Hardwood Notes: UMD Hoops Recruiting

Here is the latest with Maryland basketball’s recruiting efforts as Signing Day nears for the 2015 class, and head coach Mark Turgeon and Co. make inroads into the 2016 and ’17 ranks.

Here is the latest with Maryland basketball’s recruiting efforts as Signing Day nears for the 2015 class, and head coach Mark Turgeon and Co. make inroads into the 2016 and ’17 ranks.

Down The Home Stretch

The Terps still have just one commitment in junior college point guard Jaylen Brantley (Odessa College/Odessa, Texas), but they’re likely to add two more recruits before April 15 rolls around.

The most likely addition, center Yankuba Sima (Elev8/Delray Beach, Fla.), updated his status in an interview with me in early March -- and there was quite a bit to update.

Since we last spoke with the 6-foot-11, 206 pounder, he’s added two new offers from Arizona and Washington, pushed former top contender Louisville to the side, and is in the process of setting up official visits to Tucson, Ariz., and College Park, Md., in late March.

Sima said that, while he still has an affinity for Louisville, he now believes his best opportunities will come at UMD and ‘Zona. (The Cardinal may have backed off their recruiting efforts, but either way, Sima doesn’t sound like he’ll be Louisville bound).

The Spain native, who just moved to the United States a half-year ago, has never been to Arizona, but is well aware of the program’s prestige. He said he’s been in touch with head coach Sean Miller, has seen the Wildcats play on TV and is eager to take in the campus for the first time.

But Sima sounded just as, if not more, excited about returning to Maryland. Unlike ‘Zona, the Terps have been on the former Canarius Basketball Academy star since he was in Spain (recall, Turgeon and Dustin Clark spotted Michal Cekovsky over there) and have maintained consistent contact since he’s been in the States.

Both Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark have been down to see his games, while Sima trekked to College Park Nov. 20, 2014, with his team to meet the staff and see the school first-hand. On top of that, Sima’s coach, Chad Myers, is quite familiar with UMD having sent Damonte Dodd Maryland’s way when he was at Massanutten (Woodstock, Va.).

It’s never easy recruiting against a top-five program like Arizona, but the vibe is Clark’s persistent efforts will pay off here. (ARTICLE).

Of course, the above is all contingent on what happens with the nation’s No. 1 big man recruit, Diamond Stone (Dominican/Whitefish Bay, Wisc.). Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson just went out to see the 6-10, 250-pounder, and we’ve heard Stone has been receptive to the Terps’ overtures.

Ranson has been after Stone for a couple years now, while Turgeon has left a distinct impression on both the recruit and his family. Moreover, Stone has already officially visited Maryland and knows what the program is all about -- and the direction it’s heading.

That said, we’re still not inclined to list Stone above “cool” on the hot board. For a variety of reasons, we believe in-state Wisconsin remains the front-runner, with Connecticut running a close second.

Stranger things have happened on Signing Day, but we’d be surprised if Stone announced for UMD in April.

Besides a big man, the Terps are still pursuing a high-energy wing to potentially replace departing senior Dez Wells. Sima’s teammate, Jamall Gregory, remains on the board, though he still lacks a firm Maryland offer. Meanwhile, DePaul and Kansas State have anted up, and South Carolina and Minnesota are showing solid interest.

Gregory, a Washington, D.C., native who would like to return home for college, is willing to wait on Maryland, and believes he could pick up the offer when he officially visits College Park later in March. This above-the-rim high flyer said he’s still in touch with Dustin Clark, who recently watched him play in February, and has received positive vibes from the UMD assistant.

If the offer is indeed presented, we think Gregory will be a Terp, although he insists he'll be looking closely at two other schools as well. In addition to Maryland, Gregory plans to take officials to K-State, Minnesota and South Carolina, indicating the latter two could ante up when he's on campus.

But it's clear Gregory is pining for that UMD look. Not only would it be a chance to return home, but Gregory has stayed in close contact with friend and current Terp Melo Trimble and has a familiarity with the campus and school.

Gregory has yet to set exact dates for his upcoming officials, but plans on doing so in the next week or two. By early April, we should have a good idea where he'll be playing his college ball. (ARTICLE).

Previously, it looked like Gregory was the only wing option left on UMD’s board, but another name just cropped up on the radar. Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) small forward Jonathan Laurent has just started hearing from Clark, who apparently saw the 6-6, 200-pounder in February. Laurent, like Gregory, is considered an uber-athletic, above-the-rim type who brings it on the defensive end.

He currently holds offers from Alabama, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Georgia and UCF, while UMD, Rutgers, Missouri and WVU and others are keeping tabs. Laurent has already set one official visit to West Virginia, though no others have been set in stone.

We’ll monitor the situation and see if the Terps make a more potent push.

Finally, we just dropped junior college wing Maurice O’Field (Midland, Texas) from the hot board recently. We mentioned the staff had cooled on O’Field, and after checking back in with the Ohio native, it seems like talks have all but ended on that front.

The Latest In 2016

So point guard Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) has been on board since December, and it looks like the Terps will attempt to add a combo guard and a true forward to the mix as well.

You know the two foremost guard targets by now, and we caught up with both Markelle Fultz (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and Curtis Jones (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.) in the last couple weeks after both visited College Park.

With Cowan in both of their ears, along with Dustin Clark and Mark Turgeon, the Terps have positioned themselves nicely for either of the two dynamic locals. The UMD staff can’t take both, but at this point it looks like they should be able to snag one of the two.

