The Maryland staff has handed out a number of 2018 guard offers, and they gave another July 27. Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, Conn.) combo guard Eric Ayala pulled his latest look from UMD head coach Mark Turgeon after the three-star shined on the Under Armour circuit with We R 1 this July.
“The Maryland offer was big, because they had been recruiting me for a long time, so it felt like I really earned it,” said the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Ayala. “Coach Turgeon and the coaches, they saw me play last year, and Coach Turgeon told me he always liked my game. But he said I had some things to work on. This year I improved and took a big step forward and changed my body, and that’s why he wanted to offer me. So I was really excited and honored to hear that from him.”
Ayala’s main points of contact at UMD, however, are assistants Bino Ranson and Nima Omidvar. The Delaware native said his mentor has actually known Omidvar for years, while Ranson has been in contact for awhile now.
“I have good ties with Coach Nima, because he coached with my mentor A.J. English when [Omidvar] was with Team Takeover. They’ve been talking a lot, and I know Coach Nima through that,” Ayala said. “And Coach Bino, he’s just a cool guy. Like, we don’t even have to talk about Maryland or basketball, it’s just cool conversations. I really like him a lot.”
Now that he has the offer, Ayala said he should be visiting College Park, Md., sometime during August.
Of course, he’s already been there once before, for last year’s Maryland Madness event.
“I liked being at Maryland a lot. It was a great atmosphere and there was a lot of energy,” Ayala said. “It’s great fans at Maryland, and they really support the team. I really like what they have to offer as a school and for basketball.
“I like that they play in the Big Ten, which is a great conference, and they always do well against great competition. And they produce a lot of good players and have a lot of really good guards. I like their style. It’s definitely a school I’m looking at.”
But Ayala’s not even close to naming early favorites or frontrunners. He said his recruitment is wide open as he secures more looks and subsequently visits more campuses.
This July alone, Ayala’s landed offers from UMD, USC, Miami and Seton Hall. He previously claimed verbals from UConn, UCF, Penn State, VCU, Temple, La Salle, South Carolina, St. John’s and more. Of those, Ayala has been to nearby UConn, Providence, Temple, St. John’s and UMD.
“I’ve been to UConn and Providence a couple times actually because they’re right by my school,” Ayala said. “UConn, I like them a good bit. I like their guard development and the atmosphere up there. And Providence, I was at a game there and really liked the arena and the atmosphere there too.”
The Huskies, for their part, would seem to have the upper hand, at least initially. But Ayala said that’s not necessarily the case.
“My recruitment is wide open. Everyone is in play right now. Everyone has an opportunity to get in with me,” Ayala said. “And pretty much every [staff] is treating me and talking to me the same right now. I’m building a relationship with everybody. No favorites..”
Ayala had productive sessions during each of the three July evaluations weekends. But he did his best work in the Under Armour Finals, where he averaged 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“July was good, and I played well, just competing. Every game we played, I was out there giving everything I had. It was a lot of preparation put in, and I did what I needed to do,” Ayala said. “I grew a little bit, so that helped me, and I also slimmed down some and toned myself up. So that was a major thing for me, just losing body fat.
“And my game, I was on point knocking down shots, making the right moves, and with decision making. I was more consistent and did well pretty much every game I played. I think that was the main thing coaches like – my consistency with ball-handling, shooting and passing.”