Hardwood Notes: Terps Positioned For 5-Stars

It’s been rather quiet on the hoops recruiting trail, other than a class of 2018 offer going out to five-star Westtown (Pa.) wing Cameron Reddish, who landed the verbal while in College Park, Md., Feb. 21. Other than that big-time verbal, here are the latest developments heading into March.

It’s been rather quiet on the hoops recruiting trail, other than a class of 2018 offer going out to five-star Westtown (Pa.) wing Cameron Reddish, who landed the verbal while in College Park, Md., Feb. 21. Other than that big-time verbal, here are the latest developments heading into March.

The Home Stretch In 2016

It appears the eggs are in the Micah Thomas (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.) basket. The 6-foot-7, 180-pound three-star is down to Louisville and Maryland and remains on track to officially visit College Park April 8-10. If that visit does come to fruition, head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark should have a real shot to win the wing over.

But we are a bit skeptical about the situation. One comment in particular keeps sticking out like a sore thumb:

“Maryland has been recruiting me pretty hard,” Thomas told Scout’s Brian Snow recently, “but they came in late.”

Take that for what it’s worth. Perhaps a standout UMD trip could appease any concerns Thomas may be harboring.

Of course, it’s still within the realm of possibilities that Thomas pops to the Cardinals before checking out College Park. The Memphis, Tenn., native took his Louisville official in early February and raved about the environment and staff. Thomas and his mother even asked about head coach Rick Pitino’s status, Louisville’s postseason ban and the state of the program, and apparently they received a satisfactory answer because Thomas has been talking up the Cardinals ever since.

The only other 2016 name we have on the board is 6-11 center Cheickna Dembele (Scotland Performance Institute/Scotland, Pa.), the Nigerian native the Terps’ staff was showing interest in in early February. Recall, both assistants Cliff Warren and then Dustin Clark went to see Dembele in action and were reportedly intrigued, per the SPI coach.

But it’s been almost a month since then and Dembele lacks a Maryland offer. Which means Clark probably didn’t give a glowing recommendation to Turgeon.

Even if a Terps’ verbal crops up in short order, Maryland could be behind the eight ball, so to speak. In the last couple weeks, Dembele’s procured verbals from Missouri, NC State, Iowa State, St. Joe’s and Charlotte, with interest from Arkansas; Pitt; Syracuse; LSU; Iowa; Alabama; Baylor; Florida and more.

Dembele was just at St. Joe’s for his very first college visit and reportedly liked the vibe on Hawk Hill. He will begin taking officials in late March/early April and then sign later during the month.

The two other 2016 names we’ve broached previously, Andre Wesson (Westerville South/Westerville, Ohio) and Chris Orlina (Woodside/Newport News, Va.), were removed from the hot board. There hasn’t been much movement on either wing from a Terps’ standpoint, and we’re inclined to believe neither will land Maryland offers.

Wesson has Richmond, Xavier, Akron and Bowling Green in play, but is waiting for an Ohio State offer to crop up (Wesson’s younger brother is committed to OSU). Orlina, meanwhile, sounds like he will be sticking in the 2017 class. He gave some thought to reclassing to 2016, but will likely take the extra high school year to raise his stock. We do not sense Maryland’s staff will push either way.

Class of 2017 Notes

There’s a ways to go before the 2017 class recruits start popping, but we’re getting a slightly clearer picture who might ultimately wind up in College Park. At this juncture, we’ve received the most pro-Maryland vibes from point guard Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), wing-guard M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), wing Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.) and forward Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.).  

That list obviously includes no true centers or bruisers, but perhaps the staff believes Jackson’s penchant for blocking shots will suffice. Jackson, recall, took his first visit to Maryland back in November and raved about his stay. Since then, he’s granted numerous interviews and always makes sure to list the Terps among his standout suitors. Mark Turgeon and recruiter Cliff Warren are all over Jackson, and could be hosting him again later this summer. It only helps the UMD staff’s chances that Jackson is from Silver Spring, Md., and loves the DMV corridor.

Georgetown, where Jackson’s father played, is heavily involved too, but the four-star insists he’s no lock to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame, Michigan, Vandy, Xavier and Illinois all have offers out too. Of those, Michigan State may have his attention.

It’s possible a big man could emerge on the summer circuit, but for now we’re not feeling Maryland’s two major power-forward targets: Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa.) or Billy Preston (API). Bamba is likely headed to a blueblood or Villanova, while we get the feeling Preston’s going to wind up a school closer to his California home like Arizona.

True, Bishop O’Connell’s (Arlington, Va.) Nate Watson was in College Park Feb. 21 and has plenty of interest in the Terps. But we’re not so sure feelings are mutual. The Maryland coaches have been out to see Watson before, but there haven’t been indications Turgeon is ready to make a move on the 6-8 power forward/center. Watson currently holds offers from Georgetown, Georgia Tech, St. Joe’s, WVU, USC and Xavier.

Point Guard Notes

At point guard, we’re encouraged by Maryland’s chances with the five-star Trevon DuVal. Not only did the Delaware native love his December visit to College Park, but he’s been in close contact with Dustin Clark; likes the idea of returning to the East Coast for college; and, maybe most importantly, is reportedly staying on the Under Armour circuit with WE R 1.

Arizona, Kansas and Duke are all involved, which always makes us leery, but we do believe the Terps could have the inside track.

Besides DuVal, there’s the combo guard Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.), who we touched base with last week. Hurtado, a Venezuelan native who has high Terps interest stemming from the Greivis Vasquez connection, said he and UMD-area recruiter Cliff Warren remained in touch fairly regularly. But even though Hurtado holds a Maryland offer, I didn’t get the sense Turgeon was going to push for the three-star unless DuVal falls off.

