Welcome to the 2018-19 college basketball early signing period. Maryland men's basketball has signed all three of its current recruits, and if things shake out as expected, the Terps should clock in with a top-25 class.
Mark Turgeon got two signatures Wednesday, Nov. 14, while it took a little longer than expected for the final one to come in. Twin centers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell signed their pledges early on Wednesday afternoon at a high school ceremony at Woodrow Wilson in D.C., while forward Donta Scott abandoned plans to do the same the day later.
Jay Heath (Boston College), Makhi Mitchell (Maryland), and Makhel Mitchell (Maryland) signed the LOIs during STEP today. pic.twitter.com/BsOyiJoLLs— The Wilson Beacon (@thewilsonbeacon) November 14, 2018
Scott weighed signing a financial aid agreement before inking his National Letter of Intent, according to InsideMDSports’ Jeff Ermann. If Scott had sent in the financial aid agreement instead, he’d have a little more leeway to change his mind later. With his NLI signed, however, he’s officially on board with the twins. Turgeon’s three-man class stands at No. 24 in the nation with the first signing period winding down.
The Mitchell twins were the first to commit in the class, in August 2017, while the 2018 class was still just starting to take shape. Scott joined much more recently, giving his verbal commitment at a similar high school ceremony on Oct. 24. Turgeon’s focus for 2019 was clearly the frontcourt, given the relative lack of depth the current team has in that area.
With their two most recent commitments, the Terps also have four players in the pipeline: three 2019 commits and a 2020 pledge. Here’s a look at what type of players the Terps are bringing in next season.
Makhi and Makhel Mitchell are officially signed, 15 months after committing
The Washington, D.C., natives committed to the Terps ahead of their junior season at Montverde Academy. After going undefeated and winning the GEICO National High School Championship, they returned home after spending the offseason helping DC Premier through the Under Armour Association and to a championship. Now, the twins are playing out their senior season at Woodrow Wilson High School in the District.
As twins, they’re obviously hard to tell apart, each standing around 6’9. If you look close enough, you’ll realize Makhel’s a little taller, around 10 pounds heavier and wears braces. But even then, they’re easy to mistake for each other. The only way to distinguish them is in the differences in their games.
Makhi garners a four-star ranking as the No. 18 center and the No. 67 overall player in the class of 2019, per the 247Sports Composite. Makhel was a four-star when he committed, as well, but has since been re-ranked as a three-star, clocking in at No. 28 at his position and No. 155 in the class. According to the twins, while their games are similar, Makhel is more of a traditional big man, while Makhi’s game is a little more modern.
“I prefer [to play] like back to the basket, like bullying and all that,” Makhel told Testudo Times at Maryland Madness on Oct. 26. “But [Makhi is] more like finesse. ... We both can do all things, but those are just some key factors about us.”
The two also played with freshman forward Ricky Lindo for the DC Premier this last summer. Makhi was named the 17U Defensive Player of the Year and Lindo eventually reclassified back to 2018 and signed with the Terps. Now the latter has seen playing time in all three games and is coming off his best game as a Terp. Lindo came off the bench to add four points, seven rebounds and four assists in a blowout win over North Carolina A&T. For the twins, who saw his development up close, his rapid rise was no surprise.
“He worked extremely hard this offseason—the offseason, the AAU season,” Makhi said. “He was a little quiet, but he’s a little bit more outgoing right now. I knew it was going to happen, I knew the hard work he put in was going to pay off and he chose the right school.”
The twins won't officially be on campus for around another eight months, but by that time sophomore Bruno Fernando and freshman Jalen Smith could have turned pro, depending on the season plays out. Regardless of whom they share the frontcourt with, they're each confident in what they'll bring to the team.
Donta Scott joined the class recently, but his pledge is now official, too
Scott was actually the Terps’ most recent commit, regardless of class, coming to Maryland by way of the same school that brought the Terps eventual NFL first round pick DJ Moore. The three-star forward, ranked as the No. 35 small forward and No. 139 overall, visited Maryland on Sept. 14. It was the first of five official visits this fall, but it sealed the deal. The Philadelphia native chose College Park over hometown schools Seton Hall, Temple and La Salle, as well as South Carolina.
“After I took the visit, I was like, ‘Alright, I kind of like it,’” Scott said. “Then I started to take a couple visits and I was like, ‘Uhh, they not the same.’ ... I felt like I was at home when I came here. So at the other schools I felt like I was just going to be a regular basketball player, but when I came here I felt like I was a part of the whole Maryland family.”
If you ask Scott, there's not much he can’t do on a basketball court. There's not much evidence to disprove him thus far. He's been an instrumental part of Imhotep winning the last two Pennsylvania 4A State Championships. Scott's also the reigning Player of the Year in his state, coming off a season where he averaged 11.5 points per game as a junior.
“My mindset is always first to get my team a win no matter what,” Scott said. “So I’m a hard, gritty, hardworking player. I love playing defense, blocking shots, and I can handle the ball, shoot, dunk all that, so there’s really not too much I really can’t do on the court. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to get my team a win, no matter what.”
At 6’7 and 220 lbs., his body type most resembles Justin Jackson, who departed for the NBA this past offseason. Like Jackson, Scott also looks like he should be able to play at small forward or as a small-ball power forward at the college level, and Scott shows potential as a long-ball shooter. However, Scott has also displayed more athleticism than Jackson ever did. Only time will tell whether their career arcs at Maryland are similar or Scott makes a legacy all his own.
Turgeon’s biggest need for 2020 is already filled: a replacement for Anthony Cowan, who graduates after the 2019-20 season. The Terps will continue its string of WCAC point guards at the reigns with Marcus Dockery on board early. Obviously, the Bishop O’Connell guard won’t be able to sign his own letter of intent for another year, but the four-star’s surprise commitment was a win for Maryland. Dockery would have joined the 2019 commits at Maryland Madness, but missed the event out sick. It wouldn’t be long before he was back in College Park, though, as he popped up at Maryland’s season opener against Delaware on Nov. 6.
“Once [Dockery] came in and visited with us, we came with him and made him feel at home,” Makhel said. “He wanted to stay around his peoples, so his family could watch and basically stay around a crowd he knows.”
The Terps currently have no more scholarships available for 2019, but one or more could open up with departures via the draft or transfer. The group expressed interest in a shooter for the class, but were confident with whatever Turgeon wants to do with any eventual openings. After bringing in a six-man, top-10 class in 2018, the Terps already have a solid 2019 class en route and the basis for their 2020 class set.