The Terps are searching for a wing to fill out their 2016 class, and Dec. 16 Maryland assistant Cliff Warren made his way down to North Mecklenburg (Huntersville, N.C.) to scout under-the-radar small forward Jaylen McManus. The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder only holds mid-major offers to this point, but several high-majors have been monitoring him closely.
“I have heard from Iowa State, Creighton, Miami, Maryland, Kansas State and Virginia Tech. I think Virginia Tech is closest to offering, maybe,” said McManus, who claims scholarships from College of Charleston, Charlotte, George Mason, Georgia Southern, Fordham, Towson, UNC Wilmington and others. “The one coach from Tech came to my game and said he really liked what I brought to the table. So I think they are closest, but the others are looking at me too.”
Including Maryland, with Warren in touch on and off since the summer. McManus said the Terps’ assistant first caught wind of him on the AAU circuit, the forward showing out for the Charlotte Nets in the EYBL.
“I first met Coach Warren in the summer, but the last month or so he’s been contacting me more and more. He’s mainly just been telling me about the program in general and things like that,” McManus said. “But then he came down to watch my practice [Dec. 16], and I talked to him more then. He said he really likes my game, my versatility and how I’ve developed. He told me some things I need to work on, but he said he looked forward to seeing me again. He said they’re looking for another wing in my class, and he said I’m on [the Terps’] board.”
McManus didn’t get the vibe Warren was set to offer quite yet, but the recruit was encouraged. And if a scholarship would eventually materialize, the Carolina native said he’d think long and hard about snapping it up.
“Maryland, that’s one of the top programs in the country right now,” McManus said. “I’d love to get an offer from Maryland. I’d love the chance to play for them.”
The North Mecklenburg prospect is an unabashed Tar Heels fan, which makes sense since he lives close to Chapel Hill, N.C. But while taking in UNC growing up, McManus was also exposed to the program’s former ACC foe, UMD. Moreover, McManus saw Maryland take on Carolina earlier this year during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
“One thing I love about Maryland is they play hard, they hustle, they play good defense and it’s a fast tempo,” McManus said. “That’s really what catches my eye about Maryland – how fast they play. I love to get up and down and run, so I think I’d fit in very well there.”
McManus has never been to College Park, Md., nor any other campus outside of his home state. In fact, the only colleges he’s stepped foot on thus far are UNC Charlotte and UNC Chapel Hill.
“I’ve kind of put off some visits, because a lot of new schools are coming in to look at me, and if some of these bigger schools offer I’ll go and see them,” McManus said. “But I think I definitely will be able to get up to Maryland and Virginia Tech this year for an unofficial, because they’re not too too far away. Then if they offer, then I’ll set up an official. But I’m thinking I should be able to see a game at [UMD and Va Tech].”
The wing may not have any officials in mind yet, but he knows what he'll be looking for when he ventures out. In addition to feeling comfortable on campus and bonding with the team and coaches, McManus wants to play for a team that runs.
"On my high school team, we press and run in transition all 32 minutes," McManus said. "That's my style: run, run, run. So I would love to play in a system that plays fast-paced."
Ideally, McManus would love to attract one of the aforementioned potential high-major suitors. But, if not, he is content with the options he currently has in front of him.
“The goal is to play at the highest level out there,” McManus said. “But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be fine at the mid-major level. But I’m going to keep working so I can get some high-major looks.”
McManus wasn’t sure how many points and rebounds he’s been averaging this year, but North Mecklenburg is undefeated and the 6-7 wing said he’s “playing very well.”
“Individually, I’ve been rebounding better, doing better with scoring and finishing, and overall I believe I’ve changed my game,” McManus said. “I’m doing a better job with my ball-handling and shooting. Now, I’m versatile enough to shoot the 3, the midrange [jumper], post-up, or drive and attack. I’ve really come along, and I think [college coaches] are starting to notice.”