Editor's note: Each week, InsideMDSports.com provides this blog with a Maryland recruiting feature that previously appeared as premium content on its site.
For the nation's consensus No. 1 center, 6-foot-10 rising senior Diamond Stone, being watched by head coaches from blue-blood programs is nothing new. When asked which schools are coming after him the hardest, he replied as modestly as he could.
"Every big-time school. Everybody is coming after me hard," he said.
Stone is participating at the Reebok Breakout Classic this week and played in front of three 2014 Final Four coaches Wednesday night: Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, Kentucky's John Calipari and Connectiut's Kevin Ollie. By his standards, Stone struggled through his first couple of games before really exploding in Thursday's evening game for 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
While he said playing in front of college coaches is nothing new, being challenged by big man Godspower Ogide motivated him to show why he's ranked ninth in 247Sports.com's rankings.
“I don’t know who that is,” Stone chuckled. “He was trying to challenge me, so I just took the challenge and I kept playing. Everyone is coming at me [because of my ranking]. My emotions sometimes get the best of me. It’s something I need to just ignore and play ball. Today, I let my emotions get the best of me, and I shouldn’t show that side in front of the college coaches here, so I apologize.”
One coach who was in attendance Thursday to watch him, Maryland's Mark Turgeon, certainly would have liked to see that kind of fight from some his players last season. Stone noted Turgeon's presence at his game in a sea of other coaches.
"He gave me a little wave," he said.
The point man in Stone's recruitment has been Maryland assistant coach Bino Ranson. The two have a great relationship.
"Coach Bino, I love him to death," he said. “He calls me all the time, talks to me all the time. He’s my guy.”
Stone plans to take some visits in late summer, likely in August, the same time he plans to cut his list down to about 10 schools before commiting in November. Maryland has stood out enough to possibly get a visit, perhaps an official visit.
“Maryland is a really, really nice school," Stone told InsideMDSports.com. "You know, Under Armour, I like Under Armour, so that’s a real good deal. It’s a great school. The campus — I haven’t visited it yet, but I think I might take a visit there, so I can see the campus. Maryland is a good school.”
Maryland has its Under Armour ties, but the school's biggest pitch to the Wisconsin native is about a former player.
“Alex Len, he turned into a real good big. They’re comparing me to him," he said. "They’re saying that they’re going to form everything they did with Alex Len to me."