AAU ball is officially over after three July sessions, with the annual Las Vegas events capping off the live evaluation period. There were a couple smaller Adidas camps this week as well, but the recruiting world mainly had its eyes focused on the Fab 48, the LeBron James Skills Academy and the Las Vegas Classic.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon was in Chile with Team USA during the latter evaluation period, but UMD assistants Bino Ranson, Dustin Clark and Cliff Warren all were in Nevada, along with a less-renowned camp or two.
Many of the names broached in conjunction with UMD have already been discussed, with Turgeon and Co. identifying, offering and scouting players during the first two July sessions. But the staff did hand out one new offer earlier this week to elite 2018 small forward/wing Khavon Moore (Westside/Macon, Ga.), who suits up for Under Armour-based AtlantaXpress.
The 6-foot-8 Moore, who is from New York, is someone that caught Warren's eye earlier in July. He stood out at each live session, procuring numerous high-major looks along the way. Moore now counts verbals from UF, Oklahoma, St. John’s, Auburn, TAMU, UConn, Maryland, Wake and others, while the bluebloods have started to track him as well.
Moore isn’t going to be an easy pull, but he represents yet another 2018 name the Terps’ staff has made early inroads with. Maryland's coaches have positioned themselves to attract a potentially star-studded ’18 crop, with nationally-touted talents like point guard Immanuel Quickley (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.); guard Prentiss Hubb (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.); guard Brandon Slater (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.); guard Kiyon Boyd (Woodson/Washington, D.C.); wing Hameir Wright (Albany, N.Y.); wing Cameron Reddish (Westtown, Pa.); wing Isaiah Mucius (St. James, Md.); wing Jairus Hamilton (Cannon/Concord, N.C.); wing Zion Williamson (Spartanburg, S.C.); aforementioned wing Khavon Moore; power forward Jalen Smith (Mt. St. Joe’s/Baltimore, Md.); power forward Naz Reid (Roselle Catholic/Roselle, N.J.); power forward Miles Norris (Helix/La Mesa, Calif.); center David McCormack (Norfolk Academy/Norfolk, Va.); and center Moses Brown (Molloy/Briarwood, N.Y.) all on the radar.
Some of those recruits are probably out of the Terps’ reach, but each of the above has expressed some level of Maryland interest. For our part, we’re encouraged by UMD’s position with Prentiss Hubb, who has admittedly leveled off a bit of late with DC Premier, the ever-improving Jalen Smith; the tough-as-nails Kiyon Boyd; and maybe even the fast-rising David McCormack. And others are bound to emerge once Turgeon and his assistants begin attending high school games later this fall.
The 2017 Breakdown
But before delving too deeply into the ’18 crop, let’s take a look at where Maryland stands with its 2017 targets. The feeling on this end is the Terps are going to wind up singing three ’17 recruits, including two paint players and a two-guard.
Last week, we were skeptical about Maryland’s chances with We R 1 point guard Trevon Duval (API/Dallas, Texas), who once again showed why he’s a five-star talent in Vegas. Our colleagues pegged Duval as one of the best overall performer at the Nevada events.
That’s all well and good, but we continue to hear the Delaware native isn’t going to wind up in College Park, Md. A relatively new name, UCLA, has begun to emerge as a real contender and is steadily gaining momentum. Arizona, Baylor and a couple others are now heavily involved too, with the Terps and Villanova (thought to be a foremost suitor) dropping off some.
If the trend continues and Duval takes his talents to Los Angeles or elsewhere, we do not expect Mark Turgeon to sign a 2017 point guard.
The combo guards/two-guards in play continue to be M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.), David Beatty (St. Benedict’s/Newark, N.J.) and Darryl Morsell (Mt. St. Joe’s/Baltimore, Md.).
