The Terps have a new prime 2017 wing-guard offer out, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Hamilton Heights Christian/Chattanooga, Tenn.) was thrilled with the look. The 6-foot-5, 175-pounder had been in touch with UMD assistant Bino Ranson since mid-December, 2015, and the scholarship finally came to fruition when head coach Mark Turgeon made it out to Chattanooga Feb. 29.
“Coach Turgeon actually came out to watch a workout before he headed out to Memphis. We talked for a little while in the classroom to discuss Maryland, about me coming out for a visit, and what my role would be in his system,” said Alexander-Walker, who is from Toronto, Ontario, and currently living with a host family in Chattanooga. “And then he told me I had the offer from Maryland. I was extremely blessed and extremely excited. It’s an offer I was hoping for and waiting for.”
Alexander-Walker had been developing a rapport with Ranson for the last few months, but Feb. 29 was his first time having an extended talk with Turgeon.
Of course, the Canadian native was already quite familiar with Turgeon’s style from having watched the coach on TV over the years.
“He’s a really nice guy, very straightforward. He definitely seems like the type of guy I can play under,” Alexander-Walker said. “He knows the game well, and he played at a high level at Kansas and coaches at a high level. He’s been through it all, and has the experience. He can help you become a better player. To me, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Alexander-Walker offered up plenty of praise for Ranson too. The Terps’ assistant has been out for a Hamilton Heights workout, as well as a game this year.
“Coach Bino has been staying in touch. We have a really good relationship, and he’s a really good guy,” Alexander-Walker said. “He’s been out to see me play, and he’s actually been trying to get me offered. The offer may have come earlier, but [Feb. 29] was the first time Coach Turgeon was able to make it out here.”
Alexander-Walker, who suits up for the Canada Elite AAU program, has been intently watching the Terps for the past couple years. And since Ranson first came in contact with him last December, he’s tuned in on an even more frequent basis.
“I’ve watched them play, I can’t even count how many times. It’s been a lot,” Alexander-Walker said. “I really like how Maryland uses Melo Trimble, and I like how Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon play too. I like their bigs; Diamond Stone is really, really good. I think they play at a very high-level; they’re efficient on offense and they really play as one unit not five individuals.
“I also feel like I could really fit in well there with my height and versatility. I can play the ‘2,’ which is the Sulaimon role; I can play the ‘3,’ which is the Layman role; and I can even play the ‘1’ if need be. Hopefully in time I’ll be developed enough as a point guard where I can be counted on to bring the ball up too. But I just feel like I’m versatile enough to play a number of roles at Maryland.”
Despite growing up north of the border and currently residing in Tennessee, Alexander-Walker heard plenty about Maryland from his uncle, Vaughn Alexander.
“My uncle used to tell me about all the great Maryland players,” said Alexander-Walker. “Len Bias, guys like that, he used to tell me all about them. So I’ve been watching Maryland for a long time.
“Also, it’s a great academic school, and that’s important to me too.”
Now that he has the offer, Alexander-Walker said he’s in the process of scheduling a spring visit. He said he wants to check College Park, Md., out before AAU season begins.
“It’s been really busy lately, but I definitely want to get out there and really take Maryland in,” Alexander-Walker said. “It’s one of my top four schools, so I want to get out there soon.”
Indeed, Alexander-Walker said he has a firm, binding top-four that consists of, in no order, USC; UMD; Cincinnati and Virginia Tech. The recruit said he’s talked his recruitment over with his family, and he wants to end the process before the summer is out.
“I’m ready to make a decision. I don’t want to have the stress in the summer with coaches coming on to me and then going through that process all over again,” Alexander-Walker said. “So I just want to visit each of my top four schools, understand my potential roles there and see how I fit in. Then after that, most likely I’ll have my mind made up and then announce my decision in the summer.”
Alexander-Walker has already visited USC once before and will return again March 5. He’s also had an in-home from a Virginia Tech coach, but has not checked out Blacksburg, Va., yet.
“I’ll be at USC this weekend and then I’ll go to Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and Maryland. I will take all four visits and then choose between them,” said Alexander-Walker, who also holds offers from Auburn, Baylor, Illinois, Clemson, UNLV, Providence and Vermont. “None of them leads over the other until I can see all four.”
Alexander-Walker is coming off a season where he averaged in double-figures and led his team in steals. He said he has developed a consistent three-point stroke and also takes pride in his defense.