Maryland Could Really Use Harrison Twins

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It’s probably fairly obvious at this point that most, if not all, Maryland fans would love Andrew and Aaron Harrison to grace Gary William’s floor come next year. It’s probably not as obvious how bereft Maryland has been of that caliber of talent over the past ten years. It’s not that the Terrapins lacked very solid talent; they consistently clean up with the 4-star level talent every year. It’s just that when it comes to acquiring Top 5, Top 10, and even Top 15 level players, the Terrapins have missed and missed badly.

Consider that Maryland has not had a single 5-star player in their recruiting class since 2003, when a certain Mikes Jones (who?!) decided to come aboard. At that time, Jones was ranked as the second-best shooting guard in the 2003 draft class, but was the 20th best player in the nation. He was a fringe five-star in the class that featured LeBron James and everyone else. Yes, Jones was a McDonalds All-American, and even a Parade All-American, but he was a fringe talent who was known more for his dunking than anything else. Here’s his Parade Third Team All-American roster:

THIRD TEAM
PLAYER DATA POS SCHOOL HOMETOWN RANK COLLEGE
Aaron Brooks 5’10 155PGFranklinSeattle WA82Oregon
Regis Koundjia 6-8 210PFLaurinburg Institute (NC)Central Africa Republic24LSU
Linas Kleiza 6-7 225PF/CMontrose Christian (MD)Lithuania34
Michael Jones 6’4 185SGThayerDorchester MA13Maryland
J.R. Giddens 6’5 185SFMarshallOklahoma City OK41Kansas
Demetrius Nichols 6-7 190SF/PFSt. Andrew’s (RI)Boston, MA19Syracuse
Michael Nardi 6-2 162PGSt. PatrickAvenel, NJ83Villanova
Chris Taft 6-10 230C/PFXaverianBrooklyn, NY21Pittsburgh
Rodrick Stewart 6-5 215SGRainier BeachSeattle, WASouthern Cal
Terrence Roberts 6-8 205PF/CSt. Anthony’sJersey City, NJ29Syracuse

Pretty good, right? Three NBA players out of the whole bunch (Giddens, Brooks, and Kleiza). Maryland appeared to have a gem on their hands who was poised for greatness. Until you look at the players the Terrapins could have had, but missed out on: here’s the second team:

SECOND TEAM
PLAYER DATA POS SCHOOL HOMETOWN RANK COLLEGE
Andrew Lavender 5’7 150PGBrookhavenColumbus OH12Oklahoma
Brandon Bass 6’7 225PF/SFCapitolBaton Rouge LA25LSU
Travis Outlaw 6’8 195SFStarkvilleStarkville MS31Mississippi State
Sebastian Telfair 6-0, 160PGLincolnNew York, NY11 +
Jackie Butler 6’9 260CMcCombMcComb MS54Mississippi State
Vakeaton Wafer 6’5 210SFHeritage ChristianCleveland TX18Florida State
Dion Harris 6-4 200SGRedfordDetroit, MI16Michigan
Ekene Ibekwe 6-9 195PF/SFCarsonCarson, CA23Maryland
Brandon Cotton 5’11 165SG/PGDePorresDetroit MI32Michigan State
Trevor Ariza 6-8, 200PFWestchesterLos Angeles, CA14UCLA

Seven NBA players! That’s the caliber of player the Terrapins weren’t getting. They were getting a less certain bet; look no further than Ekene Ibekwe, who was ranked lower but was undoubtedly a much better player. It wasn’t a knock on his ability, but it was certainly indicative of how much talent there was in this class, and how little of it the Terrapins got. Their five stars just aren’t Kentucky’s five stars. Even after winning a National Championship the year prior, the Terrapins couldn’t get anyone from the Parade All-American team.

And if they had? What if Gary Williams would have gone after these guys harder? (Note: This is going to hurt)

FIRST TEAM
PLAYER DATA POS SCHOOL HOMETOWN RANK COLLEGE
LeBron James 6’8 235SFSt. Vincent-St. MaryAkron OH1
Luol Deng 6’7 215SFBlairBlairstown NJ2Duke
Ndudi Ebi 6’9 195PFWestbury ChristianHouston TX8Arizona
Kendrick Perkins 6’10 265COzenBeaumont TX7Memphis
Kris Humphries 6’8 210PFHopkinsChaska MN6Duke
Shannon Brown 6’3 185SGProviso EastMaywood IL10Michigan State
Leon Powe 6’7 215PFOakland TechOakland CA11California
David Padgett 6’11 210CRenoReno NV22Kansas
Chris Paul 5’11 160PGWest ForsythClemmons NC15Wake Forest
Brian Butch 7’1 225CAppleton WestAppleton WI5Wisconsin

Nine of the ten players on Parade’s All-American First Team have made it to the NBA. Four of them are All-Stars, two of them are likely Hall of Famers. The Terrapins couldn’t attract that talent (save for LeBron James, who no one could attract), and the result is that they had to make do with much less than other top flight programs. They won a National Championship that way, but that isn’t the way to build dynasties. That isn’t the way to build programs that will be mainstays in the NCAA Tournament every year and potential National Championship contenders every few years.

After Mikes Jones, there were no five stars. The recruiting breakdowns is as follows (according to Rivals, which had a better database than any other site from 2000-10:

5 Stars Since 2003: 0

4 Stars Since 2003: 11 (including the 2012 class)

Compare that with Syracuse, who is about to join the ACC:

5 Stars Since 2003: 4

4 Stars Since 2003: 13

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The 4-star recruits are about even, with ‘Cuse holding a two person advantage over Maryland. The biggest difference, and the reason why Syracuse is perennially in the NCAA Tournament, are really those 5-star recruits. Gary Williams and Jim Boeheim were comparable coaches, but the talent with which each coached with was always different. Jim had Carmelo, Gary had Hassan Fofana. Okay, maybe that’s an awful comparison, but you get the point.

So were someone asks you in two years why Maryland isn’t considered one of the top basketball schools to play for in the NCAA despite their geographic location, simply remind them about the difference between having four 5-stars over a ten year stretch and having zero 5-stars in that same period of time. It’s the difference between fringe tournament team to Sweet 16 lock year-in and year-out. Andrew and Aaron Harrison are the kind of recruits that other players want to play alongside. The two of them give credibility at once to their basketball team, but also the program they play with. They’re that good, and Maryland losing out on these two? The ramifications are difficult to quantify, but I’ll give it a shot.

Two five stars — it’s half the difference between being Syracuse and being Maryland over the past decade of college basketball. So yes, Maryland could really use these two.