Editor's Note: Please welcome new basketball recruiting contributor Griff Volker to the Testudo Times community! Griff is a freshman at Maryland and not just Pete Volk's new pseudonym...we think. Treat him as you'd treat me (Andrew) - with anger and vitriol.
The men's basketball team recently added their first commitment in the class 2015 with point guard Jaylen Brantley. A Massachusetts native, Brantley is a 3-star recruit from Odessa Community College and showcased his sharp shooting ability and crisp passes when he was a former teammate of senior forward Jake Layman on the Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC).
Turgeon still has eyes on other prospects, but so far he hasn't been able to reel in some of the nation's top players. Maryland tried unsuccessfully to recruit guards Prince Ali and Eric Davis, and local star Justin Robinson turned his back on the Terps for Virginia Tech. Maryland lost a bidding war against Louisville for top-25 recruit PJ Dozier, and couldn't get 4-star forwards Esa Ahmad and Danjel Purifoy.
There are still reasons to be optimistic. Melo Trimble has shown flashes of becoming the star we have been waiting for so far this season. Guards Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens combined for 25 points against Bowie State in the preseason. With these three joining established veterans Dez Wells, Layman, and a healthy Evan Smotrycz, the Terps will be able to compete against the other teams in the B1G.
Though it may be too early to predict where the 2016 recruits will go, Maryland still has plenty of 2015's to choose from. Let's go by position and see who the Terp's are interested in:
PG Malik Ellison, Life Center Academy (N.J.)
Ratings: 3-star Prospect, 12th ranked player in New Jersey
Ellison has been on the Terp's radar for awhile. The 6-6 point guard is an athletic player who is great in transition and is known for his tenacity on defense. His father is former NBA No.1 draft pick Pervis Ellison, who led Louisville to a national championship title in 1986.
Malik does have a connection to Maryland; his sister Aja is a freshman on the women's basketball team. He has garnered interest from other schools though; he currently has offers from Saint Joseph's, Penn State and Temple.
With Trimble as the incumbent point guard and Brantley's recent commitment, Ellison will face some stiff competition for playing time. Ellison is more fit to be a wing than a point guard in college, so he will have to learn how to be versatile. Saint Joseph's is the only real threat to get Ellison, but if Maryland pushes, there is a chance he could come to College Park next season.
2015 shooting guard Maurice O'Field and 2016 point guards Cassius Winston and Anthony Cowan. O'Field is electrifying and has the potential to be a big time player. Standing at 6-5, 200 pounds, he has the size and speed of a college player. Baylor, Arizona State, and Virginia Tech have also been interested in O'Field.
Winston seems to be a longshot for the Terps and the 4-star prospect could easily stay in his hometown state and pick Michigan St. Cowan is a local product from St. John's College, and the 6-0, 3-star prospect is better than advertised. He will have a good year after the departure of top recruit and former teammate Tre Campbell. Cowan is the most likely to come to Maryland, but that wouldn't be for a few years.
Small Forward Kipper Nichols, St. Edwards (OH)
Ratings: 3-star prospect, 6th ranked player in Ohio
With the recent commitment of Jordan Murphy to VCU, Maryland does not have any other forwards that they are high on. A 3-star prospect, the Terps tried hard to get the 6-7 native from Texas. Turgeon seems to trust Nickens and fellow freshman Michal Cekovsky to be the forwards of the future.
But the Terps have made an offer to Kipper Nichols, who stands at 6-6 and would be a project for the Terps. Nichols is not the best shooter, but he is a tough player who should be able to improve if he is coached well in college. The other schools in the mix are Xavier and Nebraska with Xavier being the frontrunner.
Power forward Ted Kapita and small forward Novian Cherry. Maryland has not made an offer to either players, and Kapita recently narrowed his list down and did not include Maryland. Arkansas and Missouri are the most likely to get him. Cherry, on the other hand, recently decommitted from Western Kentucky and still has interest in the Terps. But at this point if the Terps have not made an offer to the 3-star prospect, he is going to go elsewhere.
Diamond Stone, Dominican High School (WI)
Ratings: 5-Star Prospect, Ranked 5th nationwide and No. 1 ranked player in Wisconsin
The top prospect everyone is talking about is 6-10 center Diamond Stone, a 5-star product from Wisconsin. Stone did have an official visit; he attended Maryland Madness at the Xfinity Center on October 17th. His father Robert Stone said that Diamond's relationship with the head coach will have the most impact on his decision, which is good news for the Terps; Mark Turgeon and assistant coach Bino Ranson have recruited Stone since the 10th grade.
Stone lead the United States to the gold medal at the FIBA U-17 World Championships. He is a versatile big man who has an excellent post game and knows how to score. His defensive skills are just as impressive; Stone had a USA single-game record five blocks against China.
The coaches have surely made their pitch to him; Trimble and Stone together could usher in a new era of Terps basketball in the B1G. Stone recently narrowed down his list to Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, UConn and Maryland.
Stone and Robert Carter, the transfer forward from Georgia Tech who will be eligible next year, could potentially form one of the most intimidating frontcourts in the B1G. Even though his father recently said that there is no set decision date, Diamond recently tweeted the date being Nov. 21st. It looks like a decision may be coming sometime soon.
Note: Stone announced that he will not sign with a school until the spring. For more info, check out our article.
Yankuba Sima is another interesting prospect to look for. Sima is a 6-11, 4-star recruit from Arlington Country Day (Fla) whose presence alone should help the Terps in rebounding and defense. A U-18 Spanish national team member, Sima is a former teammate of current Terp freshman Michal Cekovsky at Canarias Basketball Academy. He is rated as a 4-star prospect according to ESPN. Sima is a likely option for Maryland, so fans should be excited about the athletic shot blocker.
Coaches have been impressed by Sima's ability to use his long arms to snag rebounds. The Terps need a dominant center, and Sima has all the abilities of a successful big man. Sima still needs to work on his footwork and his post game, but if Turgeon can coach him to his full potential, then the Terps would finally have the center they have been waiting for. Some have predicted he could be picked high in the NBA draft.
The only other offers Sima has are from Baylor and Louisville. Other than Sima, recruiting has cooled down for center Georgios Papagiannis. Hopefully the Terps can put up big time wins this year to make the decisions for these players easier.