With Maryland backing out of the race for St. James (Md.) point guard Justin Robinson, the Terps have now turned their full attention to junior college lead guard Jaylen Brantley, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder at Odessa Community College (Odessa, Texas). Brantley pulled his first offer from UMD about two weeks ago and has had consistent contact with Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark since then.
“When Maryland offered I was pretty excited,” said Brantley, a Massachusetts native. “Not only was it my first offer, but it was from a Big Ten school, which is one of the best conferences in college basketball. It was a really, really good day for me. I was pretty pumped.”
Brantley said Maryland first initiated contact back during the live period, when Clark came to see one of his open gym sessions. Soon after, Turgeon made the trek down to Odessa to check out the emerging point guard.
It didn’t take long for an offer to materialize, especially with Robinson seemingly focusing his recruitment elsewhere.
“Since [the offer], I’ve been talking to Maryland like every day, online and stuff,” said Brantley, who holds no other offers but has received interest from SMU, Indiana, Illinois, Penn State, Colorado State, TCU and Wichita State. “Both Coach Turgeon and Coach Clark think I can be a great asset to the team, have a good role there, and just get everyone involved in the offense. They said come in ready to work, and I should have a meaningful role there.
“I know they like Melo [Trimble] ... but they need someone else to be a leader too, who can get the ball to the right guys and be a distributor.”
The Massachusetts product also has a strong connection to a current Terp. He played four years of AAU ball with Jake Layman, and now the two talk regularly.
“Jake is a good friend, and I talk to him like three times a week,” Brantley said. “He tells me Maryland is a great place, Turgeon is a great coach and it’s a really good program. He’s honest with me, but he said it would be a great fit for me. It would be really good to play with him again.”
Next up for Brantley is an official visit to UMD, which he plans to take Oct. 17. He has no other officials scheduled after that, and said he doesn’t plan on taking more considering his season is about to get underway.
So, does that mean a commitment is possible following his Terps official?
“Who knows?” Brantley said, chuckling. “It could happen. I honestly don’t know. It could. Mainly I just want to have fun, enjoy the weekend and see what comes of it.”
Brantley added that he has no clear timetable for making a decision, but “I’m going to go where my heart is, and I’ll know when the time is right.”
The Odessa guard played his high school ball at Notre Dame Prep (Wilbraham, Mass.), but was a non-qualifier after graduation, because he only had 15 credits instead of the required 16. Thus, he decided to prep for a year at Marshall with the intention of playing for the Herd when his academics were in order. But when Marshall’s staff was fired, Brantley decided to “try something new” and opted for the JUCO route.
“I started fresh and wanted to see what [high major] schools I could get interested at Odessa,” Brantley said. “And so far it’s working out really well. I’ve got some great programs interested in me and the offer from Maryland. Plus I’ve got a lot of credits and I can graduate in May.”
Brantley is a class of 2015 recruit and said he’ll have three years to play college ball.
He described himself as an all-around point guard who brings “a little bit of everything” to the table.
“I like to get my teammates involved, and I’m a good distributor, but I can score if you need me to,” said Brantley, who sat out last year at Marshall and hasn’t played a game (not counting summer ball) since high school. “One thing is I have to defend the whole game; I have to be mentally ready to play defense all game, so I’ve been working on that. All summer I’ve been trying to get stronger, faster and more physical, because I know at the next level it’s a whole different speed.
“Mainly, though, I’m just eager to get back on the court and show what I can do this year.”
Brantley Eager To See UMD, Terps Hot On Trail
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