Maryland Basketball Recruiting Reset: With Cassell On Board, Assessing Where Terps Go Now

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: Head coach Mark Turgeon of the Maryland Terrapins looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Well, at least we think Sam Cassell Jr.'s on board. Given that both he and his coaches have said he's committed, it's beyond question that that's his plan, but the hang-up with Papa Cassell is yet to be resolved. I'm fairly confident he'll end up in College Park, but with recruiting you never really know.

Maybe Junior takes a visit to Florida State or Villanova to appease pops, and in that case you should be rightfully nervous. But he seems pretty well set on Maryland, and unless something drastic changes, I feel safe assuming that's where he'll be. This is the type of situation where no news is good news, and given that I haven't heard anything since the initial report, I'm happy.

Which leads into the obvious question: with Cassell now committed and Terrell Stoglin returning for at least one more year, are the Terrapins done with 2012 recruiting?

I'm thinking the answer is yes, though I'm uncertain. Maryland's staff appeared to be going hard after a lot of targets in the past few weeks, so many that it seemed unlikely that they'd be only concerned with getting a single one. But the argument can be made that getting Stoglin back for another year was essentially like getting a commitment, and I'm inclined to agree.

More importantly, though, for the moment the room just isn't there: all 13 of the Terrapins' scholarships are accounted for next year. We've been talking about attrition like it's a foregone conclusion, but the more time passes the less likely it becomes. If the staff is already certain of a departure or plans to ask a player to find somewhere else to play, then that's irrelevant; otherwise, the 2012 recruiting season is dying down, and an opening may not pop up soon enough for the staff to act upon it. Every day that passes without a paradigm-changing event, you'd think adding a commitment becomes exponentially less likely.

And you know what that means: it's on to 2013.

If this is your first year around these parts, we like to talk about recruiting, AAU, and the like quite a bit over the summer. If you've been around awhile, I have good news: that's right around the corner. AAU events usually start the first weekend of April, and by the middle part of the month the big events - like Nike's EYBL, the various Jam Fest events, and Adidas' invitationals - will be well under way. That means changes in recruiting, rankings, and likely much else.

One thing unlikely to change: Maryland's preference for the Harrison twins, the 6-5 Houstonians Andrew and Aaron. Both consensus top-5 prospects in their class and immensely talented guards, the Brothers Harrison have narrowed their lists to Maryland, Kentucky, Villanova, and Baylor, and the Terrapins figure to be a frontrunner of that group, due to an underrated home field advantage (Aaron Sr. is a Baltimore native) and perhaps some Under Armour pull. Kentucky is going to be a difficult opponent for any recruit, especially two guards, but Maryland has a lot of underrated factors point their own way.

But you already know all of that.

What'll be really interesting to see is what happens if the Harrisons end up somewhere else. It's almost certain that Maryland would still be looking to add a long-term answer at point guard, given that none appear to be on the roster at the moment save perhaps Pe`Shon Howard. The lead non-Harrison candidate to fill the role is Rysheed Jordan, a Philadelphia native and consensus top-30 prospect. Big, strong, quick, and athletic, his physical tools are as good as any point guard in his class; while he needs some molding to become a pure point, he's already a good creator for others with virtually no ceiling. Maryland's been on Jordan for some time now, and figures to be one of his top choices alongside hometown schools like Temple and Villanova, among other listed offers from schools like Alabama, N.C. State, and Kansas.

Jordan says he plans to commit in July, which is a good thing - the quicker things happen, the fewer things that can go wrong and the more time it allows for contingency plans. Getting the commitment that early would be big for other reasons, too: if the staff can add a star point guard (and likely the centerpiece of the class) early in the game, they can sell him to other recruits and perhaps wrap up the class early, letting them put in even more work in a talent-laden 2014 class.

A lot of people are wondering if there has to be some sort of juggling act for Maryland's staff, given that Jordan seems to be on pace to decide before the Harrisons. While a lot has to happen for that ever to factor in - namely, Jordan choosing before the Harrisons and choosing Maryland, neither of which are guaranteed - I'm not convinced it's all that complicated even if all of that turns out. I'm an outsider here, but unless the staff is really confident about the Harrison twins, I can't see any reason to slow-play a borderline five-star prospect at a position of huge need. This is likely a case of one in the hand being worth two in the bush. Of course, plenty could still happen between now and then to render such a dilemma moot, including how (well or poorly) Jordan plays in these opening spring events.

