A dead recruiting period is coming up May 19-27, so before then let’s take a look at where Maryland stands before heading into prime AAU season during the summer.
Waiting On Two Immediate Additions
The Terps have three recruits signed in 2016, but they’re still involved for a fourth in 6-foot-7, 200-pound power forward Justin Jackson (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.). Jackson, who was released from his UNLV Letter of Intent following ex-headman David Rice’s departure, officially visited College Park, Md., April 30, and afterwards we were told the trip went “very well.” In the immediate aftermath, there was guarded optimism surrounding UMD’s chances at landing the four-star, per our contacts, though this is a difficult read since neither Jackson nor his party have responded to inquiries.
It should be noted, though, that Jackson officially visited Storrs, Conn., May 7 and seems to have his eye on the Huskies too. Meanwhile, he’ll be in Eugene, Ore., May 13 for a look at the Ducks.
Expect the Toronto, Ontario, native to choose his future destination shortly after the Oregon visit. Our gut? The more visits Jackson takes, the less likely it is he winds up a Terp.
The other player who could impact Maryland as soon as next year is Duquesne graduate transfer L.G. Gill, a 6-8, 220-pound power forward who embarked on his College Park official visit May 7-8. Prior to the trip, Gill had been in close contact with UMD head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark. The fifth-year was eager to check Maryland out since it’s a national program and would offer him an opportunity to potentially play in the NCAA tournament.
Gill’s high school coach at Benedictine (Va.), Robert Churchwell, hinted early May 9 his former player could be in the process of finalizing his future destination as you read this piece. The vibe is Maryland sits in the driver’s seat, ahead of Marquette, which Gill officially visited in late April.
Stay tuned. The Terps have had success with transfers in the past, and now they’re primed to bring in the Virginia native Gill, who averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds last season.
The Top 2017 Targets
As we’ve noted on several occasions, it appears the Terps are in solid shape for three or four elite 2017 recruits. That includes five-star point guard Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep/Dallas, Texas), wing-guard M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), combo forward Jaren Jackson (Park Tudor/Indianapolis, Ind.) and power forward Nate Watson (O’Connell/Arlington, Va.).
The Terps’ staff was in to see all four during the April live periods, and then monitored the quartet closely on the Under Armour, Adidas and Nike circuits. Each of the above recruits know they’re a priority for Turgeon, and all have Maryland at or near the top of their unstated leaderboards.
-- Of those, the five-star Duval figures to be the most difficult pull. While UMD is firmly in play thanks to College Park’s close proximity to Duval’s Delaware home and the fact the point guard suits up for UA-based We R 1, Villanova has left a distinct impression. There’s a ways to go before Duval ends his recruitment, but the Wildcats may hold the poll position thanks to their recent national championship and head coach Jay Wright’s overtures. Kansas, Arizona and Baylor are in the game as well.
-- With M.J. Walker, the two guard/wing has a top three of Maryland, Ohio State and Florida State. Of that group, the feeling is the Terps could very well sit atop the totem poll. UMD-area recruiter Cliff Warren has Walker’s ear, convincing the five-star to finally visit College Park this summer. Walker believes he’d have an opportunity to shine early during his career at Maryland, while he likes Turgeon’s guard-oriented system. The Jonesboro product won’t be signing during the early period, however, so we’ll see if Maryland can maintain its momentum.
-- The Indianapolis product Jaren Jackson, a Silver Spring, Md., native, hasn’t hidden his Terps’ affinity, either. He’s readily taken to Turgeon, Warren, Maryland’s system, the Xfinity center crowd and the school itself. Jackson appreciates the staff’s persistent efforts and wants to return to College Park for an official.
Some of the other schools involved with Jackson include Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Xavier, Purdue and Georgetown, his father’s alma mater. The Hoyas are still in the thick of things, but word is Jackson may have cooled a bit on GU. However, Michigan State, Michigan and Notre Dame seem like a few major threats for Jackson’s services, with the Park Tudor recruit seeking to trek though South Bend, Ind., Ann Arbor, Mich., and East Lansing, Mich., this offseason.
-- And then there’s the big man Watson, who attends the same school as current Terps’ point guard Melo Trimble. Watson, a noted rebounder and defensive presence, has been to Maryland numerous times and loves the idea of playing for the hometown school. He was thrilled when Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson anted up, admitting he thought about committing when the scholarship was presented.
