Hardwood Notes: '17 Targets, '16 Forwards

With the open recruiting period in full swing, there’s plenty of buzz surrounding the Terps and their whereabouts. Here’s where things stand for head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff:

With the open recruiting period in full swing, there’s plenty of buzz surrounding the Terps and their whereabouts. Here’s where things stand for head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff:

Gabriel Chimes In

Maryland combo forward target Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass.) finally chimed in about his future plans, and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be popping anytime soon. While Gabriel loved his official visit to College Park, Md., (he spoke highly of the campus, Xfinity Center, the team, strength trainer Kyle Tarp, the academics, the offensive system, the player development and the entire staff) and has genuinely taken to the school and its coaches (head coach Mark Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson visited him in-home last week) he’s content to go through the process of taking all five official visits.

Next up for Gabriel is a trip to Kentucky Sept. 25-27, followed by UConn Oct. 2-4, Providence Oct. 9-11 and Duke Oct. 16-18. After the final official, the Mass Rivals product should be ready to choose his destination, before signing with a school in November.

Based off Gabriel’s comments, he’d have you believe all five of the aforementioned schools are on an even plane. He’s adept at expressing the positives of each, detailing how well he’d fit in athletically, socially and academically.

But since our job is to delve deeper, here’s what we know with four visits to go:

1. Barring a 180, Gabriel will not wind up at Providence or UConn. Both are on the outside looking in.

2. Gabriel realizes both Duke and Kentucky have multiple forwards in tow, with offers out to a couple other highly-rated combos. Publically, the New Hampshire native is saying that doesn’t bother him and he welcomes the competition. Privately, however, we’re not so sure. Gabriel knows he’d have an opportunity to shine, and early, at UMD.

3. The head coaches from all five of Gabriel’s suitors have gone in-home with him by now, and each of the quintet left a distinct impression. In other words, the coaches basically nullified each other. Gabriel isn’t going to choose his destination based off the staff visits; the officials and his own personal evaluations will play a greater role.

4. Besides Providence, Maryland has recruited Gabriel the longest and hardest, which the recruit appreciates. Given UMD’s stature as the preseason No. 1 program, coupled with the consistent staff overtures, Gabriel seems to be favoring the Terps.

5. The aura of playing for John Calipari and Kentucky does hold appeal, but will the Wildcats’ tradition be enough to top the Terps? Right now, we don’t think so.

6. Since Gabriel isn’t picking a school until October, there’s time for his situation to change. But we like Maryland’s chances right now.

More Small Forward Notes

Besides Gabriel, the Terps remain in hot pursuit of the nation’s top 2016 recruit, Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.). Mark Turgeon should be stopping by California to make his pitch in short order, joining Sean Miller (Arizona), Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Bill Self (Kansas), all of whom made their way West earlier.

Jackson will be scheduling official visits to each of the above, but don’t expect him to commit at their conclusion. The 1Nation Under Armour recruit won’t be signing until the spring, so the situation is bound to ebb and flow throughout the next few months.

Expect Maryland to remain among his foremost two contenders, however, perhaps holding the edge over Arizona before it’s all said and done. The Under Armour connection is a strong factor working in the Terps’ favor.

As for Mario Kegler (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.), he pretty much remains status quo after we updated his situation last week. He took his first official to Arizona State Sept. 18, and next he’ll be at Penn State Sept. 25, Maryland Oct. 15 and Indiana Oct. 23. He’s also considering taking a trip to Mississippi State.

Kegler, as expected, couldn’t say enough about his ASU trip, according to his coaches. He talked up the staff, the campus and the program in general. At this point, given that Kegler plays for an Adidas AAU program and the Sun Devils are an Adidas school, we believe they’re the favorites.

Indiana, which hosts Kegler for the final visit, may have a shot to supplant ASU, but PSU; UMD; and Mississippi State have significant ground to make up. The Terps, including Turgeon, did go in-home with Kegler, however, so they’re not giving up the ghost. The staff should be rolling out the red carpet Oct. 15, trying to sway Kegler’s (and his guardians/handlers’) thinking -- especially if Wenyen Gabriel opts for a blueblood.

