There have been a slew of changes on the 2015 Maryland basketball recruiting chart in the past few months, but we think we've narrowed it down now to a point where we can attempt to forecast how this class might turn out. With the recent departure of Trayvon Reed, the Terps currently have 11 scholarship players, and four seniors, so as many as six scholarships could be handed out this year. That won't happen, but we do still think three or four will be used.
Here's a look at the list of potential Terps recruits as we see it, with a brief rundown on each player's game.
Justin Robinson, 6-1, PG, St. James School (St. James, Md.): Robinson is the pure point guard the staff wants. He's the classic floor general, a pass-first point guard who sets others up for shots, but has enough athleticism to get to the rim and finish as well. Robinson is a solid athlete, with good strength, and while not a blur with the basketball, he's quick enough. He is a solid outside shooter and a willing defender. Throw in solid academic credentials and excellent character, and you've got someone who would add a lot to the program, and work well with current freshman Melo Trimble.
Schools: Maryland, Virginia Tech, Creighton, Temple, Providence, UNLV
Projection: Most feel this will be a two-way battle between Maryland and Virginia Tech, with Temple and Creighton as dark-horse candidates.
Glynn Watson, 6-0, PG, St. Joseph's HS (Westchester, Ill.): Watson is actually rated higher than Robinson by some services, but he's a different kind of point guard, relying primarily on quickness and penetrating ability to score or set others up off the bounce. He's slight of build, and is probably only a fair outside shooter, but can be devastating in a fast-paced tempo. Like Robinson, Watson would be a nice "change of pace" alternative to Trimble, and a player who makes things happen in an exciting manner.
Schools: Nebraska, Creighton, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee
Projection: Watson will visit Nebraska and Creighton, and it's not known at this time if he'll visit the other three schools. The Huskers, who've been on Watson for some time, may be the current frontrunner.
Noah Blackwell, 6-2, PG, Woodcreek HS (Roseville, Calif.): Blackwell got everyone's attention early on with a spectacular YouTube video, in which he was making flashy passes, and nasty crossover moves to wow crowds in the Northern California area. However, during the summer, he showed patience, and excellent fundamental skills during AAU play. Blackwell's a solid athlete, with good strength and skills, who finishes well and can shoot it deep.
Schools: There's a bunch: San Diego State, Oregon State, Maryland, Arizona State, Fresno State, Long Beach State, New Mexico, Clemson
Projection: There's no current frontrunner it seems, but the feeling is Blackwell will stay West of the Rockies for college.
Andrew White, 6-6, SF, Kansas transfer (Richmond, Va.): We may have a decision on White before this article is actually off the presses. White is a well-developed athlete, who willingly defends and rebounds, while showing a very good outside shot in the past. He was a borderline top 50 recruit out of the Miller School (Va.). His handle was a weak point early in his career, but it's improved, and despite limited production at Kansas, White would be an excellent addition to the Maryland program.
Schools: Notre Dame, Maryland, Nebraska, Richmond, Virginia Tech
Projection: White is an extremely difficult read, but it would seem like the Terps would be an awfully good fit, in terms of their needs and available playing time with Dez Wells graduating.
Dillon Brooks, 6-6, SF, Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.): Brooks came out of nowhere over the summer, and flew up the recruiting charts, showing off a strong, efficient, all-around game, despite being only a slightly above-average athlete. This Canadian can score off the dribble, from beyond the arc, and puts the ball on the floor very well. His stock is going way up, and he's considered a top 50 recruit in his class.
Schools: Oregon, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Illinois, Washington and Kansas State.
Projection: The Oregon Ducks got in there early, and he's visiting there in mid August. They appear to be the team to beat. Maryland is apparently high on Brooks, but he's going to be a tough get.
Danjel Purifoy, 6-7, SF, Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.): Purifoy is one of those do-it-all type performers, equally adept at scoring in the paint, or operating out on the perimeter as a point forward type player. He's got excellent size and strength for a wing position, knows how to play the game, plays very unselfishly, and loves to lock people up defensively. The one knock on him has been his outside shot, but that's about the only negative. He is going to Hargrave to boost his academic credentials a bit, but looms as a solid high-major performer who displays great versatility in his game.
Schools: Auburn, Wichita State, Georgia, Maryland, Ole Miss, Tennessee
Projection: Purifoy has always been a hard kid to gauge, since his list of schools seems to change a lot. For awhile, it appeared he was Maryland's to lose, and they are still interested. We've heard he wants to leave his native Alabama for college, and yet there's lots of Auburn buzz lately. At this point, he could wind up at any school on this list, or perhaps even one not mentioned. A very difficult recruitment to get a handle on.
Markis McDuffie, 6-8, SF, St. Anthony HS (Jersey City, N.J.): McDuffie only received a Maryland offer in mid-July, but based on his summer performance, this long, lanky prime athlete is considered a definite high-major recruit. Much like Purifoy, McDuffie does a little bit of everything, excelling on both ends of the court. His length causes major problems defensively, and he's a versatile scorer now with a much improved outside shot. And you have to like the fact he's been coached by Bob Hurley, which pretty much guarantees he's a tough kid with his head on straight.
Schools:VCU, Maryland, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Wichita State, SMU, Creighton, BC and others.
