The first seat is taken - belong to 6-1 Seth Allen from Virginia. Allen's ankle injury has limited his ability to explode in the recent AAU event in Philadelphia, but scouts and pundits alike see the potential in his game. He won't rise up any rankings list like a bullet but has proven that he can play with the big leaguers. His rise on his jumper is very nice, a beautiful stroke from outside which Turgeon really seems to be keying on.
The second ship seems spoken for as well, though Maryland is the ONE school where you can't take anything for granted in basketball recruiting. Still, by every indication short of an announcement, the second seat on the bus is for Shaquille Cleare, 6-9 big man from Texas. There is little doubt that his is the key to the class at this stage, the first low post beast since Lonny Baxter here at Maryland. He is a wide-bodied space eater with great footwork and remarkable hands, by all accounts. No one can predict how effective a player will be in college but I expect he will be a physical force from the moment he steps on to the Comcast floor.
That leaves four ships to work with. The general idea is that Terps was two more big men, one wing forward and one more shooter. They are not wasting any time showing who they would prefer and who they are chasing with energy of the likes not seen in these parts for a lot of years. Ship #3 for the shooter seems to start with Christian Sanders, 6-4 guard from Texas, another member of Shaquille Cleare's AAU Houston Defenders. The staff has pursued him long before he started to rise up the charts, at least to top 100 status when July is said and done. He is a Kirk Heinrich play-alike who does everything it takes for his team to win. Texas and eventually Kansas should be the other competition but feel pretty good about Sanders to the Terps. If Sanders opts elsewhere, the Terps might consider Arnaud Adala-Moto (considering him at the small forward slot as well) in that position. He is not the shooter by any stretch that Sanders is, but does everything else you need to compete on the floor. There was even whispers Terps were trying to get involved with top 10 super Ricardo Ledo. Don't hold your breath, as they say. Best guess = Sanders.
Ship #4 set aside for the small forward is a flexible one. The staff would probably put Jake Layman, rising 6-8 forward from Massachusetts at the top of their list. He has risen up the charts like Sanders and is getting great reviews at the Peach Jam this week. He is a jack-of-all-trades player who defends at the head of the press as well as finishes with power and consistency. There is even word that he could grow to 6-10. He is still agile and graceful at 6-8, has great range and would remind people a lot of former Duke pest, Mike Dunleavy. If not Layman, Arnaud Adala-Moto, 6-5 for Virginia, would be an ideal candidate. The staff has certainly shown great interest in Danuel House, 5-star wing from Texas, who has been rising like mercury in a steam room, so his recruitment might be a circus. Other small forwards have been linked to Maryland such as Twymond Howard, 6-5 from Mississippi and Jaylen Bond, 6-7 prep player from Pennsylvania. The timing of this would have to be right, i.e. Layman and Moto commit elsewhere and these players still available and interested. I would say they were long shots at best. Best guess = Layman.
Ships #5 and #6 are kind of grouped together. The staff wants two more big men with skills and they are definitely shooting for the moon here. They are pursuing with great energy (Bino has been described as a used car salesman in a nice way) two of the best forwards in the country. Mitch McGary, 6-10 from New Hampshire and Amile Jefferson, 6-8 from Pennsylvania are both 5-star players who are having tremendous summers. They are in contact to the nth degree. If they lose out on both players, it will not be from lack of effort. At the next level, they are pursuing a number of fine prospects. There is Prince Ibeh, 6-10 Texan who specializes in blocking shots and boards. There is Jerami Grant, 6-8 slasher from near-by DeMatha, who probably favors Virginia Tech and Syracuse ahead of Terps for now. There is Robert Upshaw, 7-0 big man from California who is high on a lot of major team's lists. A visit from him would be a coup. To a lesser extent, there is Robert Carter (6-8 from Georgia), Shaquille Goodwin (6-8 from Georgia), Elijah Macon (6-9 from Ohio), Marshall Wood (6-8 from Virginia) and perhaps others that are probably extremely unlikely. The timing would have to be that we missed on the five guys above and that these players were available and interested. Best guess = Jefferson and Ibeh.
Any of these combinations would be awesome. The staff is on the road now like a rock band, coming to a city near you real soon. Let's hope they can get as popular as one and lead some these young talented players to Maryland. It continues to be a great ride with Turgeon and staff, just watching them work is a sheer joy. Knowing that they are beating the bushes for players is definitely a song that I like hear played over and over on the radio. It never gets tired.