Meanwhile, the Terps are keeping in touch with Brachen Hazen (Columbia City, Ind.) in case Gabriel and Kegler fall through. Recruiter Dustin Clark trekked to Indiana last week, letting the under-the-radar forward know UMD remained interested. Coaches from Clemson, UCF and others have been out to see him as well.

Hazen has trekked to Ball State, UMD, Clemson and UCF unofficially so far, and will be finalizing official visit dates to each shortly. Of course, Hazen could very well commit before he returns to College Park. UCF and Clemson appear to be the front-runners since both the Knights and Tigers are willing to accept Hazen’s commitment right now. The Hoosier State product knows he’s not No. 1 in Maryland’s pecking order.

Class Of 2017 Notes

With Maryland’s next official visitor (Mario Kegler) not coming in until Oct. 15, let’s take a look at some of the primary class of 2017 targets Terps fans should be monitoring.

But before we delve in, remember, in the wake of the Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa/Clifton Park, N.Y.) pop, many of Maryland’s underclassmen guard targets were removed from the hot board as that position is no longer a priority for 2017. Furthermore, if Wenyen Gabriel ends up committing to Maryland, it could affect the status of a few junior forwards Mark Turgeon has been monitoring.

So, with that in mind, here are the primary names to know:

Trevon Duval, PG,  Advanced Prep (Dallas, Texas): It doesn’t matter that Maryland has multiple backcourt players already in, or about to enter, the program. Duval is a five-star talent that Mark Turgeon is pursuing in earnest. Maryland’s headman visited Duval soon after the recruiting period opened in early September, and in turn the recruit is showing plenty of interest. He’s already visited College Park, Md., a couple times and likes the direction the program’s heading. Louisville, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse and others of that ilk are also involved.

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Woodstock Academy (Woodstock, Conn.): Turgeon just went in-home with Diallo last week, and now the five-star shooting guard/wing is apparently intrigued by the Terps. He already expressed some initial interest after UMD anted up, and on top of that, he’s an Under Armour-affiliated recruit. At the same time, Diallo is heavy on UConn, while Kansas, St. John’s, Louisville and more are making a run.

M.J. Walker, SG, Jonesboro (Ga.): The two-sport star is currently wading through the recruiting process, careful not to tip his hand in one direction or another. That said, Walker’s consistently listed UMD as an early contender, and we know Turgeon and Co. are making a concerted effort here. Walker also plays for the Atlanta X-Press Under Armour AAU program, which has been a friend of Maryland’s in the past. He is another candidate for a winter College Park trip. Duke, UNC, Florida and Georgia have a bead on Walker as well.

Lonnie Walker, SG, Reading (Pa.): Lonnie Walker is someone Turgeon and staff have seen numerous times the last couple years, and there appears to be at least some mutual interest. Walker typically remains mum about his recruitment, however, so we’re not sure exactly where he stands at this point. That said, he does play for a Nike program, which may or may not have an impact down the line. Hometown Villanova, Miami, Indiana, Penn State and more are on Walker early.

Jordan Tucker, SF, White Plains (N.Y.): A borderline five-star forward, Tucker may be warming up to Maryland. Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark have consistently maintained contact, while they’ve been out to see him too. The New York product apparently appreciates their efforts and is contemplating a College Park visit this winter. Granted, Syracuse is on the hometown guy hard, and so is nearby UConn (along with Arizona, Kansas, Indiana, etc.), but the Terps have made solid inroads here.

Myles Douglas, SF, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.): Terps fans know the deal with Douglas by now. The local offeree is probably UMD’s to lose, Douglas hinting that Maryland sits firmly atop his leaderboard. He’s been on campus multiple times, and will return for several games this winter. Douglas is all about representing his hometown school, loves the Xfinity Center atmosphere, and has a strong rapport with Turgeon and the staff. The question is, Can the Terps do better? Will they accept his commitment? If not, Miami, Temple, Xavier, WVU, PSU and Va Tech are on Douglas as well.

Billy Preston, PF, Advanced Prep (Dallas, Texas): The teammate of Trevon Duval, Preston has the Terps under prime consideration as well. He too visited campus this summer, and apparently the trip “opened his eyes.” Another Under Armour recruit, Preston’s someone Turgeon and Maryland are pushing for in a major way. UMD’s headman went in-home with the five-star recently, and it appears the Terps are making hay here. They’ll have to deal with the likes of Arizona, Kansas, UCLA and more bluebloods, so it will be a battle. That said, from what we’ve heard, we like UMD’s chances early.

