Panic set in this past weekend when Terp Nation found out that another barrage of transfers would occur for a Maryland program that seems to be coming apart at the hinges. This time it was Maryland’s second leading scorer Seth Allen and (potentially) big man Charles Mitchell. Allen’s departure will be a huge blow for coach Turgeon, whose 2014-2015 roster will now be made up of 55% underclassmen (that percentage could’ve been 67% if former walk-on’s Jonathan Graham and Varun Ram didn’t receive scholarships). In the end, Maryland loses 51% of its scoring from the previous year, which is frightening to think about considering the Terps were 184th in the country in points per game (70.9) and 244th overall in field goal percentage (43%).
Here’s the deal: no matter how optimistic Terps fans try to spin this, four (potentially five) players leaving in one offseason when the coach hasn’t been fired has a negative effect on the recruiting trail. It was only a month ago that these five players were still on the roster, so Turgeon and staff have a lot of ground to make up in the 2015 class. What once seemed like a two-person class, Turgeon will now have multiple scholarships to work with. Even if the staff were to add a couple 5th year transfers (IUPUI guard Ian Chiles the most likely), Turgeon will have six scholarships to use. The chances of him extending all six however are very doubtful.
With the departures of Nick Faust, Shaquille Cleare, Seth Allen (deep breath), Roddy Peters, Charles Mitchell (likely), and the inevitable departures of seniors Dez Wells and Evan Smotrycz, Turgeon will be looking for a point guard, a slasher/defender, a big, and a stretch four man in 2015. I would be surprised if Turgeon didn’t look for more glue/character guys in this class; kids who may not average 20+ points per game in high school, but kids who are team captains, will play smart, strap up on defense, and most importantly, buy into what Turgeon is trying to implement in College Park. For his sake, he can’t afford any more misses or misevaluations.
With that being said, here are some realistic targets that Maryland could bring in to help turn this thing around:
No other position will need to be addressed more. With Allen and Peters gone, Turgeon MUST bring in a kid who possesses a high basketball IQ along with a pass-first mentality who can set up the offense. Turgeon appears to have set his sights on St. James (MD) PG Justin Robinson. The fast-rising local has offers from UNLV, GW, Illinois, Memphis Providence, and is getting looks from Baylor, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and Texas. As you can see, Robinson isn’t going to be an easy get. But the former Montrose Christian star has plenty of love for the hometown school, and the idea of him being the only real point guard on the team (Trimble is more of a scorer/2G) entices him. Robinson led his high school team to a 22-5 record while averaging 14.6 points per game along with 8 assists, so he would be a huge score for the Terrapins.
No recruit fits the defender/slasher/glue-guy mold better than Paul VI (VA) guard Josh Reaves. In my opinion, Reaves needs to be a priority target for Turgeon, as you need guys like him in your locker room after what just transpired this past month. He reminds me a current Villanova commit Phil Booth; someone who isn’t going to put up monster numbers, but does every little thing well. No longer “under the radar,” Reaves has developed his shooting and ball-handling skills to go along with his scrappy play on the court, and college coaches are taking notice. He now holds offers from Villanova, VCU, Dayton, Georgetown, and Temple. The good news is Reaves seems to be favoring the local programs like Maryland, Georgetown and VCU, so the Terps have a serious shot.
Other recruits that fit this mold to an extent include Life Center Academy (NJ) guard Malike Ellison, Georgia wing Marcus Sheffield, and San Antonio (TX) scorer Jordan Murphy. Although talents like Allonzo Trier (MD), Chris Clarke (VA), and Curtis Jones (VA) would be remarkable additions, and yes they all list Maryland as a strong suitor, the Terps just doesn’t have enough juice in their favor to pull in these kinds of recruits. These kids aren’t going to give much thought to a program that has missed the NCAA Tournament four years in a row and coming off of a 17-15 season. With that being said, nothing is impossible (no matter how unlikely).
The late addition of Michal Cekovsky in the ’14 class lightens the need here a bit, but if Mitchell leaves College Park, Maryland will want to add another man with size. Two prospects stand out the most here: 7’1 center Georgios Papagiannis (PA) and 6’8 junkyard dog Esa Ahmad (OH). Papagiannis plays for Westtown School (PA) but comes by way of Athens, Greece, and is now playing for local AAU power Team Takeover (which benefits the Terps). Maryland has built a slight reputation for developing European bigs, enough to lure Cekovsky in 2014 and Papagiannis could follow suit in 2015. But Maryland will have to beat out the likes of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and other big time programs that will surely come calling.
Ahmad will be a much tougher pull. It seemed that Maryland was in excellent position for Ahmad, but like most talents, he didn’t stay hidden for long. He has close to 20 offers on the table, but the game-changing offer might be Ohio State, who offered this past week. It was hard for Maryland to beat out the Indiana’s and Wisconsin’s of the world, but that Buckeye offer might be too tough for Maryland to overcome. Ahmad still gives praise to the UMD program and the job the staff has done, so there is a chance.