Hardwood Notes: New Names On The Radar

As we wait to see what transpires with Micah Thomas (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.), the senior wing down to Maryland and Louisville and still on track to visit UMD April 9, let’s review where the Terps stand with their top 2017 targets:

As we wait to see what transpires with Micah Thomas (Huntington Prep/Huntington, W.Va.), the senior wing down to Maryland and Louisville and still on track to visit UMD April 9, let’s review where the Terps stand with their top 2017 targets:

Point Guards

It’s Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas) and a few other guys. The five-star guard, as we’ve noted in past editions, is sticking with Under Armour-based We R 1; likes the idea of playing close to his Delaware home; and has a strong connection with UMD head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark. Duval’s been in College Park, Md., before, loves the atmosphere surrounding the program and believes he could thrive under Turgeon.

Duval is also looking at Arizona, Kansas, Baylor and Louisville, but we’re encouraged by the Terps’ position here. Ultimately, we think the chance to play just a couple hours from his family may push the Terps over the edge.

If Duval falls by the wayside, Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.) is ripe for the picking. The Venezuelan guard, who has held a Maryland offer for months, has made no bones about his desire to follow in countryman Greivis Vasquez’ footsteps. Hurtado’s stayed in contact with UMD recruiter Cliff Warren and wants to visit College Park this summer.

But we’re not so sure Turgeon can take both Hurtado and Duval. If Maryland isn’t an option, Hurtatdo -- who spent two years in Georgia before migrating to Florida -- may opt for FSU, UAB, Georgia, Georgia Southern, USF or others.

The other combo guard we’re monitoring is Matt Turner (Blair Academy/Blairstown Township, N.J.), a tough Jersey product the Terps have kept tabs on but haven’t offered yet. Turner has offers from the likes of Georgetown, GW, Seton Hall and others, but doesn’t sound like a priority for Turgeon at this point.

Wing Guards

The Terps are positioned for about three swingmen, and should land one of the trio before it’s all said and done. Mark Turgeon has offers out to M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), D.J. Harvey (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.) and Nickeil-Alexander Walker (Hamilton Heights/Chattanooga, Tenn.), and each of them have Maryland under prime consideration.

We’ve updated Walker numerous times in this space, letting readers know the Under Armour-affiliated recruit is taking a hard look at UMD; Florida State; and Ohio State. The Maryland staff, backed by Turgeon himself, has made it known how much they covet Walker’s services, and we do believe UMD is in position to pounce.

Walker’s in the process of scheduling his initial College Park visit, and that should occur sometime this summer. The 6-4, 200-pounder is still feeling out the process and hasn’t publically proclaimed Maryland a No. 1, which makes us somewhat leery (hence, why he’s not “hot” on the hot board), but he continues to talk up the Terps in interviews.

Meanwhile, the local five-star Harvey is gaining steam in Maryland circles. We’ve previously forecast him to Arizona, Duke or maybe Villanova or Oklahoma, but it sounds like UMD recruiter Dustin Clark has made some inroads here. Harvey’s been in College Park multiple times this year and has taken a liking to the hometown school. Moreover, some “personal things” may have Harvey more inclined to stay local rather than venture too far from the DMV.

We’re not quite ready to buy the Harvey-to-Maryland hype, but the DeMatha recruit does seem interested enough for us to elevate him to “warm” on the hot board.

And then there’s Alexander-Walker, who we’ve interviewed and written extensively about. The Canadian native, who is playing his high school ball in Tennessee, is down to Maryland, USC, Baylor, Va Tech and Cincinnati (he told me personally Baylor wasn’t involved, but later included the Bears).

We do believe Turgeon would take both Alexander-Walker and one of M.J. Walker or D.J. Harvey if both wanted in, but first the headman has to convince the Canadian to join his program.

Alexander-Walker has now been to USC twice and is loving the Trojans. He called his Southern California visit “nothing short of amazing” and then declared them his No. 1.

 The Terps may be sitting right there with the Trojans, however. Alexander-Walker has been in close contact with UMD assistant Cliff Warren, and couldn’t say enough when Turgeon personally trekked through Chattanooga to offer him in late February.

“They have always been a school I loved,” Alexander-Walker said. “I grew up watching them and they were kind of like a dream school. I feel like I would fit very well into their system. I could bring a lot of versatility in their program since I can play multiple positions and the way they use their guards.”

Alexander-Walker gave props to Cincinnati for coach Larry Davis’ efforts, Virginia Tech for the longstanding rapport he’s had with the staff, and Baylor for the program Scott Drew has developed. He will visit each of the aforementioned suitors before selecting a school before the summer.

Our gut? If Alexander-Walker is made aware he’s the priority at Maryland, we think the Terps land him. But if he’s privy to the fact the Terps are after M.J. Walker and Harvey, well, he might opt for USC.

