Hardwood Notes: Morsell Commitment Impact

An update on Maryland hoops recruiting.

Morsell On Board

After a recruitment that seemed to drag on much longer than it actually did, the Terps held off Notre Dame for Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) four-star combo guard Darryl Morsell Nov. 2. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Morsell, the second commitment in Maryland’s 2017 class, gives Maryland a noted recruit from a local prep power that has sent its top prospects elsewhere (Villanova, Notre Dame, Ohio State) of late. Morsell considered UMD, UND, Villanova (eventually backed off), Dayton and Providence primarily, but the Terps won out after head coach Mark Turgeon’s two in-home visits, coupled with a strong push from recruiter Bino Ranson and assistant Dustin Clark.

The versatile Morsell, who suits up for Team Melo on the AAU circuit, is different than the other guards on Maryland’s roster. He’s a jack-of-all-trades, junkyard dog, who plays anywhere from the “1” to the “3” at MSJ. He’s a strong athlete, a potential in-your-dace perimeter defender and a feisty competitor -- someone who can develop into a true “stopper.”

Offensively, Morsell is a slasher/scorer who can finish at the rim a la former Terp Dez Wells. He’s also a solid ball-handler and an above-average facilitator who sees the floor well and gets his teammates involved.

Currently, Morsell is more of a mid-range guy than a pure shooter, but he is developing his 3-point jumper. He’s also working on his free-throw shooting, which has just been average in high school.

Overall, while Morsell doesn’t “star” in any one physical area, he does many things well and doesn’t really have any true deficiencies. Plus, he’s a leader and has a high basketball IQ.

Morsell Commitment Impact

With Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) combo guard Darryl Morsell finally on board with Maryland Nov. 2, the immediate question is how his commitment will affect UMD targets the rest of this recruiting class and into the 2018 crop. 

In the 2017 class, we still expect head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Bino Ranson to maintain contact with five-star point guard Trevon Duval (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.), although it will probably be of the courtesy variety.

Duval has consistently listed the Terps among his main contenders, even when his recruitment seemed precarious, but for various reasons we don’t envision the staff making a potent push -- with Morsell on board or not. Namely, adding Duval for a year could send the wrong message to local prep/AAU coaches, who might see it as an indictment on DMV point guard and Terps’ freshman Anthony Cowan. And the last thing Turgeon wants is to hinder his local recruiting efforts, especially with the prospects Maryland is in line for in the 2018 class.

Of course, there’s no guarantee Duval will come to Maryland even if Turgeon and Ranson do keep pushing. The 6-3, 190-pound Delaware native is fairly open to all suitors right now, and has been hearing increasingly from blueblood programs, including Duke; Kansas; and Kentucky. If the latters programs press, Duval could wind up at one of them, although that’s not a given. Arizona, Cal, Baylor, USC, UCLA and others all remain involved and could be players for the five-star.

Aside from Duval, the Terps’ other main 2017 backcourt target is M.J. Walker (Jonesboro, Ga.). It’s possible Maryland recruiter Cliff Warren remains in touch with the five-star, although we question whether the staff will push in earnest with Morsell in tow. Additionally, we’re not so sure the interest will be reciprocal from Walker’s point of view, particularly with UMD’s now-crowded backcourt.

At one point, the five-star was down to Kansas, FSU, Maryland and Ohio State. But Walker recently backed off that statement somewhat, letting on he would consider any school that showed him the love.

That said, he took an official visit to Florida State Oct. 28-30, and we heard he was thoroughly impressed with his Tallahassee, Fla., stay. Head coach Leonard Hamilton has been in hot pursuit and seems to have Walker’s ear.

Others who could become involved include Auburn, Alabama, Baylor, Mississippi State, Memphis and potentially more. His situation is bound to ebb-and-flow for the next few months.

For our part, we’re listing Walker “cool” on the hot board.

In the 2018 class, the name to note first and foremost is power forward Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joseph). The five-star teammate of Morsell, “Sticks” Smith has long called UMD a primary contender, dubbing the hometown school his leader on more than one occasion. He’s reneged on the latter statement with more and more power programs coming after him -- Duke, Kentucky and UVA headline the list – but the Terps’ coaches still have his ear. Smith recently visited Maryland for its Oct. 22 junior day, and he once again reiterated his affinity for the local institution.

