Kevin Huerter's rise in the rankings among the nation's top high school players has mirrored Maryland's ascent among the country's top basketball programs. It will be interesting to see how the 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Clifton Park, N.Y., continues to grow along with the Terps.
Huerter, who last week jumped more than 30 spots to No. 41 in ESPN's most recent ratings, orally committed Monday to Maryland after visiting College Park over the weekend. Huerter had previously visited Villanova, but will cancel his planned trips to both Notre Dame and Michigan.
"I felt really comfortable with the players and coaching staff and didn't really feel like I needed to take the other visits. I already felt that if was the place for me," Huerter said Monday.
Said Tom Huerter, the player's father: "He got home and we talked abut it this morning. He didn't need to wait. He didn't want to wait. He didn't want somebody else to possibly take that spot when he knew he wanted to go there."
Asked if Maryland had been the favorite prior to last weekend's visit, Kevin Huerter said, "I don't think there was really a favorite, but I really liked my unofficial visit in July and going into this visit I knew it was a place I really liked. It kind of really solidified it today that I really wanted to be there."
Added his father: "Kevin's excited because Maryland is an up-and-coming program and he wants to be part of a championship-level team. He bought into Coach Turgeon's system and their incredible support staff in every aspect, academics, athletics, socially. It was just a home run for him."
Huerter said it was a combination of factors that turned his decision toward Maryland.
"What I really looked at in this official visit was getting to know the players and what they're like, and to continue to get closer to the coaching staff," said Huerter, who was hosted by senior forward Jake Layman and junior forward Robert Carter Jr.
Among the things Huerter did with the Terps over the weekend was go to Friday's 2-1 overtime win over top-ranked UCLA in men's soccer at Ludwig Field.
"When he went Friday night, I think he was excited to be a part of that type of atmosphere, that just adds to the whole experience," Tom Huerter said.
Huerter becomes the second player in the Class of 2016 to commit to Maryland, following St. John's High point guard Anthony Cowan of Bowie. Cowan jumped into the Top 100 last week (No. 87) after an impressive summer.
The Terps will host five-star forward Wenyen Gabriel this weekend. Four-star shooting guard Brandon Robinson, a four-star shooting guard from Douglasville, Ga. ranked No. 63 ESPN, canceled his visit to College Park after Huerter committed.
A former Division I player at Siena, Tom Huerter said that his family has been impressed with what has been something of a whirlwind recruiting process for his 17-year-old son that began in March when Maryland assistant Dustin Clark showed up to watch Huerter and older brother Tom Jr. lead Shenendehowa High to a state championship.
"They made Kevin feel as if he was a priority," Tom Huerter said Monday. "I think in the end that was a big part of it. We just have a great deal of respect for Coach Turgeon and his family and how he kind of does things."
Since Clark's visit and a subsequent trip by Turgeon to watch Huerter play in an AAU tournament in Virginia, "from that point they've been full throttle."
Tom Huerter admittedly started following Maryland's growth under Turgeon before then. Huerter played collegiately with Steve McCoy, Layman's uncle, on a team that beat Stanford in the 1989 NCAA tournament.
Tom Huerter said it is hard not to notice the seemingly overnight rise from a bottom-tier ACC team to a national contender. Asked if he can remember a program moving into the nation's elite so quickly, Huerter said, "I can't."
Huerter said that it goes beyond the talent Turgeon has brought in the past two years.
"Not only has the talent level has gotten better, but those guys out on the court have bought in to a philosophy that Mark preaches," Huerter said
Tom Huerter said that his son noticed how much the current group of Terps have bought in when he watched a four-minute video clip that was part of Maryland's presentation.
"Several times they showed Mark talking to a player in the heat of battle and the player would be listening," Huerter said. "He wasn't looking away, He was engaged. He wanted to hear what coach Turgeon had to say. ... My son actually picked that up and said, 'It seems like he has a great rapport with players because none of them have tuned him out.'"
The Huerters are aware of what transpired as recently as two years ago, when the Terps finished 17-15 and five players with remaining eligibility left the program.
"Coaching is a tough business, guys are getting fired with winning records," Huerter said. "When they were 17-15, that might have been Mark's best coaching job because he probably had guys who didn't want to buy ionto his system and yet they still won. He [also] loses an NBA player, a lottery pick and they just come back and keep getting better. That's a testament to what Mark and his staff have done."