Over the weekend, I got a chance to look at recent Terps offer De’Monte Buckingham, a 2016 guard from Henrico, Virginia. Buckingham, who plays his high school ball at Henrico in Richmond, got a taste of the elite competition from a little closer inside the beltway at the Metro Challenge 60. His teammates included talented guards Justin Robinson of St. James and Chris Lykes of Gonzaga (2017), who often garner more acclaim. By his own account, he thrived on that kind of competition.
“It’s great,” Buckingham told me after his first game. “You can’t take a play off, that’s why I love coming here to play with these kinds of players. Because nobody’s slacking so you’ve got to play each minute of every game.”
But just because 247sports.com doesn’t have Buckingham ranked doesn’t mean he lacks the requisite skill to play with the more sought after recruits. Despite being listed at 6’3 (though he’s probably around 6’4), Buckingham is a tremendous rebounder. He’s got some lengthy arms for a player his size and pulled down nearly twenty rebounds in the games over the weekend. That includes playing against and with guys who are no slouches at rebounding either. Let’s just say he’s got a nose for the ball and a willingness to grab boards.
And the majority of his rebounds come on the offensive glass, too, which is where he makes a living. During the games I’ve seen him play, Buckingham feasts on teams that don’t box him out properly. By my count, 10 of his 17 points came as a direct result of offensive putbacks. That trait alone makes him a very valuable asset.
Buckingham also has very good decision making on the fastbreak. He and Justin Robinson paired up on the break to score a lot of points over the weekend in transition. Because he is a solid ball handler and can grab boards, Buckingham can get the ball up the court and into a fastbreak scenario seamlessly. That’s a big plus for teams that want to push the pace. He seems to make crisp passes to open shooters rather selflessly.
As far as a position, Buckingham has guard potential, but if he grows another inch or two, could be a very dangerous small forward. He rebounds like a forward, but dribbles well enough to play guard. His outside shot at the moment isn’t dangerous enough to be a full-time guard, but he could play there at the next level regardless.
As a defender, he’s active if a little slow laterally. Don’t mistake that for a lack of skill, however. Buckingham is a pesky defender who doesn’t take many plays off.
The good news for local fans is that they’ll get to see plenty more of Buckingham over the summer. Buckingham plans on playing AAU basketball in the area (“I’m playing with Team Takeover,” he said) for the same team as future Terp Dion Wiley. And he’s not letting the tough outcome of the Virginia 5A state championships get him down, either:
“I just came from tough loss in a state championship game,” he said. “I’m trying to grind hard in the offseason so I can get back to that goal, so I won’t fall short of that goal again.”
As for the Terrapins, who offered Buckingham after the Maryland – UVA basketball game, he certainly has good things to say about the school.
“I love that school. Coach Turgeon, he’s a nice person and I’ve been talking with him for a minute. Him and Coach Bino [Ranson]. Me and all them, we’re very close and it’s a good school.”
Right now, Buckingham holds offers from Longwood, Maryland, Virginia, Old Dominion, and Radford among others.