Hardwood Notes: New Big Man, Madness, Kegler

Here are the latest developments with Terps’ hoops recruiting heading into Maryland Madness Oct. 17.

Here are the latest developments with Terps’ hoops recruiting heading into Maryland Madness Oct. 17.

Kegler In The Home Stretch

One of Maryland’s foremost remaining 2016 targets, small forward Mario Kegler (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.), is set for his initial foray through College Park, Md., Oct. 17 for Maryland Madness. The Terps and head coach Mark Turgeon have been after the 6-foot-7, 235-pound four-star for months now, upping the pursuit in the wake of Wenyen Gabriel’s (Wilbraham & Monson/Wilbraham, Mass.) Kentucky commitment.

Kegler has hosted both Turgeon and UMD recruiter Dustin Clark recently, the latter trekking through Oak Hill earlier this week for one last go-around before the Mississippi native’s official visit. Per Kegler’s guardian, Omhar Carter, the Terps “definitely” have the forward’s ear, their style of play; consistent overtures; and rise in the rankings holding prime appeal.

But, as we’ve mentioned before, the Terps’ best chance at pulling Kegler in may be to wow him during Madness, securing a pop before leaving College Park Oct. 18. If he slips out without giving Turgeon his word, Kegler might wind up at Mississippi State, Indiana or maybe Arizona State.

The hometown Bulldogs, which Kegler officially visited Oct. 10, left a distinct impression and may sit atop the leaderboard. Not only does Mississippi State allow him to stay local, but Kegler readily took to head coach Ben Howland and the Bulldogs’ fans.

The Hoosiers are another primary contender, with Kegler set to see Bloomington, Ind., Oct. 24, a week after UMD. Word is Indiana, which is the final official, could vault to the top of the pecking order following a standout visit.

Meanwhile, Arizona State remains in play after Kegler’s official to Tempe, Ariz., in September, while we’re told LSU -- a school Kegler did not officially visit but has been to multiple times – is a darkhorse candidate. The forward did trek through Baylor Oct. 3 as well, but the Bears may be on the outside looking in.

So, what’s our gut? Well, we’ve never been overly confident about the Terps’ chances with Kegler. Although we do believe Turgeon and Co.’s words are resonating, there are other factors at play that suggest Mississippi State, or perhaps IU, may be his ultimate landing spot.

If the Terps miss out on Kegler, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.), remains on the board. But as we detailed in the last Hardwood Notes, Jackson could be favoring Michigan State (it’s his hometown school, head coach Tom Izzo has his ear and good friend Miles Bridges is now a Spartan) or Arizona. The Terps, along with Kansas, are thought to be running No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

There’s time for UMD to make up ground considering Jackson hasn’t taken any official visits yet and won’t be signing until April, but it could be an uphill battle at this point. We’ll see if Maryland, with Under Armour backing Jackson’s 1 Nation AAU squad, can turn things around in the months ahead.

New Big Man Target?

On a whim, I suggested earlier this week Turgeon and the Maryland staff might look overseas again in search of a late-emerging big-man or forward target. Not three days later, we received word that UMD coaches were indeed set to host a Euro whose name has been broached before.

Jacob Larsen, who we'd heard little from in months, just popped back onto Maryland's radar and is set to officially visit College Park Oct. 16-18 for Maryland Madness. Recall, we'd heard several months ago the Terps were one of many high-majors monitoring the 6-10, 240-pounder from Denmark, but we hadn't seen much movement ... until just a few days ago.

Per our contacts, Larsen visited Gonzaga and Marquette this week and will check out Maryland and Duke coming up. Evidently the Terps are in a strong spot for the big man, who is on several NBA draft boards. We're told UMD could hold serious cache here given the staff's development of Alex Len and Michal Cekovsky's presence on the current roster.

Stay tuned; Larsen's recruitment could end at any time. We'll attempt to find out more after the Dane checks out Maryland the next couple days.

Catching Up With New Offer, Possible Offer

The offers keep on coming, Turgeon typically handing out at least one per week. On Oct. 8, UMD’s headman personally extended a verbal to combo guard Luis Hurtado (Sagemont School/Weston, Fla.), a class of 2017 recruit from Venezuela who UMD assistant Cliff Warren took note of last year. Hurtado isn’t considered a top-50 talent, but he’s a heady, well-rounded, tough prospect in the mold of former Terps’ guard Greivis Vasquez  . . . who just happens to be Hurtado’s idol.

The 6-5, 170-pound Hurtado said he grew up watching his fellow countryman at Maryland, which made the Terps’ offer even more special for him.

