Hardwood Notes: 2nd Eval Wrap/3rd Eval Primer

The second July evaluation period ran from July 15-19, and while we didn’t hear of any Maryland offers surfacing this time around, there is some news percolating about:

The second July evaluation period ran from July 15-19, and while we didn’t hear of any Maryland offers surfacing this time around, there is some news percolating about:

Which Guard Will It Be?

Last week we placed Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) point guard Tony Carr on the backburner, figuring he was bound for Penn State, Indiana or Pitt, but apparently not. I caught up with the rugged Philly guard at a Team Takeover AAU tournament in Forestville, Md., last week, and Carr let me know the Terps were not only firmly in play, but likely resided among his foremost two contenders.

Carr has a top-five leaderboard of Maryland, PSU, SMU, Providence and Temple, but hinted the Terps and Nittany Lions were “pushing the hardest” and had the best relationship with him.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, who is out with a hip injury, said he could “definitely” envision himself in head coach Mark Turgeon’s system, playing alongside fellow 2016 point Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.). Carr has been in College Park, Md., before and wants to return at least once more before selecting his school during August or the fall.

At the same time, Carr all but called the Nittany Lions the team to beat. He’s had a longstanding rapport with the PSU staff, has visited State College, Pa., several times and believes he could be the anchor up top for Penn State.

We’ll see what kind of a push Turgeon and UMD recruiter Dustin Clark make here. If they can get Carr back on campus, perhaps the Terps can jump the Nittany Lions in the pecking order.

That is, provided Turgeon truly covets Carr. While I sensed Maryland’s interest in the four-star was genuine, there’s still some question how potent the pursuit will be.

SMU, Providence and Temple also have a chance with Carr, but he hasn’t even visited the former two schools may not schedule trips to either. The Owls may be running third for Carr’s services, though it wouldn’t totally shock us if he wound up at his hometown school provide PSU and UMD fall through.

If Carr winds up in Happy Valley (or elsewhere), shooting guard Brandon Robinson (Douglas County/Douglasville, Ga.) remains the most likely Terps’ backcourt prospect. In fact, considering how well Robinson’s played this July, he might just be Turgeon’s preferred target.

Robinson is still hyping Maryland, Florida and FSU (unsure how hard the ‘Noles will push), with Miami, Georgia Tech and others after him too. He’s set to see Maryland at some point during August, a visit that could potentially push the Terps to the head of the pack (if they’re not there already). Unless Florida State truly does covet Robinson, we like UMD’s chances given Robinson’s relationship with recruiter Cliff Warren and Turgeon’s consistent overtures. Stay tuned.

Third on the list is Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa HS/Clifton Park, NY.), though, as we noted last week, Maryland may be on the outside looking in for the New York product. Huerter seems infatuated with Notre Dame, and Michigan is likely running second.

It’s possible the situation could change if/when Huerter checks out College Park, but the vibe is he’s Mike Brey’s to lose.

Are The Terps In The Running For 5-Star SF?

A couple weeks back former Pittsburgh commit Mustapha Heron (Sacred Heart/Waterbury, Conn.) released a top seven favorites list that included Maryland, St. John’s, Marquette, Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn and SMU. Then, earlier this week, one of our Scout colleague caught up with the five-star small forward’s father for an in-depth interview. The extensive conversation offered some telling insight into Heron’s recruitment.

The vibe on this end, after reading the report and speaking to a few other sources, is while the Terps hold appeal (“[Maryland is] probably going to be one of the best teams in the nation this season. Plus, the coach and I have a lot of mutual friends. So I’m able to get the ins and outs.” Mr. Heron said), Maryland probably isn’t among Heron’s upper-tier. Mississippi State and St. John’s may be the front-runners, with Alabama, Marquette and possibly SMU battling for the third spot.

Maryland could potentially work its way into the mix, but the Terps don’t figure to unseat the Johnnies or Mississippi State.

The most realistic UMD small forward/wing target continues to be Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass.), whose status we updated last week. Gabriel’s stock has risen considerably since the beginning of July, and he now has plenty of high-major suitors. But the Terps, with a nod to recruiter Bino Ranson, are resonating (so is UConn).

We’ll see if that remains true following the final live period. We've heard Duke (yes, really) has initiated some contact with Gabriel, and if the Blue Devils actually do offer, well, it's sayonara Mr. Gabriel. But barring the latter, look for Gabriel to check out College Park for the first time during August, with a decision coming shortly thereafter.

