Hardwood Notes: Terps On The Trail

An update on Maryland’s foremost 2018 recruit targets.

An update on Maryland’s foremost 2018 recruit targets.

Point Guards

Gonzaga’s (Washington, D.C.) Prentiss Hubb has been priority No. 1 for Mark Turgeon for more than a year now, and the sense is the headman’s persistent efforts (Turgeon watched Hubb play yet again before Christmas) are going to pay off -- and sooner rather than later. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Hubb isn’t going to pop during the season, but afterwards, during the spring, he could get Maryland’s 2018 class rolling.

The five-star D.C. native has been all about the hometown school since he first landed a Terps’ offer from Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark, and while he’s refrained from naming UMD a “leader” of late, it’s clear they’re the team to beat. Villanova remains the one threat to supplant Maryland atop Hubb’s leaderboard, but we’re led to believe the Terps have the edge.

If Hubb follows through as anticipated, the rest of UMD’s board becomes a bit “cleaner.” First of all, the rest of the Terps’ staffs point guard targets immediately come off the board, including the two most recent offers: Elijah Weaver (Oldsmar Christian/Oldsmar, Fla.) and Devon Dotson (Providence Day/Charlotte, N.C.). Maryland assistant Cliff Warren trekked down to South Carolina before the holiday and watched the two four-star Under Armour-based recruits in action, letting both Weaver and Dotson know he wanted to continue building a relationship with them.

But we’re not so sure Turgeon and Co. are going to push in earnest for the pair unless something goes awry with Hubb. Plus, it’s unlikely the pair seriously consider heading to College Park when it’s all said and done anyway. The do-everything Dotson claims blueblood looks and is probably going to wind up at hometown UNC, while Weaver is favoring Villanova and Louisville.

We’re listing the two “cool” on the hot board for now.

Meanwhile, we’re not feeling an Immanuel Quickley (John Carroll/Bel Air, Md.)-Maryland connection at the moment. That could possibly change if Hubb opts for Villanova and both Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson put the full-court press on Quickley, but the five-star seems to be a recruit who’d rather not play locally.

The likes of Kentucky, Kansas and Duke continue to resonate, while Miami and Washington (Nike/Lorenzo Romar connection) may be gaining steam.

Next up is combo offeree Eric Ayala (Putnam Science/Putnam, Conn.), who we previously mentioned could opt to reclass to 2017. Ayala has steadily improved and now has legitimate suitors (Syracuse, UConn) perhaps ready to “take” him this year.

The Terps’ staff, for their part, has had a 2018 offer out to Ayala for quite some time, and has already hosted him twice this season. The Delaware native, who is in touch with recruiter Bino Ranson, talks up Maryland whenever the Terps are broached, but he’s probably not coming to College Park unless he sticks in the 2018 class and UMD misses on Hubb.

Off The Board: Maryland point-guard offer Jahvon Quinerly (Hudson Catholic/Jersey City, N.J.) came off the hot board this week when he didn’t mention the Terps as one of his primary suitors. The four-star, who has a rapport with Bino Ranson, may be focusing in on Syracuse (leader), UConn, Nova, St. John’s and UVA, with bluebloods lurking.

Wing-Guards

With the Terps’ coaches securing Darryl Morsell (Mount St. Joe/Baltimore, Md.) in the 2017 class, it’s unlikely they’ll go hard after a true “2” in 2018. Even local guard Kiyon Boyd (Woodson/Washington, D.C.) is not someone we’re projecting to College Park at this stage, despite his comments that Morsell’s signing didn’t effect his view of UMD.

Maryland assistant Dustin Clark will probably continue recruiting Boyd for political purposes, but there are some questions surrounding the four-star that may prevent the staff from going hard after the Woodson product. It’s possible Boyd may have to prep a year, anyway, before he can enter a four-year college.

The other prospect to watch here is Brandon Slater (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.), who is more of a wing type than a two-guard. Not much has changed in the 6-6, 180-pound four-star’s recruitment since we last updated him, with Maryland; Nova; UVA; and Miami his most ardent pursuers.

The Terps’ Dustin Clark and Mark Turgeon have been down to see him this year, and are continuing to press for the local recruit. The interest is reciprocal; Slater has much affinity for the hometown school thanks to his relationship with the coaches and has numerous treks through College Park.

We’re leaving Slater “warm” on the hot board, however, because he does seem content to go through the recruiting process, thoroughly evaluating all his suitors. Moreover, Slater has bluebloods and Louisville and UVA sniffing around, so we’ll see what he’s thinking if one of those programs antes up.

