Maryland hosted rising star 2018 forwards Jaylen Hoard and Aaron Wiggins of Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) Oct. 22. Afterwards, we spoke to their head coach, Terps' alum (1983-1988) Keith Gatlin, who accompanied the two recruits in College Park, Md. The former UMD guard discussed his two prized prospects with Terrapin Times below:
Terrapin Times: Coach, I know you were up at Maryland [Oct. 21-22] with your son and also Aaron and Jaylen, who Maryland offered a month or so ago. First of all, what did they think of their first look at UMD?
Keith Gatlin: Oh, they both really enjoyed it. They had a chance to see the team practice and get some shots up in Xfinity. They had a whole lot of fun up there. They're both great kids, and they were excited to be there. The Maryland coaches really did a great job with them, and they loved it.
TT: What did they think of Coach Mark Turgeon, and also assistants Dustin Clark and Cliff Warren, who are the lead recruiters?
KG: All three of those guys have been down [to Wesleyan] before, and we have a great relationship with the Maryland staff. They're very close with us, and our guys [players] are close with them. And just being up [in College Park], both Aaron and Jaylen both really, really liked interacting with them. The coaches did a great job showing them around, talking to them and making them feel welcome.
TT: I believe both Jaylen and Aaron picked up offers at the same time during the open period, right?
KG: Yes, Coach Turgeon actually came down to see Jaylen and when he was down here he saw Aaron too and was like, 'Oh my goodness.' (laughs). So, yes, Coach Turgeon was very impressed with both and what they brought to the table from an athletic standpoint.
TT: What else were Jaylen and Aaron able to see at Maryland? What else caught their eye?
KG: Well, we were actually on fall break, so we got up there [Oct. 21] and got to spend two whole days there. When we first got there, we took them around campus and showed them all the facilities. We showed them where I used to live [off campus] when I went there, and then we showed them the dorms where my wife used to live when she went to Maryland. Then on [Oct. 23] they had a chance to check out the Xfinity Center, the weight room and all of the basketball facilities. They really liked the arena, and also meeting the strength coach [Kyle Tarp]. They were very impressed with [Tarp].
But overall it was really cool, and they had a great time. It was cool for me too, just experiencing it again and showing my 10-year-old son where I went to school.
TT: What do you personally think of Maryland now and the job Coach Turgeon has done?
KG: I've known Coach Turgeon for years now; I played against him when he was at Kansas. He's done a great job at Maryland, and I'm excited for the program. I'm excited to see where he takes it here moving forward.
Obviously, I've watched from afar down here in North Carolina, but Maryland used to practice in my gym when they came down for the ACC tournament. That was a good way for me to stay close to the program. Now that they're in the Big Ten, that opportunity isn't there as often, but thank goodness they liked my two players (laughs). I'm sure we'll be seeing them much more often.
TT: Talk about Aaron and Jaylen as players. What do they bring to the table?
KG: Jaylen is from France, and he's just arriving here. He's 6-9 and can play four positions. He's like Scottie Pippen in a way. He's a mismatch and a nightmare to handle. He can post up against bigger guys and finish around the rim, and he can handle the ball and beat smaller guys off the dribble. He can shoot, he can find his teammates, he can defend and he's a terrific athlete.
Aaron is very similar -- more of a wing type at 6-6. He's a really, really skilled player who is just coming into his own. He shoots it well, he's active on defense and his handles are developing.
TT: And what are they still working on to get even better?
KG: Both of them are getting stronger, first and foremost. Everywhere they go, they see how big and strong college guys are, so they're understanding what it's going to take to get to that point. They're attacking the weight room now.
TT: Besides Maryland, where else have those two visited? What firm offers do they have?
KG: Both of them actually have similar offer lists. They each have Maryland, Arizona, Cal, UVA and Providence, and Jaylen has Wake Forest as well.
Besides Maryland, they haven't seen too many places yet. Aaron went to UVA and enjoyed that, and then Jaylen went down to North Carolina for their late-night event.
TT: Any chance they play together in college (laughs)?
KG: In a perfect world that would be great (laughs). They're best friends, they have similar offers and they would love to play together. But they're going to make their own decisions. I expect both will take their time with the process, visit as many schools as possible and then go from there.