Damonte Dodd and Roddy Peters officially joined the Maryland basketball team this week, stepping foot on campus for the first time as students and participating in organized summer workouts. Melo Trimble, a 2014 guard from Bishop O’Connell, will join them the following year.
In the not-so-distant past, though, some – and potentially all – of them might not have ever committed to Maryland. Dodd and Peters are alumni and Trimble is still a part of the DC Assault AAU program, which was founded in 1993. The trio will become the first former DC Assault players to suit up for Maryland on full scholarship. (Spencer Barks walked on in 2011.)
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So what changed? If you ask DC Assault general manager Damon Handon, it’s simple. Ever since the hiring of coach Mark Turgeon – and the subsequent hiring of Dalonte Hill, a former DC Assault player and coach – the Terps have erased whatever issues the two sides had with each other in the past while creating new and strong ties to the local AAU powerhouse.
“We’d never had a player go to Maryland before that for whatever reason,” Handon said. “Dalonte is local. He’s personable. The kids like him. Immediately when they hired him, I knew they would make some inroads at our program.
“They’ve gone out of their way to recruit our program. They really have. We’re one of the preeminent AAU programs in the country and we’re in their backyard. It’s only natural that they would recruit our players.”
Maryland is hopeful its recent success with the program will continue in the future. The Terps have offered 2014 prospects Chinanu Onuaku and Donte Grantham and already expressed interest in class of 2016 rising stars Anthony Cowan, Alani Moore and Joe Hampton.
“Turgeon texts me and says, ‘We’ve got to get [Onuaku] and we’ve got to get Donte,’” Trimble said. “I talk to them. I’m a good recruiter myself. I put some things in their head.”
So could a DC Assault-to-Maryland pipeline be emerging?
“That’s what they’re trying to do,” Handon said. “That’s important. We have a lot of players and a lot of them have gone on to do big things over the years. It’s a good thing.
“Coach Turgeon watched us play every game in Pittsburgh. [Scott] Spinelli watched us play every game in Philadelphia. Last summer, Turgeon watched us play all the time and Dalonte watched us play. During the open period, they’re basically at every one of our games.”