There were a host of recruits in the Comcast Center for Maryland's 75-69 overtime victory against Virginia March 9, but while the game was thrilling in and of itself, Henrico (Richmond, Va.) sophomore wing De'Monte Buckingham was in for even more excitement that afternoon. Shortly after Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon ended his postgame press conference, the Terps' headman extended a scholarship offer to the rising star.
"That just made the whole experience even greater," said the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Buckingham. "I had to wait a little bit after the game, but Coach Turgoen and Coach Bino [Ranson] took me to [Turgeon's] office and let me know about the offer. [Turgeon] said he hadn't seen me play in person yet, but he'd heard great things about me from Coach Bino. He was saying how Coach Bino gave me a great evaluation, and based on everything he'd heard he thought I deserved an offer. I was real thankful for it, real appreciative."
Buckingham had been in College Park, Md., previously, but it was nothing like he experienced March 9. He lauded the Maryland students and said he liked the way the Terps competed and played.
"It was a great game, a great atmosphere," Buckingham said. "Both teams were really battling, and it was hard fought. The fans throughout, they were crazy. And I've never seen a court storming before, so that was pretty cool at the end when they all [the student] rushed out there.
"It made me respect Maryland ever more, just how much the fans like the basketball program and really support it."
The Henrico product also had plenty of praise for Maryland's coaches, namely Ranson. Buckingham said the Terps' assistant had been down to watch him play a couple times and has developed a rapport with him.
"We have a real close connection. He relates to me well," Buckingham said. "Coach Bino's been saying I'm the type of player they're looking for -- a scorer but also a guy who can play good defense and has great leadership skills."
March 9 was actually Buckingham's third time on campus. He'd visited once his ninth grade year, and also attended the UMD-Oregon State bout earlier this season.
"I've actually liked Maryland since the first time I ever went there," Buckingham said. "The players there really get treated right. It's a real good program."
Maryland is hardly the only school Buckingham is considering, however. A surefire national recruit, he also holds scholarships from the likes of Virginia, VCU, Richmond and ODU, with significant interest from Xavier, Villanova, Syracuse and even North Carolina a bit.
At this point, though, UVA looks to have the upper hand early on.
"I've been to Virginia a bunch of times, and I'm real close to there, only about 45 minutes away, and I'm comfortable there," Buckingham said. "Their facilities are really nice, they have a great coaching staff and I like the way they play. I went to the game where they beat Syracuse and also when they played UNC, and I just really enjoyed myself there."
The Wahoos also hold a wildcard in that Buckingham's brother, a senior track star, is considering attending UVA or Wake Forest. Evidently the two siblings are close and have discussed attending school together.
"We had a long talk, and [my brother] told me I didn't have to follow him and go to the same school, but it's something I'm thinking about," Buckingham said. "If he goes to UVA, I'll probably go there, but we'll see. I'm nowhere close to being ready to make a decision."
VCU is another program Buckingham is familiar with. He recently visited there as well and is a fan of Shaka Smart's "Havoc" defense.
"That's a great program too with a great coach," said Buckingham, who has no other visits scheduled.
Buckingham is coming off a season where he averaged 19 points, 12.5 rebounds and six assists. Although he's being recruited as a wing, he was forced to play inside for Henrico, thus the 12.5 rebounding average.
"The best part of my game is driving and creating for my teammates, and just playing hard and being a leader," Buckingham said. "But I'm trying to get my hands better, my dribbling, and I'm trying to get my shot more consistent. I'm working on a lot of different things right now."
Buckingham Thrilled with Terps Offer
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