Hardwood Notes: Terps Check Out New Targets

The latest in Maryland hoops recruiting after the New Year:

The latest in Maryland hoops recruiting after the New Year:

The Vibe In 2017

With little percolating in the 2016 class at the moment, let’s begin with some news and notes in the talented 2017 class.

Point Guard Recruiting

The shoe wars are real, folks, and the battle continues for five-star point guard Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), who currently suits up with Under Armour-based We R 1. Despite Duval’s comments to the contrary, rumors continue to swirl about Duval -- along with API teammate Billy Preston -- joining the Nike circuit. Duval won’t make a decision until after his senior season ends, and nothing is set in stone yet, but there’s definitely some smoke here.

While many prospects have told me their AAU affiliation won’t directly affect their college decision, the feeling is it will for these two five-stars. In other words, if Duval and Preston go the way of the swoosh mark, well, they probably won’t wind up in College Park, Md. Arizona would immediately become a prime contender for Duval’s services, along with Villanova and likely others.

If Duval falls by the wayside, though, the Terps should be in position for point/combo guard Luis Hurtado (Sagemont, Fla.). The three-star isn’t at the same level talent-wise as Duval, but he’s a tough competitor; a “glue” guy; a pest defensively; and plays with an edge.

Hurtado, recall, grew up a Greivis Vasquez fan and models his game after the former Maryland great. When the Terps offered the Venezuelan, Hurtado practically called UMD an early favorite. He should be trekking north to College Park, Md., at some point during the offseason.

Beyond Duval and Hurtado, there doesn’t appear to be many other true point guard recruits on head coach Mark Turgeon’s radar. We recently dropped Quade Green (Neumann Goretti/Philadelphia, Pa.) from the hot board after the four-star told Scout’s Brian Snow the Terps were no longer in pursuit. UMD already has a similarly-sized point coming in 2016 in Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.), so it didn’t make much sense to add Green as well.

Wing Guard/Small Forward Recruiting

We’re expecting Turgeon to add a couple wing-types in the 2017 class, with shooting guard M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.) and small forward Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.) serving as priorities.

-- The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Walker, a five-star who is foregoing his football career in favor of hoops, recently told Scout.com he had Maryland; Florida State; and Ohio State on his initial favorites list.

We’ve been attempting to reach Walker for further comment, but our contacts have let on Turgeon has personally been making consistent overtures. The Terps have seen Walker play numerous times and should be hosting the athletic wing later this season or during the spring. It only helps Maryland’s chances that Walker’s tied in tight with Under Armour.

-- As for Tucker, we detailed his situation in the last Hardwood Notes edition. I recently interviewed the four-star wing, and he let on the Terps were firmly on the brain given their style of play; their player development; his relationship with recruiter Dustin Clark; and the fact Tucker has family near D.C.

Tucker will be tripping to College Park sometime in the next couple months, eager to do so after missing out on his previous attempt. Syracuse, St. John’s, Arizona, Villanova and Oklahoma are also on the brain, but UMD does have a legitimate shot here.

If either, or both, of Tucker and Walker fall through, there are no shortage of wings and two-guards Turgeon’s looking at:

-- Five-star Hamidou Diallo (Woodstock Academy/Woodstock, Conn.) holds a Maryland offer, but we haven’t sensed much traction here. The 6-5, 180-pounder may be favoring hometown favorite UConn, along with St. John’s, Kentucky and a couple other bluebloods (if they offer).  Diallo hasn’t said much about the Terps in recent interviews.

-- We added local guard Brandon Randolph (Westtown, Pa.) and Canadian native Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Hamilton Heights/Chattanooga, Tenn.) to the hot board a couple weeks ago, and it’s possible both emerging recruits will earn Terps’ offers in time. Especially Randolph, a 6-5, 175-pounder who has showed out of late. Maryland assistants Cliff Warren and Dustin Clark, in addition to Turgeon, have seen Randolph play and are reportedly highly intrigued.

If his stock continues to rise, and the Terps can’t pull in an M.J. Walker, we could envision Turgeon making a charge at Randolph. To which the recruit, who attends Jared Nickens’ alma mater, would be highly receptive. Randolph has already called Maryland one of the programs he’s most interested in.

