Hardwood Notes: AAU Season Underway

AAU season is back, and throughout the spring and summer there will be several opportunities for college coaches to evaluate recruits. Beginning April 15-17, staffers from around the country will descend on New York City as both the Nike and Under Armour circuits get underway in earnest.

AAU season is back, and throughout the spring and summer there will be several opportunities for college coaches to evaluate recruits. Beginning April 15-17, staffers from around the country will descend on New York City as both the Nike and Under Armour circuits get underway in earnest. Then, the very next weekend, both the EYBL and UA head to Indianapolis, Ind., for another three-day evaluation period. Meanwhile, the Adidas squads kick off in Dallas, Texas, before heading to Atlanta, Ga.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon and assistants Dustin Clark, Bino Ranson and Cliff Warren should all be in attendance as the Terps attempt to further gauge their foremost 2017 targets.

Let’s take a look at where Maryland stands heading into AAU play:

Point Guards

There’s one name to know here, and he’s been bandied about for more than a year in Maryland circles. Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas) is due in the Big Apple this weekend, and, yes, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound five-star will be suiting up with WE R 1, an Under Armour based squad. Recall, rumors were swirling that Duval might bolt for the EYBL like teammate and friend Billy Preston (discussed below), but the point guard’s staying put.

Which is a significant development for Terps’ purposes. Duval, a Delaware native, has been trending towards UMD for some time now, with both Turgeon and Ranson carving out inroads and leaving a distinct impression following a winter campus visit. The five-star may be inclined to play closer to home too, perhaps giving Maryland a leg up.

Others involved include Kansas, Arizona, Baylor and Syracuse.

We haven’t sensed an ardent push for Duval’s “backup option” of late, but April 15-17 in Brooklyn will be a chance for Each 1 Teach 1’s (Nike) Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.) to improve his stock. Hurtado, a native Venezuelan who loves the Terps thanks to the Greivis Vasquez connection, has an offer from Maryland and remains in contact with Cliff Warren. He didn’t generate much high-major interest during the high school season, however, so this spring will be important for him personally.

Also keep an eye on under-the-radar combo Matt Turner (Blair Academy/Blairstown Township, N.J.) this spring/summer. A high-volume scorer and lengthy defender who has yet to blow up on the trail yet, Turner could pick up steam with a strong showing with New York Lightning (AAU). The Terps’ staff has been monitoring Turner, and they might make a move if they sense things are going awry with Duval.

Shooting Guards

The Maryland coaches are positioned for a number of two-guards/combo guards in the 2017 class, headlined by M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), an Under-Armour affiliated recruit who will be lacing up for Atlanta Xpress in New York City. Walker has personally gone mum of late, but we briefly touched base with his coach, Winfried Jordan, last week and learned the Terps are still very much involved here. Jordan couldn’t give much insight into early standouts or leaders – the sense is Walker’s fairly open at this stage – but he did allow Turgeon and Warren had Walker’s ear. We’re expecting Walker to visit College Park, Md., for the first time later this offseason.

The 6-5, 200-pounder is also considering FSU, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida and potentially others.

While it sounds like Walker is the priority, might the Terps’ staff accept a Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Hamilton Heights/Chattanooga, Tenn.) commitment if the 6-6 shooting guard wants in early? That remains to be seen, but we get the sense Turgeon might want to evaluate further before making a move.

Another Under-Armour based recruit, Alexander Walker (Canada Elite) was supposed to officially visit College Park either the first or second weekend in April. Well, that official didn’t occur and now Alexander-Walker isn’t sure when he’ll be able to make it East.

The Canadian native maintains high interest in UMD, but if he senses feelings aren’t mutual, he could opt for one of his other main suitors. Alexander-Walker took an official to USC March 4 and has taken a keen liking to the Trojans. Va Tech, Cincinnati and, to some extent, Baylor are also in line for trips before Alexander-Walker pops sometime during the summer.

