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What We Learned in the Second Open Period: Maurice Harkless Blows Up, Gary Williams Re-Energizes

Sterling Gibbs was pretty good, but his teammate was even better.
Sterling Gibbs was pretty good, but his teammate was even better.

The second open period ends today, which signals the end of the summer recruiting season. While we still have a few small tournaments to wrap up, the great majority of tournaments are done. While it wasn't nearly as exciting as the first of the summer open periods, we still learned plenty that we didn't know before. And Maurice Harkless led the way of new developments:

Maurice Harkless is for real. When Maurice Harkless decommitted from UConn, Maryland was one of the many schools to show interest. But his rankings and reviews to that point were unspectacular, and with so many other wing targets - Dorian Finney-Smith and LaQuinton Ross chief among them - Harkless seemed to be a backup, in a manner of speaking.

But Harkless turned it on this summer. He made the Desert Duel his tournament entirely, and was one of the few prospects to absolutely blow up in the second open period. Rivals described him as a do-it-all wing. A D-1 coach said he is a cross between Trevor Ariza and Ray Allen, and figures to be a ten-year pro. He led the NY Panthers to a Desert Duel championship and won MVP; afterwards, Rivals posted a very favorable review.

His greatest asset is his ability to finish in transition where he displays top shelf body control around the basket. With his quick second jump, he is also a dangerous offensive rebounder. Throw in a reliable three-point stroke, and you have a high level wing prospect who has upside to boot.

Maryland is the only school other than UConn that's definitely going to get a visit in August (Florida or Cincinnati will get another). That bodes well, considering a prospect doesn't usually recommit to a school they decommitted from. Oh, and he's an AAU teammate of Sterling Gibbs, the current Maryland commit. Gibbs just happens to be doing a little bit of recruiting over Twitter, too; Harkless seems very attainable and he's very good. He'll probably be in the top 40 by the next set of rankings.

Gary Williams didn't like Debbie Yow, and it shows. We can argue all day about this, but the fact of the matter is that Gary Williams and Debbie Yow didn't get along. And now that Debbie is off to N.C. State, Gary has a new pep in his step on the recruiting trail.

It was almost as if the 65-year-old Williams was given a new lease on life - or at least with his career - when Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow left to take a similar spot at N.C. State. To say Williams and Yow didn't get along is a vast understatement. There was no love lost.


Now, Yow's departure may have literally added five years onto Williams' career. I've been told by numerous sources that's what Williams is telling those close to him.


Williams was as active in the July recruiting period as I've seen him in years - and much of it could be attributed to the loss of Yow.

Bino Ranson is legit. Baltimore AAU coaches seem to love the hire.

"Maryland's recruiting in the city hasn't been what it should be," Oliver said. "Bringing in [assistant coach] Keith Booth helped a lot. With Bino in there, you'll get a lot of elite players at Maryland. It might be the best move they've made in a long time."


Among Maryland's targets is City shooting guard Nick Faust. Like many Maryland recruits, Faust has deep AAU roots. "We're like family," AAU coach Carlton "Bub" Carrington said of Faust. Carrington is Faust's Nike Baltimore Elite coach and is close to Ranson.

"The work other coaches might have to do for relationships, Bino already has the groundwork. They call him Uncle Bino," Carrington said. "If Bino was at Maryland, then Donte Greene and Malcolm Delaney [Towson Catholic, Virginia Tech] would have been at Maryland. Easy."

Combine an energized Gary with a connected assistant and Maryland has the potential to have a great class. They still need to land a big target, of course.

Sterling Gibbs ain't bad, either, even if he'll still get overlooked. I didn't see a single article mentioning Gibbs' play, which is strange considering he seemed to have played pretty well. He made the Fab 48 all-tournament team and dropped 19 on Quinn Cook to beat DC Assault in the Desert Duel. He hasn't been getting a lot of talk, but he's been impressive enough to warrant a minor bump in the rankings, and I expect to see one. 

Jabari Brown and Nick Faust are who we thought they were (maybe Brown moreso than Faust). When Jabari Brown and Nick Faust entered this evaluation period, they were the top two shooting guards on Maryland's board, and two of the best in the country. Both remained there, but probably didn't do a lot to increase their status. Brown won the Fab 48 MVP and was impressive at Best of the Summer, but he didn't receive a lot of publicity and, quite frankly, top 10 players are supposed to win tournament MVPs.

Faust wasn't mentioned once either on Twitter or in a tournament wrap. That'll probably stifle his rise a little bit, which was going to be meteoric if he continued on his earlier pace.

Regardless, Brown remains a top 15 player, and Faust should be in the top 25.

Maryland might have a new wing target...again. Maurice Harkless, LaQuinton Ross, Dorian-Finney Smith...does Maryland really need another win target? Apparently. Antwan Space, a 6-8 wing from DeSoto, TX, is now listing Maryland after an impressive showing at Fab 48.

Space is a prototypical wing who can do a little bit of everything on the court. He has a long, lean frame that oozes potential and a feathery touch from the outside. His stroke is effortless out to 22 feet, but it's not as consistent when he has to shoot it off the bounce because he has a tendency to drift. In addition to his shooting, he even posted up and dropped in a nice-looking jump hook. After dropping 24 points in the first half, the defense clamped down and he struggled to get good looks. He needs to learn to move without the ball, continue to hone his perimeter skills, and most importantly play with a sense of urgency all the time. He has Gonzaga, Maryland, Texas A&M, and FIU tracking his talents.

Still looking forward to 2013. Chris Thomas, from Princeton Day Academy in Bowie, is a budding star. HDWD has highlights and a very promising write-up. And Maryland just offered Rodney Purvis, one of the best players from 2013, who's reaction was priceless

Rod Days is basically Landon Milbourne. I like Days, but I do think that a class involving him would be a little disappointing. I'm with the group of fans that loved Landon's four years, but don't really want to try it again.

Rod Days, PF, Broward Bobcats- Some view Days as a small forward, but he seems most effective as a quick, ball-handling four man who can catch, face and blow by defenders off the dribble. A good athlete with quick reactions around the rim, he's also capable of making some plays in transition.

There's a slight difference; Days is a better ball-handler, Landon's a better shooter. But an undersized four-man that can't find a position and is most effective in transition sounds a lot like Landon.

Adjehi Baru's timetable: 5 in August. That's a quicker development than I had expected; hopefully this means that he won't drag on too long. And Rick Lewis, the dad of Tyler Lewis - Adjehi Baru's AAU teammate - says that Maryland's the one to beat for Baru. That sounds excellent to me.

Early tomorrow I'll be posting a new Big Board. Lots of changes will be coming for sure, so get your voting hats on.