But if Maryland can reel in Hubb early, that could aid the Terps’ position with Slater. Hubb and Slater play against one another and know each other well, so we’d expect the former to be in the latter’s ear about UMD, much like Anthony Cowan was with local targets last year.

Off The Board: After Dan Painter’s report on Chimezie Offurum (Georgetown Prep/Bethesda, Md.), we elected to remove him from the hot board. The thinking is he may not have the fire and drive the Terps’ staff is seeking.

Wings

There are plenty of wings on UMD’s board, but other than someone like Brandon Slater, none of them currently project to Maryland. That could easily change, however, as the staff ups the pursuit on a particular target; other suitors fall off; and the like.

Two wings with the most Terps’ buzz at the moment are Aaron Wiggins (Wesleyan Christian/High Point, N.C.) and Hameir Wright (Albany Academy/Albany, N.Y.).

The Terps’ coaches have been down to see the 6-6 Wiggins a few times the last couple months, and Cliff Warren was back in the area before Christmas. Wiggins has stayed mum in regards to his recruitment, but from what we’ve been able to glean, he does like Maryland a good deal. He’s been on campus before with his coach and should be returning during the offseason.

But Wiggins has steadily increased his stock on the trail, and now has numerous options to explore. Arizona is involved, and the nearby Carolina schools are keeping close tabs.

So, while Maryland’s spot encourages us initially, we’re leery of a Tobacco Road recruit winding up in College Park.

As for Hameir Wright, the 6-7 former 2017 recruit is keeping in contact with Cliff Warren and Co. Wright’s been expressing interest in Maryland since last year, praising the coaches and the program whenever asked about the Terps. But Wright reneged on a couple visit opportunities and may have his eyes elsewhere. Syracuse, Seton Hall and other Northeast programs could be more likely destinations, with Villanova firmly in play as well.

The rest of the wings listed in conjunction with Maryland range from five-stars currently considered longshots to recruits the coaches need to evaluate further before offering.

In the former category are touted names such as Louis King (Hudson Catholic/Jersey City, N.J.); Jairus Hamilton (Cannon, N.C.); Khavon Moore (Westside/Macon, Ga.); Jaylen Hoard (Wesleyan Christian); and Zion Williamson (Spartanburg Day/Spartanburg, S.C.). Those in the latter group include Khalid Moore (Archbishop Molloy/Briarwood, N.Y.) and Sid Wilson (Brewster Academy/Wolfeboro, N.J.).

King, who the Maryland staff checked out at a pre-Christmas tournament, has been in College Park before and has a rapport with Bino Ranson. But if the bluebloods, such as Kentucky, extend a firm offer (they probably will), the five-star is heading to a national elite.

Hamilton is from Carolina and claims a Tar Heels offer. If head coach Roy Williams pushes, that’s where the four-star will attend college. If not, Hamilton has a host of other suitors to consider, including UMD, which has Cliff Warren on him. Hamilton has some family ties to the D.C. area, so that could potentially increase Maryland’s appeal if he falls through the cracks a bit.

The five-star Moore mentioned Maryland as a school of interest in a recent interview, but we’ll see how long the Terps stay on that list. Moore has a coterie of southern schools after him and seems like he’s destined for one of them.

Hoard, meanwhile, is the teammate of Aaron Wiggins (discussed above). The five-star Hoard also visited College Park and reportedly liked what he saw, but he’s even more touted than his teammate. The consensus is Hoard isn’t going to make it out of Tobacco Road.

Zion Williamson was someone we removed from the hot board awhile back, but tentatively placed him back on when he recently listed the Terps as a contender. Williamson has a connection with Cliff Warren and has said before he’s eager to see Maryland first-hand. But we’ll see if he follows through; the five-star is another perceived longshot from the Carolinas, who could be bound for a UNC or a southern suitor. 

Sid Wilson doesn’t have a Maryland offer yet, but Bino Ranson is monitoring him. Brewster Academy is a frequent stomping ground for Ranson, so if the 6-6 wing keeps developing, we could see the staff push here. For the time being, programs such as St. John’s, Cincinnati, SMU and Memphis are on the four-star, with Indiana and Louisville also keeping tabs.

Last but not least, Khalid Moore, who attends the same school as prime UMD big-man target Moses Brown. We’ve surmised the Terps’ staff could look to bring in Moore as a way to convince Brown to hop on board, but so far Bino Ranson and Co. haven’t extended an offer to the budding wing.

