Justin Anderson completely obliterated the Maryland-not-directly-involved-in-March-Madness blues with his commitment yesterday. But you know what's almost as exciting as Anderson's commitment? The fact that such an early commitment from such a highly-regarded player gives Maryland a real head start on the rest of the class.
Yes, the job of a recruiter is never over. Anderson is a well-known, well-respected player, and his early commitment means that Maryland's staff doesn't need to worry about landing a wing and can instead focus its efforts on high-level players elsewhere. Good stuff, of course, but the next logical is: where does Maryland go from here?
Well, first off, let's check out the scholarship situation.
|Sean Mosley||James Padgett||Pe'Shon Howard||Martin Breunig|
|Berend Weijs||Jordan Williams||Haukur Palsson||Sterling Gibbs|
|James Padgett||Pe'Shon Howard||Ashton Pankey||Nick Faust|
|Jordan Williams||Haukur Palsson||Mychal Parker||X|
|Pe'Shon Howard||Ashton Pankey||Terrell Stoglin||Justin Anderson|
|Haukur Palsson||Mychal Parker||Martin Breunig||X|
|Ashton Pankey||Terrell Stoglin||Sterling Gibbs||X|
|Mychal Parker||Martin Breunig||Nick Faust||X|
|Terrell Stoglin||Sterling Gibbs||X||X|
|Martin Breunig||Nick Faust||Justin Anderson||X|
|Nick Faust||Justin Anderson||X||X|
So, what's that mean? If Maryland lands another player for the 2011 class - Desmond Hubert or Wally Judge at this point - they'll have one more scholarship to play with in Anderson's class. If they do not, they'll have two. Both of those figures assume no attrition, though, and that's unlikely. In fact, I'd be shocked if Jordan Williams proved to be a four-year player (if he is, something has gone horribly wrong), so it's a safe bet to bump those figures up to two and three, respectively.
That's a small class, yes, especially considering Maryland's probably bringing in ten players in the last two classes, but the fact that Maryland doesn't need a bunch of commits will allow them to throw the vast majority of their resources toward high-level guys.
Who are these high-level players I keep referring to? Glad you asked. The biggest realistic targets still on the board are Shaquille Cleare and Amile Jefferson, two post players with very different games.
Cleare is probably the more desired of the two for Maryland, thanks to his unique style. In short, he's Jordan Williams. He's wide-bodied (6-9, 285) but has surprisingly light feed, great hands, and people have talked positively about his touch around the hoop. Yep, that's Jordan in a nutshell. He's also a vacuum on the boards (again, Jordan) and knows how to use his size (again, Jordan).
He's from the Houston area and has loads of offers, so he'll be a tough pull without a doubt. He's also good friends with the Harrison twins in the 2013 class, whose father is from Baltimore (Bino connect!). It's a stretch, but with guys like this, you take any in you can get.
Jefferson is a long, thin 3/4 tweener from Philly. At 6-7 and 185, he's stuck between positions and really needs to put on weight. But he also happens to have a long wingspan and great athleticism, which make him play taller. He runs the floor well, too. The thing that really sets Jefferson apart, though, is his work ethic and basketball IQ; quite simply, he plays with great passion, is very coachable, works hard, and has a great feel for the game. All of that, combined with his great frame and athleticism, gives him a ridiculously high ceiling.
The problem: both of them are top 25 players. Jefferson is in the top 10 in both ESPN and Scout; Cleare is #19 on ESPN. Between the two of them are offers from Kansas, Arizona, Duke, Ohio State, UNC, Syracuse, and Texas. Landing either of them would be a massive upset.
The backup plans are probably still unknown to us right now. One potential option is a guy like Cinmeon Bowers, a 6-7 PF from Milwaukee around the top 120 or so. Charles Mitchell, a similar player from Georgia, is also an option. And then there are a few other longshots, like Daniel Ochefu or AJ Hammons. Again, most other realistic options probably haven't come to the forefront yet, and that's not a bad thing; summer always brings surprises.
If Maryland happens to have two or more scholarships, they may also take a point guard or a wing. Options there include DeMatha's point guard, James Robinson, or a highly-regarded SF from Mississippi, Twymond Howard, who might have Maryland in his top three.
I wouldn't expect a quick commitment to follow this one. With so few scholarships available, Williams likely won't take a commitment from anyone except one of their elite targets. And those guys are by all accounts not close to a commitment, and certainly not to Maryland.
For the record, if you want to see a sort of mini-compendium on some of Maryland's most serious targets, here's the first draft of the basketball recruiting database. I'll try to flesh it out some and get a full post up with both of the compendiums (football, too). It's a first draft, so some guys are left out, but all of the big names are there, as is everyone that I mentioned in this post.
And now...we turn back to 2011. It's so weird to start so early that we actually need to simultaneously monitor two classes. Good feeling.