Hoops Recruiting: It's All About Patience

The Maryland basketball program is hoping to bring a few high profile recruits on board for 2013.

Maryland basketball recruiting has started like a firecracker under Turgeon, with a litany of top names mentioning Maryland and Mark Turgeon with much enthusiasm. As we have learned this year, as in every year of past basketball recruiting, an ounce of reality is worth a ton of talk. The number of big-timers that have opted for other schools or just drifted away certainly is puzzling on a lot of fronts but recruiting is as is life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Patience is going to have to be the key word. The only thing that will lift the Maryland recruiting classes in the years to come will be success on the court. That will take time and some lumps along the way. The folks around here who are awaiting the commitment to Maryland by the Harrison twins should understand that the staff is definitely not holding their breath on that one. They are beating the bushes for point men in 2013 and in 2014. They are targeting a few big timers in Rysheed Jordan and Tyler Ennis but they are considerable long shots akin to Mr. Britt, who took his talent to North Carolina when that offer presented itself. In other words, it will be tough to pry loose an elite lead guard as Maryland stands now simply because the other schools under more established coaches will lure them away.

This year, the Terps did better than could be expected, landing two top-40 players in Shaquille Cleare (who is absolutely killing it so far this year) and Jake Layman (who busted loose for 21 points and 26 rebounds in his first game). Those are huge building blocks and should establish Maryland as a solid post-season team for years to come. Much more talent is needed, but again, time is the answer.

For the Maryland fans, I know they would love to see Amile Jefferson here knowing that he would get minutes, have the style of play needed and playing next to two solid front-liners in Layman and Cleare. We are biased because we cannot understand why that would be easily dismissed, yet the young man has obviously looked elsewhere as of now. The fans were discussing a class of Cleare, McGary, Jefferson, Layman, Torian Graham (recommitted to State) and so on have to realize that it wasn't going to be a Calipari-like fix here at Maryland.

I am sure the fans dreamed of a 2013 class of Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt, the Harrison twins, BeeJay Anya, Troy Williams, other elite players…..again, not likely to happen. Turgeon and staff will recruit but they seem content at this juncture to build a solid foundation of players who fit their style. Britt would have been great in that sense but when North Carolina calls, who can blame him for answering. The names most mentioned with Maryland in 2013 are not household names….yet. They are seeking to find talented players to build a foundation more so than one-and-done players who are taking a whistle stop at Maryland for no real intent to be a part of the program other than to get to the next level. Would they refuse that talent, not on your life? But that talent just isn't dying to be here….yet.

Fans perhaps are frustrated when they read the various sites that state Turgeon is scouting this guy (to which they say who?!) or Spinelli is scouting that guy (to which they say, I don't see him on any of these top 50 lists, what gives?!) or Hill is in contact with this guy (he is described as solid at the HS level which means he won't make a dent in college)….! Naturally fans are wondering (no disrespect to any of the players here) if this is just more of the Shane Walker, Steve Goins, Braxton Dupree, Travis Garrison stiffs that have left this program wanting in the past 4 years.

Maybe so, time will tell. The accusations against the previous staff was that they were lazy, poor recruiters, did not reach out and make the effort with elite players, that they always “settled” late in the year for whatever was left out there….all in all, the player level coming in was tepid at best. There was a lot of truth in that, sad to say, for whatever reason Gary Williams and company did not like to play the AAU and posse game with the locals and the top 30-type players. There had to be a feeling that “hey, I won a National Championship and ACC Title here, why do I have to kiss the butts of these young punks?!” Yeah, well, that is kind of how it's done in a sense. You can't stand on pride to the point that it gets in the way of what is needed. That is a lot of what went wrong, as Maryland slid down from very good to mediocre.

And fans naturally see that the staff is not heavily involved with top players in 2013 and its panic button time for a great majority. The huge difference is this staff is pro-active and scouts very well, from what we have seen. Every prospect that Turgeon was recruiting before coming to Maryland rose steadily up the charts. Layman was not a household name when Turgeon began chasing him, now he is consensus top 40 and rising. Seth Allen is a player whose stock is rising as well.

Do not be surprised to see the “unknown” players of this fall become the top 50-75 recruits on everyone's list next fall. Mark Turgeon said it quite plainly and I am sure he was not being disrespectful, just truthful, when he stated, “I won't recruit a player just to fill space.” So be aware, the players the Terps are recruiting today will surely be known to the recruiting world soon as they swiftly become players that we feel we cannot afford to miss on. And as a postscript, the big names will understand what they are missing one of these days as well, though we always wish them well as long as they are not in the ACC and wearing blue uniforms of any kind!

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