If Moore keeps expanding his arsenal, however, it’s possible the Maryland staff could gain his ear. Moore has already visited College Park once and said he had a great time checking out the facilities and interacting with the coaches.

Off the Board: We thought the Maryland coaches might toss an offer Isaiah Mucius’ (St. James School, Md.) way since he’s a borderline five-star from a local school, but there doesn’t seem to be much mutual interest. Mucius, a New York native, may look to return home for college.

The other wing we removed from the hot board was Nassir Little (Orlando Christian/Orlando, Fla.), who reported significant interest from UMD’s Cliff Warren awhile back. But Little hasn’t mentioned Maryland in some time now, instead listing Louisville; Florida; Auburn; and FSU as some of his top contenders.

Power Forwards

Everything is status quo here: Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joe/Baltimore, Md.) is the Terps’ to lose. Maryland’s Mark Turgeon and Bino Ranson have been through to see the five-star a couple times already this season, ensuring Smith knows he remains the No. 1 priority in UMD’s 2018 class. Smith hasn’t been able to attend a Maryland game yet this season, but expect him to return to College Park at some point during the Big Ten schedule.

Of course, Smith has seen his fair share of Terps’ bouts and practices, trekking up to campus more times than he can count. He has high interest in staying local and playing for his hometown school.

The staffs from Virginia and Villanova are on Smith too, but are likely behind Maryland in the pecking order. It’ll be interesting to see how Smith reacts to a blueblood offer, but the UMD staff’s consistent pursuit the last couple years should pay off here.

Maybe the Terps’ coaches could swing two power forwards if they can’t land a true big, but for now it seems unlikely. Either way, expect Turgeon and Dustin Clark to remain on IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) five-star Silvio De Sousa. The Angolan native De Sousa is eager to see College Park since his former teammate and countryman, Bruno Fernando, singed with Maryland in November. Fernando and De Sousa are as close as brothers, so we believe the 2018 recruit’s interest is genuine. At the same time, De Sousa has his pick of schools and could be lured by an SEC/blueblood program. At the moment, we’re listing him “cool” on the hot board.

The other two recruits in play are five-star Miles Norris (Mater Dei/La Mesa, Calif.) and Simi Shittu (Vermont Academy/Saxtons River, Vt.).

Norris has held a Maryland offer for quite some time and does occasionally list College Park as a potential visit destination. But, more than likely, he’s going to wind up on the West Coast at a school like Arizona.

Shittu, meanwhile, does not have a firm UMD offer yet, although Bino Ranson has been up to see him and is in communication with the five-star. Shittu’s recruitment is wide open at this stage as he waits for his offer list to expand and gauges what programs truly want him.

Off the Board: There was some initial UMD buzz surrounding Naz Reid (Roselle Catholic/Roselle, N.J.), but virtually none of late. St. John’s has a bead on the nearby five-star, and Kentucky and Kansas are heavily involved too. 

Centers

As we’ve written numerous times before, the Maryland staff has to land either David McCormack (Norfolk Academy/Norfolk, Va.) or Moses Brown (Archbishop Molloy/Briarwood, N.Y.), or they’ll have to undercover another big man down the line. Those two have been the main priorities and the most likely to end up Terps for months, and that will remain the case heading into spring/summer.

The 6-11 McCormack visited College Park Nov. 20, and he lauded Mark Turgeon and Dustin Clark; the Terps’ style of play; their big-man development; and the atmosphere in Xfinity. Clark and Turgeon have been through to see McCormack in action, and the four-star knows he’s a wanted commodity at UMD.

Several others like Georgetown, Va Tech and Texas are in pursuit, and Duke’s and UNC’s staffs are interested (neither is likely to offer). We like Maryland’s position early, however, although we’ll see if they can close the deal down the line. McCormack has no intention of committing anytime soon, and there’s bound to be some ebbing and flowing here.

With Brown, he visited UMD Dec. 12 when his team was in town for a tournament at Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), which Turgeon and Ranson watched. Brown has repeatedly talked up the Terps’ headman and his recruiter, noting how “they’re consistently recruiting me and Coach Bino texts me every day.” The New York native also praised UMD’s strength program, big-man development and the school itself.

But, like with McCormack, Brown’s keeping an open mind. Florida, Arizona, Louisville, St. John’s and Seton Hall are all in the game, and coaches from Kansas and UConn are in touch. The Gators and Cardinals, in particular, seem to have Brown’s eye.


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