But Randolph has already started to generate high-major attention, with UConn the first major program to ante up. He also holds offers from George Washington and VCU, while Notre Dame and even North Carolina are keeping tabs. Needless to say, it would behoove UMD to move on Randolph and begin making inroads.

Our gut? Randolph lands his UMD offer and the Terps pursue in earnest.

-- Alexander-Walker, whom we discussed in last week’s Hardwood Notes,  couldn’t say enough about the Terps when we interviewed him. Even though he grew up in Canada and currently resides in Tennessee, he knew all about Maryland and was thrilled when Cliff Warren came to watch him play.

A four-star who should garner a number of high-major looks, Alexander-Walker said he’d be visiting College Park this offseason. He could receive his Maryland offer at that time -- if not before then.

It will be interesting to see who Turgeon prioritizes, but if he puts the emphasis on Alexander-Walker, we wouldn’t be shocked to see the Canadian in College Park.

-- Yet another shooting guard/wing cropped up after we watched the Slam Dunk to Beach in Lewes, Del., before the New Year. St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) David Beatty put on a show in front of Cliff Warren, the Philly wing displaying a rugged edge on both ends of the floor. Beatty may not have a consistent shot, but he’s a slasher and burner who plays lockdown defense.

Right now, Beatty seems to be favoring Georgetown and Arizona State, two schools whose staffs have had consistent contact of later. The Hoyas have already offered, and the Sun Devils should be anteing up eventually. In-state Villanova is also involved and on Beatty’s mind.

As for the Terps, the staff just initiated contact a few weeks ago. Turgeon’s interest level will assuredly depend on the status of his other foremost targets.

Either way, Beatty wasn’t as enthused about Maryland as some of the previously discussed recruits. But maybe his attitude would change if an offer is eventually presented.

You can read more about Beatty HERE

-- Meanwhile, shooting guard Chaundee Brown (First Academy/Orlando, Fla.) could get a closer Maryland look too. UMD’s Cliff warren trekked through First Academy in December and was reportedly impressed with the budding four-star, who holds several high-major offers.

Brown is seeking blueblood looks, namely Kansas, but he’s yet to garner that kind of attention. We’d expect the Terps to make a move sooner or later, but it’s unclear if interest would be reciprocal. Brown isn’t the Terps’ No. 1 option at this point anyway, and may only become so if multiple players on Turgeon’s board fall off.

-- Finally, there’s wing Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.), a 6-8, 190-pounder who is more of a “3” than a “4.” A five-star talent who expressed initial excitement over his Terps’ offer, Wilkes now seems more inclined to a Midwest program or Kentucky. In fact, the Wildcats may be his “dream” school, although Kentucky hasn’t pursued yet.

Note: Wings Kodye Pugh (Blair Academy/Blairstown, N.J.), Chyree Walker (Bullis/Potomac, Md.) and Chris Orlina (Woodside/Newport News, Va.) are on the hot board, but we’re not sure the Maryland staff will give the trio more than a passing glance.

That said, Orlina is worth paying attention to. The DMV native is an interesting case, because he’s still contemplating reclassifying to 2016. Such a move could potentially make Orlina more attractive to Maryland since the Terps are in need of a 2016 wing.

Orlina hasn't been responding to interview requests recently, but I caught up with his coach, Ed Huckaby, who provided some insight into the situation. Orlina, according to Huckaby, has vastly improved his rebounding, defense and basketball IQ. He's averaging 32 points per game for a team ranked No. 1 in the state.

"Chris is actually in the 2016 class now, but it depends on what he plans to do a the end of the year. We purposely have not discussed that and he is just focused on improving academically and on the court," Huckaby said. "But it’s going to be up to Chris and his mom if they want to come out this year or do a prep year. He’ll qualify easily; a post-grad year isn’t a necessity for him. But it just depends on if Chris is comfortable with a particular [college] coach or program this year, or if he decides to do another year."

As far as Maryland is concerned, Huckaby said:

“They’re recruiting him, and Coach Bino [Ranson] likes him. They’ve seen him play, and they like him. And from what I understand Chris likes Maryland a lot. But he’s very open right now, and he hasn’t made any clear-cut decisions."

