Hardwood Notes: Terps Hosting Top Targets

The live periods are over, offers have been extended and now many of the nation’s foremost recruits are beginning their visits before the school year starts. Let’s take a look at where Maryland stands with its main targets heading into the dog days of summer.

The live periods are over, offers have been extended and now many of the nation’s foremost recruits are beginning their visits before the school year starts. Let’s take a look at where Maryland stands with its main targets heading into the dog days of summer.

Guard Options Dwindling?

Two of the Terps’ primary guard offerees are almost assuredly headed elsewhere, including one who is already off the board. Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) point guard Tony Carr chose Penn State over Maryland Aug. 3, as expected. Carr was supposed to give UMD one last look sometime this month, but he reneged, instead opting for his longstanding favorite.

How did Carr come to choose the Nittany Lions over the up-and-coming Terps? Well, PSU head coach Pat Chambers has made significant inroads into the Philadelphia area recently, and last year he pulled Carr’s former teammate, Shep Garner, out of Roman Catholic. This year, Chambers actively recruited both Carr and his teammate, Lamar Stevens, who is expected to join the PSU program as well. Those connections, coupled with Carr’s overall familiarity with the program, were likely the deciding factors in this recruitment.

The second guard about to be removed is five-star DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) combo Markelle Fultz, who failed to mention UMD as a major contender in his latest set of interviews. Fultz returned to Louisville for an official visit Aug. 5, followed by an official to Arizona Aug. 8. The dynamic high-flyer is also looking to check out Washington and Kentucky, the latter of particular intrigue.

In all likelihood, Fultz will choose between one of those four locales after his officials are completed.

Now for a bit of good news. Shenendehowa HS (Clifton Park, N.Y.) shooting guard Kevin Huerter visited College Park, Md., for the first time Aug. 2 and came away raving. The 6-foot-5, 170-pounder said he connected with head coach Mark Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark, readily taking to their philosophy and plan for him at UMD. Huerter believes he’d fit well into Maryland’s offense, becoming a contributor soon after arriving. The New York product also liked the campus, the Xfinity Center and, in particular, trainer Kyle Tarp, who Huerter believes will help ready his body for Big Ten ball.

Following the trip, Huerter said he’d be returning for an official this fall, though a date hasn’t been scheduled yet.

The feeling on this end is UMD resides firmly among Huerter’s top two or three suitors, but Turgeon still has to fend off the Notre Dames and Michigans of the world. Maryland was just Huerter’s first stop, and he’s yet to see South Bend, Ind., or Ann Arbor, Mich. We’ll have a better idea where Maryland truly stands after he checks out the Irish and Wolverines later this month. (For the record, Huerter also wants to see Vanderbilt and Villanova).

Also in play is now-national shooting guard Brandon Robinson (Douglas County/Douglassville, Ga.), who should be visiting Louisville Aug. 8, followed by Maryland Sept. 12 and FSU Oct. 10. Word is the 6-5, 180-pound jack-of-all-trades has the ‘Noles out in front, with the Terps close behind. Robinson also has Louisville, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech and possibly Florida and Stanford (no offer yet) in mind, though. for the time being, this looks like a Terps-Noles battles.

The Seminoles, a program Robinson has visited previously, have had a rapport with the two-guard that dates back to his youth days. Robinson mentioned how the staff texts him “every day” and wants him “badly.”

But Robinson hasn’t checked out College Park -- or Louisville for that matter -- yet, so we’ll have to see what he’s thinking after that.

Remember, Robinson, who hosted Turgeon in-home back in April, has had just as long of a relationship with Terps’ assistant Cliff Warren as he has his FSU recruiter. He let me know Turgeon, Warren and even Dustin Clark have been in heavy pursuit, the headman’s overtures ringing true. Thus, we could see Robinson’s upcoming UMD official potentially vaulting Maryland up the leaderboard.

It should be noted that Robinson said there’s “a ton” of programs that want to do in-home visits in September, so it’s possible another suitor (Georgia Tech? Stanford? Florida? Texas Tech?) could make a late run as well. He’d like to take all five officials before selecting a school, which means Robinson could conceivably check out two more programs after UL, UMD and FSU. Stay tuned.

