It was a whirlwind Labor Day for shooting guard Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa/Clifton Park, N.Y.), a 6-foot-5, 180-pound four-star from upstate New York. Less than 24 hours after returning from his second official visit, this one to College Park, Md., he opted to end his recruitment and commit to the University of Maryland. Shortly thereafter, his Twitter account and cellphone lit up with congratulatory messages, media inquiries and the like.
“It’s been absolutely nuts,” said Huerter, a basketball lifer reared in the game by his father, a former Siena star who now does radio play-by-play. “But I couldn’t be happier. I’m glad I found my future home, and I’m going to a great school – a true basketball school. I honestly can’t wait to get there.”
While the official visit sold Huerter on the Terps, he had an inkling he’d wind up in College Park before he stepped foot on campus Sept. 4. Huerter, along with his father, checked out UMD unofficially back in August, giving the family an in-depth look at what head coach Mark Turgeon’s program was all about.
“There was a lot that went into my decision, but following my unofficial visit, I really felt comfortable at Maryland and liked what they had to offer. I saw the facilities, the basketball locker room, met with the trainer [Kyle Tarp] and got to know the coaches better,” said Huerter, who chose UMD over Villanova (his first official visit), Notre Dame and Michigan. “After that, I kind of knew I wanted to be a Terp. But then on the official, I saw what life was like on campus. I got to see the academic side, I saw a football game, I spent time with the players, and talked with the coaches again. It was just really cool being there, and after it was over I told my parents that’s where I wanted to spend my next few years.”
During the official, Huerter said he spent most of his time with player hosts Jake Layman and Robert Carter. The New York product called both “really cool guys,” while he couldn’t say enough about the team in general.
“Jake and Rob told me everything I needed to know,” Huerter said. “They told me how great of a place Maryland is in general, and how Coach Turgeon would take care of me. The biggest thing was how they told me how Kyle Tarp will change my body, and get me in shape to play in the Big Ten.
“But just being around [Carter and Layman] and the others, they were great. They were really funny and they liked to joke around. I fit right in with everyone there. It was awesome.”
Huerter said he played a bit of pickup ball with his future teammates as well. He said he worked out with transfer Rasheed Sulaimon and Layman, the trio going at it for an hour. Then afterwards, Huerter and Sulaimon played one-on-one, the former Duke Blue Devil showing the budding shooting guard a thing or two.
“Jake and Rasheed were both awesome. It was cool playing against them,” Huerter said. “They both showed why they’re going to be potential draft picks next year; they looked really good. I learned a lot just by playing against older, more experienced players like that. They were great to play with, great to hang out with.”
Of course, Huerter had plenty of opportunities to interact with the staff as well. He had lengthy conversations with Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark, watched some highlights with each, and discussed his potential role at UMD.
"I’m glad I found my future home, and I’m going to a great school – a true basketball school. I honestly can’t wait to get there.” -- Huerter
“The entire staff at Maryland is great, from how they develop players to how they treat you,” Huerter said. “The continuity of the staff, and how they all have a vision to win championships there, it really stood out to me. And they were great with my parents too. Coach Turgeon and all, they spent a lot of time with my mom and dad and made them feel very comfortable. My parents loved the coaches at Maryland, and they were fully on-board when I told them I wanted to go there.”
Huerter couldn’t say enough about Clark in particular. It was Clark who first initiated contact with the Albany City Rocks AAU star back in March, and it was Clark who made consistent overtures throughout.
“Coach Clark played a huge role in me going there,” Huerter said. “I heard from him like every single day. From the start, he kept telling me how great Maryland was, and he never let up. He’s been there the whole time. I have a terrific relationship with him.”
As far as his potential role at Maryland, the sharpshooter said he’ll likely be playing the “2,” with opportunities to handle the ball as well.
“Coach Turgeon was saying how they have one true point guard in 2016 in Anthony Cowan, but how we’re not the same type of player,” Huerter said. “He said since we’re both unselfish, we could easily fit together in the same lineup. So, like, he’ll bring the ball up more often than not, and I’ll be the combo guard, bringing it up sometimes but mostly playing off the ball. But the way they run their offense, it’s not dictated by positions. It’s centered around guards in general, and they let their guards make plays. That’s the type of system I want to play in.”
While Huerter praised the players and coaches during his official, he pointed to a few other qualities that stood out about UMD as well. First and foremost, the fans.
“It was really eye-opening when I was at the football game [Sept. 5], all these football fans came up to the basketball players to ask for autographs and to take pictures,” Huerter said. “It wasn’t even the right sport (laughs). That showed me right there Maryland is a basketball school, and the fans are crazy for basketball. That was really cool.”
The academics, the Xfinity Center, the campus and the students had Huerter’s attention as well. He said he wants to major in business and had a chance to meet several professors.
“The academics at Maryland are great in general, and the business school is top 25 nationally,” Huerter said. “That was really big for me too. I saw some of the classrooms and went over a few things with some advisors. I know I’m going to get a great education, and that’s very important to me.”
Add it all up, and Huerter couldn’t say no to Maryland. That said, he did have upcoming officials scheduled to Michigan and Notre Dame. The Irish, in particular, seemed to have his eye.
So why didn’t he follow through on his other intended trips before ending his recruitment?
“I just realized that at this time of year anything can happen in recruiting. I knew Maryland was bringing in another guard [Brandon Robinson] next week, and you never know what can happen,” Huerter said. “I really, really liked Maryland and I didn’t want my spot to get taken. That stuff happens this time of year. I didn’t want to be caught off-guard and not have a place [at UMD]. This is where I wanted to be.”