The last 7-footer to leave College Park, Alex Len, was selected fifth overall in this year's NBA Draft. Now,Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon has his eye set on the "next big thing," Mt. Hermon (Northfield, Mass.) 2015 centerJosh Sharma.
The Terps' coaching staff scouted 7-foot, 205-pound rim protector out in Las Vegas, and after an impressive performance they pulled the trigger on the offer. Sharma, who plays AAU ball with Mass Rivals, already holds offers from the likes of Boston College, Oklahoma State and UMass, and he continues to make a name for himself on the recruiting trail.
Mass Rivals' Coach Vin Pastore is not surprised that Sharma is beginning to gain attention and scholarship offers.
"When you see a 7-footer who can run, who can catch, who has a nice touch, then you add his athleticism to it and the fact that he is very coordinated, it is pretty easy to project what he is going to be like," Pastore said. "He is special now and his talent and upside are apparent, but he going to be something really, really good, and I think Maryland recognized that early."
Sharma is not just a big body that takes up space in the lane. He can get out and run the floor, and he is a talented shot blocker.
"What makes him special is, he is willing to challenge opponents at the rim at both the offensive and defensive end. If someone is trying to dunk it, he is going to try and meet them at the rim," Pastore said. "Let me put it this way, he is not afraid of contact, and on the offensive end, he tries to dunk everything himself."
Sharma may not be shy when in comes to contact, but he is still working on filling out that giant frame of his. Not to mention, fine tuning his technique. After all, this is only Sharma's third year playing basketball.
"Josh is still rather new at basketball and he is still figuring things out. Plus, the thing with Josh is, he has spent much of his life growing up, he hasn't had the chance to grow out yet.," Pastore said. "I really think he needs to give his body time to fill out, and just spend some more time in the gym."
Even with Sharma's limited experience, his future potential is sky-high.
"He is going to be able to play in college at the highest level, that's an absolute given. At this point, the question for Josh is, the level after college," Pastore said. "He is a NBA prospect, 7-footers that can do what he does…. Yea, those are NBA prospects."
Maryland certainly knows about athletic 7-footers end up in the NBA…considering they just lost one in Alex Len. Pastore said, Alex Len's successful transition from Maryland to the Draft could certainly have an impact on Sharma.
"Anytime someone gets an offer from a school with a tradition like Maryland's, they are definitely going to be excited," Pastore said. "He does know that Maryland has had a lot of success with their big men, especially their recent 7-footer. He knows its a great school, in a great conference to play basketball in with a great tradition."
Sharma may not have learned all of those things on his own. One of Pastore's former Mass Rivals standouts is Terps' sharp-shooter, Evan Smotrycz, who transferred to Maryland last season.
"I know Evan absolutely loves Maryland. It has really been a great transition for him, so I'll say this…it certainly can not hurt ‘em (Maryland) to have Evan there because he absolutely loves it," Pastore said. "When those guys are home they are in the gym together, and I know the players talk, and on social media too during the year so there is plenty of discussion going on."
While it is still too early to jump to any conclusions, Sharma has the right ingredients, athleticism and height, for a bright future. But will that future include the Terps?
""I would say it's early," Pastore said. "He needs to build relationships and I am sure he will start that process, but I know he is building some good relationships there (at Maryland)."
Coach Speak: Josh Sharma
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