Hardwood Notes: UMD Hoops Recruiting

After speaking to the guru, Dan Painter, and cobbling together some of my other notes, I put together another Maryland basketball recruiting update so Terps aficionados can keep track off all the latest information on the round-ball side of things.

After speaking to the guru, Dan Painter, and cobbling together some of my other notes, I put together another Maryland basketball recruiting update so Terps aficionados can keep track off all the latest information on the round-ball side of things.

The 2015 Big Man

There’s been some increased buzz surrounding Maryland’s chances at landing the nation’s No. 1 center recruit, Diamond Stone (Dominican/Whitefish Bay, Wisc.). Stone doesn’t grant interviews, but other recruits close to him, and our personal sources, have suggested the Terps’ persistent efforts hold weight with the 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man. It’s only helped matters that Maryland is having a standout 2014-15 campaign, which has caught Stone’s eye.

That said, we still believe hometown Wisconsin may hold the edge, while UConn is firmly in the game as well. It wouldn’t be a total shock if Stone opted for the Terps, but we’re not about to bet the house on that happening.

A more likely – even probable – scenario is head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark continuing to pursue Elev8 Sports Institute (Delray Beach, Fla.) big man Yankuba Sima. The Terps’ staff has seen Sima several times live, has a firm offer out to him, and seems to like how the 6-11, 215-pounder is developing under Elev8 head coach Chad Myers.

Moreover, Sima, who is friends with Terps big man Michal Cekovsky from their days at the Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain, has declared Maryland his clear leader. Sima will also take a look at Louisville before deciding on a college destination, but he’s probably UMD’s to lose at this point.

So barring some major more inroads/twists with Diamond Stone, we think the Terps will wind up with Sima as their 2015 big man.

A Shift In Focus

When Maryland assistant Dustin Clark ventured down to Texas in order to see point guard signee Jaylen Brantley (Odessa C.C./Odessa, Texas) square off against Terps offeree Maurice O’Field (Midland C.C./Midland, Texas), the assumption was he and head coach Mark Turgeon would be ramping up the pursuit on the latter. But following the Jan. 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Day affair, we’re not so sure the Terps will be making a potent push.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing O’Field ended up scoring 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting in a 72-64 victory over Odessa, but with other options still out there for a potential Dez Wells replacement, we're not sure O’Field will be the choice.

Gonzaga (no offer yet) also had an assistant at the Jan. 19 game, while O’Field is getting looks from Arizona State (offer), Virginia Tech (offer) and Baylor (no offer) as well. He’s probably more likely to end up at one of those programs than in College Park, Md., barring another change.

So, with O’Field potentially on the backburner, where do the Terps look now for a class of 2015 wing?

One name still being bandied about is Ricky Council from Moravian Prep (Hickory, N.C.), although the issue with the 6-4, 175-pounder is he’s a pure shooting guard and not really the wing-type Turgeon may be seeking. Moreover, Council may be more of a mid-major type anyway as his most significant offers were from Tulsa, Radford and Appalachian State. He just pulled in his first high-major scholarship from Providence, and the vibe is that might be his plateau. In fact, it wouldn’t shock us if he committed to the Friars down the road.

The recruit to watch out for, though, is Jamall Gregory, a 6-4, 195-pound Washington, D.C., native who is spending a prep year at Elev8 Sports Institute (Delray Beach, Fla.). I just spoke to Gregory earlier this week, and he said he continues to maintain every-other-day contact with Dustin Clark. An athletic, above-the-rim player who radiates intensity on the defensive end, Gregory might be more of what the Terps are looking for.

Gregory holds just one offer from DePaul at this point, but if O’Field has cooled, well, maybe they ante up as well. If so, we do expect Gregory to snatch up the scholarship, if not on the spot then soon thereafter.

Gregory has done little to hide his affinity for the Terps, noting how he’d love to return home and play with friends like Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley, whom he knew from the AAU circuit. Gregory has visited Maryland for a campus tour and a game, and said he likes both Turgeon and Clark – who both have seen him play multiple times -- as well.

If we had to make a projection right now, Gregory would be the Terps’ 2015 wing, although there’s bound to be another name or two to emerge leading up to April’s Signing Day. (STORY).

If No 2015 Wing, Harder Fultz Push?

It’s also possible that Maryland’s staff could elect to stand pat in 2015 and put all their efforts into landing a dynamic class of 2016 wing. The No. 1 target for the moment appears to be DeMatha’s (Hyattsville, Md.) Markelle Fultz, a fast-rising recruit who now holds offers from Maryland, Georgetown, Arizona, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Xavier and Washington, with looks from many of the bluebloods.