Stay tuned. Alexander-Walker could commit anytime between April and August.

The one other name to monitor is shooting guard Chaundee Brown (First Academy/Orlando, Fla.), who UMD assistant Cliff Warren has been staying in close contact with. But the Terps haven’t entered the fray for Brown yet, while programs such as Florida and FSU have made deep inroads. Brown has visited both local schools and seems to be taking a liking to each. UConn and LSU are also in the game for the 6-5, 195-pounder.

Wings

It’s looking more and more like Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.) is going to be Maryland’s guy. Of all the wings the Terps are going after, no one’s talked up UMD more than Claxton. He ate up the College Park vibe during his late December campus visit, is in regular communication with UMD recruiter Dustin Clark and believes he’d fit well into Maryland’s offense.

Claxton also thinks highly of Georgia, his father’s alma mater, while Wake Forest; Baylor; Arizona; Baylor; USC; Va Tech; Temple; and FSU have all anted up. The Wake staff has been pushing for Claxton, but we think this is probably a Terps-Bulldogs battle.

As for Maryland’s other primary wing target, Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.), there’s not much new to report from the last Hardwood Notes. Basically, we’ve grown increasingly skeptical about the Terps’ chances with the 6-7, 205-pounder after he reneged on about four College Park trips.

Moreover, Tucker seems somewhat infatuated with hometown Syracuse and St. John’s, with coaches from both schools hosting the wing more than once this year. UConn, Oklahoma (Tucker has family connections here) and maybe Indiana are also in play for Tucker’s services.

If Tucker does eventually make it to College Park, we do think the Terps’ staff -- with Dustin Clark running point -- could turn the tide, but for now we’re not feeling it.

While there is some hope for Tucker, we’re less encouraged about Maryland’s chances with Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.). The Midwest native seems inclined to stay in that general vicinity for college, with Butler; Indiana; and Michigan State all ringing true. Coaches from Kentucky and Kansas have also been in touch, but it’s unclear how ardently either will pursue.

Last but not least, there’s Hameir Wright (Albany Academy, N.Y.), who the Terps have yet to offer. We do know UMD recruiter Cliff Warren has kept tabs on the 6-7, 180-pounder, but at this point it seems the Maryland staff’s focused elsewhere.

Wright, who remains on the hot board because of his personal interest in the Terps, has Nova; Cincinnati; Dayton; Georgetown; and WVU in pursuit. Right now, Nova may have the upper-hand.

Note: Small forward Chris Orlina (Woodside/Newport News, Va.) -- who is still considering reclassifying to the 2016 class -- has been hard to get ahold of lately, but we do know Terps’ assistant Bino Ranson saw the recruit in action in early March. No offer has been presented, however, and we’ve heard Orlina didn’t exactly light up the gym.

We’ll keep Orlina in mind just in case, but it doesn’t seem like the Maryland coaches will pursue the Virginia product in earnest.

Power Forwards/Centers

The most likely candidate to fill the "big forward" spot is Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.), who will undoubtedly play the “4” or maybe even some "5" at Maryland now that he's grown to 6-10. He hasn’t said much recently, but we’re inclined to believe Maryland sits among the four-star's foremost two or three contenders. Jackson’s in regular contact with the UMD staff and wants to return to College Park after a standout initial trip earlier during the winter. And it never hurts that Jackson’s from Silver Spring, Md., and would love to return to the East Coast for college.

Of course, Georgetown, where Jackson’s father suited up, is in the thick of things too, while Jackson’s seems particularly taken by Michigan State. Butler, Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame should all get extended looks as well.

Meanwhile, it was not a surprise when Maryland made the top four for five-star power forward Billy Preston (API/Dallas, Texas). We’ve been reporting the Terps were heavily involved with the California native, who visited College Park back in December, but might be trailing the likes of Arizona and USC. Fact is, we’ve had the sense Preston may want to return to the West Coast for college. Plus, Arizona coach Sean Miller has done his diligence and may have Preston’s ear.

The Terps do have a shot here, however. Preston did have a standout stay in College Park and expressed interest in playing under Mark Turgeon. And if Turgeon can somehow pull in Preston’s teammate, Trevon Duval, it would definitely help UMD’s chances at securing the power forward. Remember, Duval and Preston have discussed attending the same college, and though package deals rarely work out, the point guard’s presence in College Park would give Maryland a chance to pull the coup off.

Kansas is also being counted as a primary contender, and we’re not about to rule out the Jayhawks. KU’s spot atop the national polls, coupled with headman Bill Self’s push, could have Preston thinking rock-chalk before it’s all said and done.

Note: We’re still awaiting word on whether or not Preston is sticking with Under Armour or switching to the Nike circuit. If he chooses the latter, the five-star is probably heading Sean Miller’s way.