Previously, we listed Maryland, Florida State, Ohio State and Tennessee as the four main schools pursuing the five-star Walker. But now, finally, it looks like a blueblood is making a run. Kansas has thrown its name into the hat, and word is the Jayhawks have Walker’s attention. In the end, it could come down to a KU-UMD battle for the Under-Armour based recruit, although there’s a ways to go before Walker signs.
It’s worth noting, however, that Walker played for the gold-medal winning Team USA squad this year. Which means he received direct instruction from Turgeon, a scenario that might just pay off when the five-star’s ready to commit.
Beatty, meanwhile, is looking at a host of schools such as UMD, UConn; Temple; St. Joe’s; FSU; UConn; Georgetown; Indiana; Miami; Penn State; and more. But word is not all of those offers (read: UConn, IU, Miami) are committable, especially since Beatty didn’t exactly “star” this July. Given that, it wouldn’t shock us if the Jersey recruit opted for a nearby suitor like Temple or St. Joe’s. The Terps, who Beatty has high interest in, could very well snag him too, but we’ll have to see if Turgeon and Ranson continue to pursue in earnest.
Beatty told Zagsblog earlier in July he wanted to officially visit UMD, Indiana, Georgetown and UConn, but I touched base with him a couple days ago and he changed course. The Philly Pride prospect told me he “wasn’t sure” what schools he wanted to see yet as he had to continue gauging what programs truly wanted him.
As for the DMV guard Morsell, he’s a definite “take” for the Terps. The staff has watched him closely each step of the way, with Morsell busting out in a big way in Vegas. The 6-4, 190-pounder now counts offers from UMD, Notre Dame, WVU, Va Tech, Oregon, Dayton, Cincinnati and more, with other power-programs about to ante up.
Morsell, a solid athlete known for his defense but not necessarily his shooting, has one official visit set to Notre Dame, which could emerge as the frontrunner. Mount St. Joe’s has a close connection with the Irish staff, and the sense is UND's Eric Atkins (an MSJ grad) has the Baltimore guard’s ear. Dayton, which was Morsell’s first offer, also has his attention since the Flyers’ coaches have been after the Team Melo product longer and harder than any of his other suitors.
But Maryland is in the thick of things too thanks to recruiter Bino Ranson’s overtures. We do expect Morsell to officially visit UMD and give the hometown school plenty of consideration.
Note: We’ve been hearing less and less Terps’ buzz surrounding wing-guard Chaundee Brown (First Academy/Orlando, Fla.). UMD-area recruiter Cliff Warren has watched and maintained contact with Brown, but there doesn’t seem to be a major push for him. Plus, the four-star seems to be favoring Kansas (his supposed dream school) or in-state Florida.
TT’s Call: M.J. Walker (Yes, we’re being bold.)
There isn’t much more to say in regards to the five-star power forward Jaren Jackson (La Lumiere/La Porte, Ind.). The 6-9, 220-pounder keeps singing Maryland’s praises, and the Terps’ staff continues to track him closely (area recruiter Cliff Warren watched Jackson with Spiece Indy last week.)
Jackson is contemplating a number of other schools such as Georgetown (his father’s alma mater), Michigan State, Texas, Michigan, Alabama, Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame, but we’re encouraged by Maryland’s spot. Warren and Mark Turgeon have both established deep inroads here and should have the Silver Spring, Md., native out for a second look (read: official visit) at UMD later this fall.
If Jackson falls off, the backup option is recent offer Raiquan Gray (Dillard/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who has performed admirably with the Florida Vipers this July. The three-star has been in touch with Warren for months now, the Terps’ area recruiter doing enough to convince Gray to mull over officially visiting College Park.
If Warren and Co. don’t ardently pursue, however, expect Gray to entertain Baylor, Auburn, Clemson or some of his other Southern suitors.
The rest of the forwards on the Terps’ radar are all wing types, who are forecast to other locales for now.