Combo Forwards/Stretch-4 Recruiting

Billy Preston, mentioned above, is the ideal target for Maryland. The Californian is a power forward/big who can knock down the midrange jumper, finish at the rim, play with his back to the basket, and face-up and beat his man off the dribble.

But Preston, who currently suits up for Under Armour-based MWA Elite, may be destined for the EYBL this summer. As with his teammate, Trevon Duval, this would be a serious blow to Turgeon’s chances at landing the 6-8, 230-pounder. If Preston starts donning Nike apparel, we could easily see him being steered to Arizona, a personal favorite, or perhaps a school even closer to home: USC.

But if Preston sticks with UA, he’ll probably keep UMD under prime consideration. Preston -- and Duval for that matter -- loved his two visits to College Park and believes he’d fit well into Turgeon’s system. He currently has Maryland among his top two or three contenders.

-- Regardless of what happens with Preston, expect the Terps to continue going after Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.). The son of the former Georgetown by the same name, Jackson lauded UMD during his early-season foray through College Park when the Terps took down the Hoyas.

The sense is Jackson, who lived in Silver Spring, Md., for years, has Maryland very high on his leaderboard. Notre Dame, Purdue, Michigan State and G-town are also in mind, but Jackson is no lock to wind up a Hoya, clearing a path for others to pounce.

-- Like Jackson, Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.) couldn’t say enough about his initial trip to College Park. Claxton, who holds a Terps’ offer, took in the Maryland-Marshall affair, and afterwards he said, “I just loved it there.” He readily took to the Terps’ style of play, noting the active ball movement and how “everyone gets touches and open looks.” Moreover, Claxton has a close rapport with UMD-area recruiter Dustin Clark, and has chatted with Turgeon too.

Claxton isn’t claiming favorites yet, but it’s clear the Terps are in the thick of things, along with Arizona; Georgetown; and his father’s alma mater, Georgia.

We’re sensing Turgeon and Co. will push here, and we're inclined to believe the Terps could be positioned to pull Claxton in. His status could be elevated to "hot" on the hot board down the road.

You can read more about Claxton HERE

-- Maybe a tick behind Claxton in the pecking order is Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.), who UMD’s Dustin Clark saw in December. Wright lacks a Maryland offer, but he’ll likely add one once Mark Turgeon gauges the recruit’s game first-hand.

Either way, Wright said UMD is a school that’s piqued his interest. Not only did he grow up watching Maryland, but he has family near College Park. Furthermore, Wright laces up for Albany City Rocks, the same AAU program that produced UMD signee Kevin Huerter (Shenendehowa/Clifton Park, N.Y.). Huerter evidently keyed Wright in about the Terps, the shooting guard’s words ringing true.

For Maryland to stick in Wright’s mind, however, Turgeon might want to offer sooner rather than later. Already, Villanova, Syracuse and Georgetown are all over the New York forward, with the Wildcats and Orange counted as early frontrunners.

There’s a long way to go in the process, though, and Wright said much can change between now and next year.

You can read more about Wright HERE.

Note: Power forwards Justyn Hamilton (Independence/Charlotte, N.C.) and Aamir Simms (Blue Ridge/Dyke, Va.) remain on the hot board, but the former may not be high-major caliber and the latter didn’t give off many pro-Terps vibes. Simms may be favoring Georgetown, Miami or Va Tech.

Big Man Recruiting

Bueller? Bueller?

The search for a legitimate, realistic big-man target continues for Turgeon and Co. We’ve all but written off 7-footer Zach Kent (St. Andrews/Middletown, Del.), who is more of a finesse player. There’s been no indication Turgeon will push for the nearby big man.

Power forward Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa.) generated some buzz when he broached Maryland during a recent holiday tournament, which the Terps’ staff scouted. But the 6-11, 205-pounder is all about the bluebloods and maybe Villanova. Plus he’s a Nike recruit, who will likely be steered to a swoosh-mark school.

There is one potential newcomer to monitor. Bourama Sidibe (St. Benedict's) is a 6-10 power forward/center who displayed solid skills during a pre-New Years event in Lewes, Del. Cliff Warren was on hand to scout him, and apparently he is now on Mark Turgeon's radar.

