There's not a whole lot going on with Maryland hoops recruiting, but here's the latest:
We just got word that big time center Diamond Stone (Dominican HS/Milwaukee, Wisc.) is expected to officially visit Maryland this fall. A date has not yet been determined. His top schools are UConn, Duke, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin and Maryland. UConn and Wisconsin are considered by most to be the strong leaders. Again, we are surprised the Terps made the final cut, and will be surprised if Maryland is the final choice, but the visit could be the result of three years of hard work by UMD assistant Bino Ranson. As I said previously, you bring the kid in and shoot for the moon. What do you have to lose?
Carlton Bragg (Villa-Angela St. Joseph/Cleveland, Ohio) is a big time power forward we spoke about months ago, and he's narrowed his final list to Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois and UCLA. Why is that significant? Because Ohio State is not on that list, and now the Bucks can really throw all their attention to Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights, Ohio). Bragg eliminating OSU, combined with the recent de-commitment from forward Mickey Mitchell (Plano, Texas), allows the Buckeyes to focus in on Ahmad, who remains Maryland's top target.
Clearly, based on TTDave's interview with Ibby Ahmad, Maryland provided the Ahmads with a wonderful weekend visit, and certainly did enough to remain in contention here. Ahmad will be visiting West Virginia next, possibly Wisconsin, and you can bet a return trip to Columbus will happen as well. I'm trying to remain optimistic with the Ahmad recruitment, but again, I still see Ohio State, and possibly West Virginia, as the teams to beat here. That said, Mark Turgeon and Dustin Clark have done everything you could ask for in their pursuit of Ahmad. Hopefully we'll have a final decision in the next month.
Prime point guard prospect Justin Robinson (St. James School/St. James, Md.) took his first official visit to Virginia Tech last weekend. Most observers consider the Hokies as the team to beat, with Maryland right there. Robinson didn't pop, and again, it's been our feeling that he'll most likely complete all his visits before rendering a decision, as both he and the St. James staff indicated this would be a thoughtful, deliberate process.
Maryland is next up, with a visit scheduled for September 13. As they did for Ahmad, we expect the red carpet will definitely be rolled out for Robinson and his family. He's a priority, and with Glynn Watson (St. Joseph's HS/Westchester, Ill.) now off the board to Nebraska, there's really no other viable backups available, at least not at this time.
I Just spoke to my contact with Markis McDuffie (St. Anthony HS/Jersey City, N.J.) who told me that "we haven't heard anything recently from Maryland." Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but for now at least, it sure looks like this sleek 6-8 wing man will remain in the "COOL" category.
So, you ask, what's left on the 2015 board?
At point guard, it looks pretty much like Robinson or bust. John Crosby (New Hampton, N.H.) opted for a year in prep school instead of matriculating at Maryland immediately, and you have to figure that, despite Maryland being his "dream school," by not coming now, this ship has probably sailed .
What happens if Robinson does not choose Maryland? I would assume the Terps would continue to search for a capable floor leader through the high school season, but it's doubtful one of Robinson's caliber is out there.
In terms of wings, well, McDuffie is not looking like a priority for now, which leaves Malik Ellison (Life Center Academy/Burlington, N.J.). Could the Terps still corral Ellison? Probably so, but I just can't see a big push right now, until Ellison proves he's 100% healthy. Ellison did report this week that "the leg is much better," so that's a hopeful sign.
Ahmad remains the top forward priority, and in truth, he can probably play several positions in college, though he's basically a 4/3 type. I had pegged Jordan Murphy (Brennan HS/San Antonio, Texas) as another major target, but in our last conversation, there clearly hadn't been much communication between him and the Terps. When he mentioned Baylor and UNLV as two official visits, I was surprised. Those were two schools that had not really been spoken about much in his recruitment, so again, Murphy right now seems more like another "COOL" recruitment.
Ivan Bender (Croatia) remains in the mix, but there's very little information out there on him in terms of his recruitment, his ability, and his physical condition.
Christian James, 6-4 (Bellaire HS/Houston, Texas) and Kipper Nichols, 6-6 (St. Edward HS/Lakewood, Ohio) both have Maryland offers, but we don't see much going on with either recruit at the moment.
Are we concerned? Yes, because there's not a long list of recruits to choose from in 2015. The Terps have plenty of scholarships to work with, and to the staff's credit, they're not going to just give them away. While the on-court results haven't been what Turgeon and Co. would've wanted, this staff has shown the ability to identify talent, and sign it. They work hard and are well organized. It's very possible this class can turn out to be a solid one, but the lack of numbers on the board is a bit disturbing.
Meanwhile, 6-3 point guard Tony Carr (Roman Catholic HS/Philadelphia, Pa.) visited campus recently, and the 2016 floor general is a fine prospect. We saw him in action at the Oladipo/Lawson Camp in July. He's one of six junior point guards to receive a Terps offer, and yet, we still see Anthony Cowan (St. John's HS/Washington, D.C.) remaining at the head of the wish list.
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