Note: Five-star Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) guard Rawle Alkins released a top 10 list Aug. 1 that consisted of: Texas, Kansas, Louisville, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, St. Johns, North Carolina State, Maryland and UNLV. We’re not going to include Alkins on the hot board, however, unless we hear some definitive Terps interest. Kentucky, which Alkins is set to officially visit in October, is considered the clear No. 1, with Indiana perhaps running second.

Note: Five-star former Pitt pledge Mustapha Heron (Sacred Heart/Waterbury, Conn.) told Scout’s Brian Snow he was heading to Mississippi State Aug. 27, followed by SMU and St. John’s.

The vibe is the Johnnies and Bulldogs lead for Heron’s services, the power wing having multiple connections to both programs. For various reasons, we can’t envision Heron giving UMD a serious look.

Small Forward Options

Maryland’s No. 1 wing target, Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass.), may be falling by the wayside. Sure, Gabriel is publically keeping all his main suitors on an even plane, but our neutral national analysts have surmised the 6-10 four-star has the bluebloods well out in front of UMD, Wake, Providence, Uconn and others.

Duke could be Gabriel’s current leader, with Kentucky; Kansas; and UNC on the brain too. He’s yet to set up visits, but the chances of Gabriel checking out College Park are looking bleaker.

If the above holds true, the Terps’ two most likely options are DeAndre Hunter (Friends’ Central/Wynnewood, Pa.) and Brachen Hazen (Columbia City, Ind.), both of which Turgeon recently offered.

Hunter, for his part, took his first August visit to Arkansas Aug. 2 and said he’d be returning for an official later during the fall. The Razorbacks seem to have left a distinct impression and are now a prime contender.

Hunter then trekked to Villanova and UVA Aug. 4-5, respectively, and both the Wildcats and 'Hoos are considered formidable contenders. The small forward is also looking to trek toNC State, Uconn, Miami and UMD, although the likelihood of him seeing them all is slim.

When I personally spoke to Hunter, I didn’t get a great Terps vibe, but the 6-7, 180-pounder has since told other Scout reporters he’s very much open in his recruitment. He hasn’t planned anymore visits beyond the three he just went on, but could very well make his way down to College Park at some point.

We’ll have to see where Hunter opts to check out moving forward before forming a strong opinion either way. But our gut is the Pennsylvania product will wind up at a school who’s staff has pursued him from the jump (in other words, not Maryland).

As for Hazen, he was at Ball State Aug. 1, has scheduled an official to UCF, and is in the process of setting up dates for Maryland, Valpo and maybe Clemson. Hazen said he’d prefer to see UMD once this August to determine if he likes the area and the program. If so, he would then return for an official later during the fall.

It was obvious after speaking to the Midwest stretch-4 the Terps held his firm attention, which isn’t surprising considering they were his largest offer to date. Plus Hazen was already familiar with the program from having watched UMD multiple times on TV (he also saw Maryland live during an Iowa game last year). Hazen believes he’d fit in well in Turgeon’s system and likes the idea of playing Big Ten ball against some of the nation’s elite.

Hazen will give Valpo, UCF and Ball State (he called his visit “awesome”) a legitimate shot, but if Turgeon makes a push here -- he may not do so unless he knows for sure Gabriel and Hunter won’t be coming to UMD -- the Terps should be in solid shape to land the rugged Hoosier State native.

Meanwhile, there is some hope for Mario Kegler (Arlington Country Day/Jacksonville, Fla.) The five-star guard is apparently going to officially visit Maryland at some point, noting Turgeon’s and Clark’s potent pursuit. Kegler knows he’d have a chance to contribute right away at UMD and wants to delve deeper into the program.

At the same time, Indiana is now firmly in the running, and the Hoosiers may have the inside track since Tom Crean is also going after Kegler’s AAU teammate, Tyson Carter. Kegler should be officially visiting IU later this fall.

Mississippi State has long held Kegler’s attention and should get an official too, while Uconn and Arizona State are in the game as well.

