The Terps and head coach Mark Turgeon got their man Sept. 6. One day after four-star shooting guard Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa/Clifton Park, N.Y.) left his official visit to College Park, Md., the 6-foot-5, 180-pounder ended up committing to Maryland.
“It’s a done deal,” said Huerter’s Albany City Rocks AAU coach, Jimmy Hart. “Kevin called me about noon, an hour before he committed, and told me he’s going to Maryland. He was really excited on the phone, and said he found the right fit. He said Maryland’s a great place, he really loved it there, and he just really connected with the staff and the players. He told me he didn’t need to see anywhere else, because he absolutely loved Maryland.”
While there was plenty that caught Huerter’s eye during his official visit, in addition to his early-August unofficial to UMD, Hart said his shooting guard kept harping on the coaches. He said both Turgeon and area recruiter Dustin Clark did a standout job convincing Huerter College Park should be his college destination.
“Coach Turgeon just really connected with Kevin and his family. He really impressed his dad and Kevin too,” Hart said. “[Turgeon’s] person, his character, how he goes about doing things, it spoke volumes. It was just a great feeling he created. He really made Kevin and his family feel welcome and important there.
“And Coach Dustin Clark, he was phenomenal. Kevin kept telling me how much he liked Coach Clark. When Maryland first made contact, and then when they offered, it was Dustin who was the steady and consistent presence. He stated his case over and over again, and Kevin listened. He did a great, great job with the whole family too.”
The coach said the Terps’ tried-and-true message was that Huerter’s versatility would fit right into Maryland’s offense. Hart mentioned how Huerter wanted an opportunity to play both the “2” and the “1,” showing off not only his renowned shooting prowess, but his ball-handling; passing; vision; and court presence as well.
“Coach Turgeon and Coach Clark showed Kevin that his versatility was exactly what they needed to be successful,” Hart said. “Kevin has the potential to fit any role you want, and the fact they saw his vision; passing; ball-handling; ability to push the ball … they saw all that and want to take advantage of it. Everyone knows about Kevin’s shooting, but he’s more than just a shooter. He makes good decisions and can run the offense, and Maryland realized that. I think that really hit home with Kevin.”
In addition to the staff’s overtures, Hart said Maryland’s strength program under Kyle Tarp, as well as the Terps’ guard development, rang true as well. Hart noted how Huerter is only 17 years old and needs to build his body in order to be ready for Big Ten ball.
“Kevin wanted to find a place with a great strength program, since he is only 17 and needs to develop. So the fact Maryland had that, that was very important,” Hart said. “And just how Maryland has produced great guards and has another one there now [Melo Trimble], that all played into it. Kevin was very impressed with what Maryland has done there, and what they can do in the future.”
"He told me he didn’t need to see anywhere else, because he absolutely loved Maryland.” -- Jimmy Hart
Even so, Huerter wasn’t expected to choose Maryland quite so soon. After all, he had official visits scheduled to Michigan and Notre Dame later this month. Plus, he just took in Villanova in late August and had Jay Wright’s program under prime consideration as well.
“That’s a credit to Coach Turgeon; he closed the deal,” Hart said. “Just knowing the Huerters, they probably told Kevin, ‘Hey, let’s look at all these options first.’ They’re not the type to commit on campus or anything like that. But, you know, Maryland was a school Kevin really, really liked. The family would have been happy with any of those four schools; he would have been a great fit at Michigan, Villanova, Notre Dame or Maryland. But Kevin just loved Maryland, and he was like, ‘I don’t need to see anywhere else.’ It was his decision, and he loved Maryland. And I know his Dad definitely did too.”
Now, as far as what Huerter brings to the table, he’s considered a dead-eye 3-point marksman, who lit up the recent EYBL and Nike circuits. But Huerter also has above-average athleticism, handles and court awareness.
“I think Kevin is truly unique in this class,” Hart said. “Name the last 6-6 lead guard that can shoot the way he does? When you think of the taller lead guards, it’s usually guys that don’t shoot as well. But Kevin can shoot the lights out, and he’s fast; has great foot speed; can see over defenses; has patience; has vision; can create for himself; and can pass the ball well. And he makes great decisions. I don’t ever remember ever telling him, ‘Why did you do that?’ He never has a brain fart on the court. A lot of players gamble and take chances, but Kevin’s mistakes are very few.
“And again, physically, the best is yet to come. But Kevin showed in the EYBL and Nike Skills Academy, with the 50 best players in the gym -- he actually stood out. I talked to several NBA scouts there, and they said Kevin actually stood out to them. They said his play translates not only to the college level, but the level after that.”
Off the court, Hart said Huerter’s a “tremendous” teammate, as well as a standout student. He called the shooting guard a potential “great ambassador” for Maryland.
“Kevin’s funny as heck, and he has a great sense of humor. It’s almost like baseball dugout humor,” Hart said. “He loves to mix it up with the guys. We have a group text going, and guys will make comments to him, and Kevin will come right back at them with a witty comment. His teammates at Maryland will love him, and the community there will too. He’s going to do great there.”