Hardwood Notes: Wrapping Up The Live Periods

The third and final July evaluation period concluded last weekend, and the Maryland coaches were all over Las Vegas and New Jersey scouting some of their foremost targets.

The third and final July evaluation period concluded last weekend, and the Maryland coaches were all over Las Vegas and New Jersey scouting some of their foremost targets. Here’s what we learned following the July 23-26 live sessions:

The Small Forward Market

Head coach Mark Turgeon’s quest to land a 2016 wing just got a little tougher following the final July live period. Most significantly, longtime target Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass.) reached national status in Las Vegas, showing out in front of the bluebloods like Kentucky, Duke and others. The 6-foot-9, 210 pounder actually picked up a Wildcats offer, which raised more than a few eyebrows, while coaches from the Blue Devils, Texas, UConn, Notre Dame, Maryland and more watched intently.

With his stock on the rise, Gabriel is now suggesting he could delay his college decision until the spring -- this after initially saying he’d have his recruitment wrapped up by the fall. Gabriel originally intended to go on a couple August tips and then commit shortly thereafter, but now it looks like he’ll taking multiple officials during the season. We’re not so sure that will be the case (Kentucky or Duke probably wouldn’t want Gabriel to drag things out that beyond the fall), but it does seem like Gabriel’s visit destinations, at least, will change.

Despite the uptick in interest, the Terps remain a primary contender. Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson were both front and center in Vegas, once again making their presence known to Gabriel. The New Hampshire native has time and again lauded the Terps’ consistent efforts, and Gabriel should be rewarding them with a visit either in August or during the fall.

Watch out for a Duke offer, though. The Mass Rivals product seems taken with the Blue Devils’ status as a renowned basketball and educational institution, so they could become the team to beat. Notre Dame, Uconn and Texas, along with UMD, are also heavily involved.

A newly reported UMD offeree is actually a name we’ve broached many times before. Friends’ Central (Wynnewood, Pa.) wing DeAndre Hunter has been on and off the hot board during the last few months, and following the last July period, we’re placing him back on the radar. The 6-7 Hunter, who claimed a Maryland verbal July 27, has impressed during the last two live sessions, including last weekend in Vegas, adding offers from UVA, UConn, Georgia Tech, UMD and others recently.

Hunter has visited College Park before and expressed interest in Maryland, so now that the scholarship has reportedly materialized UMD could be positioned nicely for him. We’ll see what develops in the coming weeks.

If Gabriel fades and nothing comes of the Hunter offer, you might see a scholarship materialize for under-the-radar wing Brachen Hazen (Columbia City, Ind.), who caught the Terps’ eye in Vegas. The 6-8, 195-pounder has mid-major offers so far, but could secure a few high-majors before it’s all said and one. Hazen is a versatile combo forward known for his rugged defense, his toughness and want-to. He has interest now from Maryland, Clemson, Pitt, Cal and Georgetown.

We’re also keeping Maryland offeree Mario Kegler (Arlington County Day/Jacksonville, Fla.) in mind after he prominently mentioned the Terps as a prime contender in Vegas. According to Scout’s Rob Harrington, the Terps were the first school out of Kegler’s mouth when asked who was recruiting him the hardest.

Take that for what it’s worth, though we’ve heard the 6-7, 225-pound Kegler is likely bound for Mississippi State, Oklahoma State or Arizona State. We’ll see if Turgeon and Co. can secure a visit later during the year, but for now we’ll keep him “cool” on the hot board.

Last but not least is the former Pitt commit Mustapha Heron (Sacred Heart/Waterbury, Conn), who didn’t participate in Vegas. There’s not much new to report on the five-star Maryland target, but, as a reminder, he has the Terps among his top seven suitors. Heron, however, is considered a St. John’s or Mississippi State lean, with Marquette, Alabama and maybe SMU also among his upper-tier.

Our feeling is the Terps will keep going hard after Gabriel until they’re told he’s heading elsewhere. The staff will probably stay in touch with both Brazen and Hunter too, ready to pounce in case the Gabriel situation goes awry.

We don’t sense Heron or Kegler will end up in College Park, but they’ll stay on the board for now.