A third wing-guard on UMD’s radar, D.J. Harvey (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), seemed to have the Terps firmly in play as recently as last month. Remember, the five-star local talked up his growing relationship with Turgeon and Dustin Clark, as well as his three standout Xfinity Center trips during the winter. Turgeon has been through DeMatha numerous times too, most recently in early April for a practice.

But while we acknowledged Harvey’s UMD intrigue, we remained somewhat skeptical with the prospect’s words ringing of some lip service. Maybe it’s the wrong read, but fact is Harvey’s been all about Arizona and headman Sean Miller for a long time now. If he’s a “take” for Miller, we could easily see the Team Takeover (Nike) guard winding up in Tucson, Ariz. Duke and Notre Dame are also counted as a primary contenders.

The fourth name to track is Chaundee Brown (First Academy/Orlando, Fla.), who actually plays for an unaffiliated AAU squad (SE Florida Elite). Brown won’t be in New York this weekend, so the Terps’ coaches won’t be able to evaluate him then. But Brown did visit College Park during the winter and loved his initial Maryland foray.

The 6-4, 190-pound four-star, who has maintained communication with Warren, is seeking an offer and would seemingly be a Terps’ lean if the scholarship’s presented. But we’re not sensing a push unless the likes of M.J. Walker and Nickeil Alexander-Walker fall by the wayside.

Note: Five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo (Putnam Science/Putnam, Conn.), who visited UMD in December and offered up plenty of praise afterwards, is technically on the Terps’ board too. But we removed Diallo from the hot board a couple months back when he switched from UA to Nike (NY Rens). Diallo was leaning towards UConn, Kansas or Kentucky (no offer yet) anyway, but the AAU change may have put the nail in Maryland’s coffin.

The Terps’ coaches will certainly continue to pursue, however, so maybe Diallo’s name will resurface down the line. The recruit and his mother are both very comfortable with Turgeon, his staff and the university in general.

Wings

The Terps are positioned for 6-9 wing Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.), but the question is, How good is he really? Claxton holds numerous high-major offers from the likes of UMD, Arizona, USC, Baylor, Wake, Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Temple and Va Tech, but some of those verbals may not be committable until Claxton proves himself on the Under Armour circuit (Team SC Raptors).

Turgeon and recruiter Dustin Clark will undoubtedly be watching Claxton closely to gauge if he is indeed the wing they want in the 2017 class. If so, the South Carolina native could very well wind up in College Park. He visited back in December and raved about the UMD fans, the Terps’ offense and the atmosphere on campus. He counts Clark as one of his favorite assistants and has taken a liking to Turgeon too.

Claxton, whose father starred at UGA, could take a long look at the Bulldogs as well, especially if the UMD staff opts not to pursue in earnest. Wake, Clemson, FSU and more are also on the wing’s radar.

Small forward Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.) was once thought to be a must-have in Maryland’s 2017 class. But from what we’ve heard the Terps’ staff, with Dustin Clark acting as point man, may have backed off a bit. Perhaps Tucker, who suits up for the Nike-based NY Rens, will escalate this April and into the July live period, but he may no longer be priority No. 1 for Maryland.

Either way, we’re not counting on Tucker becoming a Terp. Remember, Tucker was supposed to visit College Park about three times during the fall/winter, but reneged on each opportunity. Some of those missed connections couldn’t be avoided (playoff games, etc.), but one could surmise if Tucker was really interested in Maryland he would’ve figured out a way to make it down by now.

Syracuse and St. John’s remain positioned for the four-star wing, with Oklahoma and UConn on him as well.

Another name to monitor is Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.), who plays for Albany City Rocks on the EYBL. There are some questions surrounding the 6-7, 185-pound four-star, and the Terps have yet to extend an offer yet. But UMD area recruiter Dustin Clark has been through Albany Academy to watch Wright, while he’s stayed in touch via social media as well. If Wright expands his arsenal during AAU season, the Terps could very well pounce.

Maryland would probably have more than a puncher’s chance at landing the New York native too. Wright knows Albany City Rocks teammate Kevin Huerter well, with the 2016 UMD signee making a potent Terps’ pitch. Plus, Wright grew up watching Maryland, he likes their offensive system and his grandfather lives in the Old Line State.