“When Maryland offered me, that was the first thing I thought of – Greivis Vasquez, I call him my brother,” Hurtado said. “He’s from Venezuela too, and when he was at Maryland everyone there watched him play. I saw like all his games when I was there. So when Maryland offered, I was really, really excited. I watched them all the time, and I saw how Greivis took them to the NCAA tournament. That’s a school I already knew a lot about form watching him, so I’m excited about them.”

While the Vasquez connection obviously appeals, Hurtado also said his relationship with Warren, as well as Turgeon’s personal approach, make Maryland an attractive option. In fact, Hurtado said of all his current offers – FSU, USF, USC, Georgia, Georgia Southern and UAB are the others – UMD stood out early.

We’ll have to see how hard Turgeon pushes for Hurtado with several other elite guards on Maryland’s 2017 board -- Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), Hamidou Diallo (Woodstock, Conn.), Lonnie Walker (Reading, Pa.) -- but the Terps are in a good spot early.  Expect the Venezuelan to visit College Park sometime next year.

It’s important to note Maryland will probably only take one, maybe two, 2017 backcourt recruits. Most of Turgeon’s efforts will go into the frontcourt since the Terps don’t seem to be positioned to land a ’16 big man.

You can read more about Hurtado HERE.

Speaking of frontcourt targets, the Terps may eventually offer 2017 combo forward Kasper Christiansen (Elev8/Delray Beach, Fla.), who we mentioned last week. The Denmark native has been in the United States for all of a month-plus, but he’s already attracted plenty of early attention. The 6-9, 195-pound Christiansen, who plays more like a “3” than a “4,” said coaches from Louisville; Maryland; Baylor; Florida; Marquette and Valpo have all trekked through Elev8.

After touching base with Christiansen, I got the distinct impression the Terps and Cardinals had his ear early. He was obviously impressed when UL headman Rick Pitino forayed through Elev8, but had just as much praise for UMD assistant Cliff Warren and Maryland.

Christiansen noted, first and foremost, how UMD’s staff has developed foreign bigs, citing Alex Len and Michal Cekovsky. He also knows the Terps are a preseason No. 1, which, according to the Dane, makes them “very attractive to me.” Christiansen said he’s eager to visit College Park for the first time later during the year.

We’ll have to see what offers Christiansen ultimately procures -- no high-major program is going to hand him a scholarship before seeing him play against U.S. competition -- but he’s another name to monitor closely moving forward.

The Terps will likely take two or three forwards in 2017, with Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.), Billy Preston (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa.), Myles Douglas (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.), Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.), Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.), Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.) and more on the radar. Given the above list, Christiansen may only become a Turgeon priority if a combination of Preston, Ayton, Bamba, Tucker, Jackson, Claxton and Wilkes end up elsewhere. That is, unless Christiansen establishes himself as an elite talent later this fall/winter.

You can read more about him HERE

Madness Visitors

We broke out a few Oct. 17 recruit attendees a couple weeks ago, and added another exciting name to the list this week. In addition to Jacob Larsen (discussed above), emerging class of 2017 center Dajour Dickens (The Miller School/Charlottesville, Va.) will be trekking north for his first College Park foray at the behest of UMD recruiter Dustin Clark. Apparently Clark visited The Miller School earlier this month and liked what he saw out of the 6-10, 205-pounder, although the Terps haven't offered as of yet. That could change Oct. 17 when Dickens is on campus, though more than likely Turgeon and Co. will monitor the Virginia product's progress this season before throwing their names into the hat.

If Maryland's staff does pursue, however, we do think they'll resonate. Dickens already expressed plenty of excitement when Clark visited his school, and was eager enough to see College Park that he immediately set up the Oct. 17 trip. Dickens holds early verbals from Memphis, UVA, Va Tech, Creighton, Temple and others, so UMD would certainly become one of his most significant scholarships to date.

Dickens is the new name, but Kegler, of course, is the headliner. Local ’17 forward and Maryland target Myles Douglas will also be in Xfinity Center for Madness, as will DMV class of 2018 offerees Prentiss Hubb (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.) and Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joe’s/Baltimore, Md.). Another local sophomore, McDonogh's (Owings Mills, Md.) Noah Locke, a 6-2 shooting guard with offers from Cincinnati, USC and Tulsa, will be attending too. Locke said UMD recruiter Bino Ranson has been in touch, hinting an offer could be coming.

The above recruits will join current 2016 commits Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) and Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa/Clifton Park, N.Y.).

Also, various prospects from Paul VI, St. Maria Goretti (Hagerstown, Md.), Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.), Gonzaga, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.), John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.), Gilman (Baltimore, Md.), DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), McNamara (Forestville, Md.) and more will be attending, although none are currently considered “offer candidates.”


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