A 6-4, 170-pound high flyer, Fultz has been connected to the two Pac-12 schools on that list, Arizona and Washington, and he’ll likely trek out West during the offseason in order to see both.

But hometown Maryland, according to Fultz, also holds particular appeal. Fultz has been in College Park several times already, most recently for UMD’s game against Rutgers, and said he “likes what Coach Turgeon is doing” with the program. The DeMatha product said Clark has maintained consistent contact with him, making it known he’s a top priority.

The other recruit we’ve brought up is combo guard/forward Jamal Murray from Athlete Institute Basketball Academy in Toronto, Ontario. This 6-5, 180-pounder is a potential pro and has numerous high-major offers.

As TTDan suggested on the message board, Murray has been linked to Oregon, Missouri, Illinois and possibly Syracuse, with little mention of Maryland. We do know the Terps obviously like him, as do many, and would jump at the chance to sign the dynamic Murray, but the interest doesn’t appear to be mutual. (It’s also possible Murray will reclassify to 2015, but, regardless of his class year, we don’t project him to wind up in College Park).

Besides Fultz and possibly Murray, it doesn’t look like there any other true 2016 wings the Terps are currently after. They appear to have cooled on both Lamar Stevens (Haverford, Pa.) and DeAndre Hunter (Friends’ Central/Wynnewood, Pa.), who could be dropped from the hot board soon.

Hybrid Targets

Other than a wing, look for the Terps to add another combo guard in the 2016 class, with the clear No. 1 target remaining Curtis Jones, a Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) transfer who is now at Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.).

As we’ve reported on the board, in the Hoops Dishes, etc., Jones has Maryland under prime consideration, talking up Turgeon, the offense and the direction the program’s heading. He’s been to Xfinity Center on multiple occasions, and on campus several times as well, so he’s familiar with the school and its facilities.

But it’s still too early to call Jones a Terps lean. The 6-3, 170-pounder, who envisions himself as a college point guard, also has Indiana, VCU, Virginia and Cincinnati under consideration, while he’s pining for a Louisville offer.

While Jones may be the No. 1 target, a new name did just crop up last weekend when Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) guard Shamorie Ponds made the trip to College Park for the UMD-Michigan State game Jan. 17. Ponds hasn’t had too much contact with the Maryland staff yet, though both Dustin Clark and Bino Ranson have seen him play and are aware of him.

For his part, Ponds liked what he saw at Xfinity Center, but we’ll have to see if the interest is mutual down the road. The 6-foot Ponds currently claims offers from Fordham, Oklahoma, Miami, Minnesota and Iona.

As For 2016 Point Guards…

Just like Curtis Jones, we’ve pretty much worn out the name Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) by now. As far as we know, the staff is still intrigued by the 6-foot, pass-first floor general, though some reports have suggested Cowan has leveled off a bit this year.

Cowan has said time and again how much he likes it in College Park, and while he’s not ready to pop yet, he’s made it clear UMD is the team to beat. Given that he’s a local recruit and the staff has been on him since his freshman year, we do think Turgeon would accept his commitment if/when he wants in.

At the same time, there’s another intriguing name floating around in Maryland circles as well. Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) lead guard Tony Carr, a 6-3, 190-pounder, also holds a Terps offer, and has continued to rise up the charts with a standout junior campaign. Carr hasn’t been as outright effusive in his UMD praise as Cowan, but he has taken a liking to Turgeon and Co.

Temple, Penn State, La Salle and others have offered Carr so far, but we expect his list to grow exponentially by the time the summer circuit hits. Maryland should remain firmly in play for him, and it wouldn’t shock us if Carr eventually became the Terps’ No. 1 2016 point guard target.

At this time, we do not see the Maryland staff prioritizing 2016 point guards like Bryce Aiken (The Patrick School/Newark, N.J.), Aletrique Gilbert (Miller Grove/Lithonia, Ga.), Cassius Winston (Jesuit/Detroit, Mich.) or Asante Gist (Marist, N.J.).

Recent Class of 2016 Hot Board Removals

SF V.J. King (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.): The Akron, Ohio, native is focused on others at this time.

PG Devonte Green (St. Mary’s/Manhasset, N.Y.): Terps have shown little interest.

PF Sedee Keita (22 Feet Academy/Greenville, S.C.): Terps have backed off. The addition of Ivan Bender may preclude them from pursuing a 2016 power forward.

PF Aric Holman (Owensboro, Ky.): See Keita above. Also, Louisville is all over him.

PF Chris Lewis (Milton/Alpharetta, Ga.): Lewis committed to Harvard Jan. 18.

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