Wright’s going to take his time with the process, though, seeing which programs ante up following the spring/summer.

Finally, we’re keeping Indianapolis target Kris Wilkes (North Central) on the board, even though he’s inclined to stay in the Midwest. The Terps’ staff would love to land Wilkes, who suits up for Under Armour’s Indy Hoosiers, but Indiana; Butler; Purdue; and maybe even Kentucky (if they want him) seem to have the upper-hand.

Power Forwards

Billy Preston (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas) is the main target, but the five-star’s switch from Under Armour to Nike’s RM5 Elite could throw a wrench into things (for Maryland purposes).

Regardless of which circuit he’s on, we had Preston forecasted to a school closer to his California home, with Arizona the predicted landing spot. USC and Kansas are also making a push for the 6-10, 230-pounder.

If the above holds true, the Terps have their eggs in the Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.) basket. The four-star Jackson, a long, bouncy and athletic shot-blocker, will play for Nike’s Spiece Indy Heat this offseason. But that affiliation isn’t expected to hurt UMD’s chances at landing the 6-9 forward. Jackson’s shown prime interest in Maryland ever since visiting College Park back in November. He couldn’t say enough about the Xfinity Center vibe, the players in the program, Turgeon’s system and the school itself. Moreover, he has a strong rapport with both Turgeon and Warren, who have let Jackson know how much he’s wanted/needed in College Park.

Georgetown, Jackson’s father’s alma mater, will be a player here, but it doesn’t sound like the Hoyas have the inside track. Purdue, Indiana and Butler are involved with Jackson too.

Expect Jackson to take a few officials, including one to Maryland, before ending his recruitment.

A third power forward to track is Bishop O’Connell’s (Arlington, Va.) Nate Watson, who Turgeon personally offered earlier this month. Watson, who said it “meant a lot” that Turgeon extended the verbal in person, has been in College Park numerous times and loves the idea of playing for his hometown school. He’s also known Bino Ranson for awhile now, the two forming a fairly close bond.

Watson will be playing for UA’s D.C. Premier this offseason, and it will be interesting to see how well the rugged three-star stacks up. If Watson’s characteristic toughness and rebounding prowess are on full display, that Maryland offer could very well become committable.

WVU, St. Joe’s, Georgia Tech, USC, Xavier, WVU and Georgetown have also offered the 6-8, 230-pounder, but time will tell which programs actually pursue Watson in earnest.

Note: Reports did surface that Maryland had offered St. Andrew’s (Middletown, Del.) center Zach Kent, a near-7-footer who the Terps’ staff has been tracking for some time. Like with Nate Watson, we’re not so sure such a scholarship would be committable at this time, but Kent’s a name to watch with UA’s WE R 1.

Kent doesn’t grant many interviews, but we’re told he has heavy Maryland interest.

2018 Names To Watch

The Terps are hot on the trail of several primetime sophomores, with more bound to emerge following the evaluation periods.

Prentiss Hubb, PG/SG, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): D.C. Premier (Under Armour)

Brandon Slater, SG, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.): Team Takeover (Nike)

Immanuel Quickley, PG/SG. John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.): Baltimore Elite (Adidas)

Kiyon Boyd, SF/SG, Woodson (Washington, D.C.): Team Loaded (Under Armour)

Jalen Smith, PF, Mount St. Joe’s (Baltimore, Md.): Under Armour (AAU team unclear)

David McCormack, C, Norfolk Academy (Va.): Team Loaded (Under Armour)

2016 Notes

-- Maryland wing commit Micah Thomas (Huntington Prep, W.Va.) officially visited College Park April 8-10, and we’re told it went well. Thomas is set to sign with the Terps later this week.

-- We’ve been inquiring about fifth-year transfers and other potential immediate contributors, but while several names have surfaced, there hasn’t been too many connected to Maryland as of yet.

The Terps may be waiting to see what transpires with point guard Melo Trimble before making a move, while they staff also has to gauge each potential transfer’s academic situation as well.


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