The Guard Targets

Of the four primary class of 2016 guard recruits we’ve mentioned in conjunction with Maryland, only two participated last weekend: Brandon Robinson (Douglas County/Douglasville, Ga.) and Markelle Fultz (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.). Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa HS/Clifton Park, N.Y.) had family obligations and didn’t join his Albany City Rocks squad, while Tony Carr (Roman Catholic/Philadelphia, Pa.) remains out with a hip injury.

Robinson, for his part, continued his rise up the ranks with a stellar Vegas performance, shining on both ends of the floor. He ended up securing on-the-spot verbals from Louisville, VCU, Oklahoma and others.

The 6-5, 165-pounder recently released a top 10 list that included FSU, UMD, Florida, Tennessee, Ga Tech, Texas Tech, Miami, UVA, Cal and Stanford, but that’s bound to change now. Robinson admitted he was considering readjusting his board with new programs in play.

That said, Robinson will keep his two most ardent contenders, Maryland and Florida State, at the forefront of his mind. He’s going to visit both College Park and Tallahassee, Fla., either officially or unofficially, before deciding which other programs to look at.

Both Mark Turgeon and Cliff Warren have made Robinson a priority, and we think that established rapport could very well pay off.

As for Fultz, Turgeon and Dustin Clark watched him at the Battle of the Borders in New Jersey. Fultz once again showed why he’s one of the most sought-after prospects in the country, pursued by the likes of Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville, North Carolina and others of that ilk.

Maryland isn’t giving up the ghost on the five-star combo guard, and various sources have indicated the Terps still have a shot here. Perhaps, as his recruitment drags on, Fultz will come back around to the hometown school, but our gut is still Wildcats (KY and AZ), Heels, or maybe Cardinals or Huskies (Washington).

Fultz is close to releasing a leaderboard, so we’ll be interested to see which of those programs make the cut. Unless it’s an extremely narrow list, the Terps should be on it. And until Fultz publically rules UMD out, we’re keeping him on the hot board, especially given Turgeon’s efforts here.

With the New York guard Huerter, little has changed since last week. As a reminder, the 6-5 sharpshooter seems to be primarily focused on Notre Dame, Michigan and Maryland, with the Irish standing out. Huerter will likely trek to all three locales in August, but the sense is he could be UND’s to lose.

The point guard, Carr, meanwhile, could have Penn State on the mind, with Maryland running second. He released a favorites list that included PSU, UMD, Temple, SMU and Providence, but admitted the Nittany Lions and Terps were “on me the hardest.” Last week, though, he made it clear to me PSU held the upper-hand.

Perhaps another name will surface shortly, but from this standpoint it looks like Robinson is still Maryland’s best bet at landing a 2016 guard.

We’ll know more following official visit season.

No Bigs In 2016?

We thought the Maryland staff might stop off in Kanas City to see Our Savior New American School (Centereach, N.Y.) power forward Kassoum Yakwe, but there was no indication they made the trip. The Terps, like some of the 6-7, 195-pounder’s other high-major suitors, may not be pushing as hard as we originally believed.

It’s been difficult to glean information on the mum frontcourt recruit, so we’ll continue monitoring him, but we’re not expecting Yakwe to visit College Park.

The Terps did check out four-star power forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (Episcopal/Lynchburg, Va.) in Vegas, but, as we’ve mentioned previously, he’s not projected to Maryland. Killeya- Jones has had Kentucky, Kansas and UNC after him for awhile, and he may end up at one of those bluebloods.

Five-star Juwan Durham (Tampa Prep/Tampa, Fla.) is on the radar too, but, like Killeya-Jones, it doesn’t seem like the Terps are a prime contender. Kansas and the Florida schools are all over Durham for the moment.

Finally, we brought up the name Grant Williams (Providence Prep/Charlotte, N.C.) last week, but the vibe is Maryland may pass on the late-riser. Williams, recall, told Scout following the second evaluation period that UMD, Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Tennessee were showing interest, but that might be as far as it goes (at least as far as Maryland is concerned).

Given the above, the Terps could very well pass on a 2016 big and instead focus their efforts on 2017 targets. With a standout campaign, coupled with the inroads they’ve already made, Turgeon and Co. are positioning themselves for some of the country’s most renowned ’17 recruits.

