So, now that Johnny O'Bryant's LSU commitment is looking more and more official by the hour, it's time to talk about Maryland's contingency plan. After all, it's tough to just lose your probable #1 target and not be wondering where to go from here. (Note: for those that follow basketball recruiting religiously, there's not a lot of new stuff here).
First off, Maryland has four scholarships to spend on 2011; Sterling Gibbs has already taken up one of them. Personally, I'm of the opinion that it makes sense for Maryland to use two of the remaining three schollies on big men, mostly because that's the biggest area of need but also because they've invested a lot of time in 2012 wings already.
Luckily for Maryland, there are three big men still on the board that they've been recruiting for awhile now. Adjehi Baru is the most notable, and to be honest is just as good as O'Bryant, or at the very least has a higher ceiling. His recruitment is...interesting. UNC has offered and will obviously be competitive; Virginia Tech has had a lot of recent recruiting success; and hell, even College of Charleston is scary because they've made it to the top 4 and no one really knows what "in" they have and what they're capable of.
Baru's recruitment will likely last awhile, maybe even into the spring. An O'Bryant commitment would've given Maryland flexibility as to whether or not they wanted to wait that out; now, they have to. Handicapping the race is nearly impossible, but the smart money is on Maryland - the team that first recruited Baru and has always been connected with - playing a large role. The stiff competition means it's still likely he ends up elsewhere, but Maryland probably has as good a shot as any of the others.
The other options aren't as decorated. Greg Lewis is a 6-8 center from Baltimore who's flown heavily under the radar. He technically has an offer, but one would've figured he would've committed by now if it was "real" or "committable". The general consensus is that he's a Maryland lean if the Terps want him, which they may or may not; though he would help strengthen Baltimore relations and has a solid upside, he may not be the most impactful option.
That would go to Desmond Hubert, a 6-9 center from New Jersey. He used to be a top tier target; over the summer, his lack of offensive skill and softness were exposed, and he dropped like a rock. Now, Maryland's a real player in his recruitment. He's ranked lower on Rivals than Lewis by a spot, but his shot-blocking is truly top-level, far better than anything Lewis has to offer. He needs a lot of work and is a liability offensively, but would be good to pair next to the more physical Jordan Williams.
Meantime, Antwan Space is (technically) an option, too. Even though he's supposed to be a heavy Arkansas lean, he's still reportedly visiting Maryland this week, and that indicates some level of at least minor interest. He's a bit of a tweener and has a lot of Landon Milbourne in him, but that might not be a bad thing.
Past that, there's little in the way of options. Then again, new ones always pop up. That's what happened with Pe'Shon Howard, Berend Weijs, and Haukur Palsson. Maryland could get re-involved with Tyler Harris or Norvel Pelle, or go an entirely new route with names we've never heard before, be they foreign, JuCo, or normal HSers. Maryland seems to be pretty good at that.
JOB going elsewhere wasn't ideal, but the prospect of an elite big man (Baru) still looms large. And if that doesn't pan out, Maryland could do (and has done, in the past) a lot worse than Hubert or Lewis.