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Maryland basketball recruiting: Updates on Justin Robinson, Esa Ahmad

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What's going on with hoop recruiting?

247 Sports

Guards

It's well established that Maryland really wants to land a point guard in the 2015 class. It's likely their top position of need, and when we last left you, Maryland had just offered three 2015 guardsPrince Ali, Eric Davis and Glynn Watson. Watson is exactly the type of point guard the Terps are looking for in their next class, while Ali and Davis are much more shooting/scoring guards.

There hasn't been much of an update on any of the three, and none of the three seem overly likely to commit to Maryland. Ali's favorite are perceived to be UCLA, Louisville and Michigan and Davis, a Michigan native, seems to be Michigan State's to lose.

Watson, at this time, might be the most realistic option. The teams to beat for him have been Purdue, Nebraska and Creighton, but Purdue just landed a 2015 point guard in Indiana product Grant Weatherford. Watson has spoken highly of the Terrapin staff recently, and they've seemed to have prioritized the 4-star, top 100 guard.

Perhaps the only guard they value higher is local 3-star Justin Robinson. Robinson, a Manassas, VA native who plays at St. James School in Hagerstown, MD, should start the high school season ranked as 2015's top player in the state. He had been second in 247 Sports' composite rankings behind 5-star Arizona commit Allonzo Trier, but Trier is (a) not originally from Maryland and (b) transferring to Nevada's Findley Prep.

Robinson recently released his final top six on Twitter.

So Maryland is up against Virginia Tech, UNLV, Creighton, Temple and Providence. Currently the 247 Crystal Ball has 67% of it's picks for VT and 17% for Maryland, but the last two are Jeff Ermann (Maryland) and Josh Stirn, who changed his from the Hokies to "foggy".

I believe that if Robinson is truly Maryland's top point guard target, and they go for an all out push, he's a decent bet to be a Terp. Virginia Tech might be an up-and-coming program under new coach Buzz Williams, but they still look like a long-term building project to compete in the ACC and their facilities do not come close to what reside in the XFINITY Center (that was weird to type). UNLV is always a wild card and have had success in the area recently, while the other three finalists seem to a step down in terms of recruiting power. Temple, for what it's worth, are hard after top 2015 point guard Jalen Brunson, who's father Rick is an alum and was set to be hired as an assistant coach before some pretty severe legal trouble derailed that plan.

Of course, as we've seen in this 2015 cycle, the "Trimble Effect" (copyrighted) can complicate things. The local guards know more than anyone how good the incoming 5-star guard is/can be and know they'll have to wait their turn to run the show. We'll see if that factors in here.

As players, either Watson or Robinson would be fantastic guards to come off the bench and develop in the program. I don't see either as Day One Starters, as so few freshmen are, but both could thrive backing up Trimble, or even playing alongside him for stretches. Robinson is a "pure" point guard that loves to distribute, run and offense and can hit jump shots. Watson is more of a slasher that thrives from the mid-range and is also an adequate passer.

Forwards

When it comes to 2015 forward targets, there is one name that stands out: Esa Ahmad. The 6-7 3/4 tweener has been the apple Mark Turgeon's eye for a while now, and with the 4-star Ohio product's process possibly nearing an end, the pressure has been turned up.

Ohio State has long been the favorite for Ahmad's services, but their getting awfully squeezed on scholarships and they still covet 5-star power forward Carlton Bragg, another Ohio guy, over Ahmad. Good new for Maryland is that Bragg doesn't look to be near a decision, while Ahmad has mentioned either and August or September commitment. The bad news is that Ahmad visited the Columbus campus on August 2nd. He's visited Maryland a few times before, in June and May, and Dustin Clark has had an in-home sit-down at the Ahmad's home. Currently the Crystal Ball registers 92% for the Buckeyes, and 4% for both Maryland and West Virginia, who were first to offer.

Ahmad's game fits perfectly into what Maryland wants out of their forwards. He's a skilled, long athlete that can play either the three or the four. His jump shot is developing but already good from mid range and behind the arch. His biggest strengths are getting to the bucket, rebounding and all-out effort. An obvious, and cliche, comparison would be to Kawhi Leonard, but I see more of a Stanford-era Josh Childress.

The other two forwards that Maryland's been connected with are Alabama 4-star (but will be playing at Virginia's Hargrave Military Academy) Danjel Purifoy and 3-star Texan Jordan Murphy. All three forwards possess somewhat similar games: versatile, can get to the basket, can put the ball on the floor, and give maximum effort on both offense and defense.

Purifoy is the highest rated, and called Maryland his leader in June, but much of his infatuation with the Terps stemmed from a relationship with Trayvon Reed and Robert Carter Jr. As we know, the former was kicked out of school last week following an arrest. Purifoy hasn't publicly said anything regarding a change in his thinking Reed's dismissal, but it's safe to assume it's hurt Maryland's chances.

Centers

With the dismissal of Trayvon Reed, there seems to be an immediate need at center in 2015. The issues is that it's very late in the game to jump into the game for any high profile big man recruits.

Obviously the name everyone wants to talk about is 5-star, all world Diamond Stone, who has said he wants to visit Maryland, but I remain skeptical. If he cuts his list and Maryland is on it, we can talk about him further.

2016

It's never too early to talk about the 2016 class, so here's a quick roundup of targets. We've mostly heard about guards and wings being targeted for this class, but if they can't pick up a big time big in 2015 or on the transfer market, I would bet more center targets pop up for 2016. Here are updates:

Anthony Cowan: Maryland's top target still retains all eight Crystal Ball picks, but recently received offers from Georgetown and George Washington. He's still rated as a 3-star and outside the top 100 overall, but that's mainly a function of lack of playing time. He backed up incoming Georgetown freshman, and best-guard-in-the-WCAC-not-named-Melo-Trimble Tre Campbell. Once he takes the reigns at St. John's he'll shoot up the rankings.

Cassius Winston: The 4-star point guard from Detroit visited Maryland on August 5th and reportedly was very impressed (paywalled). Crystal Ball picks are all for Michigan State, which, yeah that's gonna happen.