Can Terps Tap D.C. Assault Again w/ Hairston?

Maryland's men's basketball staff has made a concerted effort to reach out and mend any perceived holes in its relationship with the always talent-laden D.C. Assault travel basketball program. It's already paid huge benefits in the signing of highly sought big man Gus Gilchrist, and the Terps are hoping the same will be said for blue-chip forward Josh Hairston.

Hairston, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound sophomore at Courtland (Va.) high school, has quickly emerged onto the national radar. Already, Maryland, Ohio State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgetown have either offered or given Hairston the feeling an offer is forthcoming. And some inside the Assault program feel he's the best prospect on their loaded roster of players.

"He's a big man who can face up and score or play with his back to the basket. He can back you down and then step out and hit the three," said his coach with Assault, Zach Suber, adding that he compares favorably with Gilchrist. "He's a good passer and shooter, and his basketball IQ is tremendous … He's going to be a special player."

Hairston has visited Maryland unofficially with his cousin, a huge Terps fan, and enjoyed himself.

"It's really nice," he said.

"They love him," Suber said. I talked to Chuck Driesell and he loves him."

Though some have speculated that Hairston may be a Georgetown ‘lean,' he said that's not at all the case.

"I'm going to look at all of my schools. I'm not cutting anybody. At the end of the day, I don't want to say I eliminated one of my options without [evaluating first]," he said.

If that sounds like an intelligent approach, it shouldn't be surprising. Hairston is an engaging, intelligent young man who has maturity far beyond that of the typical high school sophomore.

"He's a very humble, respectful kid," Suber said. "He's real family oriented – he's straight ‘yes, sir,' ‘no sir,' all of the time. It's how he was raised."

Hairston is a close friend of O'Connell sophomore star Kendall Marshall, but he won't be making a strikingly early commitment like Marshall did when he committed to North Carolina before his sophomore year. He does, however, like the Tar Heels quite a bit. He's been hearing some from UNC and said it would be tough to turn the Heels down should they offer eventually.

"Yes sir," he said, "very tough."

Hairston could play either the small or power forward in college, depending partially on whether or not he continues to grow. Already a proven inside-outside threat as a sophomore, a few more inches of height would seemingly make him one of the nation's most sought-after recruits in his class – though that may happen regardless of his growth.

"He'll be pretty close to a McDonald's [All-American], if not a McDonald's. He's really coming into his own and catching everybody by surprise," Suber said.

Suber also happens to coach Gonzaga point guard Tyler Thornton, another star sophomore in the Assault pipeline – and another Terps target. Thornton was recently out at Comcast Center watching the Terps practice.

"They actually are extending out to us in a lot of different ways, and that will be helpful," Suber said of the Terps and the Assault program, also pointing out that the Terps made huge strides in landing Gilchrist.

Hairston, meantime, said he's a fan of Driesell's.

"He just talks to me about how my game is and what I need to do to develop. He's nice to all of us, and he's a really good guy," he said.

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