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Thoughts on James Franklin's impact, Seth Allen's status and McDonald's All-Americans

Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.

What would be the local recruiting impact if James Franklin is hired by Penn State?

Jeff Barker: Franklin's hire would make the already competitive Baltimore-Washington region even hotter. Franklin is energetic and fast-talking — a born salesman.

Maryland recruits in Pennsylvania — starting quarterback C.J. Brown is from the Pittsburgh area. And Penn State recruits in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

The last time I talked to Franklin was in late 2010 — he was in his last days at Maryland — and was recruiting at a number of Baltimore schools, including City, Poly and Dunbar. Franklin is all about relationships. No doubt, he has preserved ties with a number of area high school coaches and would be a formidable recruiter at Penn State.

But let's remember a couple things: This has always been an intensely recruited region. It's what Maryland is used to. And consider that Randy Edsall and James Franklin have different styles that attract different sorts of kids. Franklin is flashy. Edsall is not.  

The kids attracted to Edsall see a straight shooter. I've noticed that some players' mothers like Edsall because they want to make sure their sons are given enough structure. 

Stephanie Diggs once told me she liked her son, Stefon, going to Maryland because Edsall would hold him "accountable." Maryland sure hopes lots of other moms feel the same way.

Should Seth Allen be moved back into the starting lineup Sunday at Florida State?

Don Markus: After the way he played in Monday’s 20-point loss at Pittsburgh, it’s clear that Allen deserves to start. Even at about 70 percent after missing the first two months with a broken foot, the sophomore guard could be Maryland’s most consistent scorer.

Now comes the question: Should Mark Turgeon put Allen at point guard, where he was expected to start the season before getting hurt, or should the Terps use Allen in tandem with freshman point guard Roddy Peters in a three-guard set along with Dez Wells?

I would opt for the latter, considering the progress Peters has made since taking over as a starter six games ago. While still not a scorer, Peters is the best passer among the guards and has cut down on his turnovers the past two games (one in 46 minutes, with seven assists).

If both Peters and Allen start, that means somebody has to be bumped from the starting lineup, and I think that’s either going to be sophomore wing Jake Layman or junior forward Evan Smotryzc, both of whom have been shooting the ball poorly of late.

You could make a case that Smotrycz might fit the role of a 3-point shooter off the bench, a role he played at times during his two years at Michigan.

Perhaps having Layman come off the bench could take a little pressure off him and get him out of his recent funk. He's a combined 7-for-26 the past four games.

It could also depend on the defensive matchups.  Florida State forward Okaro White dominated the Terps in College Park last season, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Layman matches up better athletically with White than Smotrycz does, but reserve Jonathan Graham (Calvert Hall) has clearly been Maryland’s best defensive player in the frontcourt.

Having both Layman and Smotrycz on the floor when they’re shooting well makes it difficult for teams to defend Maryland. When they’re both missing — they were a combined five of 20 against Pitt — it makes it very easy for teams to clean up on the boards.

Turgeon said the Terps were not as bad as they looked against the Panthers, in what was their most one-sided loss of the season. If not for Allen’s 18 points in a season-high 26 minutes, it would have been a lot worse. If Allen is healthy Sunday, he should start.

And play as much as his foot can take.

Maryland had three basketball signees nominated for the prestigious McDonald's All American game. What are the odds one makes it?

Jonas Shaffer: Let's just get this out of the way: If the Terps do have representation in the game — and that's a Bay Bridge-size if — it will almost assuredly be with one player.

Last year's McDonald's All American roster, as the one before it was, and the one before that, and so on, is largely the domain of blue-chippers. The only player among ESPN's top 10 prospects not to make the game last year was Kansas center Joel Embiid. (And what a mistake that might be in hindsight.) Even that omission might have been a casualty of too-stellar Kansas recruiting. Jayhawks Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden did make the game, which led some to speculate that the reason Embiid did not was because there were, in fact, other college teams with good and worthy recruits, too.

Maryland's incoming class is very good, certainly the Terps' best in a long while. But it lacks a consensus five-star show-stopper who would be a shoo-in for Mickey D's status. With a hobbled Dion Wiley and a solid, if unspectacular, Trayvon Reed, the best hope is — surprise! — Melo Trimble.

Arguably the Washington area's best player last season, Trimble has taken on more of a scoring load this season, and there's no sexier stat to burnish an all-star-game candidacy than points per game. Trimble plays for a well-known school (Bishop O'Connell) and a well-known coach (Joe Wootten, son of the legendary Morgan). Those are important pieces in the political chess game these all-star game selections seem to devolve into.

ESPN, which broadcasts the game, has Trimble at No. 37 overall in its Class of 2014 rankings. Only two of 25 selections last year — Southern Methodist's Keith Frazier (No. 49) and North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks (No. 59) — were rated below that and made the team. And yes, it's hard to overstate the power of Larry Brown or Carolina blue in backroom dealings.

If the snubs come, life will go on for the program. The Terps haven't had a signee in the game since Mike Jones, in 2003, and going or not going to Chicago's United Center will not make or break a recruit's career. But perception is reality, and having a player chosen would make it a lot easier for Mark Turgeon and his scuffling program to sell the notion of progress than it otherwise would.

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