Walsh Looking Like a Future Terp?
The first game of the day gave TSR a glimpse of Moon, Pa., (Moon) guard Brian Walsh, considered to be one of Maryland's top guard targets for '08. Hobbled by a bad ankle—which he hurt in the previous night's game—Walsh's game was limited. He only took four shots—making two—and finished with five points, three rebounds, an assist and two steals in Pittsburgh Storm's 63-47 loss to Rising Stars (NY).
"It was bothering me a lot last night," Walsh said of his ankle. "I couldn't really do much. That was probably our worst game."
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard has a smooth three-point stroke and the ability to create and hit his own shots. Though noticably not at full strength, he showed he could mix it up around the basket, as evidenced by a nice rebound and put back, all in one motion. He has also been touted as an excellent defender who uses his long arms to disrupt the passing lanes.
Maryland Assistant Coach Chuck Driesell was front and center for Walsh's game, along with coaches from Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Charlotte, among others. The window for schools to make an impression on Walsh is narrowing, though.
"Me and my dad are probably going to make a list one of these weekends and narrow them down to probably three or four," he said. "[I'll make a decision] in three or four weeks, maybe a little bit longer."
The main schools recruiting Walsh—along with the Terps—are Xavier, St. Joseph's, Clemson, Vanderbilt, Boston College and Louisville. There is, however, one that stands out.
"Maryland is number one right now," he said.
Walsh said he has a comfort level with the staff and the school. Though early playing time is not make or break in his decision, it is something he is working towards.
"I definitely want to play when I go there," he said. "I know it's going to take a lot of hard work but at the same time I'm willing to do it because I want to play."
Walsh's team played a consolation game on Sunday, but his ankle injury prevented him from participating.
TSR headed next to Trees Hall on University of Pittsburgh's campus to check out Quintrell Thomas, the 6-foot-7 forward from New Jersey whose stock has soared in recent weeks.
When TSR last scouted him at the Charlie Weber Easter Hoopfest in D.C., Thomas was suffering from a stomach virus and played sparingly. On Saturday, however, he was at full strengh and showed why his name will be a common fixture in many coaches' 2008 wish lists.
Thomas' New Jersey Elite team edged out the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, 61-55. He finished with a gaudy stat line—14 points on 5-5 from the field and 4-9 from the free throw line, 10 rebounds and two blocks. He scored in variety of fashions—put backs, post moves, jumpers and dunks—and had college coaches in attendence flipping through their rosters looking for the name of No. 11 in orange.
"I've been trying to mix it up a little bit," Thomas said. "Everybody has been trying to keep me away from the basket so I need to start taking it out a bit and use some post moves."
It's safe to say his perfomance of late has opened some eyes, and with the increased interest from college coaches, his original plan to commit at the end of the summer may have been premature.
"I thought about that," he said. "Me and my father went on vacation down in Miami and we figured we'd visit [Miami]. Then I kinda liked the school a little bit and I'm thinking it's going to be a harder decision than I thought, so I'm going to wait a little."
Miami, Maryland, Marquette, Florida, Rutgers and Seton Hall are the schools Thomas has received the most interest from lately. At the moment, he doesn't claim any favorites.
"I'm pretty open right now. I don't know where I'm going to fit in best," he said.
Thomas has a visit scheduled to Maryland, among other schools, in the next few weeks. He said he wants to learn more about each school in anticipation of narrowing down his list and making a decision possibly after his high school season.
The third game of the day took TSR across the street on Pitt's campus to the Fitzgerald Field House, the former home of the Panthers. Playing in front of a slew of big-name college coaches, 2009 center Greg Echenique and the New York Metro Hawks took down the Columbus (Ohio) Basketball Club, 52-45. Just a sophomore, Echenique started for the loaded Hawks, which included 2008 blue-chip recruits Samardo Samuels and Sylven Landesberg.
Echenique finished with just five points, but that was mostly a product of not getting the ball much, as Samuels and Landesberg combined for nearly two-thirds of the Hawks points. The Venezuelan native, who moved to the United States before his freshman season at St. Benedict's in Newark, N.J., is much in the mold of 2007 Maryland recruit Braxton Dupree. He has a wide and powerful 6-foot-8 frame and plays almost exclusively with his back to the basket.
It is still very early in Echenique's recruitment, but he has no shortage of college interest. He recently got the opportunity to take his first round of college visits since coming to the States.
"During Easter, my parents came here to visit—they came from Venezuela—so we went to Georgetown, Villanova, Rutgers and Maryland," he said.
Echenique has been on Maryland's radar for nearly half a year, and may have a guy working on him from the inside.
"From the beginning of this year, they showed some interest," he said with a heavy South American accent. "They also have another Venezuelan guy so that's nice."
That Venezuelan guy is Maryland freshman guard Greivis Vasquez, who came to the States just a few years ago and played at Montrose Christian in Rockville.
"Actually I met him down there in Venezuela because he's older than me," Echenique said, "but when I got here I saw him play."
Echenique says he keeps in contact with Vasquez, but Vasquez doesn't try to sway him one way or another when they talk about colleges.
"He doesn't put pressure on me. He just says make the right decision," Echenique said of Vasquez.
