Hardwood Notes: Jackson, Duval, New Offers

The latest news on Maryland hoops recruiting.

Word From Colorado Springs

Many of the nation’s foremost hoops recruits made their way to Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct. 3 for the USA Basketball Fall Developmental Camp. Among those in attendance were two prime Terps’ targets: senior small forward Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.) and junior point guard Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas). Both showed out in a major way, Jackson the consensus top performer overall and Duval shining as both a floor general and scorer.

Of course, Terps’ aficionados were more concerned with the news that trickled out after the event -- some positive, some not so positive.

Time was when (read: two weeks ago) Maryland looked to be in position for an elite 2016 recruiting class that consisted of Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa/Clifton Park, N.Y.), Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass.) and maybe even Josh Jackson, the nation’s No. 1 recruit. But Gabriel ended up popping to Kentucky over Maryland last week, while the vibe is Jackson may be fading too.

Jackson and his people had been relatively mum recently, but in Colorado the 6-foot-7, 185-pounder opened up a bit. The Michigan native suggested his hometown Spartans were on the brain after head coach Tom Izzo landed elite forward Miles Bridges (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.) Oct. 3. Bridges is also from Michigan and has played with Jackson in various tournaments the last few years. Apparently the two are close friends, and now that Bridges is on board with Michigan State, he’s attempting to lure Jackson to East Lansing, Mich., as well. On top of that, Jackson has readily taken to Izzo and his hometown pitch.

Arizona is also firmly in play with head coach Sean Miller leaving a distinct impression following an in-home visit. Kansas and Maryland, meanwhile, may now be running third and fourth in the pecking order.

The Terps were thought to hold the trump card since Jackson’s an Under Armour-affiliated recruit and Maryland is the only UA program among his foremost four suitors. Moreover, Jackson visited College Park, Md., unofficially in September and said he could definitely see himself playing for head coach Mark Turgeon.

Feelings may have changed since them, but it’s conceivable Maryland could work its way back atop Jackson’s leaderboard later this year. Unlike Wenyen Gabriel, who will sign in November, the Prolific Prep product isn’t inking a letter of intent until April. On top of that, Jackson still has all four official visits to take, meaning his recruitment could ebb and flow as MSU, Arizona, Kansas and UMD vie for position.

Currently, we’re listing Jackson as “cool” on the hot board, but we’re not ready to remove him just yet. Stay tuned.

There was more encouraging news – from a Maryland perspective – surrounding the class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval. The New Jersey native told reporters last weekend Maryland and Arizona were on the brain early, the Terps resonating following an August visit to College Park and the Wildcats standing out due to Miller’s overtures.

Granted, Duval has numerous suitors and potential suitors to consider in the next year (Kansas, Louisville, Duke, Syracuse, UMD and Zona are all involved), but Turgeon has Maryland in a good spot. The five-star suits up for an Under Armour AAU program (We R 1), while he has a strong rapport with both Turgeon and Maryland assistant Bino Ranson. Duval has also visited College Park a couple times and should be back on campus for a game this winter (he’s unsure if he’ll be in town for Maryland Madness).

It’s too soon to project Duval’s future destination, but we do believe the Terps will reside among his main two or three contenders throughout -- especially if UMD lives up to expectations this year.

All In For Kegler

If Jackson is truly trending towards MSU or Arizona, Maryland’s best shot at adding a playmaking 2016 wing is Mario Kegler (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.). The Mississippi native will be taking his third official visit to College Park Oct. 16 for Maryland Madness, which means the Terps are going to have a chance to roll out the red carpet for the 6-7, 225-pounder. Maybe, just maybe, the atmosphere inside Xfinity Center, coupled with Turgeon’s pitch, can convince the four-star Maryland is worth a closer look.

Of course, UMD is already in the thick of things what with Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark impressing the Kegler family following an in-home visit Sept. 12. Maryland’s player development, its current place atop the national rankings, Turgeon’s up-tempo system, and the coaches themselves are all factors working in the Terps’ favor.

But while we’re giving Maryland more of a chance here than before, we still aren’t predicting a UMD pop. Arizona State is probably sitting No. 1 after Kegler’s Sun Devils’ official Sept. 18. ASU has been after Kegler longer than any of his top suitors save Mississippi State, the recruit developing a deep rapport with the staff. Plus he has numerous connections to the Pac-12 school, not the least of which is his Adidas-based AAU program.