Same goes for combo guard Matt Turner (Blairstown, N.J.), who the Terps have checked in on but haven’t offered.

Wing Guard Notes

Maryland’s No. 1 shooting guard target, M.J. Walker, hasn’t said much since his season began, but we’re led to believe the Terps sit well with him. The Under Armour-based recruit, who suits up fro Atlanta Xpress, has consistently listed UMD among his foremost leaders and should have time to visit College Park during the spring. Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Florida State are also involved.

Another shooting guard firmly on Maryland’s radar is Hamidou Diallo (Putnam Science/Putnam, Conn.), who trekked through College Park Feb. 21. The five-star told us he loved his UMD stay, namely the coaching staff; the atmosphere inside Xfinity Center; and Turgeon’s free-flowing offensive system. He has a solid rapport with UMD assistant Bino Ranson, who has been up to see Diallo a couple times.

Diallo, though, has been forecast to hometown UConn, a school he’s visited on numerous occasions. The Huskies have had a bead on the 6-5 guard for longer than any other major program.

St. John’s, another program Diallo’s forayed through multiple times, has his ear too, along with possibly Syracuse and Providence. Diallo just recently took in the Orange and Friars, offering up props for both.

The feeling, though, is the Terps are probably sitting ahead of every program save UConn. If Ranson and Turgeon stay on him and can cull out a return trip to College Park, well, perhaps they can pull it off. And, yes, if somehow both Diallo and Walker wanted in, Turgeon would almost assuredly welcome the duo.

The other wing guards on the Maryland staff’s radar are Brandon Randolph (Westtown), Chaundee Brown (First Academy/Orlando, Fla.), Nickel Alexander-Walker (Hamilton Heights/Chattanooga, Tenn.) and David Beatty (St. Benedict’s/Newark, N.J.).

Of the quartet, we figured Randolph, who has blown up on the recruiting trail (Marquette, Wake, Seton Hall, Louisville, Xavier, Wake Forest, Va Tech, VCU and GW have all anted up), would’ve secured an offer by now. But maybe Turgeon is confident enough with Walker that the coach doesn’t feel the need to push for Randolph.

Brown, Beatty and Alexander-Walker have high-major scholarships as well. UMD assistant Cliff Warren has maintained contact with the former, while Bino Ranson is in touch with the latter two recruits. Again, UMD scholarships may only be extended if the staff begins feeling less confident about their top targets.

Beatty is a tough customer and plays with a chip – something the Terps need -- so it’s conceivable he’ll get a look down the line if things go awry with Walker or Diallo.

Small Forwards

There are multiple intriguing forward options the Terps are involved with, but the one we’re most confident about is Nicolas Claxton. The 6-9 wing, the son of former Georgia star Charles Claxton, consistently commends Maryland in interviews. He visited College Park back in December and extolled the fans, players and coaches. Claxton has a close relationship with recruiter Dustin Clark and has offered up naught but praise for Turgeon too. He believes he’d fit in well in Maryland’s offense, calling it a “really good system for me.”

Claxton isn’t publically claiming leaders, but it’s clear the Terps are firmly on the brain. Others involved include Clemson, Wake Forest, Baylor, Florida State and USC.

Meanwhile, White Plains (N.Y.) small forward Jordan Tucker remains on the board, but we’ve downgraded him to “cool.” Although he had a legitimate excuse for backing out of his Terps’ visit Feb. 21 (his team had a playoff game), fact is Tucker’s reneged on about four intended College Park trips. One would think if he truly wanted to see UMD he would’ve figured out a way to do so by now. He has yet to schedule a possible makeup date with his Maryland recruiter, Dustin Clark.

Tucker has been to hometown St. John’s and Syracuse a few times each, and both programs are near the top of the totem poll. Oklahoma, where he has family connections, is in play too, along with UConn; Villanova; Xavier; and Arizona.

Next on the list is DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) five-star D.J. Harvey, who has expressed more interest in UMD of late after his “circumstances changed.” The 6-5, 185-pounder visited College Park on back-to-back weekends and said he’s taken a liking to the hometown school. Both Mark Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark are on the five-star and would surely take Harvey if he wanted in.

But we haven’t moved Harvey off of “cool” just yet. While there’s some hometown cooking going on right now, we’re not so sure that’s going to be the case down the line for various reasons. Arizona is still a frontrunner of sorts, and Duke; Louisville; Notre Dame; NC State; UNC (no offer yet) and Kentucky (no offer yet) are in the game.

The fourth Terps’ small forward offeree, Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.), may be the least likely to wind up in College Park. Wilkes did express initial interest after Mark Turgeon personally handed him a Maryland offer, but the recruit seems inclined to the Midwest. Butler, Indiana and Purdue could lead, and Kansas would be in there too if the Jayhawks push. Kentucky is also monitoring Wilkes, and if the Wildcats pursue, well, that could very well be the five-star’s destination.

Two more names to monitor are Christian David (Vermont Academy/Saxton’s River, Vt.) and Hameir Wright (Albany Academy, N.Y.). Both the 6-6 David and the 6-7 Wright have drawn Maryland interest and said they’d love to land a Terps’ look. But with so many other wing/small forward options on Turgeon’s board, UMD scholarships may only materialize if said board falls apart.

The Word on Reddish

Maryland’s most recent offer went out to the 2018 five-star shooting guard Cameron Reddish Feb. 21. Reddish took in the Maryland-Michigan game and secured his sixth offer from the Terps after meeting with Turgeon afterwards.

Westtown does not let its players speak to the media while its season is on-going, so we haven’t been able to reach Reddish for comment yet. That said, he’s not going to be an easy pull. Already UConn, Villanova, Auburn, PSU, Seton Hall and VCU (Reddish’s father played for the Rams) are on him, with many more to come.

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