DeAndre Ayton, PF, Balboa City (San Diego, Calif.): The No. 1 big man in the 2017 class, Ayton has his pick of programs. The Terps are involved, but so is everyone else. Little is known about his recruitment right now, but we’ll attempt to learn more in the coming months. It can only help Maryland’s chances that Ayton’s an Under Armour kid.

Of the above, the Terps seem to have the best shot at Duval, Preston and, of course, Douglas (if they want him). The others have Maryland in mind too, but may be focused elsewhere at this time.

Other 2017 Recruits To Note

Quade Green, PG, Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.): Green has visited Maryland, likes the coaching staff and believes he’d fit in well in Turgeon’s system. And if it wasn’t for the Terps having so many other guards, we’d have this guy borderline “hot” on the hot board. Not so much now, with Kevin Huerter; Anthony Cowan; Jaylen Brantley; and Dion Wiley all in the program. Either way, we’ll continue to monitor Green just in case. Penn State, Providence, Temple and Michigan State have offered, while others are bound to ante up.

Hameir Wright, SF, Albany Academy (N.Y.): Wright, like Green, always speaks highly of Maryland and the coaches. That said, he lacks an offer and may not be high on the Terps’ totem poll at this point. WVU, Cincinnati and Dayton are after him initially. If he develops this season, maybe Turgeon will take a closer look.

Mohamed Bamba, PF, Westtown (Pa.): Bamba has been linked to the Terps since he plays at Westtown (Jared Nickens’ alma mater). But, fact is, he’s a big-time Nike recruit, and will likely be steered to a Duke or a Kentucky or an Arizona. He’s considered a longshot for Maryland purposes.

Zach Kent, C, St. Andrew’s (Middletown, Del.): We’re keeping the center Kent on the board, mainly because he’s high on UMD and has visited several times. But Kent still has a ways to go development-wise, and the jury’s out on his game. Perhaps UMD will make a move if Kent proves he can hang at college basketball’s top levels.

Class of 2018 Note: Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson both checked out local 2018 star forward Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joseph/Baltimore, Md.) during an open-gym session last week. Smith is probably going to be the most highly-sought after DMV talent in his class, and the Terps have already established a deep rapport.

In fact, Smith has practically declared Maryland the team to beat, the Baltimore native talking up the progress UMD has made under Turgeon; the desire to play in front of friends and family; and the atmosphere in and around College Park. We’ll see what he’s thinking once the offers begin piling up, but the Terps are in the driver’s seat.

Off The Board

After checking in with our sources and reaching out ourselves, we chose to trim a few names from the hot board late last week.

Five-star small forward D.J. Harvey (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) was the most notable cut, the local combo forecast to either Arizona; Kentucky; or Duke. Harvey has always spoken highly of Maryland, and it wouldn’t shock us if he showed up for a game or two in Xfinity Center this winter, but his comments/interest seems to be window dressing. All indications are Harvey is going to wind up at a Nike school.

We removed two more five-star small forwards as well: Kevin Knox (Tampa Catholic/Tampa, Fla.) and Brian Bowen (Hill/Saginaw, Mich.). Both have mentioned the Terps in the past, but from what we’ve been hearing, they’re going to get caught up in the “shoe wars.” Knox and Bowen are both Nike-affiliated recruits and are forecast to Nike programs.

As far as power forwards are concerned, Cody Riley (Sierra Canyon/Chatsworth, Calif.), Daniel Mading (The Rock School/Gainesville, Fla.) and Rayshaun Hammonds (Norcross, Ga.) came off the board.

The Terps are after Riley, but he’s high on hometown UCLA, the Bruins holding the edge initially. Mading, meanwhile, has expressed interest in Maryland, and he’s had some contact with Dustin Clark, but we’re not sure the Terps will actively pursue. The Rock School product didn’t show enough during the liver evaluation periods to warrant a UMD offer, and it doesn’t seem like one will materialize anytime soon.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE Hammonds, meanwhile, is in the same boat as Mading. He has some upside to him, but hasn’t earned more than a cursory glance from the Terps’ staff. Unless he develops down the road, we don’t foresee Turgeon making much of a pus    

TerrapinTimes Top Stories