Some idle hoops thoughts from a hot June afternoon...
To say it's a big week for Maryland Basketball is an understatement. Robert Carter was on campus June 3-4, to be followed by Terry Henderson's arrival June 6.
Both are proven performers at the high major level, and would likely step right in as immediate starters in 2015-16. Carter's been to St. John's and South Carolina. There doesn't appear to be any other serious contenders for him at this time. Carter knows the Maryland staff from his initial recruitment, and he's friends with Terp freshman Trayvon Reed.
What you hope for is a dynamite visit, a few days of reflection by Carter and his family, and a decision by early next week, if not before. Carter is a versatile power forward with inside/outside skills. If the Terps really want to make a run in '15-'16, landing Carter would be a giant first step.
While the Terps are still involved with high school wings such as Allonzo Trier (Montrose Christian/Rockville, Md.), Josh Reaves (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.) and Malik Ellison (Life Center/Burlington, N.J.), landing Henderson would give UMD a high-flying, athletic wing with outstanding shooting ability, who was an effective performer at WVU for two years. He has the skills and more importantly, the experience, to create instant offense.
A Raleigh, N.C., native, Henderson will visit NC State on June 20. Possible visits to Wake Forest and UCLA are still being considered, but this could be a two team race. Henderson's dad lives in Maryland, and we hear his mom may be moving here from Raleigh in the next year as well. The bottom line is that Henderson is better than the high school wings on the board, and would have a much faster impact on the program. In a perfect world, this 6-4 sharpshooter loves his visit, and takes no others.
Regardless of how these visits turn out, Maryland will have to recruit a point guard from the 2015 high school class. Our take on the candidates:
Bryant Crawford, 6-2, (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.): His skills would complement those of Melo Trimble. Crawford is an electric athlete, a tenacious defender and someone who can get to the rim. His outside shot is a sometimes thing. We've seen him knock down triples, and also fire up air balls. When healthy, this Gonzaga product is a very good prospect. It looks like Louisville, Maryland, and Villanova could wind up as the last three standing, but his June 11 trip to Louisville is key.
Justin Robinson, 6-0, (St. James, Md.): Robinson is one of the better pure points coming out in an overall fairly weak class of lead guards. What we like about Robinson is his solid skill set, his strong body, and his knowledge of the game. Robinson shoots it pretty well, handles well, and plays under control. Does he have one great skill? No, but he knows how to play and is team oriented. Those traits are something this program needs. It will be interesting to see if Robinson looks seriously at Maryland. He's got a slew of offers now from both mi and high-major programs.
Noah Blackwell, 6-2, (Woodcreek/Roseville, Calif.): We've not seen Blackwell live, but videos and feedback from some Cali sources show him to be a pretty talented lead guard. Blackwell has the handle, finds people and scores it well enough, while being able to play over the rim. He's highly impressed with the Terps right now, but still, we suspect a number of high-major offers will be coming from West Coast schools during July, so that could make him a tough get.
Kevin Dorsey, 5-11, (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.): Dorsey doesn't have a Maryland offer, but it could come in July. The Paul VI floor general isn't really a pure point guard, but if you want defense, energy, competitiveness and an ability to get to the rim, well, Dorsey is your guy. His shot has improved, and this kid leaves it all on the floor. VCU may lead at the moment, and he'd be a perfect fit in that system.
Some other notes
One pickup session doesn't mean a lot, but Richaud Pack plays hard. He will help this program in lots of ways, many of which won't show up in the box score.
We're anxious to see what Michal Cekovsky brings to the table. Apparently, the skill level is impressive, and he's likely going to be the only real option the Terps have of running any offense through the big men. Damonte Dodd and Trayvon Reed will both get minutes of course, but neither is capable at this time of producing much offense. Those three, plus Jon Graham comprise Maryland's bigs -- and what you hope for is solid defense and some boards. Any offense is a bonus, and most likely, it will come from Cekovsky.
I liked the leaner, trimmer Dion Wiley. No one talks about his passing ability, but it's there. Trimble has it as well, but again, both young men were counted on to score in high school. But these guys can, and will, find open shooters.
Will the Terps sign a big man in 2015? At the moment, I'd say it's possible, but not a sure thing, especially if they land Carter. Georgios Papagiannis (Westtown, Pa.) and John Collins (Cardinal Newman/West Palm Beach, Fla.) have offers, but I'm not holding my breath on either. We'll see how the current bigs progress, but IF Carter does come, you've got adequate depth on the front line, and could wait until 2016 to bring in another big.
I've categorized Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights, Ohio) and Jordan Murphy (Brennan/San Antonio, Texas) as "warm" on the Hot Board. I see the Terps being in the final three for both players, and I do believe Maryland would be happy with either coming on board. I don't see landing Carter as a reason why either player would think less of the Terps, as both probably are more suited to playing small forward than power forward.
I have Ohio State, Maryland, and possibly WVU in solidly with Ahmad (with Michigan and Michigan State still lurking), and Maryland, Creighton, and Texas A&M the possible leaders for Murphy. A&M surprisingly just landed Houston transfer small forward Danuel House, and that could be a factor in how seriously Murphy views the Aggies.
I've spoken often about the talent in the DMV in 2016. There are a lot of good players in the area, but no surefire "big timers," at least at the moment.
At this point in time, I like Anthony Cowan (St. John's/Washington, D.C.), 5-10, and fast emerging power forward Corey Manigault (Paul VI), 6-8, as two prospects the Terps will pursue with vigor. Curtis Jones (Paul VI), 6-3, is another player clearly on the radar. Certainly, a few more could elevate their games and become priorities, but that remains to be seen. Obviously, how the transfer situation shakes out will be a facto, as well as what other high schoolers are added in 2015.
I just saw that former Terp Charles Mitchell is visiting Georgia, with Georgia Tech apparently also under consideration.
Nick Faust is now looking at St. John's, Providence, Wichita State, UAB and Long Beach State.
But first thing's first. Let's hope that by next week's Dish, there is some positive news on Carter. Assuming Henderson takes his June 20 trip to NC State, it may be awhile before we know anything on his next destination. With how the current roster is shaped, it's hard to see the Terps tearing it up in the Big Ten next year, even given a more cohesive, and unselfish group of players. But if you can land Carter or Henderson, or both, then '15-'16 looks like it could be a huge step in the right direction.
As always, we'll be covering the transfer situation closely, and well as the July live period.
TTDan's Hoops Dish
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