The Maryland basketball staff seems to have several clear targets in the 2015 class, including one in particular who could be ready to join the Terrapins shortly. The Terps have made clear inroads into the Georgia hoops scene, and after landing a recruit from the Peach State each of the last two years (Charles Mitchell and Trayvon Reed), UMD is in position to pull in a third.
Alpharetta (Ga.) Chattahoochee four-star wing Marcus Sheffield (6-foot-5, 180 pounds) has had a steady interest in Maryland ever since he visited College Park last year, and he's maintained a close relationship with his recruiter, Bino Ranson, as well as head coach Mark Turgeon.
"Coach Turgeon came down and saw Sheff, and Coach Ranson has been in touch with him quite regularly," said Sheffield's father, Marcus Sr. "Really, the message to us, and I've said this before, is that they're just really methodical and inviting towards us. They're not rushing, but they're transparent and they're real with us. They have a plan that they use and follow, and it's helped us organize [the recruiting] on our end. It's very process oriented versus some other schools that are more [haphazard] with their recruiting. Its' transparent, open and inviting and we've enjoyed working with [the Maryland staff]."
Sheffield Sr. went on to say that Ranson and Turgeon have made it clear how much they covet his son and admire his game. Apparently the Terps' coaches love the way Sheffield can stroke it from deep, as well as his all-around solid skill-set with few deficiencies in any one area.
"Coach Turgeon has had big wings and guards before, and he's developed them well. Sheff would be a good fit there," Sheffield Sr. said. "He's a good fit for that system and what Maryland is doing. Nick Faust is an example, and another kid Turgeon had at Texas A&M [Khris Middleton] is another good example."
The four-star wing's father mentioned that Maryland was actually the very first school his son visited. Sheffield Jr., according to his dad, "fell in love" with the campus and came away with a great impression of the school and the team.
"He's still high on Maryland now," Sheffield Sr. said. "He's definitely high on the history of the program; he and my wife described the campus as jaw dropping; and he just raved about the coaches up there."
The school's academics are also quite appealing. Sheffield Sr. said his son currently takes AP classes in chemistry, language art and calculus, with his main strength being mathematics and sciences.
"We've told him, 'We want you to do well on the court and it's great you're being recruited, but we don't want you coming back home [because of grades] (laughs),'" Sheffield Sr. said. "So we've talked about graduating, and opportunities beyond college. Maryland being right in that D.C.-Virginia area, that's the heartbeat of the country, and there are a lot of terrific internship opportunities right there. That's always appealing. Maryland is just a great situation."
If that weren't enough, Sheffield also knows one of the current Terps fairly well. Charles Mitchell, who played at Wheeler High down in Georgia, has spoken to the Sheffields before, and Marcus Jr. has picked his brain about Maryland.
"Chuck has been saying good things to Marcus, and [Sheff] is like, 'Wow, I like this situation,'" Sheffield Sr. said. "[Sheff] saw how Chuck was able to play early on, and he saw how Chuck lost so much weight and really got in shape. [Mitchell] was saying how hard they work you there, and I think that really left an impression on [Sheff]."
The Sheffields plan to visit Maryland for a second time after the high school season, if not sooner. They were unable to make Maryland Madness, which disappointed Sheffield Jr., who "definitely" wanted to come, according to his father.
"We were hoping to talk more to Coach Bino about the Midnight Madness, but we just couldn't make it with school and work. We tried, but we couldn't make it," Sheffield Sr. said. "One of my best friends lives in Columbia, and we were trying to get him up there. In fact, we were going to put him on a flight and send him up solo, but my wife and I decided to dial it back and wait until we could all go together.
"But we're going to try and catch a game. That's what he really wants to see, the basketball team, not really the football games. With football, it gives you some insights into the fan support, but it's a little different when you see what it's going to be like for him playing in front of the [basketball fans]. So ideally we'll be able to catch a conference game. Maybe if Maryland has a game on a Sunday and Marcus has a game on a Friday we'll be able to drive up to check it all out. But he definitely wants to get back up there."
Though Sheffield holds Maryland in high regard, there are other schools on the radar. He just recently picked up an offer from Georgia and now claims verbals from the likes of UMD, Georgia, Florida State, Clemson, VCU, Kansas State and Xavier, among others. Sheffield Jr. just came back from visits to Georgia, Georgia Tech and FSU, his mother's alma mater.
"I'd say Maryland, Clemson, FSU, Xavier, VCU, Kansas State and Georgia would have to be the schools that are right there [for Sheffield Jr.]," Sheffield Sr. said. "To be honest, he was a little intimidated with the whole process, but now he's saying, 'OK, what do I want in a school?' Coach Turgeon actually said to write a list of what you want and don't steer away from that. So every school has its plusses, and some schools do things a little differently than others. So we're evaluating now what each school has -- I like this conference, I like the way this team plays, I like the area this school is in. Every school has its strengths."
Right now, though, the Sheffields are dialing back the recruiting process. With the season about to start, the Chattahoochee coaches, as well as Sheffield Jr.'s Game Elite AAU coaches, want him focused on helping his team and improving his game.
"He's kind of stopped visits with tryouts about to start now," Sheffield Sr. said. "We'll take a step back and focus on high school. But if a window opens up and we can jet up to a Maryland, we'll do it. But it will likely be after the season before we start taking visits again."
Sheffield Sr. said there is no clear timetable for his son's final decision, though it will likely come sometime after the high school season concludes. Sheffield Jr. has already seen many of the schools that have offered him at least once, so he knows most of what they have to offer.
"Once you find a place you like and you can pour your heart into it, there's no need to go any further. Whenever that moment happens, we'll pull the trigger and feel comfortable with it," said Sheffield Sr., who noted that his son's focus this year is on improving his ball-handling, defense and on-court leadership. "He's seen enough schools to get some perspective, and now he's taking his second visits. So I wouldn't be surprised if he sees the place he wants to be and then makes a decision right there."
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