Thompson Highly Interested In UMD After Visit

Maryland offerees Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.) and Myles Douglass (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.) garnered the headlines after visiting College Park , Md., Aug. 17, but a lesser-known recruit, who has just emerged on UMD’s radar, made his way to campus as well.

Maryland offerees Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.) and Myles Douglas (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.) garnered the headlines after visiting College Park , Md., Aug. 17, but a lesser-known recruit, who has just emerged on UMD’s radar, made his way to campus as well.

St. Anthony’s (Jersey City, N.J.) class of 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, along with his mother, Sherese Piper, and his grandfather, checked out College Park at the behest of UMD-area recruiter Dustin Clark and head coach Mark Turgeon.

“You know, we usually don’t visit schools that haven’t offered, but sometimes you can go to campus and pick up an offer or the school will show more interest [after visiting],” Piper said. “So we’d been talking to Coach Clark at Maryland for a little while, and when he called about a visit, we decided to head down on Sunday [Aug. 16]. My brother actually lives in Silver Spring (Md.) and [College Park] is only a couple hours from where we live, so we checked it out.

“And we’re glad we did, because it was a great experience, and we all really enjoyed the school and the staff.”

Thompson and his family had a chance to tour the campus and have a long talk with Turgeon, Clark and assistant Bino Ranson. Afterwards, Piper said she and her son were “blown away.”

“We were very, very impressed by Maryland, and hopefully we can stay in contact with them and they’ll continue recruiting Taurean,” Piper said. “Taurean has been researching Coach Turgeon and Coach Bino and their development of bigs, and he was very impressed with some of the players they’ve produced. Taurean really wants to showcase what he can do as a 6-10 power forward, and after talking with Coach Turgeon and Coach Bino, I mean, they’ve been great with bigs.

“So I think Taurean just really enjoyed hearing from the staff and was so impressed with what they’ve been able to do. If Maryland offers, it will definitely be one of his top schools, definitely in his top five.”

In addition to his chat with the staff, Thompson enjoyed the school itself and the facilities. Plus he liked how College Park isn’t too far from his New York home.

“Taurean was very comfortable on campus, that’s something he told me,” Piper said. “Since it was a Sunday we didn’t get to see a whole lot of campus life, which all kids want to see, but it made the visit more intimate and laid back because it wasn’t as hectic. Taurean had a chance to take everything in, and he really liked what he saw, and the coaches let him know it’s a great environment there.

“And the location is ideal too. I go to all his games, so Maryland being only a couple hours away, I can get down there a few times a year. And my brother is right there too in Silver Spring, so he can watch over him.”

After the trip, Thompson was invited back so he could see the school when class was in session. Piper said her son will likely return in September, this time for an official visit.

“Taurean definitely wants to get back,” Piper said. “Like I said, he really liked it there and he wants to see the school when people are on campus.”

Now, about that offer.

So far, Thompson holds verbals from Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Temple, Xavier, Rutgers, Oklahoma and Seton Hall. The Terps, however, remain in a holding pattern as they continue to evaluate Thompson’s game.

“Maryland is really interested, but Coach Turgeon wants to see Taurean play more since he didn’t get to see him during the evaluation period. Taurean broke his rib and really couldn’t showcase what he could do,” Piper said. “And we respect [Turgeon’s decision]. Any coach worth anything wants to see a kid extensively in action. But I know Coach Turgeon is definitely interested in Taurean and loves his potential and upside. But he just wants to feel comfortable with him and make sure Taurean is the right fit for Maryland’s system. He’s not going to offer just to offer, but he does love what Taurean’s capable of.”

Piper explained how her son is versatile enough to step outside, but is more along the lines of a traditional power forward. Which the Terps just happen to need with many of their other class of 2016 big-man targets falling by the wayside.

“Coach Turgeon said he’s looking for a ‘4’ and he believes Taurean would fit in well,” Piper said. “We know he’s also recruiting Wenyen [Gabriel],, but Coach told us he’s more of a ‘3’ and they still need a ‘4.’ So there is an opportunity at Maryland.”

The Terps aren’t the only school on Thompson’s mind, however. Hometown Rutgers was the first to offer during his sophomore year, and the Scarlet Knights have stood by him through a broken foot and a broken rib. The family has visited Piscataway, N.J., numerous times as well.

Thompson has also checked out Temple and St. Joe’s, both holding appeal.

The New York forward will commence official visits starting in early September with a trip to Xavier. After that, he’ll return to Maryland and may trek down to SMU as well (evidently head coach Larry Brown has been in touch).

As far as a potential commitment is concerned, Piper said there’s no set timetable.

“With Taurean breaking his wrist, that really set him back, or I think his recruitment would have skyrocketed already. So I think he wants to show what he can do, go through the process and take all his official visits,” Piper said. “But if we’re really impressed by a school and it fits Taurean perfectly, then we may [commit] early. I just really can’t say right now.”

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