Well, did they? Image via Star-Dem
Talk about an exciting night for Maryland basketball. First the big win over Miami, and then a commitment? It's like Christmas morning.
Or, at least, I think there's a commitment.
Damonte Dodd, a 6-9 center from Queen Anne's County HS, is now listed as a Maryland commitment on Rivals. And ... that's all we know. I know he wasn't listed as a commitment earlier today (was doing some research on a Nick Faust piece), but to be completely honest I've never heard the name before tonight. There's a premium paywall-ed story on him on Rivals, which says he's joining Maryland. But that's the only sign of him in their database - or any other database - meaning there's a good chance that profile was just created today.
To get right to the meat of the matter, let me just say this: I have no idea what's going on. I would assume it's a full, legit scholarship commitment, because A) I doubt they'd specifically create a page for a walk-on, and B) he's listed as having an offer. At the same time, I've literally never heard of him before and I have no idea if he had any other offers and/or interest from anywhere else. (He doesn't appear to.) It's certainly not a common scenario. And we've been burnt on these types of things before.
It's a mystery, really. Use caution until we're walking on more solid ground, meaning confirmation from somewhere else.
Update, 11:47: An apparent QA grad says Dodd's coach has confirmed the commitment, FWIW.
Update, 12:35: And another premium, paywall-ed confirmation. The phrasing in the headline and teaser - "snag" and "commitment" in particular - definitely make it seem like it's a scholarship deal. Looks like that's that, then.
It'll all be clearer in a few days, I'm sure, if not a few hours. In the meantime: if he's not on scholarship, it's not a huge deal, as it basically means he's just a preferred walk-on. If he is on scholarship, I imagine there will be some flexibility, meaning he could redshirt or prep or greyshirt or whatever depending on scholarship and/or playing time needs. Still, you'd think this probably ends the recruitment of Charles Mitchell even if only due to the scholarship numbers of it, unless the staff thinks that there will certainly be a departure in the offseason (Len going back to Europe ala Hawk Palsson or Ashton Pankey transferring are the only things I could imagine).
As for Dodd: he's listed as 6-9 and 230, which is elite size for a 4 and perfectly acceptable size for a 5 at this level. He plays for Queen Anne's County HS out in Centreville, which is on the Eastern Shore. Now, I'm far from an expert on Shore basketball, but something is telling that it isn't great. Are we talking Torrington, CT (Jordan Williams) not great, Howard County not great, wherever Jake Layman plays not great, or something else entirely? I don't know. But it's worth mentioning that he's probably the tallest kid by three inches almost every time he steps out on the floor.
He is putting up big numbers, though. He's averaging 24 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks a game. To be expected with that size? Maybe. But still pretty impressive in their own way.
I know nothing else about him. So I won't pretend like I do. I'll say this, though: you have to assume that Maryland isn't going out and offering random kids from the Shore. This isn't Mark Turgeon's first rodeo, nor Spinelli's or Bino's. They've seen him, multiple times, multiple coaches. I don't know this in the sense that I have firm evidence of it, but I know it because there's simply no other way they'd hand out a scholarship. So, if this is a scholarship offer, what it really comes down to is this: do you trust Mark Turgeon's evaluation ability? Given that evaluation was his calling card at Texas A&M, I do.
You can't teach size, or athleticism. If Dodd has both, I'm assuming they feel he can mold him. The Shore gets, I'm assuming, basically no college scouts - Andre Collins is the only guy I can remember from out there, and he was setting state scoring records if I recall correctly - and it doesn't appear that Dodd played AAU over the summer. There would be basically no way for him to exposure, so it's tough to judge. Talent is talent, though, no matter where it is.
I'm guessing they feel they have a diamond in the rough here, and think it's worth taking a chance.
We'll have more going forward. In the meantime, now seems like a good time to mention that Maryland did add another player: Conner Lipinski, a 5-10 point guard from Annapolis Area Christian, committed to the Terrapins as a preferred walk-on. If you're wondering what a preferred walk-on is: basically a scholarship player in every aspect except the scholarship. No trying out, for example, and other such rigamarole. Lipinski will likely fill the role that Jonathan Thomas and Jon Dillard, both seniors, have been occupying in practice this year.
I have to say, this is the strangest basketball recruiting post I've ever written.