Meet Dalonte Hill's first real test.
The staff is finally set in place. (We're pretty sure about that.) Maryland's three assistants flanking Mark Turgeon on the sideline will be the high-powered crew of Scott Spinelli, Dalonte Hill, and Bino Ranson. We talked about the Terrapin assistants earlier, if you're interested in the people, but for a one-sentence summary: they have local recruiting connections, and lots of them. So why not have entire post dedicated to the one area they'll have the most impact on: recruiting?
As a universal prerequisite to any recruiting discussion, here's the current scholarship chart:
|1||Sean Mosley||James Padgett||Hawk Palsson||Ashton Pankey
|2||Berend Weijs||Hawk Palsson||Mychal Parker||Nick Faust|
|3||James Padgett||Mychal Parker||Ashton Pankey||Justin Anderson|
|4||Hawk Palsson||Ashton Pankey||Terrell Stoglin||Seth Allen|
|5||Mychal Parker||Terrell Stoglin||Pe’Shon Howard||X|
|6||Ashton Pankey||Pe’Shon Howard||Nick Faust
|7||Terrell Stoglin||Nick Faust||Justin Anderson||X|
|8||Pe’Shon Howard||Justin Anderson||Seth Allen||X|
|9||Nick Faust||Seth Allen||X||X|
Technically speaking, Justin Anderson might not be a commitment. But he hasn't said anything yet, so I'm going to assume he's on board. That's subject to change.
Now, considering that Maryland is probably done for the 2011 class, there will be at least four more scholarships in 2012, assuming no attrition (unlikely). If they used all of those scholarships (even more unlikely) there would only be one 'ship available for the 2013 class, which seems way too small given the talent in that class.
You might notice that there's a slight lack of top-level talent in the DMV in 2012. The highest-ranked local recruit is Justin Anderson, and, well, he's already a Terrapin (we think). Anderson was #23 in the latest Rivals rankings; the next-highest player in the '12 class from Maryland, D.C., or even northern Virginia is Jerami Grant, who replicates Anderson's skill-set in many ways and is all the way down at #57. Then there's James Robinson at #83, but he's a point guard - a position Maryland has already just about locked down. Jordan Goodman is already committed to Rutgers, a program with strong DCA connections of their own. And Arnaud Adala-Moto is good, but with Anderson already on board as a wing, he's unlikely to consider Maryland strongly, or vice versa.
Great year to bring aboard a killer local staff, right?
But the good thing about connections is that they stretch far. Baltimore isn't stacked, either, and for the first time in recent memory (2004?) doesn't even have anyone who comes close to being an elite talent.* Yet Bino Ranson has somehow figured out how to parlay those Baltimore connects into a in with an AAU team from Houston, which just happens to house a four-star center by the name of Shaquille Cleare and two five-stars in the class of 2013.** Cleare is, of course, Maryland's runaway top target in the 2012, and was supposedly very high on Maryland before Gary's retirement.
Maybe Hill could do the same. The first example that springs to mind is Torian Graham, who plays for D.C. Assault despite playing high school ball down in North Carolina. He's similar to Justin Anderson in a lot of ways - highly athletic, good deep shooter, average mid-range game, just a few inches shorter than JA at 6-4 - but considering his talent, you'd take both if you can get them. Both Scout and Rivals had him at #25 nationally; ESPN, which hasn't updated in some time, has him down at #45. He's a five star on both of the former services, which...is good.
He also committed to N.C. State just a matter of hours ago. Even though recruiting a committed player is frowned-upon in college basketball - and I mean that truthfully, not like they say in college football - it does happen, as Terrence Ross can probably attest. Given that the situation changed so rapidly and so suddenly, I wouldn't be surprised if a move was made this spring and/or summer on him. Then again, given Turgeon's squeakily cleanness, it wouldn't surprise me if he ruled it out, either. Keep an eye on the name, either way.
Past that, there are some Midwest and Southwest connections to be had from Hill's time at K-State and Spinelli and Turgeon's time at TAMU. First off, Turgeon was recruiting Cleare at A&M, so they already have a relationship (good). He also had his own set of guys, including Seth Allen, who was identified by Spinelli originally, I believe (that's what the pattern would indicate, too).
Unfortunately, TAMU wasn't really in deep with any elite 2012 players, like they were with Jamal Branch in 2011. Probably the most high-profile guy that the Aggies had a legit chance with was Marcus Smart, a 6-4 wing from the Dallas area. The best way to describe him is probably a "power guard" (like the opposite of a point forward!). He plays for a DCA affiliate in Texas Assault and was being recruited by both K-State and A&M. He's a top-40 guy with offers from Kansas, Texas, and even UNC, so he'd be a tough pull, but it'll be interesting to see what Maryland does there.
There are also the names that you already know about, guys that Maryland was recruiting even without the fabled "connections." Mitch McGary, who is probably getting a little too big; Amile Jefferson, whose first name is just one key away from "smile" on a keyboard, as I just learned; Twymond Howard, who may or may not be a myth of Maryland interest; and a few other sleeper names that haven't come out entirely yet.
That said, past Cleare and McGary, Turgeon might just want to hold onto the scholarships for 2013, a class that at least at the moment looks much deeper than the current one, at least as far as the locals go. Bino, of course, is already in deep with the Harrison twins, two of the best players in their class. He'll also have some Baltimore kids to track, including Cameron Williams, a 6-2 volume scorer who lit up Boo Williams earlier in the spring, and Daquan McNeil, a slowly rising point guard.
Then there's also Nate Britt, a 6-0 guard from Gonzaga who plays for DCA; he should be the first major target for Hill. Scout has him as the #1 point guard in the country, and he's probably a lock to be a high-four star and hover around at least #30. He's a traditional drive-and-dish point guard, though with craftiness that will probably remind you some of Terrell Stoglin. Oh, and there's BeeJay Anya, a wide-bodied big man from DeMatha who was recently invited to the U16 Team USA camp. He's a four-star on Scout and if he develops his game, he'll be a load to stop in college.
More names in 2013 will emerge, as they always do, and more will probably emerge in 2012, too. But at the moment, this is where we stand. Any wishlists? Realistic ones, please.
*Which isn't to say bad about Daquan Cook, Jarred Jones, and Isaiah Miles, who are all nice players, but unless they have unbelievable summers their ceiling is probably around 125, max. And it would take quite the summer to even get up to there at this point.
**For those of you who still don't think Maryland plays the AAU/shoe game, the Houston Defenders are living proof that they do...or, rather, highly convincing circumstantial evidence that they do. Defenders have been unsponsored (see a logo?) in the past (and maybe by Nike before that; I'm not sure if he's just wearing his own shorts or if those are sponsored). Spot a logo now? Sure, maybe it's a coincidence, but for some reason I have a feeling that a certain school's pursuit of Cleare and the Harrisons might factor in here.