Brandon Horvath liked UMBC when Aki Thomas recruited him out of Southern High in Anne Arundel County more than a year ago. He liked the program even more when Thomas’ successor, Ryan Odom, made his pitch.
“The first thing he said was, ‘You remind us of one of our players, Will Darley. He’s graduating,’” Horvath recalled. “It’s awesome. He’s their best player. I trust [Odom], so it was awesome to hear that.”
Horvath, who plans to wear Darley’s No. 12 next year, committed to UMBC late last month, picking the Retrievers over Drexel, Fairfield, Iona, Mount St. Mary’s and Quinnipiac.
Darley, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound wing who previously starred for Dulaney, averaged 16.2 points as a senior, shooting 48.8 percent from the field, including 44.3 percent from 3-point range. Horvath, a 6-foot-9, 195-pound wing, has a build and style reminiscent of the second-team All-America East selection.
Coming out of Southern in 2016, Horvath was a lanky yet promising prospect. Though he was about 6-8, 175 pounds, his tantalizing offensive potential and impressive production for the Bulldogs led to offers from American, Maine, Mount St. Mary’s and UMBC.
“I just felt like I wasn’t sure I was physically ready to come in and play at a high enough level out of high school,” Horvath said. “I just wanted to get a feel for what it’s like to play college ball.”
With that in mind, Horvath graduated from Southern and headed to The Kent (Conn.) School for a post-grad season. He was fully qualified academically, so the prep year was all about adding strength, playing better competition and getting more prepared for college basketball.
“I had a good work ethic already, but here everything is so convenient,” said Horvath, who averaged about 14 points and seven rebounds for Kent. “I’m a short walk to the gym. … It was just getting my body ready, basically, and for a year of maturity.”
UMBC and Mount St. Mary’s continued to recruit Horvath heavily, while Ivy League (Penn and Columbia) and MAAC (Fairfield, Iona, Quinnipiac) schools got involved as well. The Retrievers, though, were always on his mind.
“UMBC, they like to get up and down,” Horvath said. “They shoot a lot of 3s. Everyone on their team is versatile. I feel like I do all three of those things very well: shoot, pass and dribble. I’ll be able to fit in very well.”
In his first year in Catonsville, Odom – who inherited a 7-25 team – guided the Retrievers to a 21-13 mark and a run to the CIT semifinals. It was UMBC’s first winning season since 2007-08 and the second-most wins in program history.
“It was huge,” Horvath said. Odom “won the [first-year] coach of the year in the nation. He was definitely influential in me coming to that school, just how much he turned the program around. He’s somebody I would love to play for.
“It’s a homecoming for me. I’m very excited to finally play college ball next year. Being in my backyard, it’s going to be super fun.”