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Terps Offer Ohio Stretch-4 Ahmad
"Maryland has been to a lot of practices, a lot of games," Shaker Heights head coach Danny Young said. "Mark Turgeon and Dustin Clark were at his last game against Medina, which we won, and Esa played very well. They loved him a lot and offered him a scholarship on the 10th of January."
Young went on to say the two Maryland coaches left a favorable impression on his junior forward. The Shaker Heights coach had never met Turgeon before, but Young said he, Ahmad and his family hit it off immediately.
"Coach Turgeon is very personable, outgoing and energetic," Young said. "He talked about the style of play and how Esa's skill-set would be a perfect match, and also how he'll be a good fit in the Big Ten. He spoke to Esa's family, too, and it was very nice.
"And Dustin, he's the one I'm in contact with the most, and he's vey outgoing and a players' coach. He's a very nice guy, and I think Esa likes him and Coach Turgeon a lot."
The Shaker Heights head man said Ahmad was thrilled after Turgeon extended the scholarship. Living in Big Ten country, Ahmad is looking for offers from that conference, according to his coach.
"Anytime you get an offer from a Big Ten school with that kind of tradition and history, and with the facilities and academic tradition Maryland has, it's huge," Young said. "Esa was very, very excited."
Ahmad has never been in College Park, Md., before, but Young apparently has. Aside from coaching Shaker Heights, Young also runs a girls' AAU squad and has played at events in the Comcast Center.
"I told Esa he should visit Maryland. I've been down there with my daughter [for AAU], and, as a matter of fact, one of my former players, Malina Howard, is at Maryland now," Young said. "I told Esa the facilities there are just phenomenal, and it's a real nice setup. I definitely gave Maryland a nice plug."
Maryland isn't the only school involved with Ahmad, however. Young said West Virginia is in close contact, while Iowa, Rutgers, Clemson and Xavier are in the mix as well. Louisville is on the verge of offering and would figure to be heavy in the game too.
"Louisville is very, very, very close to offering," Young said. "I think [Rick] Pitino just wants to lay his eyes on him one more time and they're going to offer. They have a point guard down there, Terry Rozier, who played for me, so I know that staff."
That doesn't mean the Cardinals, or any other program for that matter, has an edge right now. Young said it's way too early in the game to start identifying standouts, especially because Ahmad hasn't visited any schools yet. While many juniors do take in a few college games during the winter, Young said he encourages his players to wait until the spring or summer before they start seeing campuses.
"He'll probably see schools after the season, I'm sure, and most likely commit the fall of his senior year," Young said. "But I don't think he's nailed down a top three or has an order or anything like that.
"But I would say there's probably some schools leading because of how aggressive they are, and Maryland is right in that mix. Louisville, WVU, Iowa, Rutgers, Clemson, Xavier, they're also really, really involved. They all come to games, practices and text within the rules."
Young, who has sent numerous players to high-major programs, said most coaches are drawn to Ahmad's size and versatility, and what he could potentially add with that length-skill combination. Ahmad is currently averaging 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks per game.
"He's a true stretch-4. He can post you up, score around the rim and also shoot the 3," Young said. "As a matter of fact, he's my best 3-point shooter, making over 50 percent from [beyond the arc]. And he can also drive it. He brings the ball up like a point guard and activates and starts our offense.
"He just needs to work on his athleticism and strength right now, along with just continuing to fine-tune the jump shot, ball-handling and all that stuff. I would say mainly explosiveness off the floor and making sure he's able to go, go, go and never take any plays off, ever, are the main focuses."
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