That decision is still a ways off. College coaches cannot officially offer or talk to him yet. Most of his college interest funnels through St. Benedict's Coach Danny Hurley and Echenique's guardian, an assitant coach at St. Benedict's. When asked if he has any favorites yet, Echenique said he hasn't had time to sit down and make a list.
"Right now, not really. I still have two more years so I want to look around and compare," he said.
Echenique's recruitment will certainly be one to keep an eye on, as he may become one of the top big men on the board for 2009.
Dominique Rutledge (6-8, 215 pounds, Edison, N.J., (Edison) Team New Jersey Elite) TSR was very impressed by Rutledge, who played alongside Thomas in the frontcourt for New Jersey Elite and scored 11 points. His versatility and athleticism stood out, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him become a high-Divison I prospect. Currently, he is hearing from Rutgers, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and Marquette, along with other mid-major schools.
Cameron Johnson (6-4, 220 pounds, Washington, D.C., (Gonzaga) D.C. Assault) Johnson had a quiet night when TSR scouted Assault. The two-sport star has football offers from Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Duke and basketball interest from mostly mid-major schools. Though his future may lie on the gridiron, he expressed interest in playing both in college, and he said Virginia may be the one to give him that opportunity. He will attend the May 13 football combine at Rutgers and will continue to play AAU basketball through the summer.
Maurice Sutton (6-10, 190 pounds, Upper Marlboro, Md., (Largo) D.C. Assault) A rising big man prospect, the lanky Sutton claims an offer from Marquette and interest from Maryland, Connecticut, North Carolina, Clemson, N.C. State and UNLV, among others. Sutton averaged a double-double in his junior year at Largo.
Jordan Brooks (5-7, Springdale, Md., (C.H. Flowers) D.C. Assault) The diminutive guard can score at will. He averaged over 20 points in his senior season at Flowers and scored eight points in the game TSR saw. He is receiving interest from George Mason, William and Mary and other mid-major schools, but is planning to go to prep school next year.
Out of the teams that TSR watched at the Pittsburgh JamFest—Pittsburgh Storm, Rising Stars (NY), Team New Jersey Elite, Wisconsin Playground Warriors, D.C. Assault, Boo Williams (VA), Metro Hawks (NY), Columbus (Ohio) Basketball Club, Baltimore Stars, South Carolina Ravens, Hunting Park (PA) Warriors and Illinois Hawks—here are the top 10 prospects.
Top ten prospects TSR scouted:
1. Isaiah Armwood (Baltimore Stars), 2009—The 6-foot-9 forward could end up as a top-15 prospect in the '09 class. Since TSR last saw him two weeks ago, Armwood has shown an improved face-up and mid-range game to go along with his athleticism. He said his doctor told him he could grow to 6-foot-11, and if he does, watch out. He had 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks in the game we watched.
2. Samardo Samuels (New York Metro Hawks), 2008—When Samuels wants to, he can be flat-out dominant. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound No. 1 ranked center can not be pushed around down low and his presence on the defensive end is felt by anybody who tries to go up for a lay-up against him. He scored 16 and nine in the two games TSR saw.
3.Kendall Marshall (Boo Williams), 2010—When a freshman starts at point guard for the national AAU power out of Virginia, you know something is up. What's up is Kendall Marshall, the 6-foot-1 guard out of O'Connell High School in Arlington. He has incredible court awareness and poise for his age and will surely be a top target for schools all over.
4.Quintrell Thomas (Team New Jersey Elite), 2008—We detailed Thomas' game above, but the forward from St. Patrick's has burst on to the scene this summer. He could be just what the doctor ordered for teams looking for a strong presence on the blocks.
5.Sylven Landesberg (New York Metro Hawks), 2008—The 6-foot-6 swingman can take over a game whenever he wants. He scored 39 points in the two games TSR watched. If he wants to get the basket, it's a tough task stopping him.
6.Marcus Morris (Hunting Park Warriors), 2008—The Memphis commit single-handedly brought his team back from a double-digit deficit in the game TSR scouted. He finished with 18 points and showed incredible range on his jump shot, nailing several long threes. At 6-foot-7, he will be a tough match-up at the next level.
7.Marcus Goode (South Carolina Ravens), 2008. Goode is a big, big man. Oh, did we say big? At 6-foot-10 and tipping the scales at over 300 pounds, Goode might have been the largest person in the city of Pittsburgh last weekend. By just looking at him, you wouldn't know he has excellent footwork and quickness down in the blocks and an array of post and power moves. If he sheds some pounds and improves his conditioning, he could be high on a lot of coaches' lists.
8.Terrell Vinson (Baltimore Stars), 2009. TSR has seen Vinson on several occasions, and he hasn't failed to impress yet. The 6-foot-6 forward has skills well beyond his years, and if he continues to develop a mid- and long-range game, he will be special. He already attacks the hoop with the best of them from any class.
9.Dominique Rutledge (Team New Jersey Elite), 2008. TSR watched New Jersey Elite to scout Quintrell Thomas, but we quickly had our eye on one of his teammates as well. Rutledge has one of the softest touches on his jump shot we've seen from a big man. He knocked down a couple shots from 15 feet out and scored on an effortless fadeaway jumper.
10.Jamar Samuels (D.C. Assault), 2008. The 6-foot-7 forward from Archbishop Carroll in the District was the leader of the Assault team this weekend. Samuels has a versatile game with the ability to score inside and out. He scored 12 points in the game TSR watched.
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