But Watson has since blown up and now has a few more options like Miami, St. Joe’s, USC, Wake, Xavier, WVU, FSU and Georgia Tech. He does figure to visit and entertain several of these new suitors, but the Terps could be in the driver’s seat.
The Rest Of The 2017 Targets
If the Maryland staff is unable to bring in Duval, we don’t envision Turgeon taking a point guard in the 2017 class. The Terps technically offered Venezuelan point guard Luis Hurtado (Sagemont/Weston, Fla.), but his play leveled off in April; he’s no longer thought to be a prime Terps’ target. Hurtado has been removed from the hot board.
There are no shortage of wing-guard options, however:
Now, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Hamilton Heights Christian/Chattanooga, Tenn.) did choose Virginia Tech -- the 6-9 wing had a longtime connection on the Hokies’ staff in assistant Jamie NcNeilly -- over Maryland, but M.J. Walker’s still on the board, followed by Elias Harden (Sandy Creek/Tyrone, Ga.); Brandon Randolph (Westtown, Pa.); D.J. Harvey (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.); Nicolas Claxton (Legacy Charter/Greenville, S.C.); Jordan Tucker (White Plains, N.Y.); Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.); and potentially Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.) and Jamal Cain (Cornerstone Academy/Taylor, Mich.).
-- The 6-5 Harden expressed interest in visiting Maryland after landing the offer courtesy of Cliff Warren in late April. Harden, who suits up for Game Elite on the Adidas circuit after two years with UA’s AtlantaXpress, said he actually knew former Terp and fellow Georgian Robert Carter. The Sandy Creek prospect watched Carter and UMD on TV this year, Harden letting on UMD’s style intrigued him.
But hometown Georgia has an early bead, with Georgia Tech in play as well. Harden also mentioned Va Tech as a top contender, although it’s unclear if the Hokies’ staff will take the Atlanta prospect after having landed Alexander-Walker.
If Turgeon pushes in earnest, however, he might be able to gain Harden’s ear.
-- With the four-star Brandon Randolph, the Terps may have entered the game a bit late. Marquette, Syracuse, VCU, Wake, Georgetown and others all had verbals out before Maryland. Moreover, Indiana, UNC and Kansas are now involved, and Randolph is inclined to give the two bluebloods a long, hard look.
It’s possible Randolph will visit College Park since it’s not too far from Westtown and given Maryland’s relationships at the school (Jared Nickens’ alma mater), but we’re not banking on it. Randolph suits up for Nike-affiliated PSA Cardinals and our guess is he’ll opt for a swoosh-mark school.
-- Same goes for D.J. Harvey, who suits up for Team Takeover on the EYBL. At one time, Harvey seemed to have the Terps trending, but, of late, not so much. He’s focused on Arizona, with Duke; Notre Dame; Texas (he visited in April); NC State; Alabama; Louisville; and Kentucky (if the Wildcats offer) battling for position. We’re keeping Harvey on the hot board since he always gives the hometown school its due, but his comments ring of lip service.
-- The most viable true small forward on Maryland’s board would seem to be Nicolas Claxton, a 6-9, 195-pounder whose stock has risen during the live periods. Most notably, Notre Dame offered the Georgia legacy, whose father starred for the Bulldogs.
Turgeon and Dustin Clark, though, have remained in pursuit since offering the Legacy Charter recruit back in October. They’ve hosted Claxton for a campus visit, which the forward lauded, and then ventured through his high school during the evaluation periods.
But while Claxton, who Clark watched on the Adidas circuit, does have Maryland on the brain, he also realizes he may not be UMD’s No. 1 option. Thus, he is keeping an open mind and is willing to wad through the process.
Georgia is a player here, along with Arizona (if the staff pushes); Baylor; Clemson; FSU; USC; Va Tech; Wake; and now Notre Dame. He is in no rush to end his recruitment anytime soon.
-- The next wing who is keeping the Terps somewhat in play is Jordan Tucker, the New York small forward who has reneged on about three intended College Park trips. Tucker insists he wants to check Maryland out, which is why we’re keeping him in mind, but the tealeaves don’t read “Terps” at this juncture.
