More recruiting. Yaaaaaaay.
Let's start off today the same way we did yesterday: with Jake Layman, who was the subject of a recent Matt Bracken post. With a string of strong performances recently, Layman's become an important recruit for Maryland. Not surprisingly, his coach says very good things about him:
"He's tremendous," McInnis said. "If you look at the stats from the Nike [Elite Youth Basketball League], there was a game he went 8-for-8 from 3-point range. Down in Texas he went 9-for-10 in one game. Jake has a tremendous outside shot [and] he takes it to the rim very strong. He's got a lot of finesse and has an almost 7-foot wingspan."
That type of range is a serious asset, particularly for someone with his size. Again, think Singler. It creates serious mismatches. But what was even more interesting was what he had to say about Maryland:
"Turgeon and Spinelli are two dynamic people," McInnis said. "They are outstanding, family type of people. They do such a great job recruiting. They have been watching Jake and have been involved with Jake since [they were at Texas] A&M. They have been tremendous. They're both tremendous people. Jake is extremely interested in Coach Turgeon as a person and a coach. He loves the Maryland area. His family has some very strong connections to the Maryland area."
I wonder what those "very strong connections" are. Whatever they are, they sure can't hurt. Based on the competition, you knew Maryland would have a great shot if they wanted him, and this only reinforces that belief. There's also a highlight video at the link, and it's worth watching if you haven't seen it. He looks awkward while handling, and that's something he'll need to improve on if he's to play on the wing. But he's much more athletic than I thought, and he looks fluid while running and jumping.
For the record, that fluidity has inspired a pretty terrible nickname. But it's good to know that it's not just highlight fodder - that smoothness and agility is real.
In keeping with the awkward-looking white kid recruits: let's talk Isaiah Zierden. He continued to impress; he's now sixth in the camp in points per game (behind a collection of five-stars) and is leading in three-pointers and FT %. He's a pure shooter: he dropped 19 in one game, with all of his made FGs behind the arc. NBE says he's the best long-range shooter at the entire event. He was one of ESPN's players to watch, claiming some mid-major interest:
CIA Bounce learned the hard way that Zierden's a zone-buster. One of the EYBL's sharpest shooters torched Bounce for 29 points, including 10 of 10 from the line. He's a mid-major deluxe and all the schools recruiting him will be rooting for him to miss from here on out; the nature of July is to root for your recruits to play well, to a point. Creighton, Wofford and Manhattan offered Zierden, who is the son of a Washington Wizards executive. Iowa and California are also looking.
"Mid-major deluxe" ain't exactly praise, but then again, people were saying the same about Christian Sanders. Its funny, because we don't even really know how interested Maryland is in Zierden past a mention in the St. Paul Pioneer Press back in late May. So there may have once been interest that's died out; maybe there never was interest; maybe Turge & Co. are still tracking. You never know. He certainly fits the "heady, undersized jump-shooter" template that Turge seems to love.
Another fringe zone-buster is Jodan Price, who we mentioned yesterday after he dropped 31 points on NJ Playaz. He, too, is a sharpshooter:
Thin as a rail standing at 6'7" Price desperately needs to get in the weight room and add strength. What doesn't need any work is his outside shot as he went 5-5 from the floor, 3-3 from distance, and 9-10 from the line en route to 22 points. Price has as quick a release as you'll see and uses his incredible height at the wing to get shots off over defenders. His lack of strength became a problem against pressure as he had a tendency to get outmuscled and lose the ball but he is truly an elite shooter. ...
According to his head coach Price has interest from Northwestern (offer), South Florida, Umass, Dayton, and offers from basically the entire Mid-American conference.
Again, past mentioning some interest awhile back, we don't know how important he is to Maryland, if he is at all. Again, we'll keep watching.
Moving to less fringe-y targets, NBE Basketball was impressed with Prince Ibeh, whom Mark Turgeon likes and whom took a Maryland visit awhile back.
Offensively, Ibeh is very raw and doesn't try to do much beyond layups and dunks. On the defensive side of the ball however, Ibeh is a force challenging everything that gets anywhere near the rim. He tallied 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in this contest and those blocks are coming against top 20 players nationally in Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon. He didn't back down from the star studded Oakland Soldiers frontline and forced them to think before just punishing the rim.
In other words, he's a great complement to Shaquille Cleare, who lacks Ibeh's length, athleticism, and shot-blocking ability. Not so much to Mitch McGary, who's already a defensive force in his own right, but then again, if you have Mitch McGary it doesn't really matter who else is on your team. The good news: defense usually transitions pretty decently, and you can always make an instant impact if you're an elite defender.
In that same link is a minor recruiting note: Daquan McNeil, a 2013 PG from Baltimore who's playing up a year with Nike Baltimore Elite, is listing a Maryland offer. There are just too many quality PGs in that year, I swear.
One player who isn't in North Augusta this week is Arnaud Adala Moto, who injured his knee at the DC Metro Showcase. Josh Barr has an article on him, and his coach says that Maryland has offered:
"Within 72 hours of me sending [Turgeon the game film he requested], he received them, watched them and left me a detailed message ... and they offered him a full ride," Fitzpatrick said. "Obviously [assistant coach Dalonte] Hill followed up with me and they've been recruiting him hard since."
Normally, I would've assumed that he already offered, but this is bigger news than usual. It seems that Turgeon really values scholarship offers (like not offering Nate Britt until he sees him in person), so an offer seems a moderately big deal. I know there's a slight debate about which of Moto or Layman is better, but I doubt the staff has a serious preference between the two. If he's offered, I'm guessing he intends to recruit him, and they'll take either of the two if they're ready.
Actually, there a bunch of targets not at Peach Jam, with a variety of other tourneys going on for those who play for non-Nike teams. Like the Hoop Group Summer Classic, which saw Amile Jefferson dominate:
He has clear deficiencies in his game, with the inconsistency of his jump shot and the lack of muscle mass on his frame, but that has yet to make him any easier to contain. He's one of the smoothest drivers and an aggressive playmaker, but not someone who dominates the ball or disturbs the rhythm of his team's offense. Combine that with his rapidly-developing instincts on the defensive end and it's easy to see why his impact was beyond anyone else's.
I always get jittery about Amile because I have no idea how his game, which unlike just about anyone else's, will translate. I would assume that it would translate better because he doesn't rely on physical traits unlike most other recruits, but he'll also have a greater chance to be exposed. And I still have positional worries. But whatever: he's been one of the true stars of the summer so far, and his mind seems far ahead of almost everyone else his age.
For the record, an Under Armour (!) tournament is currently going on in Milwaukee, which is where guys like Mitch McGary, Robert Carter, and Robert Upshaw are. No recruiting guys seem to be there, though, so I'm not really sure what's going on.