Terps Making a Move For A PF

It remains to be seen whether Mark Turgeon will sign a power forward/center in the 2016 class, but the headman is certainly doing his diligence in scanning the ranks. We’ve breached the name Kassoum Yakwe (Our Savior New American School/Centereach, N.Y.) several times now, and while we haven’t been able to get an interview with the 6-7, 195-pounder, we’ve heard there’s mutual interest.

The Terps have offered the four-star recruit, and Yakwe is apparently in the process of scheduling a College Park visit in August. We’ve also been told some of Yakwe’s former most ardent pursuers – Iowa State, Kansas, Indiana – are no longer pushing, opening the door for a newcomer like Maryland.

So far Yakwe is the only big forward with a formal offer, though Turgeon has paid close attention to five-star Juwan Durham (Tampa Prep/Tampa, Fla.) and four-star Sacha Killeya-Jones (Episcopal/Lynchburg, Va.). But unless some of Durham’s or Killeya-Jones’ blueblood contenders (or other longstanding suitors) fall by the wayside, it’s unlikely the Terps will gain much traction, regardless of whether or not they ante up.

Durham could wind up at Kansas, Florida, Miami or Florida State; Killeya-Jones has Kentucky, North Carolina and the Jayhawks after him. We’re leaving both on the hot board for now, but they could be removed at any time unless Maryland makes a move.

One new prospect to monitor is Providence Prep’s (Charlotte, N.C.) Grant Williams, who Scout’s Rob Harrington reported on this week. Williams said Maryland, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Tennessee and others were giving him a closer look and could eventually offer.

But we’re not so sure that will be the case -- at least as far as UMD is concerned. Williams has potential given his handles and solid mid-range jumper, but he’s only 6-7 and lacks range out to the 3-point arc. We’ll keep Williams in mind in case he blows up during the final live period, though don’t expect a UMD offer to materialize.

Notes From Atlanta, Dallas, NYC, Chicago, LA, D.C., Milwaukee

Scout sent analysts around the country for the second July evaluation period, and they reported back on some of the most impressive prospects they witnessed. Here are those with ties to Maryland:

First and foremost, there was five-star point guard Trevon Duval (St. Benedict’s Prep/Newark, N.J.), a class of 2017 five-star with everyone and their brother after him. According to Scout reporters, Duval “made a case for being the top overall point guard in high school basketball, regardless of class.”

Duval is wide open in his recruitment, but the Terps have made inroads with the nearby point guard. They’ve hosted him for a game and both Turgeon and Bino Ranson have done their part in selling the Maryland program. Many believe, however, that Rick Pitino and Louisville have Duval’s ear, while Kansas is firmly in play too.

Another notable name that cropped up was class of 2017 wing M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), who our colleagues watched at the UA Finals in New York City. Dubbed “one of the better wings in the 2017 class,” the two-sport star has UMD, FSU, Auburn, Georgia, Va Tech, OSU, Florida and La Salle after him.

Walker hasn’t given much insight into his recruiting status yet, but the Terps do figure to be somewhat of a player here. How much so remains to be seen.

The third prospect mentioned, rising senior Markelle Fultz (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), “flashed his tremendous athleticism, court vision and passing ability” per our Scout analysts at the UA Finals. That’s all well and good, but Terps fans know the deal with Fultz by now. The five-star shooting guard is keeping Maryland in play, but he’s all but signed and sealed to Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisville, Washington or Arizona.

He could be dropped from the hot board at any time.

Locally, we at Terrapin Times were able to catch some AAU action last week, first at the Oladipo/Lawson event and then at the Team Takeover Summer Invitational. Some of the players who caught our eye included: class of 2017 small forward Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.), class of 2017 small forward Myles Douglas (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.), class of 2018 forward Jalen Smith (Mt. St. Joseph’s/Baltimore, Md.) and class of 2016 shooting guard Quinton Rose (Bishop Kearney/Rochester, N.Y.).

Douglas, who holds a Terps offer, continues to flash potential, which is why he now holds a half-dozen high-major verbals. We’re not sure Turgeon would accept his commitment right now given Douglas’ lack of overwhelming skills and athleticism, but the developing forward does do a lot of little things well (i.e. sees the floor, sound fundamentals, high basketball IQ, passes well). He’s the consummate “glue guy,” who Maryland might want around for the next four-plus years.

Hameir Wright, meanwhile, has been receiving Maryland interest, and an offer could come soon enough. The three-man is still a bit raw, and his game is inconsistent, but he has the athleticism and upside of a surefire four-star recruit. We could easily see the Terps becoming more involved with him, and, if so, it could be a potential match considering Wright has solid interest in Turgeon’s program.

As for Jalen Smith, he’s looking like a potential five-star guy. True, Smith is still growing into his 6-8 frame, but his leaping ability; quickness; passing; and range out to the 3-point line suggest he’ll eventually become a national recruit.

