Two of the nation's top high school basketball recruits are coming to Maryland.
It might be a little too early for Terps fans to get excited, considering Diamond Stone and Harry Giles will be in College Park on Friday to make visits rather than to play.
But Stone, a 6-10, 250-pound center from Milwaukee who is ranked No. 6 overall by ESPN in the class of 2015, and Giles, a 6-9, 215-pound power forward from Greensboro, N.C., ranked No. 3 overall in the Class of 2016, will be at Xfinity Center to watch the Terps' annual Maryland Madness event.
They will be joined by Jaylen Brantley, a 5-11 point guard at Odessa (Texas) Junior College who played on the same Boston-based Amateur Athletic Union team as Terps junior Jake Layman. Maryland Madness, the ceremonial kickoff to the basketball season, begins at 8 p.m. and is free to the public.
Robert Stone, who along with his wife Cynthia Oliver-Stone will accompany their son to Maryland, said Wednesday that the family has already visited Oklahoma State and plans on making official visits to Duke, Connecticut and Wisconsin.
“We're going to sit down as a family and make a decision,” Robert Stone said. “There's been over 1,000 transfers in the last two years in Division I basketball, and that tells us that people are making emotional or uneducated decisions. So we're just going to take our time and get it right.”
Robert Stone said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and assistant coach Bino Ranson have been recruiting his son since he was in the 10th grade. The elder Stone said he likes the Terps' coaching staff and was impressed by what Turgeon did with Alex Len, who developed into the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft after two years at Maryland.
Stone added that his son's decision could be based largely on a connection with the head coach at the school he ultimately chooses.
“We didn't look at school names. We looked for coaches who were no-nonsense coaches that were going to push him and make him better,” Robert Stone said. “At this level, it's about growth. We just want him to continue to grow on and off the court.”
Getting Stone to College Park for an official visit is a “big deal”, according to Evan Daniels, Scout.com's national recruiting analyst.
“I think it's significant any time you get a player like a Diamond Stone on campus,” Daniels said Wednesday. “Diamond is a special talent.”
Daniels said the Terps would likely sell the possibility of Stone teaming in the frontcourt with Robert Carter, who transferred to Maryland last spring after being one of the top power forwards in the ACC during his two seasons at Georgia Tech. Carter will be eligible next season.
“You put those guys together and that would make for some serious talent," Daniels said. "It would make for quite a tandem."
Giles, meanwhile, has a direct connection to Maryland. He has played for former Terps point guard Keith Gatlin at the Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C. since his freshman year. Giles sat out last season after tearing his ACL and MCL while playing on the U-16 national team during the summer of 2013.
Giles and Stone teamed up to help the US-17 national team win a gold medal in Dubai last summer. Gatlin said Wednesday that Turgeon offered Giles a scholarship last year, but Maryland's recruiting has picked up since assistant coach Cliff Warren joined Turgeon's staff over the summer.
“Cliff Warren's doing a great job,” Gatlin said. “He's been on it really hard since he's been at Maryland.”
In six years at Wesleyan Christian Academy, Gatlin has coached a number of Division I prospects, including Florida State junior Montay Brandon and North Carolina freshman Theo Pinson. Gatlin said Giles has the potential to be the best player he has coached.
“Harry's really blessed. He's touched by God,” said Gatlin, who will accompany his star to his former school Friday for the unofficial visit. “He's a great young man, really charismatic, but he's just a freak, he's really special on the basketball court.”
Gatlin said Giles took an unofficial visit to Kentucky for the Wildcats' Midnight Madness last year, and that he is also interested in Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Syracuse. Gatlin said he expects Giles to play only one year of college basketball before moving on to the NBA.
The coach is also hoping that Giles can whittle down his list of potential schools in the not-so-distant future.
“I know that's coming soon,” Gatlin said. “It's a zoo here, so I hope he can get that squared away.”