All that said, it's virtually inconceivable of a situation in which Maryland doesn't add a high-level point guard. The roster is in desperate need of it, and it's easy to trace recruiting patterns and see that the staff agrees. If neither Jordan nor the Harrisons, expect Rashawn Powell to loom large. Claiming offers from Virginia Tech, Miami, and Seton Hall, he's currently floating in the three-star range but could end up a top-100 type. The Florida native is undersized, but has a lightning-quick first step and is a true point, looking to involve others consistently. And c'mon: he goes by Pookie and can pull off this look. How can you not like him? If not Pookie, locals like Roddy Peters, Will Ferguson, and Daxter Miles will always be waiting in the wings, and the staff has been connected to Tyler Ennis and Jaren Sina in the past as well.

Somehow, someway, Maryland will adding a point guard between now and then. The only other question is who else joins the roster with them. It's too far out to guess at what the rest of the focus will be - there are too many unknowns. Is Terrell Stoglin still in the program? How about Nick Faust? Are Mychal Parker and Ashton Pankey still here, and have they progressed? What about Alex Len? The answers to those questions will likely shape what position that final commit (or two) is at.

That said, one of the big names the Terrapins have been tracking, DeMatha big man BeeJay Anya, appears to have eliminated the Terrapins recently, not mentioned in his list of sixteen schools. That decision was likely mutual to some degree; Anya, for as much talent as he has, fit the same mold as Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare, and there's really only room for so many space-eating wide-bodies on one team.

If Maryland adds a big man, particularly a local big man, I'd think Junior Etou and Kris Jenkins would be more likely candidates. Etou is a sort-of rich man's Dino Gregory (or perhaps James Padgett) - a bit undersized but highly athletic and willing to do the dirty work in the post. Once Padge leaves, Maryland will be lacking that type of big, and Etou would be a solid filler. He recently listed the Terrapins in his top three (paywalled story, but you get the gist) and plays with D.C. Assault, which theoretically should be the most Terp-friendly AAU program in the country. Jenkins is a unique prospect and I'm not sure he'll garner an offer from Maryland, but his numbers over the past year have been undeniably great. He's a big producer with a lot of skill and will be worth watching over the summer.

Stanford Robinson is the third big name local that the Terrapins seem to be tracking. A standout for Paul VI last season, Robinson earned a Maryland offer midway through the year and seems to be one of the staff's priorities. Maryland's loaded up on guards and it seems unlikely to add yet another in the 2014 class, but Robinson has enough size (6-4) and athleticism to be more a pure wing than the combo guard that seems to dominate Maryland's roster.

It is, of course, still very early, which means that there's plenty of time for new targets to emerge, and they almost certainly will. Jake Layman was an unknown at this point last year; Mitch McGary was just a big kid who had reclassified; and no one knew if Sam Cassell Jr. was going to go anywhere above the mid-major level. Maryland has laid down early groundwork with those listed here, but expect new targets to appear over the next two or three months.

I'll close with a note that's been discussed a bit but deserves a higher placement: Maryland's staff deserves credit for winning quite a few recruiting battles in their first year on the gig. Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, and Sam Cassell Jr. were all prospects that could've gone to schools just as big as Maryland (Syracuse, Tennessee, and UConn, respectively) but all ended up Terrapins, despite Maryland having few natural advantages or the ability to lay groundwork. That's a good sign for the future.

No, they're not batting 1.000 - Mitch McGary, Amile Jefferson, Nate Britt, and so on - but no staff will, especially in their first year. They're winning enough of them, though. And as success grows and relationships are bolstered, that will only get better and better. With a significant 2012 class already in the books, the next several years can be focused solely on landing elite talent to top off the foundation they laid over the past year, and I'm optimistic (cautiously so, but optimistic nonetheless) that they'll be able to do just that.

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