Hardwood Notes: New Targets, Larsen Movement?

The latest in Maryland hoops recruiting with the November signing period nearing.

The Word On Wings

Shortly after this Hardwood Notes edition is released, senior wing Mario Kegler (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.) should be releasing his final three suitors, a list that will likely include Mississippi State, Indiana and Maryland. But, as we wrote last week, the Terps could be sitting third for the Mississippi native’s services.

While UMD head coach Mark Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark made a surge, each visiting Kegler and his family multiple times, in addition to hosting the four-star for a standout official, the feeling is it won’t be enough. Kegler has long been infatuated with head coach Ben Howland’s Bulldogs, an Adidas program that’s been after the wing for more than a year now. Mississippi State then helped its chances even more Oct. 27 when it landed Kegler’s good friend and MBA Hoops AAU teammate, Tyson Carter (Starkville, Miss.).

Indiana, which hosted Kegler for his final official visit Oct. 23, could finish second in the running, although there’s an outside shot IU could jump the Bulldogs. Although his trip to Bloomington, Ind., was cut short due to travel complications, Kegler still had a great time taking in Assembly Hall and hanging with the Hoosiers. IU may not currently offer the same advantages Maryland does (a top-ranked program, a guarantee Kegler would play his desired two-guard/wing spot instead of dropping into the paint), but Indiana’s tradition and reputation have Kegler’s attention.

But while things seemingly look bleak from a UMD perspective, the Terps might still have some life here. At least one of our guys continues to insist Turgeon and Clark are "tied in tight" with Kegler's guardian, Ohmar Carter. So much so that it would not be a shock to see Kegler wind up in College Park.

We're not ready to jump on the Kegler-to-UMD bandwagon yet, but at least there is some pro-Terps' noise out there. We'll see what transpires in short order.

Look for Kegler to announce his college decision right around Nov. 11, which is when the early signing period begins. We’ll see if Turgeon and Co. can pull a rabbit out of the hat, in spite of the tealeaves reading Mississippi State.

It’s possible Maryland’s headman may have already come to the above conclusion (Kegler to the Bulldogs), because Oct. 30 Turgeon extended an offer to 6-foot-7, 180-pound wing Micah Thomas (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.). Turgeon visited the Memphis native’s school for a scrimmage early last week and apparently liked Thomas’ length, versatility, athleticism and shooting ability. 

We attempted to contact Thomas multiple times throughout the week, but he did not respond to inquiries. That said, his head coach at Huntington Prep, Arkell Bruce, gave us the lowdown on the late-emerging wing. Per Bruce, Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark offered Thomas in person and left quite a favorable impression. Although Thomas wasn't too familiar with UMD having grown up in Memphis, the offer definitely meant something to him considering the current state of Maryland basketball (read: the national love the Terps are getting has the recruit's attention). On top of that, Thomas plays for an Under Armour AAU program (Team Thad) and would love the chance to compete in the Big Ten.

But there's a caveat here -- and it's a significant one. Evidently Thomas may have some issues qualifying this year, forcing him to attend prep school. Said issues have precluded the talented wing from procuring more high-major offers (Arkansas and LSU have anted up), as numerous programs want to see if he irons out his academics.

So, according to Bruce, Thomas is fully focused on his books for the time being. Thus, the recruit isn't going to be signing early or taking any college visits until later during the year. It's conceivable a trip to College Park could eventually materialize, but unless Thomas passes through the NCAA Clearinghouse, he won't be signing with UMD or any Division-I suitor in April either.

You can read more about Thomas HERE.

Of course, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Josh Jackson (Prolific Pre/Napa, Calif.), remains on the board and is technically within the Terps’ grasp. But last we heard from Jackson’s party, Arizona and Kansas held the upper-hand, with Michigan State in the thick of things as well. While the five-star Jackson has always spoken positively of Maryland, going as far as to say he could “definitely” see himself in College Park following an unofficial visit, we’re told the Terps are on the outside looking in.

We’ll see if UMD can wage some of its Under Armour clout -- Jackson plays for a UA-based AAU team -- to turn the tide later in the game. Jackson isn’t signing until April, so let’s see how his recruitment ebbs and flows.

