The Maryland staff is after local power forward Jalen Smith (Mount St. Joseph/Baltimore, Md.) in the 2018 class, but they’ve given themselves several alternative options if the Baltimore five-star reneges.
One of the more intriguing junior recruits the Terps’ coaches have identified is Westtown (Norristown, Pa.) 4-man Jake Forrester. The 6-foot-8, 200-pounder has been in touch with UMD-area recruiter Bino Ranson for awhile now, and Forrester recently trekked down to College Park, Md., for a visit. The three-star, who suits up for the PSA Cardinals (Nike) on the EYBL circuit, attended Maryland’s game against Nebraska Jan. 1.
“Maryland is a great atmosphere. I loved being in the arena and I loved the people there,” said Forrester, who has offers from the likes of Indiana, Penn State, Temple, Providence, Rice, Richmond, UCF and others. “It’s great fans at Maryland, and I had a great time down there. The arena is probably the best one I’ve been in. The energy is awesome there and everyone brings it all the time. The fans at Maryland, they’re so into it. Also, the campus is beautiful and it’s a great setup. I really like it around there.”
The Jan. 1 bout was Forrester’s second time at UMD. He previously headed down the year before, but wasn’t on the staff’s radar and didn’t have much buzz surrounding him.
That’s since changed.
“Maryland is recruiting me heavy now,” Forrester said. “It’s not like when I went there and had zero offers before (laughs). Coach Bino is the main guy recruiting me and he’s been on me constantly. He tells me to keep up the good work, he’s always around the school, he’s always texting me, and he’s always making sure I’m getting better.”
Although Forrester has only been in touch with Ranson for a couple months, the recruit said the two have formed a solid bond.
“Bino is definitely the main guy,” Forrester said. “He’s been hitting me up, and he’s a real nice guy and I like him a lot. He stands by his word. He doesn’t blow smoke like a lot of coaches will. He’s honest, and I like honest coaches.”
Forrester was also able to meet head coach Mark Turgeon and the rest of the UMD staff after his most recent visit. The Pennsylvania native said he bonded with each coach he met.
“Just their attitude and how motivated they are, that really stood out,” Forrester said. “I’m hoping they offer soon. Coach Bino said as soon as Coach Turgeon has time to come out to see me, the offer will come after that.”
Of course, the Terps do have one Westtown alum on their current roster in junior Jared Nickens. But Forrester admitted Nickens’ presence at UMD wouldn’t have much of an effect on his current situation.
“I know Jared is there, and that’s good. But I want to learn more about the program myself and do research on my own,” Forrester said.
Right now, though, Forrester is honing in on some of the programs that have offered him. Indiana, for one, has his eye and he’s going to be heading out to Bloomington, Ind., soon. Forrester said he “loved” the IU look and seems to have plenty of interest in the Hoosiers.
Furthermore, the Westtown product is taking a hard look at Penn State, which he’s been to twice already. Forrester called the PSU staff “awesome” and mentioned how close of a rapport he has with them.
Other on Forrester’s mind include Kansas State, Temple, UConn, UCF, UVA, Cal, UPenn, Villanova, Syracuse and Kansas.
“Villanova has been showing interest and they’ve talked to my dad. I’d love to go there,” Forrester said. “Syracuse is on me too, and I definitely want to get up there. UVA is interested, so I want t visit there. UConn, they’re on me and I’m getting up to see them. And Kansas, obviously that’s a program I’d look at.”
So far this season, Forrester is averaging a double-double. He’s scoring around 15 pints a night and pulling down about 10 rebounds.
“A lot of coaches like my energy and the motor I bring… I’m constantly running, finishing, passing, and shooting from 15 consistently,” Forrester said. “But I need to work on my handling, my 3-point shot and developing a back-to-the-basket game.”
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