Some 2017 Notes

Before delving into the new names, let’s touch on St. John Neumann (Philadelphia, Pa.) point guard Quade Green. This top UMD target opened plenty of eyes during the Battle of the Borders in Burlington, N.J., establishing himself as an elite 2017 recruit (Scout’s Brian Snow called him “unguardable at times”).

Turgeon was on-hand to watch Green and his We R 1 AAU teammates (Trevon Duval, Zach Kent, Eric Ayala and others), but so were plenty of other coaches. Thus, Green is currently open in his recruitment as the offers pile up, but he does have an early affinity for UMD (he’s visited College Park and plans to return).

Speaking of We R 1, evidently the 7-footer Zach Kent (St. Andrew’s/Middletown, Del.) played relatively well last weekend, improving his stock. We were about to remove him from the hot board, but he’s staying on after his recent Battle of the Borders showing.

Another Middletown, Del., product, Myles Cale, also showed plenty of promise in Jersey. The Terps have been keeping close tabs on the 6-4 shooting guard, hosting him for a visit and maintaining contact via social media. An offer could be coming in the near future, and, if so, Maryland would seem to be in solid position to pull Cale in. Stay tuned.

Reading, Pa., shooting guard Lonnie Walker continued to impress too. He’s bound to have high-majors galore, the Terps assumingly ready to throw their names into the fray soon. Don’t be surprised if Walker claims a UMD verbal in the next few days/weeks.

In addition to Green, Cale, Walker and the known names, here are some new underclassmen the Terps will be monitoring after the last July live period.

Power forward Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross, Ga.) holds a couple early verbals, and apparently the 6-7, 190-pounder has been hearing more from Maryland recently. Not much is known about his recruitment at this stage, but it’s a name to monitor moving forward.

Four-star shooting guard Devontae Shuler (Irmo/Columbia, S.C.) is a prime blow-up candidate with offers from USC, South Carolina, Clemson, Wake and others. The Terps scouted the 6-3, 180-pounder and have initiated contact, so he’s someone that could wind up with an offer at some point.

Four-star point guard Blake Harris (Carlisle School/Chapel Hill, N.C.) will likely have his pick up programs before it’s all said and done, but Va Tech, Wake and Miami are on him initially. It would not surprise if Turgeon -- along with other area programs like UNC, Duke, NC State, UVA and others -- offered too.

In addition to the above trio, we chose to remove several more recruits from the hot board.

Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) point guard Darius Perry updates his status last weekend in Vegas, and didn’t report Maryland as a school in contact with him. Kansas State, Xavier, Georgia Tech, Wake, TAMU and Minnesota are his main offers to this point.

Likewise, point guard Eric Ayala doesn’t figure to garner much of a Terps look. The UMD staff saw him at the Battle of the Borders, but afterwards Ayala said St. John’s, Cincinnati, Miami, Providence, Nova, UConn and Dayton were showing the most interest.

The Terps also saw shooting guard David Beatty (John Carroll/Philadelphia, Pa.) during the last July period, though we’re not sure he’s an offer candidate either. The UMD coaches may have other two-guard targets ranked ahead of Beatty, namely Shuler, Lonnie Walker (Reading, Pa.), Hamidou Diallo (Woodstock, Conn.), Myles Cale (Appoquinimick/Middletown, Del.), M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.) and Mitchell Ballock (Eudora, Kans.).

One class of 2018 recruit who caught our analysts’ eye was John Carroll’s (Bel Air, Md.) Immanuel Quickley, who we’ve written about before. The 6-3 point already has interest from Syracuse, UMD, Washington, Duke and others, while Cincinnati has offered. The Terps have a strong rapport with him and figure to be players for Quickley’s services down the road.

Note: Not necessarily stemming from the third live period, but we did hear late last week that Maryland was in a good initial position for five-star 2017 power forward Billy Preston (Prime Prep/Dallas, Texas). Preston told hoopsseen.com that Arizona and UMD were recruiting him “the hardest” early on. We’ll see what kind of inroads Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark can gain here.

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