We received an interesting email this week from Justin Young, a long time contact, who runs the excellent Hoop Seen website, which covers Georgia high school basketball. It's his take on Marcus Sheffield (Chattahoochee/Alpharetta, Ga.), who remains a prime Terp target:
"Sheff and his Dad are great people," said Young. "I've seen Sheff three times this year. One of those games was one of the best I've seen this year. He did everything. He was just so efficient.
"He has to get better defensively, but he's got the goods. He should be a priority guy for Maryland. He is our (Georgia's) best scorer at all three levels, he's a great passer, has a big time IQ, and he's hungry. Sheff plays on a bad team, and he's had to do everything. But I think that experience will pay off for him down the road.
"I really think he's a guy who will blow up in April. Maryland's in there, but so is VCU, Georgia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and a whole bunch of teams."
Young knows his stuff, and based on that report, it's easy to see why Maryland offered Sheffield early. There's still a number of wings on the board, some with offers, others without, but clearly this Georgia peach would appear to be someone Mark Turgeon and the staff really want.
We took a look at Scout's updated Top 100 2015 list (done by Evan Daniels), and we'll try to handicap where the Terps stand with everyone who even has remote Maryland interest....
3. Diamond Stone (Dominican/Milwaukee, Wis.): The trend seems to be on Stone staying in-state, with Wisconsin and Marquette going to war, and schools like Carolina making a strong run as well.
9. Jaylen Brown (Wheeler/Marietta, Ga.): Brown has yet to trim his list, as did his Wheeler teammate Daniel Giddens. I see Georgia Tech being a factor, along with Ohio State, Louisville, Florida and possibly Arizona. He's a national recruit.
20. Allonzo Trier (Montrose Christian/Rockville, Md.): Terps recently offered this 6-4 scoring machine from Montrose Christian. Given his background (born in Seattle, time in Oklahoma), it's hard for me to see Maryland being much of a factor, but the Terps are trying, and the young man has been on campus several times.
34. Horace Spencer (Findlay Prep/Henderson, Nev.): This 6-8 high flyer is playing on a loaded Findlay Prep team, and there's not been a ton of buzz about his recruitment. West Virginia, Seton Hall, Temple, Maryland, Rutgers, Iowa, Georgia and Cincinnati all seem to be in the mix to some extent. Spencer's still a bit raw offensively, but as a defender, a rim protector and rebounder, he's very good.
48. Georgios Papagiannis (Westtown/Westtown, Pa.): No inside information is forthcoming on the big Greek's recruitment. Maryland has offered. The hype seems to have subsided a bit on this 7-0 talent in terms of being a one-and-done type, but there is no denying his skills and polish.
58. Franklin Howard (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.): Howard's been out all year with a knee injury. He is now suiting up for Paul VI but is not expected to play this year. He'll still be recruited at a high level pending a full recovery, but I truly don't see Maryland being a serious contender at this time.
60. Josh Sharma(Northfield Mount Hermon School/Northfield, Mass.): Sharma's always intrigued me with his upside, and the big 7-0 athlete is now coming into his own. Maryland's interest seems to have waned in recent months, and Wisconsin now appears to be a strong early contender for this Massachusetts native.
64. Christian James(Bellaire/Bellaire, Texas): This athletic 6-5 wing man from Texas got some early Maryland attention, but again, we haven't detected a strong Terps push here in recent weeks.
72. Donovan Mitchell (Brewster Academy/Wolfeboro, N.H.): Mitchell has a Terp offer and is enjoying a big year at Brewster Academy (NH). Again, I don't see an all out push for Mitchell, a 6-2-plus combo guard. Providence, UConn, and Florida are being mentioned a good deal lately.
73. Marcus Sheffield (Chattahoochee/Alpharetta, Ga.): As mentioned above, Sheffield still appears to be a major priority for the Terps.
92. Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights/Shaker Heights, Ohio): The Terps (including Turgeon) have been out a number of times to see this 6-7-plus forward, who's having a monster year for Shaker Heights High School. Maryland, West Virginia, Clemson, Rutgers, Michigan, Kansas State, Louisville and Cincinnati seem to be the main contenders at this point, with the Mountaineers possibly holding an early lead. Ahmad is someone the staff really likes from what we've heard.
96. Alex Owens (Oak Ridge/Orlando, Fla.): Owens, a rugged 6-8 forward from Florida, decommitted from Central Florida last year, and now seems to favor Florida over Miami, Maryland, and Louisville.
98. Josh Reaves (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.): We'll be focusing on this fast-rising wing man from Paul VI throughout the WCAC playoffs. Penn State is pushing hard, along with VCU, Villanova, Temple and BC, with Maryland and Georgetown possibly close to offering.
Notable omissions from the Scout Top 100
Christopher Clarke (Cape Henry Collegiate/Virginia Beach, Va.): I've gone on record several times about Clarke. He's a dynamic 6-5-plus wing from Virginia Beach who can impact games without scoring a lot of points. A "point forward" type, he's got the explosion, motor and attitude a program like Maryland desperately needs. Playing for a nationally ranked Cape Henry squad, I wouldn't be surprised to see Clarke crack this list in the spring. The Terps have a shot if they offer before too long.
Jordan Murphy (William J. Brennan/San Antonio, Texas): Murphy, for some reason, is still a little under the radar it seems, and yet is racking up offers at a rapid rate. Murphy, a 6-7 wing, has drawn major attention from Maryland, Texas, Texas A&M, Marquette, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and others. Turgeon and company have been out to the Lone Star State a number of times, so it appears that Murphy is a definite person of interest.
Malik Ellison (Life Center Academy/Burlington, N.J.): Ellison continues to draw strong Maryland interest and has been playing well this year for Life Center Academy. Much like Clarke and Reaves, we expect this talented swingman to receive a bevy of offers in the spring once he gets more exposure on the AAU circuit.
Some other notes:
The Baltimore Catholic League Playoffs begin Feb. 21 at UMBC.
The WCAC Quarterfinals begin Feb. 21 at Gallaudet, with the semis Feb. 22 at American University, and the finals at AU Feb. 25.
The best teams from both leagues will be in the Alhambra Invitational in Frostburg from March 13-15.
As for the Terps, well, they looked very good against Florida State, and then were solid enough against Virginia, although they still have that annoying habit of having offensive and defensive lulls during periods of games.
I know it's not what Terp fans really want to hear, but I do see some improvement in the team here late in the season. It's coming in very small stages, and not nearly fast enough for the fan base, but the guys are playing better. Clearly though, some on this roster were overrated, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the spring, in terms of possible attrition, and how 2015 recruiting fares.
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