By all accounts, Mark Turgeon is a skilled recruiter, a demanding coach and a valued leader. Four NCAA tournament appearances in four years at Texas A&M — football country — endorse that profile of Maryland's new basketball coach.

But can Turgeon do at Maryland what he did in Texas? Can he win in the Atlantic Coast Conference like he won in the Big 12? Can he make Maryland a perennial NCAA team the way the Terps were under Gary Williams?

A handful of experts and people who know him say he can and will.

"I think when you have an intelligent guy who has passion for winning and recruiting, and operates his program with a plan, you're going to have success," said Dave Telep, ESPN's national recruiting analyst.

"Now he can take that onto a bigger stage and replicate that success."

Jay Bilas has a unique appreciation for Turgeon that started when Bilas played at Duke and Turgeon at Kansas. The ESPN college basketball analyst said Maryland made a "great" hire.

"Mark Turgeon is the real deal," Bilas said. "He's an outstanding coach, a really good guy. I've always been really impressed with him. He's won everywhere he's been."

In four years at Texas A&M, the Aggies went 97-40 under Turgeon, never winning fewer than 24 games a season. That's no easy feat deep in the heart of Texas.

"I think it was an extraordinary job he did there," Bilas said. "That is a very difficult place to recruit to, it is a difficult conference in which to win, and it is a school that wasn't a basketball school."

Turgeon gets high grades for recruiting. With the help of top assistant Scott Spinelli, he got Baltimore native Naji Hibbert (DeMatha) to go to College Station two years ago. His 2010-11 roster includes 11 players from Texas, and one each from California, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana and even South Carolina.

"Obviously, he has a staff of guys who help him recruit," Telep said. "But he's very hands-on. He likes to make evaluations. He knows exactly what he wants. The guy I know is a competitive person and really has a passion for winning. His peers regard him as an excellent basketball coach, especially with bigs, and a guy, who like Gary Williams, gets a lot out of his players."

Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman remembers recruiting against Turgeon when Turgeon was a graduate assistant at Kansas and Bozeman was the top recruiter at Cal. They went head-to-head for Jason Kidd, who chose Cal but seriously considered Kansas.

"Turg is a very aggressive recruiter, a good recruiter. He is well liked, well respected. … He'll do a good job with the AAU people in the community," Bozeman said.

Evan Daniels, the top recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said Turgeon won in Texas because he was able to recruit in-state talent and will do the same here.

"I think he understands the No. 1 priority is attacking the recruiting base Maryland is blessed with," Daniels said. "My understanding is he's already reached out to all the AAU coaches. He understands if he keeps those guys home, he can have a really good team of locals."

Bilas sees a special quality in Turgeon as a bench coach, too.

"He's very no-nonsense. His teams are very disciplined. When he says he's going to do something, he does it," Bilas said. His players "don't make mistakes, they defend, they play hard at both ends. He's uncompromising about that.

"I don't know what a players' coach is, but I do know when I see players play as hard as they play for Mark that they trust him. That, to me, is a players' coach, when players trust what they're being taught and told."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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