Tucker was just at Indiana in late April and left Bloomington, Ind., raving about the Hoosiers. IU has become a prime contender, joining longstanding standouts St. John’s; Syracuse; UConn; and Oklahoma. Moreover, Tucker generated even more interest on the EYBL with the New York Rens, so the White Plains product is content to see what other suitors materialize as the offseason moves along.
That said, Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson did venture north to make an in-person pitch. So while Tucker may be forecast to another locale, the UMD staff isn’t giving up the ghost. Let’s see if the wing actually makes it down to College Park this time. If so, maybe the Terps can gain Tucker’s ear.
-- The Maryland staff is in a similar boat with the 6-7 forward Kris Wilkes. In other words, the Indianapolis native has UMD on his radar, but maybe not among his foremost three or four contenders.
The five-star is wide open, and we’re told his recruitment could twist and turn, but word is the Midwest schools have the upper-hand. Indiana, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame are all on Wilkes and will be given plenty of consideration. Meanwhile, Michigan State (no offer yet), Kentucky (no offer yet) and Kansas would become candidates to land Wilkes should those programs’ respective staffs push in earnest.
But, like with Jordan Tucker, Turgeon and recruiter Cliff Warren have done all they can with the Indiana native. They’ve visited Wilkes, watched him closely on the Under Armour circuit with Indy Hoosiers, and let him know how much he’s needed at UMD. Given that, Wilkes does have interest in trekking east to College Park, but we’re somewhat skeptical such a trip will materialize. At least, not with the five-star seemingly inclined to stay in the Midwest for college.
-- Two other names we’re keeping tabs on are Hameir Wright and Jamal Cain, neither of whom hold firm Maryland offers yet. The New York native Wright technically claimed a UMD scholarship, but we’re told that’s a little premature right now.
Either way, UMD’s Cliff Warren has remained in touch with the 6-7 Wright, while the forward has plenty of interest in attending college in College Park. Wright, recall, plays for the same AAU team as Kevin Huerter (Albany City Rocks), and has heard loads about the Terps from the ’16 UMD signee. Wright has an established rapport with the Maryland staff, believes he’d fit well in the system, and wants to visit UMD at some point.
Perhaps Turgeon and Warren will ratchet up the interest should some of their top targets fall by the wayside. In the meantime, Wright will be looking at Villanova, Miami, Cincinnati, Syracuse and UConn, although we’re not sure all of those programs have committable offers out. In all likelihood, Wright will have to wait to see which coaches truly covet his services before naming any sort of leaders.
-- Finally, there’s Jamal Cain, a 6-7 Michigan native who the Maryland staff spotted during the April live sessions. Indeed, Cain’s stock steadily rose during the first two weekends with the Detroit Stars, the forward landing a coveted Michigan offer, to go along with Florida State.
The hometown Wolverines are the early leaders in the clubhouse, but Cain’s content to see what other high-major come calling later during the summer. Maryland could become involved after getting another look at Cain in July.
Note: Wing Hamidou Diallo (Putnam Science/Putnam, Conn.) and two-guard Chaundee Brown (First Academy/Orlando, Fla.) were both dropped from the hot board recently. The five-star Diallo hasn’t given the Terps more than courtesy praise of late, despite Turgeon’s in-person overtures. He’s favoring UConn, Kansas, Kentucky and St. John’s. Brown, meanwhile, lacks a Terps’ offer and is probably deep on Maryland’s wing board.
The Terps are positioned well for the combo forward Jaren Jackson and power forward Nate Watson, but Turgeon has given himself plenty of alternatives.
-- The Maryland staff remains in play for five-star big Billy Preston (API/Dallas, Texas), although they’re probably fourth in the pecking order. A West Coast native, Preston, whose transition from the UA circuit to the EYBL didn’t help UMD’s chances at landing him, is favoring USC and Arizona. Kansas is making some noise too, with head coach Bill Self doing his part to win Preston over.
We’re leaving Preston “cool” on the hot board in case the Terps can gain inroads down the line, but a lot will have to break UMD’s way for that to occur.
-- Preston is the known name, but the Turgeon has extended offers to at least four other bigs recently, not including Nate Watson. That list includes five-star center Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic/San Diego, Calif.), four-star center Malik Williams (Nelson Snider/Forth Wayne, Ind.), three-star power forward/center Bourama Sidibe (St. Benedict’s Prep/Newark, N.J.) and center Zach Kent (St. Andrew’s/Middletown, Del.). Additionally, rising four-man RaiQuan Gray (Dillard/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) is on the Terps’ radar after a productive session with the Florida Vipers on the UA circuit.
