Think of this basketball offseason at Maryland as a bus ride. There were some stops and some starts…
TTDan's Hoops Dish
As this was being written, Kansas transfer Andrew White was on a visit to Notre Dame. This follows a trip to Nebraska, and we've gotten no definitive word on any plans for White, a 6-6 small forward, to visit Maryland. Certainly if a subsequent Maryland visit turned into a commitment, then UMD's plans for 2015 recruiting would change somewhat. We'll move along now with the assumption White is not coming, though again, that's not a given at the moment.
Now's the best time to summarize where Maryland stands with the junior class, and how it might all break down in the coming three or four months.
From head coach Mark Turgeon's own words to Terrapin Times beat writer Mike Ashley, "point guard, a wing, and some type of post player, or stretch forward" are what the Terps are looking for in 2015. Let's run down the current candidates and update their status:
Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights, Ohio): He's been on campus twice, and remains at the top of the Maryland wish list. He's a smallish (6-7) forward who can score inside and out, and brings the versatile forward skills the staff is looking for. Most of the national recruiting analysts are saying Ohio State is the strong leader, and we certainly can't dispute that at the moment. Ahmad is still discussing visits to Michigan and Michigan State, but in the end, we see the Buckeyes and Terps fighting this one out.
It's becoming more evident that big time Ohio star Carlton Bragg (Villa Angela/Cleveland, Ohio) will likely not opt for OSU, and that certainly does not help Maryland's cause, because then the Buckeyes will go all out for Ahmad. Timing could play a role in this, and from Maryland's standpoint, the earlier the decision, the better.
Jordan Murphy (Brennan/San Antonio, Texas): All's quiet with the 6-7 wing from San Antonio. He will take his official visits in September, and Maryland, as things now stand, will get one. Murphy, and his high school coach, have both indicated to TT that Maryland, Creighton and Texas A&M stand out at the moment. A number of other schools are still in the mix (Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Texas etc), but we see the Terps as having a real shot here.
Danjel Purifoy (Bibb Co./Centreville, Ala.): Purifoy will attend Hargrave Military Academy for his senior year, and is coming off a solid performance at the NBA Top 100 Camp. Purifoy, through his friendship with current Terp Trayvon Reed, and his association with Under Armour program Atlanta XPress, has consistently tabbed Maryland as one of his leading schools. Purifoy is considered a four-star talent, and a likely Top 50 kid, and yet has what seems to be an ever-changing list of schools: Maryland, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Wichita State, Florida State etc.
Purifoy is not a great shooter, but is athletic, strong, will defend, and plays several positions well. At this moment, he and Murphy appear to head the list of small forward prospects, though Ahmad can swing there on occasion as well. Purifoy has yet to visit College Park, so we'll just have to see how this recruitment plays out.
Malik Ellison (Life Center/Burlington, N.J.): Ellison has had a quiet spring, dealing with some knee issues as he continues to grow. Ellison, 6-5-plus, recently stopped by Maryland, and remains on the board. But from here, it looks like he'll have to step it up in July to become a top priority. His list hasn't changed a lot and still includes Maryland, LaSalle, St. Joe's, Penn State, Xavier, Temple, Rhode Island and Minnesota. We still like Ellison's upside, but right now, it appears as though others have forged ahead of him on the list of available wings.
Kipper Nichols (St. Edward/Lakewood, Ohio): Nichols, a close friend of Ahmad's, is the 6-6 small forward from Cleveland who's rising on the national scene, after a strong spring circuit with the King James Shooting Stars. Xavier is felt to be the current favorite, but Maryland, Dayton, Minnesota and Penn State have all offered. And other schools like Ohio State, Cincinnati and Northwestern are showing strong interest. Nichols conveyed to TT a desire to visit Maryland, so it appears they could be a factor as this recruitment moves along.
Malik Beasley (St. Francis/Alpharetta, Ga.): Beasley recently got an offer from Maryland (one of approximately 30 received so far), and the 6-4 scoring machine is an awfully good prospect. That said, I'm not convinced the Terps can be a real factor in this recruitment, as they might be a little late to the dance.
Justin Robinson (St. James, Md.): Robinson remains the No. 1 point guard prospect currently on the Maryland radar, and recently completed an unofficial visit to College Park with his parents. Some feel like Virginia Tech could lead, but as we've mentioned often, this recruitment is proceeding slowly, and we expect it to go well into the fall. Can Maryland wait that long? They may not have a choice, though it would not shock us to see another floor leader or two to emerge in July.
Robinson has lots of options in addition to Maryland and Virginia Tech. Temple, Illinois, Creighton, GW, Providence, St. Joe's and more are involved.
Kevin Dorsey (Paul VI/Fairfax, Va.): Dorsey just took visits to Maryland, Nebraska and Minnesota, and has VCU squarely in the mix too, plus Creighton. We're waiting to see where this 5-11 dynamo will play his senior year, as we've heard he will be transferring from Paul VI HS. Dorsey is a different type point guard than Robinson, and is very efficient in an uptempo style of play. He seems genuinely interested in the Terps, but we'll have to see how hard Maryland pushes, and how the timing of Robinson's recruitment affects what Dorsey does.
Bryant Crawford (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.): I don't see a lot happening with Crawford. He's indicated that Villanova, Louisville, and Indiana have "separated themselves" from the pack, and I look for this Gonzaga product to wind up at one of those schools in the Fall.
Noah Blackwell (Woodcreek/Roseville, Calif.): Blackwell's a talent, and he has a Maryland offer. I don't see him as a serious recruit right now, at least not until Turgeon can actually see him live. If he has a big July, perhaps the Terps can be a real factor, but you can bet a slew of West Coast schools would enter the mix in the event this flashy lead guard blows up.
That's about it for now as we see it in terms of '15 prospects, so again, there's not a ton of kids to look seriously at during this upcoming live period. We've taken Georgios Papagiannis (Westtown, Pa.); John Collins (Cardinal Newman/West Palm Beach, Fla.); Josh Reaves (Oak Hill/Mouth of Wilson, Va.), and Chris Clarke (Cape Henry/Virginia Beach, Va.) off our list. We're still expecting three signees, and it's pretty clear Robinson and Ahmad are major priorities. Adding a Murphy or Purifoy to those two would make for an outstanding class, one that would provide the staff with loads of talent and depth.
We're looking more and more at the class of 2016, and again, you (at least right now) aren't finding Maryland being listed with many players on the early Top 100 lists. As we've said often, the local DMV class is average at best. I only see perhaps four prospects that I would expect the Terps to take a serious look at (Anthony Cowan from St. John's, Curtis Jones from Paul VI, Corey Manigault from Paul VI, A.J. Wilson from DuVal), but again, kids develop and a few more could blow up and become legit targets.
But keep in mind, if the staff gets the kids in '15 that they want, you'll have a solid core group of talent already assembled, and you can then be more selective in filling in around those players with the '16 class.
TT and Fox Sports/Scout will be monitoring a number of the live period events and will have periodic updates through July. At this time, we're not anticipating any poppage in July or early August, but, hey, it's recruiting, and it rarely goes according to plan.
We're still accumulating possible '16 names, and we'll delve into them more in August. As it now stands, Jake Layman would be the only senior on the squad in '15-'16, so I would not expect that recruiting class to be a large one, although attrition (not unusual around here) is always a possible factor.
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