My, how far the Terps and junior college point guard signee Jaylen Brantley have come since the fall, when neither were getting a ton of love.
Maryland was unranked and not in any national round-ball conversation, while Brantley, out of Odessa (Odessa, Texas) Community College by way of Massachusetts, had but one major offer, Maryland.
Now, the Terps are just outside the Top 10, in first place of the Big Ten, and Brantley has guided Odessa to a 16-5 mark and can't wait to get to College Park, Md., in the summer as maybe the next set piece for a Maryland program that seemingly can do no wrong these days.
Brantley, a distributor who can nail the three-ball as well, went for 15 points and 8 rebounds Jan. 19 against Midland C.C. (Texas), with Terps assistant coach Dustin Clark in the house, a game that also featured swingman Maurice O'Field, who has interest in the Terps.
"I talked to Coach Clark after the game, he just said to keep playing hard, keep getting shots, keep playing hard defensively, stuff like that. And it was cool to see him," Brantley said.
Brantley was not previously aware the Terps were actively recruiting O'Field. He did have a comment about the Midland wing's game Jan. 19, however, which O'Field's side ending up winning.
"[O'Field] played a solid game. He is more of a defender and a slasher," Brantley said.
Brantley is averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists a game this season, while he hasn't missed a Terps game yet on television, in and around his own busy schedule.
"I think it has been great, as it makes more kids want to go there now. And I think it is just great for the whole atmosphere around there," Brantley said of Maryland's strong start. "And it's good for me to see what I am going to be getting into next year. So it is just great what they have been able to accomplish this season."
Brantley attended one Terps game early this season, while he has locked in on Terps' freshman point guard Melo Trimble whenever he watches the team, of course. He'll be watching again closely tonight, when the Terps tip at Indiana at 9 PM.
"I think Melo and I playing together next season can really benefit each other and make each other better," Brantley said. "What has impressed me the most is he can really shoot it well, he is very strong, and he doesn't get fed up or anything like that. He is just a really smart guard and can get his shots."
Brantley can see the two thriving together next season at College Park.
"We can get each other open off the pick and roll, things like that," Brantley said.
Not to mention fellow Massachusetts native Jake Layman, the Terps junior forward taking his game to a whole new level this season as well. Brantley knew Layman from the AAU circuit, when they played with renowned BABC.
"I am really, really happy for Jake. To see him and where he is progressing to this point, because he was the big reason me going there, too," Brantley said. "So I could play with someone I knew and trust, and how he said the coaches are and stuff are. So I am really looking forward to playing with him for a year."
Brantley said his own defense has improved, while he has become a more complete point guard "in things like leading the team and passing," Brantley said.
He has season game-highs of 30 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. In one contest he hit 5 treys.
"I think my shot has been falling pretty good. But I can always do a little better," Brantley said.
Of Year One in the Big Ten, and all the early accolades so far, he said of the Terps:
"It's really encouraging to come into a new league how they are, being in first place right now at 5-1. I think it is really good for them, and for them to keep that high [in the rankings]."
And as for other recruits he mentioned, Brantley said:
"The only recruit I talk to is Diamond Stone. He's been watching all the games and he texts me every time they play. He texts me each game and he seems very interested. And of course, he would be a big help. We talk about their games and how they played, things like that. So we'll see how it all goes."
Brantley graduates May 8 from Odessa and said he is eager to resume his career in College Park. He will have three seasons to play at UMD.
Brantley Hosts Terps, Talks Stone
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