The Terps, for their part, are already all over “Sticks,” and we expect Turgeon to offer at some point during the next year. In fact, Smith could conceivably become Maryland’s No. 1 class of 2018 target, along with Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) shooting guard Prentiss Hubb, who also impressed at the UA Finals.

Smith, who recently visited College Park, has an early affinity for UMD and grew up a Terps fan, so he’s one to monitor for sure (as is Hubb).

The final recruit, Quinton Rose, is someone Dan Painter spotted at the Lawson/Oladipo camp. Apparently the 6-5 shooting guard reminded Painter of UMD priority Brandon Robinson -- his intelligence, ball-handling and shooting standing out. Perhaps if the Terps miss on Robinson, Kevin Huerter and Tony Carr, Rose will be someone they take a look at, though there's no evidence of that happening.

Trimming Down the Hot Board

Besides Grant Williams, we didn’t add any new names to the board following the second evaluation period. Instead, we did some significant trimming and tweaking. After checking in with our sources, reviewing our own evaluations and gauging the direction of Maryland’s recruiting efforts (read: Turgeon is going after the crème de crème in 2017) we chose to remove the following names:

Class of 2016

SG Terrance Ferguson (Prime Prep/Dallas, Texas): The Terps expressed some interest, and Mark Turgeon and Dustin Clark had a couple tie-ins, but Ferguson didn’t mention Maryland in any of his interviews this week. He’s probably bound for Kansas, while SMU, Louisville, Florida and Alabama are all in play.

C Udoka Azubuike (Potter’s House Christian/Jacksonville, Fla.): Maryland made a run at Azubuike, but the nation’s 30th-rated recruit hasn’t talked up the Terps in quite some time. He recently told Scout that Florida, FSU and Kansas were recruiting him the hardest. UMD might make a late push, but he’s a longshot to wind up in College Park.

Class of 2017

PG Eddie Scott (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.) (2017)
SF Michael Speight (Wise/Upper Marlboro, Md.) (2017)
SG Elijah Clarance (Goretti/Hagerstown, Md.) (2017)
SG Matt Turner (Blair Academy/Blairstown, N.J.) (2017)
SF Chris Orlina (Capitol Christian/Upper Marlboro, Md.) (2017)

Many of the above are known local recruits who have expressed plenty of Terps interest and have visited College Park, but the feelings don’t seem to be reciprocal. They’re considered more mid-level targets who may snag a couple high-major offers, but might not be at the level Turgeon and Co. are looking for.

Following the first two evaluation periods, it’s clear the Terps are positioning themselves for several four- and five-star talents, while expressing only cursory interest in many of the under-the-radar DMV products (in addition to Scott, Clarance, Speight and Orlina, we removed locals like Aaron Thompson, Andre Rafus, Chris Lykes and others several months back).

Undoubtedly, assistants Dustin Clark and Bino Ranson will stay in touch with these prospects -- that’s their job as recruiters -- but we don’t envision offers materializing.

The next names to be dropped could be shooting guard David Beatty (Carroll/Randor, Pa.) and even 7-footer Zach Kent (St. Andrew’s/Middletown, Del.). Based on reports, it doesn’t seem like the Terps are making a real push for either.

The Final Live Period

The last July evaluation period runs from July 23-26, with major events in Las Vegas (three prime tournaments), New Jersey (Battle of the Borders), Kentucky (Nike Super Showcase), Kansas City (Hardwood Classic) and Florida (AAU nationals). Once again, many of Maryland’s main targets will be scattered across the country, although a large majority will be in Vegas.

Expect Mark Turgeon, Dustin Clark , Bino Ranson and Cliff Warren to spend plenty of time in the City of Sin, where prospects such as Anthony Cowan, Wenyen Gabriel, Brandon Robinson, Tony Carr (injured), Mustapha Heron, Hamidou Diallo (Woodstock Academy/Woodstock, Conn.), David Beatty, Terrance Ferguson, M.J. Walker, Udoka Azubuike, Cody Riley (Sierra Canyon/Chatsworth, Calif.), Juwan Durham, Myles Douglas, D.J. Harvey (DeMatha) and more will be participating.

The staff should also be making an appearance in the Garden State, where Markelle Fultz and many of the We R 1 targets -- Trevon Dual, Quade Green (Goretti/Philadelphia, Pa.), Eric Ayala (Sanford/Hockessin, Del.) -- should be in action.

We could also see either Turgeon or one of his assistants checking out Kassoum Yakwe in the Kansas City Hardwood Classic.

And, as always, we’ll be on the lookout for any new names that surface in the coming days.

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