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Taking Stock of Maryland's Recruiting Class, and Its Future, After Layman's Terrapin Commitment

Work is being done by this man.
Work is being done by this man.

I was going to save this post for after any potential Jerami Grant movement, but given that Tuesday has come and nearly gone with nary a sign of a commitment I think I'm in the clear. So let's just all take a big, deep breath, and take stock of where Maryland's recruiting class stands, post Jake Layman-commitment.

In short: it stands on very favorable ground. That's three commitments Mark Turgeon has in hand for the '12 class, and two of them - Layman and Shaquille Cleare - are particularly highly-regarded, top 60 prospects (at least according to the folks at Scout and ESPN). The third, Seth Allen, was taken very early in the cycle, indicating he's a Mark Turgeon favorite, which is good enough for me with his track record.

That combination is already good for a top ten-ish class - ESPN and Dave Telep have stuck them in at #9, with many of their high-level prospects yet to decide. Telep told Josh Barr he liked what Maryland was doing.

"Right now, Maryland is staring down a top-10 class," said ESPN's Dave Telep. "With the potential to put a big old cherry on top if they can get one of those home-run hitters. You've got to give them an ‘A.' They were on Layman before he blew up. So far, mission accomplished."

And yes, that's a total "duh" moment.

Maryland's recruiting start has been impressive, no two ways about it. Cleare, Allen, and Layman form the basis of a very strong class, and ensure that no matter whom Turgeon ends up taking as the class winds down, there'll be sufficient positional balance. Even if the rest of the class is made up of hitherto unknown combo guards, it'll be top 20 at the least.

Moreover, you have to be impressed be impressed by the staff's recruiting prowess, both in terms of scouting and actually landing players. All three of the current commitments have been at the top of Turgeon's wishlist since his Texas A&M days, and in Layman's case well before everyone else saw what he did. (As a sidenote, that's a big reason I'm trusting Seth Allen will be impressive despite his modest ranking.) But even after everyone else figured it out, after Layman had Louisville and Syracuse offers and Cleare was being courted by Arizona and Texas, he and his staff pulled out big commitments. You have to give credit for it.

What comes next will be harder. Maryland's scholarships are starting to dwindle a little, though given Turgeon's cavernous beginnings he still has plenty to work with. Here's the scholarship chart, as it stands currently:

11-12 12-13 13-14 14-15
Sean Mosley James Padgett Pe'Shon Howard Ashton Pankey
Berend Weijs Pe'Shon Howard Ashton Pankey Nick Faust
James Padgett Ashton Pankey Mychal Parker Seth Allen
Pe'Shon Howard Mychal Parker Terrell Stoglin Shaquille Cleare
Ashton Pankey Terrell Stoglin Olexiy Len Jake Layman
Mychal Parker Olexiy Len Nick Faust X
Terrell Stoglin Nick Faust Seth Allen X
Olexiy Len Seth Allen Shaquille Cleare X
Nick Faust Shaquille Cleare Jake Layman X
X Jake Layman X X

So, as  you can see, Turgeon and Co. actually have three more scholarships to play with, if they want to use them all and bring in a Rutgersian 6-man freshman class. With the general lack of bodies, I'd normally be on board with that, but the problem there: it'd be a serious squeeze on the 2013 class, which, with no extra attrition, would only have a single scholarship available. When your biggest recruits in the cycle are twins, it'd probably be a good idea to have at least two scholarships open.

Of course, the "no extra attrition" thing is key. Attrition is almost guaranteed, especially with a new coach. Whether its Olexiy Len fulfilling his lotto pick destiny, Nick Faust or Mitch McGary jumping early, or a player not getting along with the new coach - which almost always happens - there's a decent chance that space will come about naturally. It's a gamble, of course: do you withhold some much-needed depth for a chance at later reinforcements of a higher quality, or do you bring in players while running the risk of losing the biggest recruits in recent memory?

In truth, it's not as big a deal as it seems, and I'd be surprised if we saw Turgeon only use five of his six potential scholarships. It's a pretty common problem at programs which recruit at a high level consistently - just look at the mess Arizona had this spring. Or another option is to find loopholes, like UConn is doing by putting one of their players on a financial aid package - don't worry, a legal one - to free up a scholarship for Andre Drummond.

With that settled, the next big question: who, then, are the two or three recruits to fill up the spaces? Looking at the current roster (im)balance, you'd think that at least two more forwards are priorities, both of the swing variety (like Jerami Grant and Amile Jefferson) and of the post variety (like Mitch McGary and Robert Carter). That potential third scholarship has a lot of options, though a 2/3 wing like Terry Henderson or Andrew White may be preferred.

Of course, it seemed like Grant would act quickly to take up the next spot, with Josh Barr saying he was down to Rutgers and Maryland. Grant's AAU coach has refuted the report, which makes it a little awkward and tough to tell what's going on. Either Barr's source is wrong, or Keith Stevens doesn't know the current landscape of the recruitment. Both say he'll decide this week and is done with visits, so we'll find out soon enough.

Grant would fit into the team nicely, and provide a lot of length and athleticism right out of the gates. It would, however, probably end the Amile Jefferson dream, as Jefferson is similar positionally to both Layman and Grant, and the battle for minutes would get to be a little much. One in the hand is worth two in the bush, though, particularly with Jefferson being in such a tough recruitment.

Mitch McGary would be the potential jewel of the class, and landing him would almost assuredly vault the Terrapins into Top 3 class status. He's an instant gamechanger, particularly with such a good offensive game: adding him to the mix would mean guys like Layman, Cleare, and potentially Grant, none of whom have shown themselves to be consistent primary scorers, would be able to play off him, making the offense easier for them. Of course, that's easier said than done: McGary will start taking visits soon, to all of the six colleges that remain on his list, and it'll be a full-on battle.

If McGary, who'll likely decide in September or October sometime, ends up elsewhere, Turgeon and the staff will have to turn up the heat elsewhere, on guys like Elijah Macon, Carter, or Robert Upshaw. Any of them would be coups in any other year, Carter especially.

Regardless, it's not hard to be optimistic about Maryland's recruiting right now. They have a ton of momentum with the two recent commitments, and are in good-to-fighting chance with almost everyone left on their board. I know we haven't seen a game yet, but I'm still feeling good vibes about the direction of the program.

(Heck, after the uniforms and that game, the entire athletic department is trending up.)