New potential hoops recruit targets are cropping up every day or so with practice time limited and the Terps in final exams, giving the coaching staff ample time to check out high school gyms. On Dec. 20, UMD assistant Bino Ranson trekked down to Chattanooga, Tenn., in order to scout four-star Hamilton Heights Christian 2017 shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a 6-foot-5, 175-pounder with about 10 mid- to high-major offers. Alexander-Walker is originally from Toronto, Ontario, and plays for the Canada Elite AAU squad, but he is currently boarding at Hamilton Heights.
“Coach Bino was just here from Maryland, and before that Miami, Southern California, Illinois and Georgia were in,” said Alexander-Walker, who counts early verbals from Va Tech, Cincinnati, Illinois, UNLV, USC, Auburn, Miami, Providence, Baylor, Vermont, New Mexico State and St. Bonaventure. “I’ve gotten some good looks so far, but I’m going to keep working to improve. I still have a ways to go. I don't like to talk about myself much, but I do like how I'm shooting; how I'm defending; and how I can play the '1' the '2' or the '3.' But there's still plenty to imrpove on to show these schools what I'm fully capable of.”
The Terps haven’t anted up yet, but Ranson left Harbor Heights intrigued, per Alexander-Walker’s coaches. It’s conceivable Maryland could enter the fray after head coach Mark Turgeon evaluates the rising star in person.
“Coach Bino had actually coached my AAU coach in college, so there’s a connection through there, so [Ranson] came down to watch me. But after [Ranson] saw me, he thinks I can be great fit at Maryland,” Alexander-Walker said. “He talked about getting Coach Turgeon out for a game. He likes my toughness, my ability to shoot the ball, and how I can play off-guard and point guard too.”
Despite growing up north of the border and currently residing in Tennessee, Alexander-Walker heard plenty about Maryland growing up. He said his uncle, Vaughn Alexander, routinely talked about the Terps, schooling the youngster on the likes of Len Bias; Albert King; Joe Smith; Walt Williams; and Juan Dixon.
“My uncle used to tell me about all the great Maryland players,” said Alexander-Williams, who noted UMD’s academics as a primary reason the school has his eye. “And now I actually watch the [current] team on TV whenever I can. Melo Trimble is a great, great point guard, and Rasheed Sulaimon, I remember watching his mix-tapes when he was in high school. He’s terrific. But just the way Maryland plays, I love that style. It’s very selfless, they move the ball, and they get a lot of different players involved.”
Alexander-Walker has never been to College Park, Md., but he’s seen enough highlights and games on ESPN to know about the atmosphere inside Xfinity Center.
“From what I can tell, the fans are tremendous there. Coach Bino was actually showing me some highlights too, and it was breathtaking how into it they can get,” Alexander-Walker said. “I definitely want to get to a game there in person.”
The Canadian native isn’t sure if or when Maryland will offer, but Alexander-Walker said he “really hopes [the Terps] do” ante up. Despite being a 2017 recruit, the shooting guard would like to sift through the recruiting process fairly quickly. He wants to have an initial top-six favorites list in place by February or March, and “if Maryland offers they’ll definitely be on it,” the recruit said.
Besides UMD, some of the other programs that have caught Alexander-Walker’s eye include Baylor, Cincinnati, Va Tech, Miami and USC. He’s visited USC and Vanderbilt, and is looking to see UMD; Baylor; and Miami this offseason. Alexander-Walker would also like to check out Southern Cal again if possible.
“Vanderbilt hasn’t offered yet, but they would definitely be there among my top suitors. I definitely love the system and the coach – he’s an offensive genius,” said Alexander-Walker, whose cousin, Shai Alexander, is heading to Florida. “Baylor, I have a great relationship with them, and I’m a big fan of USC too. So those are some other programs I like right now.”
Alexander-Williams would like to have his college chosen by the early signing period of his senior year.