No other way around it: the Terrapins have some major momentum on the recruiting scene right now. Mark Turgeon and Co. locked up their priority targeted SF prospect, Jared Nickens, over the weekend to complement a 2014 class already including studs Dion Wiley and Romelo Trimble. Now, to make it a four person class, they are trying to lure in one of three big men prospects. Let’s take a look at who those players are so you can get familiar with them:
- First Priority: Goodluck Okonoboh
24/7 Ranking: 5-star, 22nd nationally, 3rd-best center
ESPN Ranking: 5-star, 19th nationally, 4th-best center
Biggest players: Indiana, Maryland, Duke, Florida, UConn
About the prosect: Okonoboh, whose parents hail from Nigeria, is a defensive menace and is widely considered one of the best shot blockers in the nation. One highlight reel from a single game can show you just how many shots Goodluck is capable of blocking or altering. There are some games where Okonoboh will literally block twenty total shots, but he’ll affect everything that comes his way. He has solid length and a frame that would not be prone to bullying at the college level.
Goodluck may be slightly raw offensively since he just started playing basketball in the 8th grade, but as far as prospects go it’s hard not to like him. He plays in the Mass. Prep League, which more than prepares players for college basketball with powerhouses like Brewster Academy and St. Thomas More competing against one another. The league has churned out players like Nerlens Noel and Mitch McGary, and is highly competitive.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the origins of his name, it’s truly a great story that I’ll shorten here: When his father moved to America, he was shot in the chest and wasn’t supposed to survive, but somehow managed to. When Goodluck was born, he decided to name him as such because it was a blessing that he even had a father. Pretty cool.
Outlook: As it stands you have to look at Indiana as the favorite for Goodluck right now, as Okonoboh’s coach, Chris Sparks, has a personal relationship with Tom Crean. That’s going to be tough for most schools to overcome, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Still, the Terps have competition with other powerhouses, as Duke recently offered the kid. And when Coach K comes calling, you pick up the phone. Furthermore, Florida is in the mix for his services as well.
While the Terps are definitively on his short list, Okonoboh is still weighing his options, and his handlers have yet to be fully swayed by anyone. In all honesty, we’d have to have great luck to get Goodluck.
- Second Priority: Trayvon Reed
247 Ranking: 4-star, 54th nationally, 4th-best center
ESPN Ranking: 4-star, 84th nationally, 9th-best center
Biggest Players: Auburn, Georgia, Maryland, Florida, Georgia Tech
About the prospect: Reed is considered a particularly interesting prospect in part because he’s a legit 7’1 big man first and foremost. Guys with his size who possess an ability to run the floor without looking like they’re missing ligaments in their knees are typically highly touted no matter how they play on the court. As the old adage goes, “You can’t teach height.”
As it stands right now with Reed, he’s still quite raw on the offensive end; his effectiveness plummets outside of five feet. His jump shot is very much a work in progress at this time. But once you take out the fact that he won’t give you a ton offensively, you can see what benefits he can bring to the table. He is a skyscraper in the middle, and has a decent basketball I.Q. that allows him to disrupt most things that approach the paint. He doesn’t have soft hands, but if he gets the ball in position down low, there aren’t many people who can stop him from scoring.
The biggest questions surrounding Reed concern his hustle and intensity, which is a label scouts throw at every big man with solid athleticism who isn’t dominating like Shaquille O’Neal right off the bat. Alex Len: lazy. Dakari Johnson: lapses at times. It’s standard. Most of that has to do with needing to learn how to play the game at that height, and it’s a big reason why Reed is planning on transferring for his senior year. As it stands, Huntington Prep in West Virginia is in the lead for his one-year rental, which would go a long way to helping him become more of an elite prospect.
Outlook: Maryland has been pressing hard for Reed, and for quite some time. He continues to pick up offer after offer because his size is simply too difficult to pass up, so being in early has an added benefit. Reed has stated in interviews that he talks with Bino [Ranson] all the time, and likes that Mark Turgeon has a history of sending big men with similar attributes to his to the NBA (DeAndre Jordan and Alex Len).
Still, Reed is from the south, and he has had a lot more exposure over a lifetime to southern schools like Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech. Maryland doesn’t have a massive history of grabbing players from the south, but having Charles Mitchell be from the same state as Reed can’t hurt one bit. It’s also an added benefit that Reed might transfer to a West Virginia prep school (the same one O.J. Mayo attended). Being closer to Maryland for his senior year would give the Terps a chance to look at him a lot more closely.
For now, Reed isn’t deciding anything or visiting too many places, but Maryland is as much in it as anyone.
- Third Priority:Chinanu Onuaku
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
N/R by scouting services
Biggest players: Cincinnati, Maryland, Kansas State, DePaul, Georgetown
About the prospect: Chinanu, brother of Arinze who played at Syracuse, is the most raw of all the prospects overall. He has a phenomenal frame for a junior in high school though, and seems to do well defensively against everyone he goes up against. He is thick, tall, and while he doesn’t have amazing length is fully capable of sending a few shots away and grabbing boards.
At the NBA Top 100 camp a few days ago, Onuaku shut down an elite 2015 prospect in Steven Zimmerman, and impressed everyone watching him. So while he may not be ranked by most recruiting services, one would stand to believe that he will be in due time, albeit a three-star prospect. His deficiencies in his offensive game are enough to bring him down, but he evens out because he can contribute on day one defensively. He stays in front of his man and never lets up, which is why people are starting to value him so much.
He also plays basketball for a traditional powerhouse in Riverdale Baptist not far from the University of Maryland campus. Playing against top-tier competition day-in day-out should help him develop further, and will certainly get him more and more exposure over his senior season.
Outlook: Maryland has to be considered a frontrunner for a largely unheralded recruit like Onuaku. His family has local ties to the area, and he has already been on two unofficial visits to Maryland in the past year (once during March Madness, and another last August). That the campus is a stone’s throw away helps big time. He has been in touch with Maryland scouts, and will continue to attract their attention should Okonoboh or Reed fall through.
Still, he has other suitors. Georgetown has offered him, DePaul is thought to be actively pursuing him, and Kansas State recently jumped into the mix as a big time player. Onuaku has time to decide, and the more time he waits the harder it may be for Maryland as elite schools get more involved. But for now, Onuaku would be a great get for Maryland and a guy who could certainly help out defensively.