Hardwood Notes: Terps Trending For Several

Let’s take another look at Maryland’s class of 2016 hoops recruiting situation as prospects begin to schedule and embark on visits:

Let’s take another look at Maryland’s class of 2016 hoops recruiting situation as prospects begin to schedule and embark on visits:

Terps Trending For Huerter, Others?

UMD guard recruiting was rather bleak a couple weeks back, with Maryland seemingly running second for many of its foremost targets. But positive Terps vibes are emanating from Kevin Huerter’s party (Shenendehowa HS/Clifton Park, N.Y.) after the 6-5 sharpshooter visited College Park, Md., for the first time Aug. 2. When I interviewed Huerter following his initial trip, he basically intimated how the UMD program met every criteria he was looking for in a school.

Early playing time? Check. Up-tempo, guard-oriented offense? Check. Personable staff with a clear plan for him? Check. A longstanding relationship with both the head coach and recruiter? Check. A chance to win a national title? Check. Standout academics? Check. A state-of-the-art weight-training program that can help ready Huerter’s body for the Big Ten? Check.

Add it all up, and Huerter, along with his father, came away raving about Mark Turgeon, Dustin Clark and Co. Now, all the Terps have to do is wow Huerter one more time during a Sept. 5 official visit and it might be enough to land the four-star recruit later during the fall (he doesn’t want to drag out his recruitment).

Of course, the Maryland staff does have to fend off Notre Dame. Huerter is officially visiting the Irish Sept. 24, and many believe UND has the edge for the New York product’s services. If head coach Mike Brey and his assistants put on the hard sell, we could see the Irish cementing their position atop Huerter’s leaderboard.

Huerter will also be visiting Villanova later in August, although the Wildcats may be running third in this recruitment. Michigan, which was thought to be a primary contender, seems to be fading a bit.

The feeling is this is a Terps-Irish battle, but it’s a tough call as to which program Huerter will ultimately choose. Either way, Turgeon and the Terps have left everything on the table. We’ll see if it pays off.

Meanwhile, Douglas County (Douglasville, Ga.) shooting guard Brandon Robinson remains a priority as well.

Robinson took his first official to Louisville last weekend, offering high remarks for head coach Rick Pitino, the current Cardinals’ squad (both how they played and how they interacted with one another), and the program in general. But Robinson also acknowledged the U of L entered the game late, which may knock the Cardinals down a peg.

Next up for Robinson is an official to Maryland Sept. 12, an official to FSU Oct. 10 and an unscheduled official to Texas Tech. He’s also considering a visit to recent-offeree North Carolina, but since the Tar Heels anted up late Robinson seemed a bit leery (read: he’s concerned about being recruited over in a year).

Fact is, Robinson has the best relationship with the staffs from FSU and Maryland, and we still believe he’s going to pick between the Seminoles and Terps before it’s all said and done. Turgeon and Co. will have every chance to win the do-everything guard over this September, so we’ll know more after the official.

But the sense is Florida State may have the inside track, regardless of how well that upcoming Terps’ trip goes. The ‘Noles have been after Robinson for just as long as Maryland, the Georgia guard openly admitting his infatuation with FSU and its staff. On top of that, the Seminoles are the beneficiaries of Robinson’s potential final visit (depending on what happens with Texas Tech and UNC), meaning they’ll get last dibs.

A third shooting guard target, Mario Kegler (Arlington Country Day/Jacksonville, Fla.), remains a possibility as well, though we don’t think the Terps are as high in the pecking order as Kegler has suggested. The Mississippi native has told several Scout analysts Maryland “is on me hard” and he’s “definitely” going to visit College Park, but at the same time we’ve heard Mississippi State and Arizona State are the clear frontrunners. Indiana and Uconn are in play too, with the Hoosiers making a potent push.

At this point we’re not projecting Kegler to UMD, although we’re leaving him on the hot board based on his comments.

As for Markelle Fultz (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), it’s about time to give up the ghost. We’ll keep writing about the local star as long as he’s uncommitted, but reality is he’s probably going to wind up at Louisville, Washington, Arizona or Kentucky.

Note: Five-star Rawle Alkins (Christ the King/Middle Village, N.Y.) is technically still on the board after he made some pro-UMD comments and placed Maryland among his foremost 10 contenders. Even so, he’s not on our personal hot board. Why not? Alkins has Kentucky out in front and is likely the Wildcats’ to lose. He also has Indiana, UNC, St. John’s, Kansas, Notre Dame, Villanova, Uconn, UNLV and Texas pursuing, with the Johnnies, Hoosiers, Wildcats and Longhorns likely sitting ahead of UMD.

Nation’s No. 1 Giving Terps A Look

Maryland has been hanging around with the nation’s No. 1 recruit, small forward Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.), for awhile now, though, until recently, we hadn’t heard the Terps would actually become prime contender for the five-star’s services.

