Two of the biggest questions among those who follow Maryland basketball recruiting: will the school’s move to the Big 10 pay dividends with recruits from the Midwest, and will Alex Len’s ascension into the national spotlight – and into the top five of most NBA Draft projections – help Mark Turgeon and company expand their recruiting horizons.
While it may be some time before those questions are answered, Maryland’s recruitment of Dominican High (Milwaukee) big man Diamond Stone could provide an interesting case study.
Stone is a 6-foot-10, 260-pound sophomore rated the No. 1 center and No. 4 overall prospect in the Class of 2015 by 247Sports. Terps assistant Bino Ranson was among the first to begin seriously recruiting Stone, whose father is guiding him through the recruiting process.
According to Robert Stone, Maryland’s development of Len has caught his attention.
“I’ve been showing him [Maryland] because they have a big man and [Diamond] will be a center or a power forward. I’m trying to show him teams that utilize their big men, and Maryland is one of those schools that works the ball inside,” Robert Stone said. "They have a big center and they seem to get the ball to him a lot. That’s good, because you want a program that can showcase your skills.”
The Stones were also interested to learn about Maryland’s impending conference relocation, which will have the Terps playing frequently in their region.
“When they came to the Big 10, that was great because that made them local. That kind of surprised us. That helped out,” said the elder Stone, adding that his son won’t be afraid to leave the Midwest for college. “Diamond, he’s a sociable guy. He doesn’t have too many problems making friends. Our formula is, 60 percent will be Diamond’s decision and 40 percent will be his mother and myself. Diamond has the biggest say because if he’s not somewhere where he wants to be, he won’t do well.”
Stone is a massive 15-year-old with advanced ball shooting and passing skills, one who's collected offers from Maryland, Arizona, Georgetown, UCLA, Wisconsin and others.
“He’s one of those throwback guys,” said DeShawn Curtus, his AAU coach and trainer. “He has range out to 3-point range, but he’s not one of those guys who wants to stand out at the 3-point line. He’s also worked very hard on his athleticism and he now has a 32-inch vertical."
Local programs have been recruiting Stone hard. He’s been to Marquette on several occasions and his cousin, Ryan Evans, plays for Wisconsin. That said, Maryland was among the first on board. And both Turgeon and Ranson have been out to see him this season.
“Coach Bino was one of the first. It’s hard to say who was first, but he was one of the first,” Robert Stone said. “Bino seems to be genuine, and Coach Turgeon seems to be a good guy.”
Stone won’t be taking a bunch of unofficial visits any time soon because of the cost of traveling around the country on his own dime. But he is aiming to make an early decision.
“This summer we’re going to come up with a list of schools," Stone said. "By the end of his junior year [he’ll commit]. But right now we’re just getting to know coaches and talking to people, trying to find a good fit. We want a great coach, a coach that cares about him and not just renewing his contract or buffering his record.
“We’re going to stick with [the late-junior year commitment] because that’s what we’ve been telling people, and we want to be respectable. You don’t get any do-overs with this thing.”