Maryland has been hosting recruits galore recently, and on Aug. 20 head coach Mark Turgeon and Co. had class of 2016 small forward offeree Brachen Hazen (Columbia City, Ind.) out to campus. The 6-foot-8, 190-pounder, along with his mother and father, visited unofficially in order to gauge whether or not the Terps would be a good fit.
“Maryland was really fun; I had a great time and my parents did too,” said Hazen, who holds verbals from UMD, Clemson, Valparaiso, UCF, Creighton, St. Joe’s and others. “We met the coaching staff, saw the facility, met some academic folks, and I definitely enjoyed myself. We all loved it. I’m really interested in Maryland now.”
Hazen couldn’t say enough about College Park, Md., in general, but he said the highlight of the visit was a meeting with strength coach Kyle Tarp. The Indiana native said one of the main critiques he’s received is his need to gain muscle mass, while continuing to develop physically in order to compete at the high-major level.
“It was really cool how they’ve developed players at Maryland. They don’t just throw guys in there. They have a plan for how they build your body and get you ready for major college basketball,” Hazen said. “They really transform guys’ bodies coming from high school to college, and that really stood out to me.”
The Hazens, naturally, had a chance to talk to Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark as well. The Columbia City product allowed that Maryland’s headman had to check out early due to complications from a recent sinus surgery, but the family still liked what he and Clark had to say.
“Coach Turgeon told me I’m a Big Ten player, he truly believes that, and that really stood out to me. I don’t get to hear that too often,” Hazen said. “It was really cool that he felt that way. He really appreciated that me and my family took the time to come out [to Maryland], and he said that spoke volumes about me. We didn’t really talk about me committing or what would happen if I asked to commit, but we were more learning about each other. He was asking me questions about myself and my game, and I was asking him questions about Maryland. It was a good conversation and I really connected with him.
“But after [Turgeon left], it was kind of Coach Clark who took us around. He led the tour and was super nice. He was very informative about the history of Maryland basketball and the future of the program, and said I could really fit well there and he’d love to have me. We’ve been in touch for a little while now, and hopefully that relationship will continue.”
Hazen said his parents were impressed with the staff as well.
“They loved both Coach Turgeon and Coach Clark,” Hazen said. “They like how Maryland plays in the Big Ten and many of the schools they compete against are in the Midwest, so they could easily travel to my games. They loved the academics there and what the program is all about.”
Before Turgeon checked out, Hazen said both he and Clark went over his potential role at UMD. The recruit said the Terps view him as a stretch-4 who could possibly step right into former-UMD forward Jake Layman’s spot.
“I watched some highlights of how their offense is run, and I loved it. I feel like it’s the perfect fit for me,” Hazen said. “I love how they get up and down and how versatile their big men are.”
While the Hazens took to the staff and Kyle Tarp, they also lauded the campus; the Xfinity Center; and the education at Maryland. Hazen said he met with an academic advisor, who readily impressed the recruit and his parents.
“The academic advisor went over the support system at Maryland, and it sounds great,” Hazen said. “I’m going into education, and he was explaining how Maryland has a great program in that field. It sounds like I could really do well there [academically].
“I also saw the player dorms, and they were really nice too. I like how the team stays together all the time, and that develops chemistry. It looks like a really close-knit place. And the arena, it was awesome. It’s huge, and it would definitely be awesome to play Big Ten teams in front of 18,000 people. I’d love to see that place when it’s packed.”
Hazen did not have a chance to meet any current Terps, however, noting how they wouldn’t return to College Park until late August.
No matter. The Indiana product said he wants to return to campus in October for an official visit in order to get an even deeper look at the Terps’ program.
“The coaches said they’re hoping to see me in September for an open gym and then maybe set up an official in October,” Hazen said. “So I’d love to get back; I think I definitely will.”
Of course, Hazen is well aware Maryland has other forwards on its board. He’s researched who the Terps have offers out to and knows he may or may not be the main priority.
“I know I’m one of four guys they’re recruiting, but it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I know [small forward] is a position they need to fill and they are looking for a good player. Whoever helps their team win is who they’ll go with. It really doesn't matter where I rank among those four; I like the school and if they’ll have me and believe I can help them, then that’s great.”
Immediately after the Hazens finished the College Park trip, they hit the road en route to Clemson. The Tigers recently offered as well, and are under prime consideration.
“I’m hoping to get to know the coaches a lot better at Clemson. I’ve known [the area recruiter] quite a bit, so I’m hoping to get a good feel for the campus and see if I fit into their style,” Hazen said. “But right now I have a good list of schools, but don’t have one above the rest. I have a bunch of visits to take; I’m taking my time with the process.”
Following his Clemson jaunt, Hazen will head to UCF for his first official visit Sept. 3. After that, he’s scheduling officials for Maryland and Clemson. Valpo and Ball State, two schools he’s seen before, could also be in line for OVs.
“Right now the schools I’m focused on are Maryland, Clemson, Valpo, UCF and Ball State,” Hazen said. “I don’t have one school above another yet, but I feel like after I take a few of these officials, I’ll have a good idea where I want to go. I can’t say I’m exactly sure when I’ll commit, but hopefully by like November I’ll be ready.”
Hazen Goes In-Depth On First UMD Experience
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