Projection: VCU, as they often do, got in on McDuffie early, and that has impressed the young man. They may be the early leader, but there does seem to be sincere interest in Maryland (where good friend Jared Nickens is now), and the New Jersey schools. The consensus is that McDuffie will likely stay East for college. At 6-8 and still growing, this kid has some serious upside, and he's plenty good right now.
Malik Ellison, 6-6, G/F, Life Center Academy (Burlington, N.J.): Maryland got in on Ellison early, recognizing his multiple talents as a versatile wing, who could project at the "2" or "3" positions. He was only 6-3 at the time the Terps got involved, but is up to nearly 6-6 now, and still growing. When healthy, Ellison creates offense, can nail an occasional trey, will defend, and generally makes positive plays. Holding him back has been inconsistency, and more recently, a series of injuries which have slowed his development.
Schools: Rhode Island, Minnesota, Maryland, Temple, SMU, Wichita State
Projection: Maryland and Temple were probably the early leaders, but the injury bug has likely forced them, and others, to slow down the process and see how his recovery comes along after his latest injury. I would think Ellison will delay a commitment until the Spring signing period, but that's not a given. Should he come back strong, I would not be surprised to see other schools enter the mix. At this point, Maryland seems like an unlikely landing spot, but again, things are always changing in recruiting.
Esa Ahmad, 6-7, F, Shaker Heights HS (Shaker Heights, Ohio): Ahmad remains at the top of the Maryland priority list. He was there last winter, and nothing's changed in that regard. The Terps view Ahmad as a combo forward with the ability to beat you in a number of different ways. Ahmad is a willing passer, creates quite well off the dribble, is a solid rebounder, and also is not shy about launching treys. Add in a lot of basketball IQ, and you've got quite a prospect, despite being only an average athlete. He could face some defensive mismatches on occasion, but again, that's a minor concern.
Schools:Ohio State, West Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin.
Projection: The Buckeyes still hold the trump card here, and they rarely miss on an in-state kid they really want. Of course, the question remains, How bad do they want Ahmad? It seems like they've turned up the pressure here lately with Ahmad, and that doesn't bode well for Maryland. A September decision is expected, and unless Ohio State suddenly rises to the top of the Carlton Bragg list (a big-time Ohio forward who now seems to be a Kansas, Illinois or Kentucky lean), I still have Thad Matta's bunch as the team to beat.
Jordan Murphy, 6-7, F, Brennan HS (San Antonio, Texas): Murphy remains the "mystery man" in the 2015 class. He doesn't get much pub, not a ton of exposure (though he did grab some headlines in Las Vegas), and he certainly doesn't seem to be very public with his recruitment. But, much like Purifoy and Ahmad, Murphy is one of the most players who is hard to categorize, as he displays a lot of variety in his game. He's a nice athlete, rangy, a solid ballhandler, and a good, if not devastating, shooter. He's a character kid and a solid student to boot.
Schools: Texas A&M, Maryland, Creighton, Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, Temple, Memphis
Projection: Murphy early on did identify A&M, Maryland, and Creighton as three schools which stood out. He has not announced his official visits yet, but I would expect Maryland to get one, unless Ahmad suddenly pops prior to that, which is not expected. I've felt all along Murphy could be a dark-horse candidate to wind up a Terp, as he seems to possess the skills the staff is looking for. He'd also a solid kid, both on and off the court.
Kipper Nichols, 6-6, SF, St.Edward HS (Lakewood, Ohio): Speaking of "solid," that term personifies Nichols, a workman like 3-man, who blossomed in the spring and had a nice summer season as well. As we've said before, he doesn't do anything spectacular, but moreso does a lot of little things. He defends with a passion, mixes it up inside, has a nice mid-range game, and has improved his off the dribble game. Another young man with solid grades and plenty of character. Not a program changer, but moreso a "program player", who can make nice contributions over a four year span.
Schools: Xavier, Tulane, Penn State, Maryland, Northwestern
Projection: It seems like Xavier is the prohibitive favorite here, although he did indicate to me legit interest in the other schools on his list. But I also sensed a strong desire to stay close to home where his family can watch him play. I'm not expecting a big Maryland push.
Others with offers:
Chris Clarke, 6-6, SF, Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.): Clarke, an elite athlete, absolutely blew up this Spring, and now many regard him as a top 50 kid, with offers from the likes of Florida and UConn. His final list of schools hasn't yet been released, but it appears the ship has sailed in regards to the Terps.
Christian James, 6-4, SG, Bellaire HS (Houston, Texas): A slashing, tough, defensive minded guard with limited range, James did get a Terp offer, but Houston, Oregon, New Mexico, Creighton, and West Virginia seem like his major focus at this time.
Jarvis Johnson, 6-0, PG, De La Salle HS (Brooklyn Park, Minn.): A very talented, explosive lead guard, whose game is marked by his ability to get in the lane and creative instant offense. All signs point to Johnson staying in the Midwest, with the hometown Gophers, Wisconsin, and others in a good spot at the moment.
Summarizing, though some of the names have changed in recent months, the priorities remain the same: a point guard who can run the show and make others better; a wing adept at the "2" or "3" slots, who can both score and defend; and a forward who can post if needed, but also face up and score both inside and out.
With Trayvon Reed's departure, I expect the staff will continue to search for an insider as well, though it's not a deep class in that regard. Recent visitor Ivan Bender from Croatia could be in that mix, though it's not clear if he has an offer, or what his recruiting status is at press time.
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