'Mini-Amare Stoudemire' loves the Terps

It's no secret that Maryland's basketball staff needs to find itself an impact big man from next year's high school senior class. Well, it appears lead recruiter Chuck Driesell and the Terps have gone out and gotten themselves into pole position for a player who's been earning descriptions as a mini-Amare Stoudemire.


Of course, Mt. Zion Academy (N.C.) junior Terrence Jennings is probably not the next Stoudemire – the latter, after all, is one of the greatest power forward talents to enter the NBA in decades, and perhaps ever. But Jennings bears resemblances to Stoudemire in a striking number of ways, from his facial appearance and knee-high socks, to his on-court posture and style, to his explosive leaping, shot-blocking and dunking ability.

Jennings, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound native of Sacramento, Calif., recently transferred from Charis Prep (N.C.) to Mt. Zion, and re-classified to '08 in an effort to square away his academic portfolio. In town this weekend for a tournament at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Jennings said the Terps have been in steady contact and stand above the rest on his wish list.

"I really like the facilities and the academic support," said Jennings, who averages 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game. "It seems like the best place for me."

Terp Sports Report scouted Jennings all weekend and what we saw was an impressive physical specimen who challenged every shot on defense and tries to dunk the ball down his defender's throat on offense. He posted 12 blocks in a championship-game loss to National Christian, but was never fed the ball by his teammates in the post. In Mt. Zion's game against Patterson (N.C.) a day earlier, though, he authored a few highlight-reel dunks.

And he had his way defensively against a NCA team that includes 7-footer Anthony McLain, the top uncommitted senior big man in the nation, and an array of major D-I prospects. His explosiveness and timing when going up to block shots are rare commodities. When he gets the ball near the hoop on offense, he's generally going to dunk the ball or draw a foul.

It was easy to make the Stoudemire comparison after just a few moments of watching Jennings. He clearly has fashioned his game after Stoudemire, right down to his facial expressions and knee-high socks, his on-court demeanor and his strategy of trying to dunk and block everything in sight. Naturally, the first thing we asked him was if he tried to model his game after anyone.

"Yeah, Amare Stoudemire," he said.

Shocker.

He also needs to work on his low-post moves and jumpshot, rather than relying on his unusual quickness and power for everything. Perhaps a more apt comparison for Jennings would be Memphis big man Joey Dorsey.

"Right now, all of his points are dunks," Mt. Zion coach Antonio Fozard said.

Arizona, UCLA and Nevada are some of the other schools who are high on Jennings, but he could easily explode with a strong showing this summer.

"He's got a chance to be a top-50 player [or higher] before it's over with," Fozard said. "The thing is, he's still got room to grow, he's got a great attitude and he's a good person."

The Terps "are on him hard," Fozard said. Jennings said the Terps have offered him a scholarship, pending some academic achievements he'd need to meet first.

Driesell "is a really cool dude. I like him a lot," Jennings said.

Fozard and Jennings both said Jennings is dedicated to making up for some past nonchalance toward academics. It's easy to tell, talking to him for a few moments, that he's a smart kid.

He said he's not intent on returning to the West Coast for college, and doesn't plan to make a commitment until sometime next season.

Added Jennings, "I'd like to play in the ACC."

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