When Mark Turgeon took over the reins of the program this past May, he also took on the responsibility of completely transforming Maryland's fortunes in the recruiting world. With outstanding facilities, a great location, a storied program, membership in an elite conference and a die-hard fan base, Maryland fans felt there was no reason their team shouldn't be contending for the top ranked national recruits.
In a short 4 months, Turgeon has, in most eyes, lived up to if not exceeded the expectations of Terp nation. With an outstanding staff assembled, Turgeon and his assistants have made a ton of noise on the recruiting trail. After striking early with the commitment of local Fredericksburg Christian star, Seth Allen, the staff went on a recruiting rampage, aiming for the top of the list. Of Scout's Top 50 2012 recruits, 8 hold scholarship offers from the Terrapins.
Then, in late August, Maryland scored a big commitment from long-time target, Shaquille Cleare (The Village School, Houston, Tx.). Cleare's commitment bolstered the Terps' recruiting class into Scout's Top 25 Classes of 2012, and the excitement surrounding the program was off the charts.
However, not even 2 weeks after Cleare's decision, Turgeon struck again; this time pulling off a commitment that many in the recruiting world would call a tough get for Maryland. Over the long Labor Day weekend, Maryland hosted four-star Massachusetts big man, Jake Layman, for what was his first of a planned four official visits. By his departure on Saturday however, Turgeon and his team had pulled off the improbable after Layman decided to forego his other official visits and become a Terp.
Layman, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound star at King Philip Regional High School (Wrentham, Ma.) is Scout's #9 ranked SF of 2012, and with his verbal to Maryland, gives the program the #6 ranked '12 recruiting class. Before his decision to commit to Maryland, Layman had planned on taking official visits in the coming months to Syracuse, Florida, Louisville and perhaps Wake Forest.
Layman received his first major scholarship offer, from Providence, right before his sophomore year of high school, but really exploded onto the scene this past summer while playing for BABC (Boston Area Basketball Club), one of the elite AAU teams on the East coast. They're the reason that I am where I am now, said Layman. Playing in the Nike Elite League, you're always facing players who are going to great schools and every game you play helps you get better. It's really been a life changing experience.
Layman's coming out party took place this past summer on one of AAU's grandest stages, the annual Nike Peach Jam Tournament. It was after his stellar performance in South Carolina that Layman's name really became known. I wasn't that consistent with my scoring, but there were some games where I showed flashes of how good I can be, admitted Layman. On defense though, I thought I was very consistent with deflections, steals and just overall intensity and I think that's where I made my mark.
Layman takes great pride in his defense, stating it as one of the strengths in his game along with his length. Anyone who has watched him play however, would also note his range and shooting touch as being above average, especially for someone of his height. I think my shot for my size is pretty decent and I'm hoping I can use it at Maryland because I know Coach Turgeon loves shooters, stated Layman.
Standing at 6-foot-8 and weighing only 190 pounds, his lack of strength and physical presence is something that many, as well as Layman himself, point to as something that needs to be worked on. I need to work a lot on my ball handling, but I'd also like to improve my strength and conditioning, he said. I need to get bigger to be effective at the next level.
In terms of his style of play, Layman makes his presence known on both ends of the floor, and for a big man is quite versatile. He is a major defensive presence in the paint, and his athleticism and range on offense make his a tough assignment. I'm a very intense player, said Layman. I like to pick the team up and I'm always all over the place. For BABC we press like crazy so I'm used to being all over the court.
Layman's connection to Maryland has it's roots down at Turgeon's former school, Texas A&M, where the Aggies were in pursuit of the big man's talents. It was now Maryland assistant, Scott Spinelli, who tipped off the Terps while he was a part of Turgeon's staff in College Station. Texas A&M was recruiting me and Coach Spinelli came to see me play last year in the game where I reached 1,000 points, said Layman. After the game he came up to me and offered me a scholarship to play at A&M, but we both really knew I wasn't going to Texas for college. Coach Spinelli and Coach [Bino] Ransom are friends though, and Coach Spinelli called up Coach Bino to tell him about me. I have a good relationship with both coaches though, so when Coach Spinelli went to Maryland it seemed like a perfect fit.
Very few players have the luxury of attending a college where there are already 2 coaches with whom they have established relationships, but that's what Layman has in Maryland. Coach Bino is just a very energetic guy and he's actually kind of crazy on the phone, said Layman. He'll always say what he's thinking and we're kind of alike in that way. Coach Spinelli is almost the exact same, but I like that about both coaches.
Layman and his family arrived in College Park on September 1st, preparing for their first of 4 official visits. I had absolutely no intention of committing on the trip, said Layman. Going on this visit I was looking at it as the first of my official visits, but I always knew Maryland was my leader and I was comfortable with the coaches there. Once I got there, I got to spend some good time with the coaches and the players and that was really great. I feel like I have a great relationship with all of the coaches there and I absolutely loved the Comcast Center. Everything felt right so I decided to commit on the spot.
The addition of Jake Layman, the #41 overall player in his class, bolsters the Terps to the upper echelon of the recruiting world. After a rough year in which they failed to make the NCAA Tournament and lost 3 solid commits to a coaching change, there's nothing more refreshing than seeing the Maryland program thriving once again. With plenty of spots still left for this already stellar class of 2012 who knows when Turgeon and his outstanding staff will strike again.