-- The Chicago native McCoy reached five-star status following a stellar EYBL session and now has his pick of Pac-12 suitors. Oregon, Arizona, Cal and San Diego State are all on him, while Kansas; Georgia; UConn; UMD; Michigan State; and Louisville have offers out too.
Maryland’s California recruiter, Bino Ranson, has maintained contact with McCoy and seemingly has a solid relationship with him. It’s possible Ranson can convince McCoy into taking College Park visit, but we’re not counting on it. The five-star has been forecast to either the West Coast, where he plays his high school ball, or perhaps a program closer to his Chicago home. We do not expect him to wind up at an East Coast school.
-- It may be even more difficult for the Terps to lure Malik Williams out of the Midwest. The four-star 7-footer already has nearby programs like Michigan State, Indiana, Xavier and Iowa sitting pretty and may very well end up at one of those suitors. Meanwhile, his offer list continues to grow as the offseason moves along, meaning Williams’ recruitment will probably ebb and flow, ebb and flow.
Maryland’s staff became involved after watching Williams shine during the live sessions, but the center recruit hasn’t said much about UMD in recent interviews.
-- The two slightly under-the-scope targets are the African power forward Bourama Sidibe and the nearby 7-footer Zach Kent. Maryland’s staff extended offers to both, but neither verbal is committable just yet.
Of the two paint presences, Sidibe might be the name to track. The 6-10 Sidibe opened more than a few eyes with We R 1 on the Under Armour circuit back in April, including those of the Terps’ staff.
Turgeon extended the offer May 3, and we do believe UMD will maintain a relationship moving forward. Turgeon and Co. obviously know We R 1 well since the Delaware-based AAU program is in their backyard, so we could easily see them grabbing Sidibe’s attention should the staff ardently pursue.
Arizona State, Kansas State, Memphis and Seton Hall also have verbals out to the St. Benedict’s prospect, with more likely to trickle in during the summer.
-- As for Kent, who has prime interest in attending Maryland, the St. Andrew’s prospect had some struggles on the circuit. He has upside given his length and athleticism, but unless he shows out against top AAU competition in July, we’re not so sure Turgeon makes a hard charge here.
Currently, Kent’s claiming offers from La Salle, Dayton, Notre Dame, St. Joe’s, Providence, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee (in addition to UMD), but which staffs will push remains to be seen.
-- Lastly, there’s the 6-8, 240-pound RaiQuan Gray, whose picked up more than a few offers following the first two live sessions. Baylor, ECU, FSU, Auburn, Tennessee and Clemson have anted up, while Illinois; Cincinnati; Ole Miss; Kansas State; and Rutgers were on him previously. The Terps’ staff hasn’t extended an offer yet, but Cliff Warren is monitoring him. It’s conceivable Maryland could become more involved after further evaluation this summer.
Gray’s recruitment is just getting started in earnest, but it sounds like the Baylor verbal hit home. In-state FSU is also in a solid spot after the Noles’ coaches handed the four-star an offer in late April.
The Local Names To Know, In 2018 And Beyond
The Maryland coaches obviously have targets and potential targets identified throughout the country, but here are some of the possible high-major DMV sophomores and freshman to monitor. The recruits in bold currently hold UMD offers.
Prentiss Hubb, PG, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
Immanuel Quickley, PG, John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.)
Noah Locke, PG/SG, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.)
Tre Wood, PG, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Brandon Slater, SG, Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)
Kiyon Boyd, SG, Woodson (Washington, D.C.)
Isaiah Mucius, SF, St. James (Md.)
Jalen Smith, PF, Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.)
Nate Roberts, PF, John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.)
Marvin Price, PG, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Jay Heath, PG, O’Connell (Arlington, Va.)
Jalin Abbott, PG/SG, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)
Casey Morsell, PG, St. John’s
Jason Bishop, PG/SG, Mount St. Joseph
Shariff Kenny, SF, O’Connell (Arlington, Va.)
Jason Murphy, PF, Chapelgate Christian (Marriottsville, Md.)
Makhi Mitchell, C, McNamara (Forestville, Md.)
Makhel Mitchell, F, McNamara