So now the No. 1 target, Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights, Ohio), is off the board, as he surprised some with his selection of West Virginia last week. No way to sugarcoat it, it's a blow in that the Terps targeted Ahmad early on, and expended limitless energy into his recruitment. You have to wonder now: Where do the Terps find the type of versatile, inside/outside forward they want? There's no one currently on our board who fits that description. We speculated early on that Jordan Murphy (Brennan HS/San Antonio, Texas) might be the guy, but a so-so summer performance put that to rest.
From what we gathered, Maryland had some family members, and Ahmad's high school coach, favoring them. We're also told that WVU coach Bob Huggins has a long-standing history at Shaker Heights HS, and the proximity to Morgantown, W.Va., also helped their cause. But none of that matters now.
Moving on to priority No. 2. With Justin Robinson (St. James School/St. James, Md.), there's nothing much to report. By all accounts he had a strong official visit to Maryland last weekend, but that was expected. From all we can gather, he will complete his remaining three visits (Providence, Creighton and UNLV), and therefore, this recruitment may well extend another 4-6 weeks. And, of course, you have to wonder, what if the Terps miss on Robinson? A very good question.
Maryland is monitoring Tyrone Taylor, a 6-3 lefty combo guard now at Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.), but he's a Missouri kid, and has drawn his main interest from schools in that region. Texas, Minnesota, Wichita State, Kansas State and Maryland seem to the schools most in the loop. No Terp offer has yet been extended, although that could change after Robinson's decision, assuming he does not pick Maryland.
I don't see the Terps taking another look at point guard John Crosby (New Hampton Prep/Wolfeboro, N.H.), but again, the fact they pursued him this year was a bit of a surprise.
It's true that Maryland was not looking to bring in a big class in 2015, but numbers don't lie. The Terps have seven scholarship players returning next year. You've got to bring in three recruits just to have meaningful scrimmages/practices. Now, I like the seven that are expected back: Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens, Damonte Dodd, Robert Carter, Jake Layman and Michal Cekovsky. But there's no depth there, and you're one injury away from disaster, so it's going to be very interesting to see how Mark Turgeon fills out this roster.
We've heard that Malik Ellison (Life Center Academy/Burlington, N.J.) is still an option, but is not being given serious attention at this time. True, the injuries are a factor, but Ellison, a 6-5 swingman, was not playing particularly well before his latest injury setback, and when you don't play well during open periods, it definitely is a setback for that player. For now at least, I wouldn't expect Ellison to wind up in College Park.
I just got word that Turgeon recently checked out junior college two-guard Maurice O'Field, a 6-3 high riser, who plays for Midland JC in Texas. He's originally from Cleveland, which tells me Bino Ranson may be the connection here from his days at Xavier. O'Field is explosive, but the fact he signed with East Tennessee State out of high school doesn't really excite me.
I'm not expecting much to come out of the Diamond Stone (Dominican HS/Milwaukee, Wisc.) pursuit, and we continue to wait on any new Ivan Bender (Croatia) details.
So, for 2015, that's kind of where we are. I do expect Maryland to head back overseas later this month, so a new name or two could surface on that front. But when you start scraping the JUCO ranks (don't get me wrong, there have been some JUCOs at Maryland who have made huge contributions), it's a sign that things aren't going all that well from a recruiting standpoint. I can see this class being completed in the spring, and I still expect three more additions before the dust settles. That would most likely still leave the Terps with three or four scholarships to use on the class of 2016.
I will be adding and scratching names on the 2016 prospects in the next couple months. But folks, as George Allen used to say, "The future is now," and it's imperative that this program begins taking that next step by making the NCAA tournament. Until the Terps do, it's going to be awfully hard to attract the type of talent necessary to really make some noise in the Big Ten.
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