The Richmond, Va., native Jones, who Maryland has been after since his freshman year at Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), is the more likely of the two to wind up in College Park. I just spoke to Jones, who watched UMD knock off Michigan Feb. 28 on Senior Day. The 6-3, 170-pounder hadn’t been to a Maryland game since last season, so he was eager to visit before the regular season closed.

Naturally, Jones thoroughly enjoyed himself, talking up the atmosphere, the staff and the current Terps. He has a longstanding relationship with Clark and Turgeon, with each letting the Huntington Prep product know he’s a top priority in 2016.

Jones, who envisions himself as a college point guard, is aware he wouldn’t be a true “one” at UMD, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. He insisted Turgeon would “use me the right way” and that he’d “fit in well with what Maryland runs.”

Moreover, Jones is in touch with Terps point guard Melo Trimble as well as Cowan (the two chatted extensively Feb. 28), both urging him to join the program. Jones even admitted he was “definitely thinking about” Maryland and playing with Cowan at the next level.

The one obstacle that might stand in UMD’s way, though, is Louisville. Jones has already visited the Cardinals and seems infatuated with Rick Pitino’s program, to the point where he might’ve already committed had Louisville anted up. But we’re not so sure Jones is a top priority for Pitino, and as long as that holds true, the Terps should be in good shape.

Besides UMD, Jones also holds offers from Indiana, VCU, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Indiana, WVU, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Cincinnati and N.C. State. He’s seen Maryland, Louisville, UVA, Missouri and Kentucky recently, and plans to check out IU and Pitt in the near future. (ARTICLE).

As for Fultz, his recruitment is a bit more complicated than Jones’. Since earning WCAC Player of the Year honors, he’s developed into a national recruit and is having his strings tugged in many directions. Now, Fultz has schools like Arizona, Georgetown, Xavier, Washington, Miami, N.C. State, Texas and Wake Forest all after him, with Kentucky lurking.

If the Wildcats and John Calipari pursue, well, that could be the end of Fultz’ recruitment. Meanwhile, the two Pac-12 offerees, Washington and Arizona, have his attention too, and the DeMatha product will be trekking to each this offseason. Apparently Fultz has connections to the Huskies, including Nike, which could push him in Dub-U’s direction.

Given all the above, Maryland is still very much in play. Fultz has been in Xfinity Center multiple times this year and has a strong rapport with Turgeon and Clark. He too believes he could thrive in UMD’s spread-the-floor, pick-and-roll, high-ball-screen offense, and likes the idea of representing at his hometown school as well.

If the Terps had their choice, they’d probably take Fultz over Jones, but it’s going to be a real battle for the former. We’ll see how it shakes out in the coming months.

If for some reason the Terps can’t bring in either Fultz or Jones, look for them to ramp things up with Rawle Alkins (Christ the King/Middle Village, N.Y.). The 6-5, 210-pound Alkins is a national name with offers from the likes of Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Villanova, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Maryland , N.C. State, Florida and Florida State, but is wide open in his recruitment.

Maryland isn’t often mentioned in his circles at the moment, but that could change if Turgeon doesn’t feel confident about the two primary nearby targets.

The Terps may or may not add a forward to its 2016 class, but there are a couple names being bandied about. The newest one is Wilbraham & Monson’s (Wilbraham, Mass.) Wenyen Gabriel, who has early offers from Boston College and Providence. Gabriel is also getting looks from UMD, Uconn and Notre Dame, among others.

Gabriel attends a school and plays for an AAU program (Mass Rivals) the Terps have recruited in the past (i.e. Jake Layman), and assistant Bino Ranson has been monitoring this 6-7 rising star for months now. Look for Gabriel to visit College Park for the first time at some point this offseason, as the interest appears to be mutual.

It remains to be seen whether or not Maryland makes a real run at him, but this bouncy combo forward is a name to monitor moving forward.

We’re also keeping local forward Kodye Pugh (Boys’ Latin/Baltimore, Md.) on the hot board, though we’re skeptical an offer will materialize. Pugh has said he’s still in touch with Bino Ranson, but for now it looks like the staff has this smooth forward on the backburner as they evaluate other talents.

We know Turgeon and Co. have kicked the tires on a couple power forwards/centers as well, though there’s no pressure to add one with Ivan Bender, Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd and possibly a Yankuba Sima in the program.

Paul VI power forward Corey Manigault has a conditional Terps offer, but it’s probably not committable. In fact, we don’t believe the staff is all that enamored with Manigault, who may fit better at the mid-major level.

The recruit to watch, though, is 6-10 center Jacob Larsen out of Denmark. Larsen is a potential pro, who insists he wants to go to college for a year or two before heading to the NBA.

The Terps, along with numerous other elite programs, have been linked to Larsen, though it’s tough to gauge this recruitment until the European native comes stateside.

Class Of 2017 Notes

We revealed an extensive list of possible 2017 targets in this space previously, but have since consolidated it to include the following names:

Quade Green, PG/SG, Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Eddie Scott, SF, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
Jamir Moultrie, PG/SG, Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.)
J.J. Smith, SG, E.E. Smith (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Jordan Tucker, SF, Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)
Myles Douglas, F, Friends School, Baltimore, Md.)
Melo Eggleston, F, Clinton Christian (Clinton, Md.)
Daniel Mading, PF, Rock School (Gainesville, Fla.)
Mohammed Bamba, PF/C, Westtown School (Westtown, Pa.)
Zach Kent, C, St. Andrew's School (Middletown, Del.)

Green, Tucker and Douglas hold Maryland offers, while Kent has a conditional one. Scott, Moultrie, Douglass, Eggleston and Kent have all visited College Park for games this year. Smith just emerged on the radar and is a potential "blow up" recruit.

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