Another week, another Maryland basketball recruiting update:
Center Diamond Stone (Dominican HS/Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) and his parents seemed to have a good time during their official visit to Maryland Oct. 17-19. Stone, the nation's No. 1 big man, now has two more officials remaining -- to Wisconsin this coming weekend, followed by a trip to UConn after that. Perhaps it's no coincidence the Badgers and Huskies are considered by most to the leaders, and thus have the last two visits. There is some "buzz" floating around in some circles about Maryland's chances at landing Stone, but at this point I'm not buying it, although stranger things have happened. I do credit the Maryland staff for putting in lots of work here, but again, we can say the same thing about the recruitment of Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights, Ohio), and we know how that turned out. In any event, we won't have to wait much longer to get a decision. Stone is announcing Nov. 12. Until then, I'm not holding my breath.
Stone was joined on his official by junior college point guard Jaylen Brantley (Odessa College/Odessa, Texas), who popped to the Terps Oct. 20. By all accounts, Brantley seemed to also really enjoy himself at Maryland, but unfortunately, his visit was marred after he received the terrible news that an extremely close friend was killed in an auto accident Oct. 18.
We understand that Brantley, instead of flying back to Odessa, has since returned to his hometown of Springfield, Mass., to be with family and friends at this difficult time.
But despite a weekend that had extreme highs and lows, Brantley did commit to UMD Oct. 20. This was excellent work by the staff to lock up Brantley, who will help the program, and definitely lessen the pressure on Melo Trimble next year, who still needs to improve his handle against extreme ball pressure.
Brantley isn't some fancy, over the rim, highlight reel type player. But he's a tough, gritty New Englander, who's used to winning , given his days with national AAU Champion BABC. He'll help the Terps, and also will space out the point guard situation, which may be helpful in securing another point guard in 2016.
As we reported last week, Midland College (Midland, Texas) JuCo wing guard Maurice O'Field has no plans on visiting Maryland at this point. That's not to say he has no interest. He does, according to Midland coach Jordan Dreiling, but rather his recruitment is moving slower than Brantley's, and his visits and decision will most likely come in the spring. Arizona State, Gonzaga, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Texas and Baylor are the other schools seriously recruiting O'Field at this time.
A strong, athletic wing is needed with the pending graduation of Dez Wells. While not a great shooter, it sounds like O'Field still brings a lot to the table.
We're not aware of any other definite fall officials that are lined up at this point, although the Terps do seem to have genuine interest in Yankuba Sima, the 6-11 big man from Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.), by way of the Canarius Basketball Academy in Spain. As more and more schools see him, Sima's recruitment could blow up, but Maryland and Louisville seem to be the early frontrunners.
We've covered the guards and wings already for 2016 that the Terps seem to be involved with. The bigs, though, are pretty scarce. Here are a few we know about:
Sedee Keita, 6-10, 22 Feet Academy (Greenville, S.C.): Keita's from the Delaware area, and played last year for Vermont Academy before transferring to the Palmetto State for his junior year. The Terps have been on him awhile, and this athletic insider can be found on most Top 50 lists. Keita is part of the powerful, Under Armour based WE R 1 program in Delaware, and reportedly made his way up to Maryland Madness Oct. 17. Syracuse, Villanova, and many other schools are involved here, but Keita could very well be a prime Maryland target in the coming months.
Corey Manigault, 6-8, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.): Manigault has been offered, and we like this emerging power forward's potential. He's 6-8 now, with a 6-9 dad and a 6-3 mom. He has excellent hands and feet, decent athleticism, and developing skills. In addition, he's a quality student. We've followed Manigault since he was a 6-4 middle schooler. There's lots of upside here, and we expect Maryland to be a main player in his recruitment.
Michael Tertsea, 6-9, John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.): Tertsea admittedly is a work in progress, but we're hearing reports that he's coming along nicely. Tertsea is still on the thin side, but runs well and has excellent length which at times makes him a force on defense. We'll be looking for improvement on the offensive end of the court in his junior year.
We're going to be monitoring about 10 local DMV prospects in 2016, with particular emphasis on four at this time:
Anthony Cowan, PG, St. John's College HS (Washington, D.C.): Maryland, Georgetown, Penn State, Miami, Florida State could be the leaders at this point.
Markelle Fultz, SG, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.): Developing at a rapid rate, Fultz could wind up as the highest rated player in the DMV class. Washington, Maryland, Georgetown, DePaul, Xavier, Miami, South Carolina and Memphis have all offered.
Curtis Jones, PG/SG, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.): We're including Jones on the list, since he did play locally at PVI last year. Jones has early offers from Cincinnati, Maryland, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wake Forest and Missouri.
Corey Manigault, PF, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.): See above for more, but Maryland, Miami, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Xavier, VCU and Temple are all in the early mix.
And if you want to look way down the road, here's an early peek at the 2017 locals we will be monitoring as well:
D.J. Harvey, 6-5, DeMatha Catholic: Harvey is the best of the bunch for now, but he'll be a national recruit, and a very tough get, as he's not originally from this area.
Myles Douglas, 6-6, Friends School (Baltimore, Md.): Douglas checked out Maryland Madness. The Baltimore native has loads of upside, and solid skills already. He'll be a definite person of interest.
Andre Rafus, 6-7, New Town (Owings Mills, Md.): Rafus recently left St. Frances for New Town, but this wiry lefty has excellent skills and solid athleticism.
Melo Eggleston, 6-7, Clinton Christian (Capitol Heights, Md.): Still another long, talented wing, Eggleston is already popping up on some national Top 50 lists.
Jamir Moultrie, 6-1, Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.): Moultrie can play either guard slot, but projects as a scoring point guard down the road. He put up some serious numbers for the Mustangs as a freshman.
Tyler Foster, 6-4, Gilman School (Baltimore, Md.): Gilman's not a traditional hoops power, but Foster (along with some talented teammates) may be in the process of changing that. Foster is a talented wing guard and possesses loads of potential.
We really like the depth in the class of 2017 around here, though it's still hard to find any high-major caliber big men. That said, Maryland needs to land some of these kids to get back to where they need to be. While the 2016 local class has only a handful of legit high-major prospects, 2017 shows signs of being special, with a number of potential big-time wings.
Lastly, our thoughts on the injury to Evan Smotrycz. It definitely will hurt, as he's a leader, knows the system, and should function well within the new offense, which will be based more on ball movement and spacing. But if the injury had to occur, now's not the worst time.
With no setbacks, Smotrycz should be back by the first of December, likely missing the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, where the Terps will be playing Arizona State, and either Iowa State or Alabama. In his absence, Terps fans could see Jake Layman playing some power forward, and it could give Michal Cekovsky some added minutes at the "4," since he is more comfortable facing the basket.
Prior to the injury, I already envisioned Damonte Dodd and Jonathan Graham playing a lot, and for Terps aficionados let's hope they're both ready to get the job done, because those minutes will only go up now. And if Mark Turgeon decides to go small, look for senior Richaud Pack to move into the starting lineup. In any event, the roles of Dodd and Graham should be clear and concise: Play defense and grab every rebound you can.
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