Kris Wilkes (North Central/Indianapolis, Ind.) had been gaining steam in Maryland circles earlier this July, but the mercurial recruit seems to have changed his mind once again. The Indy Hoosiers product told our colleagues out in Vegas that Michigan and Indiana continued to trend, while also mentioning UCLA and Oregon as two possible destinations. The four-star Wilkes failed to broach UMD, perhaps an indication he’s focused elsewhere, despite Terps-area recruiter Cliff Warren’s persistent efforts.
The other wing in play is Jordan Tucker (Archbishop Stepinac/White Plains, N.Y.), who told us last week he wanted to officially visit Maryland. But, as we noted in the last Hardwood Notes, his words rang a bit of lip service. The four-star is seen as Syracuse’s to lose, with Arizona; Oklahoma; USC; Villanova; and St. John’s all making noise.
Note: Technically, wing Oshae Brissett (Findlay Prep/Henderson, Nev.) is still on the board, and Terps’ assistant Bino Ranson keeps tracking him. But we don’t sense there’s much of a UMD push for the 6-6, 190-pound three-star. More than likely, Brissett, the former teammate of 2016 Maryland signee Justin Jackson, is going to wind up at USC or a West Coast program.
Note Part II: DMV wing Naji Marshall (Hargrave/Chatham, Va.) is going to announce his college decision July 29, and it’s between Xavier and South Carolina, with the Muskateers perhaps holding the upper hand. Maryland showed interest in the former Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) prospect, but the staff never offered.
TT’s Call: Jaren Jackson
It’s Nate Watson (O’Connell/Arlington, Va.) and a host of also-rans. The longtime Maryland target remains the priority, and the interest is reciprocal for the local 6-10 big man. Watson has an established rapport with the Terps’ coaches, has been in College Park more times than he can remember, and will be returning yet again for an official this fall.
The others vying for Watson include Miami and Providence, Watson scheduling officials to both.
But watch out for North Carolina. The Tar Heels’ staff hasn’t offered yet, but if they do, it could potentially throw a wrench into things for Maryland purposes. Watson should be checking out Chapel Hill, N.C., in short order, so we’ll know more after that.
For now, though, we’ll continue projecting the four-star to College Park.
After Watson, there’s a trio of true centers on Maryland’s board, including Ikey Obiagu (Greenforest McCalep/Decatur, Ga.); Bourama Sidibe (St. Benedict’s); and Ejike Obinna (Virginia Academy/Ashburn, Va.).
Of those, Obiagu is the only one who said he’d be officially visiting Maryland. Recall, the 7-footer already saw UMD once before and praised the coaches and their big-men development. But Obiagu’s also thinking about a host of other programs, with Baylor; Arizona; UConn; Texas; Louisville; USC and more in play. We’re somewhat skeptical the Georgia Stars four-star gives the Terps a serious look.
Meanwhile, we’ve heard some positive Maryland comments from both Sidibe and Obinna, but both of their recruitments are wide open.
Ranson has a relationship with Obinna’s high school and AAU coach, which could pay dividends down the line -- but only if UMD pursues in earnest. Clemson, Florida, Cincinnati, DePaul, Miami, George Mason, Penn State, Miami, Rutgers, Seton Hall, TCU, St. Joe’s, Temple, UCF, Va Tech and Xavier also have offers out to the fast-rising big man.
Obinna has seen several of the above schools unofficially (he’s yet to take in College Park), but hasn’t scheduled officials. It's entirely possible he does venture north to UMD, however, so we'll monitor his situation.
Sidibe is in a similar boat to Obinna. The 6-9 four-star has more than 20 verbals, but has yet to publicly narrow down his list. He’s taken in programs such as UConn, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Temple, Georgetown and UMD, but hasn’t indicated which schools he liked best or what coaching staffs are in touch the most.
We do know Ranson has been on Sidibe for some time, however. So perhaps, if the Terps push, they can at least coax out an official.
Of course, it’s all a moot point if Turgeon and Co. close the deal on Nate Watson and Jaren Jackson.
TT’s Call: Nate Watson