Kegler also officially visited Baylor Sept. 25, but the Bears entered the picture late and probably aren’t a major player. Indiana and Mississippi State, however, remain major threats.

Kegler is taking an official to IU a week after UMD, and word is the Hoosiers could hop Arizona State if the trip goes well. Hometown Mississippi State will also receive a visit (no date set), the Bulldogs still hanging around in this recruitment. The Mississippi State coaches have made plenty of inroads with Kegler and his people, so it wouldn’t shock us at all if he opted for the local school.

The Terps’ best chance at landing Kegler may be to cull out a commitment before he leaves College Park Oct. 17. Maryland pulled off the trick with Kevin Huerter, but failed to do so with Wenyen Gabriel. Let’s see if Turgeon and Co. can go 2-for-3.

If not, look for the Terps to save the scholarship for the talent-laden 2017 class. It’s possible Turgeon could extend a late 2016 offer (the name Thik Bol, a junior college “4” from Iowa Western C.C., has been bandied about), but more than likely he’ll concentrate his efforts on elite juniors like Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.), Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.), Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.), Myles Douglas (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.), Billy Preston (Advanced Prep), Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa.) and DeAndre Ayton (Balboa City/San Diego, Calif.).

Of those, UMD is in solid position for Preston, Douglas (if Turgeon will take him), Jaren Jackson and Tucker (Maryland Madness visitor).

New Names On The Radar

Turgeon typically casts a wide net, with prospects popping up every week or so claiming Maryland interest. Last week, we added two more names to the 2017 hot board when power forward Nicholas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.) claimed a Terps’ offer and small forward Kasper Christiansen (Elev8/Delray Beach, Fla.) said UMD-area recruiter Cliff Warren had been in touch.

With Claxton, little is known about the 6-9, 185-pounder except that he holds offers from UMD, Temple, FSU, Wake Forest and Baylor. We’ve attempted to contact him numerous times, but he’s yet to respond.

Turgeon and Clark did scout Claxton recently, so it’s evident they like his game. Now, we just have to figure out how interested the South Carolina native is in them.

As for Christiansen, the 6-9, 190-pounder is an under-the-radar wing with no offers to date but plenty of high-major interest (Louisville, Michigan, Maryland and others). Evidently the Denmark native, who is doing a prep year at Elev8 after matriculating to the United States this summer, caught Warren’s eye during an open gym.

Now, the Terps will apparently be keeping close tabs moving forward and could eventually ante up if Turgeon personally likes what he sees. If the scholarship materializes, we’d expect UMD to be a surefire contender considering Elev8 is headed by a Maryland-friendly coach in Chad Myers (he sent Damonte Dodd to UMD).

Christiansen is considered a jack-of-all trades who can score at all three levels, so he’s bound to garner his share of attention.

Two Local Offers

In last week’s Hardwood Notes, I mentioned that class of 2018 point guard Prentiss Hubb (Gonzaga/Washington D.C.) and 2018 power forward Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joseph’s/Baltimore, Md.) would eventually procure hometown offers. Well, three days after I penned the article both did indeed grab much-coveted Terps’ verbals Oct. 3.

Both Hubb and Smith have been discussed at length, so to make a long story short, Maryland is currently sitting pretty for both. There’s a ways to go in each of their recruitments, but both readily admitted UMD was the team to beat.

Hubb and Smith grew up Terps’ fans, have visited College Park multiple times (in fact, they both trekked to UMD together Oct. 3), love the direction the program is heading, believe in Turgeon’s’ system, have strong relationships with each of their respective Maryland recruiters (Clark for Hubb; Ranson for Smith), and are all about representing their local university.

Hubb, for his part, is friends with Maryland point guard pledge Anthony Cowan, in addition to Turgeon’s own son, Will Turgeon, who attends Gonzaga. Smith, meanwhile, said he’s grown up in a “Terps’ household” with both his parents noted UMD aficionados.

Much can happen between now and Signing Day 2018 that could alter Hubb’s and Smith’s “situations” (will Hubb and Smith continue to develop as expected? will Notre Dame, Arizona or Kentucky offers sway Smith? will Hubb remain on Maryland’s radar if the Terps continue to land elite point guards?) but we like UMD’s chances early.

You can read more about Hubb HERE.

You can read more about Smith HERE.

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