Class of 2012: Where'd They Go?

TSR takes a look at the Terps basketball prospects for 2012, where they ended up committing to, and why it was not Maryland.

Maryland's class of 2012 was supposed to be deep and extremely talented, a potential top 5 class with star-laden talent from top to bottom. Maryland fans, as we are prone to do, came in with inflated expectations and deflated realizations (so far). While Duke and UNC continue to stock-pile, N.C. State suddenly become a recruiting terror and big man prospects dropping off the board like the cast of “Ten Little Indians,” it has left some Terrapin fans in despair. Like some fans, we need to lie down on a couch and get some therapy as to what happened to all these big time players and where in the heck we stand at this point.

The jewel of the class was Mitch McGary, who dropped us in October before choosing another school that is rebuilding in Michigan. Why not Maryland? Well, the fact that one of his best friends is Glenn Robinson, another Michigan recruit, certainly aided their cause. And he stated that the Maryland system may not be to his liking, perhaps based on the way Texas A&M ran their sets. So the lack of a “product” at Maryland under Turgeon certainly hurt that cause. This won't be a problem in years to come, so simply a case of lack of reference for McGary.

Amile Jefferson seems to have flown all over the map. He seems to be down to Ohio State, N.C. State, Kentucky and Villanova. I think the case with Jefferson, Jerami Grant, Twymond Howard and Arnaud Adala-Moto in a sense all came down to one thing - Terps got their man at the small forward slot in the wildly talented Jake Layman. While I feel that Jefferson and Grant especially could have taken the floor with Layman, there is no question that the young man from Massachusetts has a ceiling greater than any small forward on the board. We are talking Mike Dunleavy-like talent. The fact that Rivals still has Jake Layman listed at #110 is the most ridiculous ranking I have ever seen in my 20 years of following this sort of thing.

Big men like Robert Carter and Charles Mitchell are still on the board but seem like long shots based on regional factors, academics and other forces pulling against Maryland. Prince Ibeh just did not want to leave the state of Texas and Robert Upshaw cut the Terps without even making a visit. All of these big men may have shied away because Maryland landed another terrific player in Shaquille Cleare, 6-9 280 pound bone-crusher in the middle. I would say this would be the best pure center in the history of Maryland basketball coming into College Park. He is truly what we would call an immovable object. The fact that forwards like Mitchell and Carter would benefit immensely playing next to the big man will hopefully come across as their recruiting matures. So again, a case of recruiting several players for one position, which gets filled and we know the impatience of players today, they all want to start. Cleare is a starter from day one, period.

Certainly the Terps seemed strong for Christian Sanders, who opted for Stanford. Well, folks, no disrecpect - it is Stanford. When you can get a scholarship there and understand that basketball is the means and not the end, you are doing something right. You have to cheer for Sanders, hands down. Other guards who wandered through were Andrew White (just a visit for his tour of Around the World in 80 days) and Terry Henderson, who opted for West Virginia. Terps have had a visit from Sam Cassell Jr, who is a nice talent. But the big fish that the Terps are angling for is Torian Graham, top 40 SG from Florida, who has the Terps in the lead with visits upcoming. There are academic hurdles to overcome, admittedly, but the young man has been through so much drama that one can only hope he is given the opportunity to play college ball and get his life back on track. He would a huge addition to a Terp team in need of pure talent.

Right now, publicly, it seems that the Terps are focused on Torian Graham, Charles Mitchell and Robert Carter. They probably lead for one and even there, other forces could put the lid on that recruitment. So if the class ends here, a three-man class with two top 40 players and one under-the-radar swing guard, most might be wondering what happened to the 6-man powerhouse projected by most in the Spring. Things change and this is definitely a battle field out there. You lose more than a few battles but hope to win the war. Turgeon and staff, as vaunted as they have been touted, have yet to bounce a ball officially in Comcast center. So they have done very well, considering the circumstances. Hopefully they can land two more solid players that can help build the program.

For those who always want to ask what went wrong, they need to look at Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman and understand what went extremely right! I know there will be some eye-rolling if they add a couple of “bodies” as was perhaps the custom of the previous regime to the dismay of the masses. But I would reserve judgement for at least three years because we know Turgeon can coach at this level, we know his staff can recruit at this level and it is just a matter of time before it jells together and things get clicking again in College Park.

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