Now, Morsell won’t be able to single-handedly lure Smith to College Park, and the five-star power forward isn't one to be influenced by others' decisions. But Morsell's presence at UMD certainly helps -- and doesn't hurt -- Maryland’s chances with Sticks.

Until we hear otherwise, we’re keeping Smith “hot” on the hot board.

Next, there are the two DMV guards/wing-guards the Terps have offered, Kiyon Boyd (Woodson/Washington, D.C.) and Brandon Slater (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.). Both locals will be closely monitoring various backcourt situations to see if/when they could potentially carve out significant playing time early during their college careers. Maryland, at first blush, wouldn’t seem like the greatest opportunity with Morsell coming in and Dion Wiley and Kevin Huerter around for the foreseeable future.

Slater, however, will probably be less impacted by Morsell’s pop since he projects as more of a wing than a two-guard. Plus, he has enough interest in Maryland where  the depth chart may not matter quite as much when it’s all said and done. Slater loves recruiter Dustin Clark and the UMD staff, has readily connected with the team, and likes the idea of representing the hometown school. Moreover, Slater believes he’d fit right into UMD’s free-flowing system, the Paul VI product mentioning how much he enjoyed watching the offense work during his latest College Park stay Oct. 22.

Slater, though, will “go through the process,” taking a hard look at Louisville; Miami; WVU; UVA; Villanova and more (he’s visited all of those schools).  A Kentucky offer (the staff has been tracking him) would certainly complicate matters for UMD as well.

As for Boyd, well, that’s a more tentative situation. He said the Morsell commitment wouldn’t change his view of Maryland, but he also admitted he keeps close tabs on who’s entering, and who’s already in, a program.

Our gut? Boyd will eventually turn his sights elsewhere with Morsell headed to UMD.

Regardless, the Maryland coaches, with Dustin Clark on him, will keep recruiting Boyd. And the D.C. native does like Maryland a good deal. He’s been on campus multiple times, including Oct. 22, and has connected well with the staff and players. He’s keen on the idea of staying home and showing out in front of family and friends at the Xfinity Center.

Boyd will also be checking out Miami, Xavier and Va Tech, which are three programs on his brain, in addition to Georgetown; Arizona State; Providence and maybe more.

What’s Next In 2017?

Other than a possible gander at Trevon Duval or M.J. Walker, the Maryland coaches will keep pursuing center Ikey Obiagu (Greenforest McCalep Christian/Decatur, Ga.), with the intention of pairing the 7-footer with UMD power forward pledge Bruno Fernando (IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.).

Obiagu still has Maryland under prime consideration, talking up Turgeon’s big-man development; how much he likes recruiter Dustin Clark -- the assistant went to see Obiagu in early October to make sure the recruit knew the Terps still wanted him after the Fernando pop -- and how comfortable he was during his College Park official Sept. 2. But since that UMD trip, Obiagu has been to Auburn unofficially and Baylor and FSU officially. The four-star has gone mum recently, but from what we’ve gathered his two most recent trips to Florida State and Baylor hit home.

Obiagu is going to drag his recruitment into the spring, however, so there’s time for his situation to change. We’ll see if Clark and Turgeon can turn the tide down the line.

If the Terps’ staff senses Obiagu’s going to wind up a Seminole or Bruin, we do expect them to try and identify another 2017 big man. At first blush, though, the pickings look slim, which means this could very well be a two-man Maryland class of Morsell and Fernando.

The 2018 Targets

Point Guards

Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) five-star Prentiss Hubb returned to Maryland Oct. 22, and after speaking to him, we remain encouraged by the Terps’ position. The DMV combo has a deep rapport with the UMD coaches, enjoys being around the team, likes playing near home and appreciates how Turgeon and Dustin Clark have prioritized him. He’s been on campus multiple times and intends to return as much as possible for games during the winter.

Hubb will be monitoring recent offerees Notre Dame, Nova and UVA too, and it’s possible any of those three could make a run. Nova, for its part, could make things interesting. But the Terps' coaches have established inroads here and figure to have the upper-hand unless, for whatever reason, the coaches back off.

Note: There is some chance the Darryl Morsell commitment impacts Hubb since the D.C. five-star is another recruit who will be looking closely at depth charts. Morsell being around might not be a direct strike against UMD, but the addition certainly doesn’t help Maryland's chances at landing Hubb.

