put the ball on the floor against a bigger guy or post up against a smaller guy so that I can create a mismatch either way,” he said. “Really though I just want to do whatever the team needs me to do whether it's scoring, locking down an opponent, rebounding or passing. Ultimately, I just want to be a complete player.”

A five-star recruit, and the #7 PF in the class of '12, Jefferson knows that there's a target on his back wherever he goes. Yet this 2-time league champion and 3-time state champion has dealt with the pressure pretty well for a 17-year old. “There's definitely pressure being a five-star recruit and all but at the end of the day I just have to continue to work hard and keep improving my game,” he said.

The flip side of being a high profile recruit is the criticism that many are quick to dish out. Standing at 6-foot-7 and weighing 185 pounds it is no secret that Jefferson has a skinny frame. Yet, all to often people look past his incredible skills and point to his body as something that will hold him back on the next level. “The criticism definitely makes me want to get better but I also learn from it. I'm willing to admit that there's some positions I'm in where I'm smaller but I also know that if my opponent is bigger and stronger than me there are still things I can do to take away his game,” said Jefferson. “It's about battling and sometimes it comes down to pure heart.”

When asked what aspects of his game that he is specifically looking to improve, he mentioned his strength as well as his ball handling. “I've been doing a better job recently at driving and dishing to the wing, but I know it can be better. I want to eventually become a dual threat.”

Although a dual threat is something that is rarely seen in the game anymore, Jefferson definitely has the potential. Last time TSR checked in with the star player, he and Team Philly were facing the New England Playaz at the NBE in Baltimore. In this matchup between two high-powered teams, Jefferson at times was forced to go up against Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-foot monster who is the #5 ranked player in '12. However, Jefferson held his own against the behemoth from New England, effectively boxing him out and using his athleticism to alter shots and pull down rebounds.

When TSR spoke with Jefferson at the NBE in May, the Maryland program was in a state of turmoil with Gary Williams's departure and whispers of Sean Miller making the move East. Yet, Jefferson, who has had an offer from the Terps since his sophomore season, followed the changes in the program very closely. “I definitely kept a close eye on the whole process going on at Maryland because they're a school I've been in contact with for quite a while now,” he stated.

“I became even more interested in the school when I saw that they had kept Coach Bino [Ransom] throughout the staff change because Coach Bino has been the one recruiting me there the entire time and he and I have a good relationship,” said Jefferson. Jefferson has been to College Park twice in the past year but strictly for games (Duke and Boston College), so he hasn't had a chance yet to look at the school as closely as he'd like. “Maryland is one of the top schools on my list of colleges that I'd like to take an unofficial visit to soon. I'd like to get to know the school on and off of the court.”

When asked about his relationship with Coach Bino, Jefferson stated that the two had just spoken the night before through Facebook and that they often speak at least once a month but sometimes more. In terms of the new staff however, Jefferson recently had the chance to speak to the new chief in College Park, Mark Turgeon, that same night before and was able to recap their conversation. “I talked to Coach Turgeon last night for the first time,” he said. “He talked to me about what he's been able to accomplish at the schools he has been at prior to Maryland. I expressed to him my interest in learning more about the school and the program and he expressed his interest in learning more about me.”

Though he has yet to put together a list of his top schools, Jefferson definitely has the Terps on his radar. “I'm taking a hard look at Maryland. It's very humbling to be recruited by such a program and to have them offer you a scholarship is special.” Jefferson hopes to narrow down his choices to a short list of 3-5 schools by September so that he can start taking some official visits. For now though, he's back to the summer grind, making stops at places like Kevin Durant and LeBron James's skill camps, before making the trip west to Vegas. No matter where he may travel though, this is one player that Terps fans want to keep an eye on.


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