With Maryland men’s basketball struggling to find a strong low-post presence during this season, the Ontario, Canada native seemed like a match made in heaven, and head coach Mark Turgeon pounced on the opportunity.
“We announced it Monday and Mark Turgeon called me Monday evening,” Boakye’s head coach and president of George Harris Prep, George Aramide, told Testudo Times. “We talked Monday evening, talked Tuesday evening and we talked Thursday. And then we have a zoom call set up for Monday.”
The Terps already had a prior connection with Boakye and his camp thanks to assistant coach DeAndre Haynes, who had recruited Boakye back in 10th grade while he was an assistant at Michigan. Haynes has reached out daily to strengthen that relationship, according to Aramide.
Boakye ranks as a composite four-star recruit (0.9864) and No. 32 player in the 2022 class, but 247 Sports ranks him at No. 20 overall and a five-star talent. He committed to the Spartans back on July 28, 2020, joining small forward Emoni Bates, the No. 1 recruit in 2022, to create the top recruiting class at the time.
With the lack of success plaguing Michigan State basketball (11-9, 5-9 Big Ten) this season, the outlook of playing time in the front court moving forward shifted, leading to Boakye’s decision.
“He wants to go in and earn his spot, but have an opportunity to get in and impact winning right away,” Aramide said.
Boakye has heard from the likes of Arizona, Arizona State, Indiana, Illinois, Syracuse, UCLA, USC, Washington and more in less than a week back on the market, according to Amaride. While many schools have interest in Boakye, there is potential for him to reclassify and become a 2021 recruit, which would shrink the pool of programs with spots available.
“That’s what we’re leaning towards right now,” Amaride said. “He has the chance, if he pushes, to graduate this summer. If we can get all of that done, and all the chips kind of fall where they may, then yeah, we probably will.”
Maryland currently sits with a full roster of 13 scholarship players, including seniors Darryl Morsell, Galin Smith and Reese Mona. As James Graham III enrolled early, the 2021 class now only holds Julian Reese and Ike Cornish.
If Morsell, Smith or Mona were to use their extra year of eligibility afforded by the NCAA due to COVID-19, they would not count against the 13-scholarship limit, meaning Turgeon and his staff have the room to bring in one more new face for the 2021-22 season.
“We’ve had great conversations,” Aramide said. “[The Terps] need a big right now, and that’s kind of what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a situation where we’re not just wanted, we’re needed... That would be a great situation.”
Standing at 6-foot-10 and weighing between 240-260 pounds, Boakye yields a very similar frame to that of former Maryland center Bruno Fernando when he entered the college ranks and brings a similar level of fire to the court.
“His game is high-energy, high-motor,” Amaride said. “He runs the floor very well, very mobile for his size and weight... [He] plays above the rim, has a jumper [and] has improved his jumpshot over the last year.”
Boakye represented the Canadian National Team at the 2019 FIBA U-16 Americas Championship, averaging 8.8 points and 10.8 rebounds across six games.
With his sights set on the NBA, Boakye is looking for a program that has also had success with top front court talent and launching NBA careers, giving Turgeon and Maryland extra appeal after sending Alex Len, Fernando and Jalen Smith to the league.
“I mean, his goal is to make it to the NBA,” Amaride said. “A lot of people think he’s going to be a one-and-done, so we definitely want to go to a place where they’ve had super, super success with NBA bigs and will allow him to showcase [his skills] right away.”
With his recruitment just reopening, Boakye is not in a rush to secure a spot, but does know that time is ticking.
Boakye and his camp are waiting to see if the NCAA might change the end of its dead period, which was recently extended to May 31. If he does reclassify, a decision would likely have to come without visits and within the next 6-8 weeks.
“Roughly in May we would know you know for sure,” Amaride said. “With Maryland for instance, they have a perfect situation where he gets to come in and play right away this year and if we feel comfortable with that and we like that situation then he’s going to push and take some extra courses and finish for May and be on campus in June.”
In the end, Boakye’s decision will come down to where playing time is available and the chances to reach the NBA are high.
“We really want to take our time and find that perfect fit,” Amaride said. “I always tell reporters and people who interview us, this is going to be the most important decision of his life. So we want to make sure that everything is right and checks off everything on our list.”