Rising senior power forward Theo John (Champlin Park Senior/Champlin, Minn.) has shined on the EYBL circuit this offseason, grabbing the attention of numerous high-major suitors. Since the beginning of June, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound four-star has added three significant offers from Florida, Purdue and, most recently, Maryland.
The Terps’ verbal came in June 13 courtesy of head coach Mark Turgeon. Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson had seen John perform during one of the live sessions and elected to toss out an offer to the tough, defensive-minded paint presence.
“That Maryland offer was a blessing and I was very thankful for it,” said John, who also claims verbals from Illinois, Minnesota, Marquette, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas Tech. “Maryland is a great program, a basketball school, and it meant a lot coming from them. It’s a school I’ll definitely be looking more into.”
John hadn’t heard much from Turgeon and the Terps prior to the mid-June offer, other than a brief conversation here or there with Ranson. But he said he was familiar with the program from having seen UMD on TV and wants to learn more about the team’s inner workings.
“They take care of business at Maryland, I know that,” John said. “Coach Turgeon, he’s a great coach, and he was telling me he wants to build a relationship with me. I really enjoyed talking to him, and from what he was saying it sounds like Maryland could be a great fit. I like their style of play and how they’re one of the top teams in the Big Ten. They went to the Sweet 16 last year too and are on the rise.
“So I’m looking forward to getting to know Coach Turgeon more, and also Coach Ranson.”
If the Maryland staff pushes in earnest, John said he would consider trekking through College Park, Md. He’s already taken one official visit to Oklahoma April 9 and has another scheduled to Purdue April 18, so he’ll have three left after that.
“We’ll see how the relationship goes. I would like to see what Maryland has to offer me,” John said. “But let’s see how the relationship goes and what they say to me from here on out.”
The Terps -- who are hot on the trail of power forward Nate Watson (O'Connell/Arlington, Va.) and have him prioritized -- are just entering the picture, but John has formed strong bonds with some of his previous suitors. The Minnesota native insists he has no firm leaders, but he hinted Illinois, Oklahoma and Marquette had his ear. Hometown Minnesota is also in play.
“Illinois is doing a great job recruiting me and building a great relationship with me the last few years,” John said. “They had an in-school visit with me and my parents and showed a great PowerPoint presentation about the program, which told us a lot. I feel like I know what that program’s about and the direction they’re heading.
“Oklahoma, I visited there officially and really enjoyed it. It’s a great staff, great atmosphere and obviously a great program. They’re definitely still involved with me. Then Marquette, their coaches call a lot and I have a very good relationship with them. That’s another school I might check out.
“But, honestly, all these schools are in my mind. All these coaches call me every day and I do my best to call them all back. So I take it day to day and I’m just seeing where this process leads.”
After taking in Purdue June 18, John said he has no other planned trips. But he allowed Florida, Maryland, Illinois, Marquette and possibly more were all in mind for future officials. Moreover, he said he’d consider any other offerees that may crop up the rest of this summer.
“At first I was going to commit before July and make a decision pretty soon,” John said. “But now, with all these offers coming in, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It might be all five officials for me before I can decide on a school. I’ve taken one, I have Purdue coming up, and then I get three more.
“But right now, I’m focused on getting better all-around. I’m not sure what those three [visits] will be yet.”
John competes with Howard Pulley on the EYBL. The squad went 14-2, with John a primary factor in the squad’s rise to the top of the standings.
“I don’t really pay attention to my numbers, but I take pride in my defense and guarding people. I’d say that’s my strength,” John said. “The thing I need to focus on is slowing down my game offensively and really just working on the mental aspects. Physically, I think I’m getting there, but I’m really trying to hone the mental parts.”