Maryland’s hoops staff has hosted an up-and-coming recruit each day since the contact period reopened, and the most recent prospect to make his way over to College Park, Md., was Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) stretch-4 Jalen Smith. The 6-foot-8, 185-pound class of 2018 recruit had been at UMD several times before for games, but June 17 was his first in-depth look at head coach Mark Turgeon’s program.
“The visit went really, really well,” said Smith, who goes by the nickname ‘Sticks,’ a moniker earned at six years old, when his rec coach noted he was the tallest, skinniest kid on the floor. “I liked the campus there a lot, and I really liked the coaches there. I think it’s a great program and a great school. I had a lot of fun. My dad liked it a lot too.”
Smith, who already holds an offer from Providence, said Maryland assistants Cliff Warren and Dustin Clark showed him around College Park. The Mount St. Joe’s prospect said both staffers were “very kind” and did a good job detailing UMD’s history and answering any questions he had.
“I learned a lot about Maryland and what it’s about up there. My favorite part was seeing the old basketball gym [Cole Field House]. I didn’t realize how small it is, but I loved it. It’s like nothing special, but it was just a place where you can come and play basketball,” Smith said. “But the new place [Xfinity Center], I saw that too, and that’s a great place to play too. I was there last year for the Michigan State game, and it’s a great atmosphere. Fans are crazy at Maryland, and I love how they pack [Xfinity].”
Besides Warren and Clark, Smith had a chance to chat with head coach Mark Turgeon as well. Smith said the two didn’t discuss potential offers or recruiting June 17, but it’s obvious Turgeon is intrigued by the emerging local.
“Coach Turgeon told me he really liked the way I play, and he really likes how athletic I am for a big man,” Smith said. “He made me feel very confident about myself, and it made me feel good to know that he watched me play at the last live period and liked what he saw. That was really cool.”
Smith had an opportunity to watch the current Terps in action too. He said the practice was “really impressive,” while he enjoyed meeting new Maryland center Diamond Stone.
“I actually got to talk to Diamond Stone, and he’s a real good guy,” Smith said. “He’s a great player too, very athletic and has unbelievable footwork for his size. But overall, I really think the team looks good. They have really good team chemistry, they share the ball and everyone gets involved. I like how they play.”
Smith didn’t need to watch a practice in order to form the latter opinion, however. Other than attending the MSU game, he watches Maryland every chance he can get on TV.
“I’m a real big Terps fan, to be honest,” Smith said. “I grew up watching them, and I love watching their games. I was like six years old when they won the national championship, and I remember that, and I remember when the women won the championship too. I’ve always watched Maryland, so if they recruited me, I’d love it. It’s the hometown school, it’s close to home and it’s the team I’ve grown up with.”
The Terps are bound to have plenty of contenders for Smith’s services, however. He just added his first verbal from Providence a couple weeks back, calling it “really exciting to get an offer this early.”
Smith said he’ll be checking out the Friars, along with several other nearby colleges, later this summer. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to the July live period, when he’ll be suiting up with his AAU squad, Maryland 3D.
“I did pretty well in Hampton for the first live period, but I’m still getting better,” said Smith, noticeably well-spoken for a class of 2018 recruit. “I’m doing a good job playing defense, rebounding and blocking shots, but I have to work on my ball-handling, my outside shooting, my footwork, and just getting stronger.”
'Sticks' Talks Up Terps After Visit
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