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Thoughts on Maryland basketball recruiting targets, Dez Wells and Cliff Warren

Colleges and UniversitiesMaryland TerrapinsBasketballXavier MusketeersMark TurgeonESPN

Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three topics from the past week in Maryland sports.


With the live evaulation period of the 2015 recruiting class starting this weekend, who's on Maryland radar and who do the Terps have a realistic shot at getting?

Don Markus:  Considering the players Maryland loses after next season, this is going to be an important recruiting class – perhaps the most important for Mark Turgeon based on who he's going to have to replace.

Start with Dez Wells, who is expected to be the team’s go-to guy offensively and possibly its defensive stopper on the wing.  There’s Evan Smotrycz, who will go into next season as one of the team’s designated 3-point shooters. There’s also a chance that Jake Layman goes to the NBA if he improves as a junior.  

Maryland has made offers to at least seven 2015 players currently ranked in the top 30 by ESPN: Diamond Stone (ranked No. 5), a 6-10, 240-pound center from Milwaukee; Carlton Bragg (11), a 6-9, 220-pound forward from Cleveland; Jalen Brown (13), a 6-6, 200-pound small forward from Alpharetta, Ga.; Derrick Jones (22), a 6-6, 180-pound small forward from Philadelphia; Georgios Papagiannis (26), a 7-1, 235-pound center from Greece who is currently playing for the Westtown School outside Philadelphia.

They also made an offer recently to Esa Ahmad (23), a 6-7, 210-pound forward from Cleveland. After a visit by Maryland coaches, Ahmad will reportedly visit College Park in May.  

In the same trip, the Terps flew to Milwaukee to talk with Stone, considered one of the biggest prizes in the class. Realistically, the move to the Big Ten should help in the recruiting of Stone, Ahmad and Bragg, considering family and friends will have a chance to see them play in the Midwest.

Perhaps the most important offer out is to Montrose Christian point guard Allonzo Trier. Currently ranked 23rd in ESPN’s top 60, Trier will be watching closely to see how a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans perform as freshmen: Melo Trimble at Maryland and Tre Copeland at Georgetown.

It could come down to the school where Trier, who is from Oklahoma City and is also reportedly considering Oklahoma, sees the most immediate opportunity.


What is the significance of Dez Wells' out-of-court settlement?

Jonas Shaffer:  When Wells last August brought his lawsuit against Xavier University, alleging that the school and its president had erred in their investigation and expulsion of the then-Musketeers freshman, he put out a statement.

"From the moment this nightmare began, I've told the truth. I am innocent," Wells said. "It's time to make this right. Xavier needs to set the record straight."

So, did Xavier "make it right"?

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but I don't think Wells is walking away from this with a handshake and a stick of bubblegum.

Did Xavier "set the record straight"?

That's open to interpretation. A university spokeswoman "declined to discuss the case" with theAssociated Press, "except to say that 'the lawsuit has been resolved in a manner satisfactory to the parties.' " In other words, the school had issued its first of many no-comments.

There has been no acknowledgement of wrongdoing, no regret over Wells' handling, at least not publicly. 

Wells will have to settle for the record being, if not set straight, then at least finished.

He is less than six months from the start of his senior season, a year that will invite scrutiny of the Terps' future and of his own professional prospects. Wells' play and leadership did not seem to suffer as the specter of the case hung overhead last season, and now that the pall seemingly has lifted, how he responds starting this fall is a story itself. 

His "nightmare," as he once called it, is over. Now, maybe, he can start to better realize his dreams.


How will this week's hiring of former Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren as director of basketbal operations impact Mark Turgeon's staff?

Don Markus:  I was a little surprised that Warren would take the ops job that was left vacant by the promotion of Dustin Clark to assistant coach in November. Given his age (46) and near decade as a head coach, I didn't figure that Warren would basically start over on the bottom rung of the coaching ladder.

That Turgeon can use Warren to recruit, since the Terps are down one on their coaching staff with the recent departure of Scott Spinelli, could mean that this is essentially a tryout -- especially if Bino Ranson lands the Coppin State head coaching job he will interview for on Monday.

Either way, it adds a veteran presence to a rather young coaching staff. Though Warren’s coaching responsibilities are rather limited as director of operations, I’m sure Turgeon will figure out a way to maximize Warren’s strengths.

One of them is his ties to the Baltimore area, where Warren went for a number of recruits while at Jacksonville. If Ranson were to head up I-95 to North Avenue, I wouldn’t be surprised if Warren slips right into Ranson’s spot.

As for Spinelli’s job, I can see Turgeon going in a number of directions. Turgeon reportedly spoke with Tom Herrion, a former head coach at Marshall and the College of Charleston, before focusing on former Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson, who chose Louisville over Maryland earlier this week.

One coach I’d love to see Turgeon interview is former Terps assistant Rob Ehsan, now at Alabama-Birmingham. Ehsan was not retained after Turgeon succeeded Gary Williams, but Ehsan was responsible for bringing Alex Len to College Park and is well respected by Maryland fans.

With Warren on board, Turgeon can take his time on this decision – which could be the most critical of his coaching career.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Colleges and UniversitiesMaryland TerrapinsBasketballXavier MusketeersMark TurgeonESPN
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