Besides the Gonzaga point guard, the Terps continue to go after John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) five-star Immanuel Quickleyl, though he’ll be a tougher pull than Hubb. (And, no, it’s highly unlikely Maryland will land both local guards). Quickley is starry-eyed after visiting and landing offers from the likes of Kentucky and Kansas, while he has eyes for Louisville; Miami; and UVA too. Plus, if Duke’s coaches choose to ante up, Quickley could be Durham, N.C., bound considering he's said on more than one occasion he’d love to be a Blue Devil.

True, the John Carroll product always speaks highly of Maryland and has a solid bond with recruiter Bino Ranson. But the vibe is the Terps, while rising up Quickley’s leaderboard of late, are probably around fourth in the pecking order.

Other Names To Watch

 Jahvon Quinerly (Hudson Catholic/Jersey City, N.J.): He has an offer from Maryland and Bino Ranson is in contact. But Quinerly is favoring Nova, UVA, UConn and St. John’s at this juncture. The Terps' coaches probably won't make a move unless they sense things going south with Hubb.

Wing Guards/Shooting Guards

See: Kiyon Boyd and Brandon Slater above.

Other Names To Watch

Eric Ayala (Putnam Science/Putnam, Conn.): Ayala has an offer from Maryland and has expressed plenty of interest in UMD. But Ayala likely won’t become a Terps’ priority unless Boyd and/or Slater fall off. Meanwhile, Arizona, UConn and Nova are involved to some extent and could be possible landing spots.

Chimezie Offurum (Georgetown Prep/North Bethesda, Md.): The local 6-5 riser earned a Maryland offer, but it remains to be seen if the staff will push. The Terps' coaches will likely need to see significant development this year to pursue him. Offurum, who suits up for Delaware-based AAU squad We R 1, is taking the process slowly, as he wants to see which schools truly want him.

Wings/Small Forwards

The list of wing/small forward targets is a long one, with the Terps’ staff handing out offers aplenty. That said, none of them project to Maryland at this time, so it’s possible someone like Brandon Slater could slide into this wing slot.

For now, though, here’s the rundown, listed in order of perceived interest:

Aaron Wiggins (Wesleyan Christian/High Point, N.C.): He visited Maryland and we’re told he “loved” his trip to College Park, talking up the coaches; facilities; and players. Wiggins also plays under Maryland alum Keith Gatlin, which could aid UMD’s chances at landing the recruit.

But Wiggins is blowing up on the trail and has Arizona, Cal, UVA and Providence on him too. Furthermore, he’s from North Carolina, which is never an easy area to pull from.

Louis King (Hudson Catholic/Jersey City, N.J.): The Maryland coaches have prioritized the five-star King, who plays for UA-based Sports U. Both Bino Ranson and Mark Turgeon have been through Hudson Catholic to watch King, and they do have his attention.

But there’s a ways to go with King, and schools are coming at him right and left. UConn, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, St. John’s, Syracuse, Seton Hall and more have offers out, with others bound to pile in. The northeast programs such as UConn, Syracuse and St. John’s figure to be firmly on King’s mind, not to mention the bluebloods if they make a strong run.

Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.): The Terps are involved with Wright thanks to Cliff Warren’s overtures. The former 2017 recruit has also heard loads about UMD from former Albany City Rocks AAU-teammate-turned-Terp Kevin Huerter, who consistently talked up Maryland.

At the same time, Villanova and in-state Syracuse have a bead and could be tough to top. If Wright actually makes it to College Park for a visit (he's missed at least two opportunities to do so), we’ll elevate him above “cool” on the hot board.

Jaylen Hoard (Wesleyan Christian/High Point, N.C.): Hoard visited Maryland with Aaron Wiggins, and we’re told the former thoroughly enjoyed himself too. But the 6-8, 195-pounder, who can play four positions, is an even faster riser than his teammate. The five-star Hoard figures to get blueblood attention and may not make it out of Tobacco Road after it’s all said and done.

Jairus Hamilton (Cannon/Concord, N.C.): Hamilton now has a coveted UNC offer, and provided he is a “take” for the Heels’ staff down the line, that’s where the five-star will wind up. Arizona, Maryland, Cal, Stanford, Tennessee, Va Tech, Wake Forest, Miami and NC State also have offers out, while Kansas is sniffing around.