In our mind, the Bulldogs and Hoosiers are sitting first and second in the pecking order, with the Sun Devils, Terps and Huskies fighting for position.

Can The Terps Pull A Big?

As we mentioned in this space last week, there aren’t many power forwards or centers who seem to be thinking turtles at the moment.

Three-star power forward Kassoum Yakwe, who added a Maryland offer in July, was thought to be a priority target, but the staff seems to have backed off. Currently, we’re waiting to see if Yakwe will reclass to 2015 or go to prep school for a year, which could throw a kink into his recruiting situation. He claims numerous high-major offers from Kansas, Iowa State, Indiana, St. John’s, Oregon, UMD, Syracuse, Washington and others, but we’re led to believe not many of them are committable.

Another power forward, Sacha Killeya-Jones (Episcopal/Lynchburg, Va.), seems to be favoring bluebloods like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina. Maryland may reside among the 6-10 big man’s top four suitors, but seem to be on the outside looking in based on a couple recent interviews. We’ll keep Killeya-Jones in mind, but don’t project him to College Park.

Two more forwards, Juwan Durham (Tampa Prep/Tampa, Fla.) and Grant Williams (Providence Prep/Charlotte, N.C.), were removed from the hot board this week. The five-star Durham hasn’t mentioned Maryland as a primary contender, preferring to talk up the Florida schools and Kansas.

Williams, meanwhile, was an under-the-radar recruit with mid-major looks who the Terps checked in on. But we haven’t been led to believe Turgeon and Co. are interested enough to actually extend an offer.

Last but not least, five-star center Udoka Azubuike was removed from the hot board several weeks back. The 6-11 big man has Florida State out in front, with Kansas and Kentucky after him too. He hasn’t brought up Maryland in a good while now.

Note: A Scout analyst broached the name Gorjok Gak (Victory Rock Prep/Bradenton, Fla.) as someone the UMD staff had taken a look at, but there isn’t much interest there, according to sources.

In Conclusion…

There could very well be another target or two that crops up, but, for now, Maryland’s 2016 class could consist of point guard Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.); either shooting guard Kevin Huerter or Brandon Robinson; and either small forward Brachen Hazen or DeAndre Hunter.

It goes without saying the upcoming official visits and in-homes will be of the utmost importance. But if Turgeon and Co. can’t close out on any of the above, they obviously have to hope a late-emerging recruit develops this fall/winter.

Class of 2017 Notes

The Terps are fighting for position with their 2016 targets, but the staff has already made strong inroads with the ’17 crop. Some of the main prospects who reportedly have Maryland on the mind include:

power forward Billy Preston (Prime Prep/Dallas, Texas); small forward Myles Douglas (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.); small forward Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.), point guard Quade Green (Neumann-Goretti/Philadelphia, Pa.); shooting guard Lonnie Walker (Reading, Pa.), shooting guard M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), yet-to-be-offered shooting guard Myles Cale (Appoquinimick/Middletown, Del.); yet-to-be-offered center Zach Kent (St. Andrew’s/Middletown, Del.); and yet-to-be-offered power forward Daniel Mading (The Rock School/Gainesville, Fla.).

Power forward Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa.) and small forward Kevin Knox (Tampa Catholic/Tampa, Fla.) could also be possibilities but aren’t projected to Maryland.

Others the Terps are involved with, but don’t seem to be in play for, include:

power forward DeAndre Ayton (Balboa City/San Diego, Calif.); small forward Brian Bowen (Hill/Saginaw. Mich.); power forward Cody Riley (Sierra Canyon/Chatsworth, Calif.); small forward D.J. Harvey (DeMatha); shooting guard Hamidou Diallo (Woodstock Academy/Woodstock, Conn.); point guard Trevon Duval (St. Benedict’s/Newark, N.J.); small forward Tyler Polley (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.); shooting guard Mitchell Ballock (Eudora/Kans.); shooting guard Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.); power forward Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross, Ga.); point guard Blake Harris (Carlisle School/Martinsville, Va.); small forward Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.); and shooting guard Davontae Shuler (Irmo/Columbia, S.C.).

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