Regardless of how things shake out with Kegler, Jackson and Thomas, we do believe Turgeon will keep pushing for a 2016 wing. There are scholarships available, so even if Thomas somehow falls by the wayside, it’s likely UMD’s headman will continue searching and evaluating potential impact players.

Larsen? Bueller? Bueller?

It’s been eerily quiet since Danish power forward Jacob Larsen trekked through Maryland Oct. 17, his third official during his stay in the States. We figured Larsen would follow the script of many recent foreign visitors, taking in a couple schools and then committing shortly thereafter. But Larsen, who was accompanied by his father, hasn’t given any indication what he’s thinking after seeing Gonzaga, Marquette and finally UMD.

We were previously told Zaga may have the inside track given the Bulldogs’ proficiency in producing foreign bigs, but just recently another source informed otherwise. Since Gonzaga already has a touted 2016 frontcourt commit (Zach Collins), in addition to a power forward transfer (Johnathan Williams), the Bulldogs may not be as keen on Larsen as he is on them. If that's truly the case (and that is the buzz from our guys out in Seattle), perhaps the Denmark native will fall into Turgeon's lap.

But take it with a grain of salt for now. Until Larsen personally lets on his feelings, it’s anyone’s guess which direction he’s leaning. Maybe he will opt for Maryland after checking the Terps out for Maryland Madness, or maybe he'll select  Gonzaga as some expect. Or, maybe Larsen will return to the U.S. for two more official visits before signing in April.

We’ll continue monitoring the situation, but if Larsen does not wind up in College Park, look for Turgeon to identify another power forward/center target. Perhaps the Terps will unearth another overseas big, as we know Dustin Clark was recruiting in Europe earlier in October.

Changes For Duval?

Word on the street is Maryland's No. 1 2017 guard recruit, Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), may be about to switch AAU programs from the Under Armour-based We R 1 to a Nike squad. We've heard Duval is keen on playing in the EYBL with several Nike coaches in his ear. 

If so, it would greatly diminish UMD's chances at pulling in the five-star point. Mark Turgeon and Dustin Clark would undoubtedly continue pursuing in earnest, but too often we've seen Nike recruits of Duval's caliber steered to swoosh-mark affiliated schools. 

If that's the case and Duval -- who visited College Park several months back and said he wanted to return this winter -- falls out of the Terps' grasp, look for them to concentrate more effort into landing Venezuelan combo guard Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.). Hurtado, recall, has already expressed plenty of interest in UMD (he's an ardent Greivis Vasquez fan and already knows all about the Terps' program) and wants to visit UMD as soon as possible.

Local Tournament

It’s a live recruiting period up until mid-November, so expect Maryland’s staff to see a few more open gyms in-between gearing up their own squad for the 2015-’16 campaign. One event the Terps’ staff will probably be attending is the DMVElite East Coast Prep Showcase at St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) Nov. 6-8.

The tourney will feature about a dozen or so prep schools, although the one to note, for UMD purposes, is Elev8 Academy (Delray Beach, Fla.), which will be flying up from Florida. The budding high-school power has suited up a few prospects Maryland recruiter Cliff Warren has monitored recently (Kobe Eubanks, Yankuba Sima, Jamall Gregory, etc.), and head coach Chad Myers’ program has another who could nab a Terps’ offer shortly.

Class of 2017 small forward Kasper Christiansen, who we interviewed and profiled several weeks back, has already had fairly regular contact with Warren. The 6-9 Dane, who matriculated over from Denmark in September, doesn’t have any offers yet, but figures to procure several high-major looks once college coaches see him play (Louisville, Florida, Creighton, Dayton, Miami and UMD are intrigued early).

If Turgeon likes what he sees Nov. 7, and the scholarship’s presented, Christiansen indicated he’d be giving Maryland plenty of consideration. The fact foreign players like Michal Cekovsky and Ivan Bender reside on the current roster, combined with Warren’s early overtures and Maryland’s national ranking, have the Dane’s attention.

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