Maryland’s Cliff Warren actually became one of the first major college assistants to offer Hamilton months ago, and the Concord native did appreciate that. He’s also shown interest in UMD due to some family connections in the D.C. area, and said he likes what the program’s accomplished of late. Thus, we’re keeping him on the hot board, but we’re not banking on Hamilton winding up in College Park.

Khavon Moore (Westside/Macon, Ga.): The Terps offered the five-star Moore, but he has his eye on Kentucky and is hoping for a Wildcats’ offer after an October visit. Other southern schools like FSU, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma are in the game too. He’s on the verge of being removed from the hot board.

Isaiah Mucius (St. James, Md.): Mucius, a New York native, doesn’t have a Maryland offer yet, but the staff is keeping tabs on him. If the Terps’ coaches make a move, interest would be mutual as Mucius has had naught but positive comments for UMD.

For now, though, Mucius is concentrating on schools that have offered like Va Tech, Penn State, Xavier, Wake, Seton Hall and St. John’s.

Khalid Moore (Molloy/Jamaica, N.Y.): Moore doesn’t have a Maryland offer, although Bino Ranson is tracking him. So far, Miami, Louisville, Syracuse, St. John’s and other northeast programs are after Moore, but it's early in his recruitment. He has no clear leaders and hasn't delved into the process much yet. 

Nassir Little (Orlando Christian/Orlando, Fla.): The Terps’ Cliff Warren checked in on Little, but no offer has been presented. The four-star has Florida, FSU and Louisville on him and is projected to a southern school at this time.

Power Forwards

It’s not quite Jalen Smith (discussed above) or burst here, but it’s darn near close to it. If Smith opts to take his talents to a school besides Maryland, it means the staff is probably going to have to uncover another power forward or “4”-man. Fact is, the other two names on UMD’s board are relative longshots:

Naz Reid (Roselle Catholic/Roselle, N.J.): The Terps could potentially make some inroads with the four-star Reid if they sense Jalen Smith is fading. Reid has had some contact with area recruiter Bino Ranson, who will keep Maryland on the Jersey native’s mind. But, at the moment, it looks like Reid’s most fervent pursuers are those right in his backyard. He’s been to Rutgers, UConn, St. John’s and Syracuse, and all four are on his mind, particularly the Red Storm. Kansas has also offered, though it remains to be seen if he's a "take" for the Jayhawks or not.

Miles Norris (Mater Dei/Chula Vista, Calif.): The five-star Norris sits on the hot board because he’s pretty much wide open in his recruitment. That said, most analysts have him forecast to the West Coast, with Arizona holding the edge initially.

The Terps’ staff has offered, but unless we hear he’s willing to fly cross-country to see the school, we don’t envision UMD gaining much traction here.

Centers

The two names to know are four-star David McCormack (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and four-star Moses Brown (Molloy/Jamaica, N.Y.). Both have said the Terps are heavily involved for their services, and both have been to Maryland before, lauding the Xfinity Center atmosphere and the program itself.

Dustin Clark has been down to see McCormack at Oak Hill, grabbing the center’s attention. Meanwhile, Bino Ranson has been in to check on Brown, who counts the UMD assistant as one of his favorite recruiters.

But, somewhat disconcerting for UMD purposes, neither prospect has made it to College Park recently. Brown said he was thinking about visiting on three separate occasions, including Maryland Madness and Maryland’s October junior day, but failed to show. McCormack, likewise, was a name bandied about for multiple College Park forays, but wasn’t able to make it up.

With Brown, coaches from Kansas; Florida; Arizona; Louisville; St. John’s and Indiana are also making a push, with staffers from Duke and Kentucky monitoring. If either of the latter two elites ante up, the Molloy product’s a goner.

Same goes for McCormack. Duke and North Carolina are his two dream schools, and the Devils’ and Heels’ staffs have shown interest, although it’s unclear if they’ll actually offer. Kansas, which has offered, is another program McCormack’s taking a hard look at, in addition to Georgetown and Villanova.

But the Terps’ coaches have done enough to reside on both recruits’ un-stated top-five leaderboards. Let’s see what kind of inroads Clark, Ranson and Turgeon can make in the months ahead.


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