The other two big forwards we have listed on the hot board are five-star Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa.) and three-star Nate Watson (O’Connell/Arlington, Va.). Bamba’s situation has been detailed ad nauseum. The Terps are in hot pursuit, but more than likely Bamba’s blueblood bound, unless hometown Villanova can stave them off.

Watson, meanwhile, has been in College Park a couple times and has taken a liking to Mark Turgeon’s program. But Watson lacks a UMD offer, and we’re not sure one will be materializing unless he shows out on the AAU circuit.

Georgetown has offered, though, and the Hoyas may be the forward’s ultimate landing spot. St. Joe’s, Georgia Tech, WVU, Xavier and USC also have verbals out.

Terps Tracking A JUCO

Maryland assistant Dustin Clark recently stopped by Allegany College (Cumberland, Md.) -- which produced former Terps’ great Steve Francis -- to scout junior college shooting guard Jonathan Mulmore, a 6-foot-4 scoring machine from New Orleans, La. A slasher with some touch from the outside, Mulmore’s averaging 26 points on 48 percent shooting and 32 percent from deep. He’s also hitting 81 percent of his free throws, dishing out almost six assists a night and corralling 4.3 rebounds.

Mulmore already holds offers from Temple and Georgetown, and we wouldn’t be shocked to see the Terps ante up considering they could use another guard with Rasheed Sulaimon’s departure and Melo Trimble’s likely exit.

For now, Mulmore’s in the research phase, content to see what materializes before taking visits and evaluating all his options. But, although he’s not from the Old Line State, we’re led to believe Mulmore would be very interested in attending Maryland should the offer be presented.

Terps Tracking A Transfer

Sophomore forward DeSean Murray announced he was transferring from Presbyterian, and, per multiple reports, the Terps have reached out to the 6-5, 225-pounder. Murray, a Stanley, N.C., native, has also heard from the likes of Wake Forest; Auburn; VCU; BC; and Florida Gulf Coast.

Murray averaged more than 20 points per game this season, but his forte is defense. He’s known as a rugged competitor and a sticky-fingered defender, averaging two steals and 7.4 rebounds per game this year.

The North Carolina product isn’t a distance shooter (he didn’t hit a single 3), but he works well around the basket and knows how to convert inside. Murray shot 54 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line.

Terps Tracking A Five-Star

Reports surfaced earlier in March, in the wake of Terrance Ferguson’s (API/Dallas, Texas) decommitment from Alabama, that Maryland was involved with the 6-7, 180-pound five-star. The others being considered are Kansas, Baylor, Texas and Arizona.

It’s entirely possible the Terps could secure an official visit from the wing what with the Terps’ presence at API. UMD assistant Bino Ranson, as well as headman Mark Turgeon, have made inroads at the program -- see Billy Preston and Trevon Duval above -- and have had contact with Ferguson personally.

But we’ll see if the trip actually comes to fruition. From all we’ve heard, Ferguson might be leaning towards in-state Baylor or Texas, while Kansas and Arizona could be in line for visits too.

Off The Board

We made a few slashes on the hot board this week, mainly because the Terps weren’t making a push for these respective recruits. Of course, Maryland’s staff would love to have combo guard Hamido Diallo (Putnam Academy/Putnam, Conn.), but now that he’s switched from an Under Armour-affiliated AAU team to a Nike one, we just don’t see it happening. We figured Diallo was heading to hometown UConn anyway, but this latest development probably expedites the process.

In addition to Diallo, we also removed combo guard David Beatty (St. Benedict’s/Philadelphia, Pa.), shooting guard Christian David (Bishop Reding/Milton, Ontario), shooting guard Brandon Randolph (Westtown, Pa.) and senior center Cheickna Dembele (Scotland Performance/Scotland, Pa.).

A Maryland staffer had been out to see each of the above recruits, but there has been little movement since they were scouted. The Terps have other higher-regarded targets on their board and don’t seem inclined to offer any of the aforementioned names.

We thought the Turgeon might go after the center Dembele what with UMD’s need for another big man, but there could be some issues surrounding the African import that are precluding the Terps from anteing up.

Dembele already holds a handful of firm offers, and has visited nearby St. Joseph’s, so if UMD does make a move it might be too late. Iowa State, NC State and Mizzou have all made a pitch, with the Cyclones making a particularly potent push.

The other name we thought Maryland might be more involved with was Randolph, who UMD scouted and was reportedly intrigued by. But Maryland’s staff opted to offer Nickeil Alexander-Walker (discussed above) over Randolph, meaning the Westtown product is probably fourth on UMD’s board.

Regardless, the junior slasher has seen his recruitment rise considerably with GW, Louisville, Marquette, VCU, Vandy, Xavier, Va Tech and Wake offering. Randolph has not declared any early standouts or leaders.


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