Currently, Sidibe holds offers from Memphis, Arizona State, SMU, Seton Hall and Kansas State, so he is considered a high-major talent. But he might not quite have the skills (read: skilled big with touch) Turgeon is looking for.

-- Another name to monitor is Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) 6-8, 220-pounder Nate Watson, who said the Terps are intrigued. Watson doesn't have any high-major offers yet, but is hearing from St. Joe's, Xavier, WVU, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Villanova, USC, Maryland and others.

Watson said he wants to check out College Park since it's close to home and the staff has been giving him more attention of late. But we're not so sure Turgeon and Co. will push here. We've seen Watson play and he doesn't grade out as a top-level talent at this time. Perhaps with more development he'll warrant a closer look.

There will assuredly be more names to monitor in the months ahead, but at the moment it seems Turgeon might be content adding two power/combo forwards (Jaren Jackson, Nicolas Claxton, Billy Preston) rather than pursue a true 2017 big man.

Terps Once Again Targeting Paul VI

First there was Jalen Smith (Mt. St. Joe’s/Baltimore, Md.). Then there was Prentiss Hubb (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.). And now there’s Brandon Slater (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.). Mark Turgeon has offers out to three primetime DMV sophomores, with Slater’s verbal materializing Dec. 30 after the Terps took down Penn State.

Like Smith and Hubb, the wing/stretch-4 Slater immediately called Maryland an early favorite. Slater is a noted UMD fan, has attended multiple games, and, in his words, “grew up around the program.”

“It was just crazy. It’s one of the schools I always wanted to go to, and now it could be a reality,” Slater said. “Maryland has always been a part of my life; it’s my favorite team,” Slater said. “All my favorite players growing up went to Maryland. I loved watching them on TV and whenever they were on I made sure I was watching. It’s definitely an honor to have a scholarship offer from the team you grew up with.”

On top of that, Slater loves the current squad and its coaches. He said Rasheed Sulaimon is “my type of player,” while he called his relationship with recruiter Dustin Clark “very close.”

It’s way too soon to predict the upcoming twists and turns in Slater’s recruitment -- remember, Slater’s teammate, Myles Douglas, was forecast to Maryland for two years before his game leveled off considerably – but his comments are promising.

We could easily see Turgeon actively recruiting Smith, Slater and Hubb throughout their high school careers, keeping the hometown school firmly in play for the locals. The Maryland headman would assuredly love to add recruits from three talent-heavy DMV programs.

Note: Slater will undoubtedly entertain multiple suitors as his offer list grows. Maryland may be No. 1 for now, but Miami; USC; Louisville; and Va Tech have offered as well, with more about to flow in.

You can read more about Slater HERE.

The Latest in 2016

All is mostly quiet on the senior recruiting front. Two of Maryland’s forward offerees, Micah Thomas (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.) and Jaylen McManus (North Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.), have leveled off a bit. Plus Thomas may have some academic issues that could preclude the Terps from taking a flyer on him. We’re not anticipating a push for either.

The nation’s No. 1 recruit, forward Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.), apparently still has Maryland in play, but the Terps could be running fifth in his top five. Jackson is thought to have Michigan State, Kansas and Arizona well ahead of the pack, with UNLV and UMD rounding out the leaderboard.

Jackson has not been placed back on the hot board.

One new name did emerge during New Year's weekend when UMD's Dustin Clark ventured out to see Beachwood (Ohio) combo guard/wing Maishe Dailey. But Dailey may not be a true high-major talent as most of his looks have come from the low- to mid-major ranks. He also did not perform well with Clark looking on.

That said, the 6-6 senior recently picked up an offer from Rutgers, per Scout's Brian Snow, and will be visiting Piscataway, N.J., in short order. But he's content to see how his recruitment develops between now and the end of his senior year. Dailey, who contemplated reclassing to 2017, plans to select a destination and sign in the spring.

It remains to be seen if Clark and the Terps will actually make a push here. For our part, we're not counting on it.

Either way, we do think Mark Turgeon wants to add at least two more pieces in the 2016 class, including a wing; a power forward (if Robert Carter bolts); and maybe even a third guard. A fifth-year transfer is a distinct possibility, but the staff will continue to mine the high-school ranks in search of late-emerging talent.

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