But apparently Jackson has taken to Turgeon and believes in the direction Maryland is heading. In fact, he told one of our Scout colleagues UMD is “really on the up and up.” It only helps the Terps’ chances that Jackson plays for an Under Armour AAU squad, while his other main suitors are Nike schools.

Jackson is scheduled to visit Maryland unofficially sometime in the near future, perhaps as soon as this weekend or next week. If the Terps continue to resonate following that trip, they could very well receive an official later during the year.

But we’re not going to move Jackson above “cool” on the hot board until we find out exactly where he stands with the rest of his primary contenders. Kansas, Michigan State and Arizona are heavily involved, with UCLA on the outer fringes. The sense is the Wildcats may be in the diver’s seat, with the Jayhawks trailing close behind.

We’ll have to see how it play out, however, as Jackson and his mother typically play the recruiting game close to the vest.

If no Jackson, the Terps are still in the hunt for DeAndre Hunter (Friends’ Central/Wynnewood, Pa.), the 6-7 small forward who landed a Maryland offer in late July. Hunter hasn’t scheduled a College Park visit yet but may be in the process of doing so, according to Scout’s Brian Snow, who believes the Pennsylvanian will trek down sometime next month.

Which makes sense considering Hunter has maintained consistent contact with both Turgeon and assistant Cliff Warren. Moreover, the recruit said he likes the direction the program is heading and has interest in learning more.

But, recall, when I personally spoke to Hunter I didn’t feel he was as excited about Maryland as some of his other suitors. Namely, Virginia and Villanova, two schools he visited last week, heaping praise on each.

Hunter believes he’d fit well into Jay Wright’s system at ‘Nova, and likes how it’s close to home. The Wahoos, meanwhile, left an even more favorable impression. Hunter said he and head coach Tony Bennett hit it off, while the recruit talked up the campus; academics; and program in general too. Many analysts believe UVA might just be the team to beat.

Hunter is also looking at offers from Uconn, Arkansas (he talked up the Razorbacks following a recent visit), Arizona State, Notre Dame, NC State and St. Joe’s, in addition to UMD.

One new name that our Scout colleague, Josh Gershon, broached was combo forward Vance Jackson (Mater Dei/Santa Anita, Calif.), one of the best shooters on the West Coast. The 6-8, 210-pounder said UMD, UConn, Memphis, USC and California were pushing the hardest for his services, although which of that quintet Gershon is learning towards remains to be seen (many have speculated hometown Cal has his eye).

We'll delve more into Vance Jackson's recruitment in the coming weeks, but in the meantime this is what he had to say about Mark Turgeon and the Terps: "It's a basketball school. I don't really care if it's on the East Coast; I'll go anywhere. I feel like it would be a good fit; they produce pros."

If nothing else, the comment shows Turgeon has Maryland hoops back on the map, resonating with recruits from coast to coast. Now let's see if he can parlay that into landing a four-star Cali wing like Jackson.

The Terps may prefer Josh Jackson, Vance Jackson or Hunter, but Brachen Hazen (Columbia City, Ind.) might be the most realistic Maryland option -- provided the staff continues to push. Hazen, thoroughly excited when the Terps pulled the trigger, is eager to visit College Park and could be on campus later during August for an unofficial.

Hazen just trekked to one of his longstanding offerees, Ball State, a couple weeks back and is considering checking out Clemson (the Tigers offered last week) next. UMD, Valpo and UCF are in line for trips too, Hazen noting that he’s “definitely” taking an official to UCF.

Again, if the Terps truly want Hazen they could probably land him after an official visit in September. But we have to see how much Turgeon truly covets the rugged forward.

And then there’s Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass). As late as the mid-July, Maryland had more than a puncher’s chance at pulling in the Mass Rivals product. Maybe not so much anymore.

The 6-10 Gabriel isn’t listing leaders until September, but after our Scout colleagues caught up with him it’s pretty clear he’s getting starry eyed. Duke, UNC and Kentucky are all in play, with the Blue Devils the presumed leader since Gabriel’s an academically-oriented recruit. (Note that Duke has a five-star forward in tow in Jayson Tatum and might add power forward Harry Giles as well. If so, the Devils could back off Gabriel -- or vice versa. It’s a situation worth monitoring).

Uconn, Notre Dame, Maryland, Texas and Providence are also involved, but are on the outside looking in for now. The Terps might make one last push if/when they secure an official visit from Gabriel (he said he still wants to see College Park), but at this point we don’t see UMD vaulting past all three bluebloods.

Big Man Recruiting

The lone remaining class of 2016 power forward on our hot board is Sacha Killeya-Jones (Episcopal/Lynchburg, Va.). And about the only reason he’s still there is because we haven’t been able to glean much information since our sources updated us a couple weeks ago.

It’s presumed Killeya-Jones will wind up at Duke, Kentucky or UNC, but we’ll have to continue digging just to be sure. We do know Mark Turgeon and Co. are in touch with his party, so perhaps they can gain some traction if the bluebloods fall by the wayside.

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