With all the excitement over football season, I have to admit that I've been neglecting basketball recruiting coverage more than I should. But after the Temple blowout destroyed all momentum, it's a great time to get back to the happier, warmer climes of the roundball recruiting trail.
And the first bit of big news comes from ESPN's Reggie Rankin, who was in Chicago for the Under Armour Grind Session, basically just a Skills Academy-type deal. Rankin talked to the impressive Robert Carter, who informed him that he'll be taking visits to five schools ... including Maryland. (h/t motormouthdal)
PF Robert Carter (Thomasville, Ga./Shiloh) has terrific skill and the ability to score inside and out with 3-point range in addition to being able to handle and pass. Carter is visiting Georgia, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Florida and Florida State.
(And yes, I know I did a FanShot of this about 15 minutes ago, but I found other things since then and decided a full-fledged post would be better served. FYI.)
Carter, a high four-star/low five-star from Georgia, is a great all-around 4 with a developed game both inside and outside. In other words, he's a very good complement to Shaquille Cleare. Mitch McGary will remain the biggest big man priority in the class, but Carter is a close second. Getting a visit - and an apparent top five status - is a big deal for Maryland, and it means they should have a fighting shot. Getting him out of the south may be difficult - think Johnny O'Bryant - but let's see what happens. (Oh, and check out DraftExpress' recently uploaded interview with Carter from the Elite 24 game, where he shows off his impressive flat-top.)
In the same link, by the way, Rankin was smitten with Andrew Harrison, Maryland's top 2013 priority along with his twin Aaron. He says Harrison "can be trusted with the ball at times" and praises his ballhanding, finishing, passing, and athletic ability - basically, every facet of the game. He also said that 2013 Baltimore SG/SF Tevon Saddler was the breakout player of the event, as a run-and-jump athlete with a slashing offensive game, with a Towson offer and interest from Maryland and N.C. State. With the dearth of scholarships that will be available in '13 and the wealth of options, I think they'll pass on Saddler, but he's worth keeping an eye on.
A host of Maryland targets were actually at the event, from the Harrisons and Carter to Nate Britt and Shaquille Cleare. Five Star Basketball has uploaded the results of the combine portion into a Google Spreadsheet, so if you're interested in confusing numbers hit it up. I'll give a few highlights, though. First off, Aaron and Andrew Harrison somehow measured as different heights, with Aaron checking in at 6-7 and Andrew at 6-4. That's pretty questionable, because they look exactly the same height, so perhaps there's a typo in there. Elsewhere, Cleare is officially 6-8, while Britt is only 5-11. That's a little short for both of them. At 278, though, Cleare is still a big dude. Things get confusing after that, but by all means go check them out for yourself.
Meanwhile, another of Maryland's 2013 prospects, North Carolina big man Kennedy Meeks, impressed Rankin's colleague Dave Telep at the Elite 75 Showcase:
He is a big, wide post with incredible hands who continues to dominate near the basket in the low or high post. His hands are big and anytime he comes in contact with the ball, he owns it. When he rebounds the ball he does not out-jump his opponents, but he does anticipate extremely well and then carve out real estate to grab it. With his back to the basket, he will make a move by being low, slow and under control as he locates the defense and works away from the pressure. For a big man, he shows impressive vision and accuracy to throw the ball out of the post and find an open teammate behind the 3-point line or cutting to the rim. Meeks has improved his body but really needs to start to work on sprinting the floor and being aggressive for low-post position and not settling to always be the trailer. However, he does have a good jumper with a soft touch to 17 feet. Defensively, he uses his body as a barrier to protect the basket and block out when the shot is up. Over the last couple of weeks he has had offers from UNC, Virginia, NC State, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Florida, Kansas, South Carolina and Miami, among others.
Maryland used to be one of the favorites alongside Georgetown, but that is a lot of offers, including some heavy-hitters - UNC and Kansas ain't nothing to play with, and N.C. State, Virginia Tech, and Florida are all formidable. An early commitment from him isn't looking likely.
More intriguingly, though, Telep sounds like he's found a breakout star for the 2014 class. In the same link, he has extremely high praise for 6-7 SF Dwayne Morgan, a '14 prospect from Baltimore. Telep calls him an "exceptional" athlete with an "impressive skill level for his grade." He calls Morgan "a cross between Rudy Gay and the late Reggie Lewis" and "a budding star." In another piece, he said he was "captivated" by Morgan's game.
2014 is a long ways away, and it's tough to project players that far (LaQuinton Ross and DeShawn Painter are good examples) but Telep knows his stuff and is very impressed. The Charm City connections is a good sign for Maryland given that Bino Ranson more or less has the city on lockdown. Keep a sharp eye out for Morgan in the future.