The Maryland staff has a number of shooting guards/wings targeted in the 2017 class, but they added another to the list in late April. Four-star Elias Harden (Sandy Creek/Tyrone, Ga.) has starred in each of the first two evaluation periods on the Adidas circuit for Game Elite, drawing the attention of numerous high-majors, including UMD.
“I now have offers from Maryland, Georgia, Auburn, Texas A&M, Cincinnati, UAB, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Virginia Tech,” said the 6-foot-5, 170-pound Harden. “Maryland, TAMU, Va Tech and Arizona State all came in the last few days, so it’s been wild for me.
“Right now I’m just taking everything in, but I really think I’m opening some eyes now. I think I did pretty good these first two periods, and I’m just trying to improve every tournament. I think I’m showing I’m an all-around player with my defense, my scoring, my rebounding and just finding open teammates.”
Harden said he’d specifically spoken to coaches from Va Tech, TAMU, UGA, Ole Miss, South Alabama, UAB and Florida most recently. Then assistants from Ga Tech, North Florida, TAMU and UGA came through Sandy Creek to view open gyms.
Harden hasn’t talked to staffers from Maryland or Arizona State yet -- his coach let him know of those offers -- but plans to shortly.
“Virginia Tech, that offer caught my eye. I talked to Coach Buzz Williams and his assistant [in Georgia], and then they came to my school to talk to me as well,” Harden said. “They were telling me about Tech, and I’m going to be visiting them soon.
“Also, the Maryland offer was a real big one for me. I definitely want to visit them. My coach said they offered and liked my style of play, and now I’m going to be talking to them more too.”
Maryland assistant Cliff Warren has plenty of connections in Georgia and knows the Game Elite coaches well. Harden hasn’t head much about Warren yet, but he does know his share about the Terps.
“I actually am pretty familiar with Maryland and that’s why I want to visit,” Harden said. “I watched them play this season, I like Melo Trimble and I know Robert Carter. When I was with AtlantaXpress, I met Rob Carter then, because that was his team. I also knew him when he was at Georgia Tech. So I watched Rob and Melo and saw how the Terps played. I definitely think I could fit in there.”
Besides intended trips to Va Tech and UMD, Harden has hometown Georgia on the radar. He’s held a Bulldogs’ offer for awhile now and wants to see Athens, Ga., at some point.
“If I could, I’d see every school that’s offered me,” said Harden, whose only visit the last few months was to Florida. “But I have to see how everything goes. Like I said, Virginia Tech is definitely one I’m getting to, and Maryland too.”
Harden said he’s content with the verbals he has on the table, but would love to procure more as the offseason moves along. His main focus now is to continue improving and to finish up strong in the classroom.
“I’m going to take my time and go through the process,” Harden said. “I’ll finish up school and then in the summer start to take some visits.”
Last weekend in Suwanee, Ga., Harden said he averaged 16 points, around six boards and four assists for a Game Elite squad that went 3-1. Afterwards, Scout’s Brian Snow rated Harden one of the circuit’s top performers:
“Elias Harden is a wing with good size and length who impacts the game in multiple ways. He's best scoring from midrange and in, with an especial comfort level shooting midrange jumpers.
He does a good job playing hard which usually leads to a lot of transition opportunities. He's also a very good passer and plays unselfish basketball, helping set up good looks for teammates.
Due to his size and length, Harden should be able to guard multiple spots at the next level.”