Montrose's Vinson a big-time talent
It's not often that a player arrives at Rockville (Md.) powerhouse Montrose Christian and earns a spot in the starting lineup as a freshman – in fact, it's nearly impossible. It's also rare for a young player to fare relatively well in practice against a teammate expected to be a top-three NBA Draft pick.
But then, Terrell Vinson is no ordinary player.
Vinson, a 6-foot-6 small forward regarded as one of the top 10 sophomores in the nation, is averaging 13 points per game for Montrose, which is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the Washington area by the Washington Post. Terp Sports Report recently took a trip to see Vinson in action, and the do-it-all wing player didn't disappoint, scoring 20 points in a 68-52 win over St. John's -- Prospect Hall.
Vinson scored in a variety of ways – low-post spin moves, alley-oops, three-pointers, you name it. The thing that continues to stand out about the Baltimore native is his polish; he has excellent athleticism and an accurate jumpshot, but he also has levels of maturity and consistency to his game unusual for a young player.
"He's a sophomore who plays like a senior," says Montrose coach Stu Vetter, one of the nation's pre-eminent high school coaches. "If you start here some as a freshman, you have a player with a very high level of play at a very young age."
The games were hardly the stiffest challenge last year for Vinson, who had to guard All-American Kevin Durant – now a star at Texas and a likely top NBA Draft pick – every day in practice.
"That really helped my defense a lot," Vinson says.
"We'll compare them in two years," Vetter said, hoping to quell any unfair comparisons between the two.
Vinson is not secret to college recruiters. He lists Maryland, Texas and Villanova as his favorites, adding that he grew up following the Terps but does not have a favorite yet. He does, however, have a couple of Maryland recruits as teammates in senior guard Adrian Bowie and senior center Shane Walker. Both have been working on him already.
"They just tell me to come to Maryland. I tell them I don't know yet," Vinson says.
"He's a great player," Walker says. "I talk to him about it all the time."
Vinson attended Southern Maryland Christian as an eighth-grader before transferring to Montrose. Because Baltimore is a long commute away, he lives in Rockville at a house owned by Vetter and he shared with a few teammates. One of those teammates, super-athletic 6-8 sophomore forward Isaiah Armwood, is also regarded as a blue-chipper and is receiving plenty of Terps interest.
The program at Montrose is tailored to be very similar to a college program on and off the court. Everything is regimented, from the players' courtside attire to team huddles, to the demanding practice schedules.
"It's really strict. You have to do what you're told. [But] I love it," Vinson says.
A magnet for college recruiters, Vetter has also developed his distinct strategies in dealing with the process. As part of that, he likes to have his players wait until their senior seasons to commit, so that they are certain of their decision and so that the entire team continues to get looks from college coaches. While Vetter says it's not a cast-iron rule, it could mean Vinson won't be committing any time in the foreseeable future.
Vetter said Vinson could have a long list of verbal scholarship offers already, but "We don't entertain offers as sophomores."
Vinson appears suited to be a prototypical high-scoring ‘3' in college, although that could conceivably change if he has another growth spurt. Either way, he has a rare ability to finish around the rim and versatility that belies his young age. It's safe to say Maryland will be putting the full-court press on Vinson in the year or so to come.
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