The second of three live periods has now ended, with the final period beginning July 23 and running through Sunday the 27th. There are still some solid events coming up, including the AAU Super Showcase in Louisville, Adidas Super 64, Las Vegas Classic and the Fab 48 (all in Vegas). In addition, there are dozens of smaller, regional events. But the Peach Jam and the Under Armour Finals are over, and those were the "big boys" on the circuit.
What did we learn during this second live period? Where do the Terps stand with their major targets? Let's take a quick look:
Justin Robinson, 6-0, St. James School (Md.): Robinson inexplicably played very little during the first few games of the Peach Jam, but as the tournament rolled along, that changed, and he played well down the stretch. He wasn't spectacular, but was steady and acquitted himself well. The Terps continue to show Robinson major love, and he remains, as best we can tell, their No. 1 point guard prospect for the class of 2015. Though he has yet to narrow his list, his camp tells me that will happen in August. We expect Maryland to make that cut, along with perhaps Virginia Tech, Creighton, Temple and possibly GW.
Glynn Watson, 6-0, St. Joseph's (Westchester, Ill.): Head coach Mark Turgeon and the boys got a good look at Watson at the UA event in Atlanta. He's a different type of point guard than Robinson, relying more on sheer speed and quickness to get the job done. Watson's slight of build, but he's hard to stay in front of, and he makes spectacular plays, while turning it over on occasion. An adequate shooter, we've got Watson pegged as a definite target, and perhaps No. 2 on the point guard list at the moment. Should Robinson go elsewhere, the heat would obviously be turned up with this Illinois floor general. Purdue and Nebraska may lead.
Noah Blackwell, 6-2, Woodcreek HS (Creekside, Calif.): Blackwell was just OK at the UA Finals, according to our guy on the scene there. He didn't shoot particularly well, and yet played solidly, while looking nothing like the guy we've seen on his Mixtape highlight. At this time, we're not anticipating much of a push for Blackwell, though obviously what Robinson and/or Watson does could affect that down the road.
Prince Ali, 6-4, Sagemont School (Weston, Fla.): Maryland made some contact with Ali, and he's a heck of an athlete and scorer, but UCLA, Michigan, and now Louisville, all seem to be going hard for this dynamic guard. I really don't see the Terps being much of a factor at this point.
Esa Ahmad, 6-7, Shaker Heights (Ohio): The Terps followed Ahmad's every move at the Peach Jam, and he had a good tournament, while shouldering much of the scoring load for All Ohio Red. Ahmad remains (along with Robinson) at the top of Maryland's wish list. He's still talking about visiting Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, but despite declaring himself "wide open" on schools, it still looks like Ohio State, Maryland and West Virginia remain the three leaders.
Nearly everyone is thinking OSU, and I am inclined to agree. The good news is that Ahmad sounds like he wants to make a commitment fairly soon, which would give Maryland time to regroup if, in fact, he does pick the Buckeyes.
Danjel Purifoy, 6-7, Hargrave Military (Chatham, Va.): Purifoy did his usual thing at the UA Finals. He defended like crazy, penetrated defenses, competed hard and made an occasional jumper. There's never been a question about Purifoy's talent. We're hearing a few different schools now with Purifoy, as his list seems to constantly change, and Auburn still worries me somewhat.
Maryland seems to be in good shape here. The question seems to be will Terps make the push? With academics an apparent concern, do they remain patient and see how that plays our during the winter, or do you go hard now for a commitment? We just don't know how the dominoes will fall with Purifoy, and so we wait.
Dillon Brooks, 6-6, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.): This Canadian power wing is blowing up. The Terps offered recently, but it seems like Brooks' recruitment is just taking off now after he played very well at the Peach Jam. I expect a bunch of schools to enter the mix with Brooks, and there's no evidence at the moment that Maryland will be a major factor, but this recruitment will definitely be monitored in the coming weeks. Brooks has a nice combination of inside/outside skills with solid athleticism.
Malik Ellison, 6-6, Life Center Academy (Burlington, N.J.): Ellison remains on the list, while still being somewhat under the radar nationally. Things can change, but at the moment, I don't envision the Terps making a big rush at Ellison, for now at least. Maryland needs a dominant wing, and thus far Ellison hasn't shown enough in the spring and summer to really elevate himself on the Terp radar. Ellison does have talent, but things would have to seemingly break right for him (in terms of other Terp recruits going elsewhere) for him to land in College Park.
Kipper Nichols, 6-6, St. Edward HS (Lakewood, Ohio): Nichols wasn't playing at the Peach Jam or the UA Finals, so it's not clear if anyone on the staff got a chance to see him in action last week in Milwaukee. The Terps did see him at the Lawson/Oladipo Camp though, and he played well there, although not showing any one great skill that would move him to the top of the wing wish list. Xavier, Penn State and Northwestern appear to be the leading contenders.
Jordan Murphy, 6-7, Brennan HS (San Antonio, Texas): Like Nichols, Murphy wasn't present at either of the big events in South Carolina or Georgia, and so he remains somewhat of the "mystery man" in my eyes in terms of Maryland recruiting. It's a guess, but my feeling is that Ahmad's decision could play directly into what Maryland does in its pursuit of Murphy. He's more of a small forward, but possesses the variety of skills it appears the Terps are looking for in a forward recruit in '15. Unless Ahmad pops prior to September, we expect Murphy to visit Maryland in the fall -- and we also expect Maryland to closely monitor Murphy in Las Vegas later this week.
Chris Clarke, 6-6, Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.): Clarke just added offers in the past few days from UConn, Cincinnati and UNLV. We understand Florida and Missouri are also now recruiting him. This dynamic 6-6 wing had a tremendous Peach Jam, leading Boo Williams to the semi-finals. We keep hearing that Maryland is "on Clarke hard," but that hasn't always been the case, and we doubt now that Clarke and his camp are going to be very receptive. He'd be a wonderful addition (along with his AAU teammate Robinson), but the tea leaves don't seem to be pointing in that direction at the moment. Our contention is that the Terps need a player like Clarke, as no one on the roster can do the things he can from an athletic standpoint. Plus, this kid has a serious motor.
Other names keep getting thrown out there: Diamond Stone (Dominican/Milwaukee, Wisc.), John Collins (Cardinal Newman/West Palm Beach, Fla.), Malik Beasley (St. Francis/Alpharetta, Ga.), and reportedly the Terps offered Michigan guard Eric Davis (Arthur Hill/Saginaw, Mich.). None of those players appear to be viable options at this point.
I still see three signees when the dust settles, with Robinson and Ahmad topping the wish list. Who that third priority might be remains unclear at the moment. It would seem like Purifoy, Ellison and perhaps Murphy are all reasonable possibilities, but Maryland's pecking order is an unknown. After these first two live periods, I would think the evaluation process is probably complete. Now you have to "babysit" and show love for five more days.
When August rolls around, that's when the staff will start scheduling official visits -- and the prospects themselves narrow their lists. Then the fun can really begin.
What's clear to me is that the program desperately needs: a pure, playmaking point guard, a versatile wing who can both create and defend multiple positions, and a versatile forward who can provide points both inside and outside. I don't see any of those traits on the current roster.
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