A day after learning that five-star guard Devon Dotson had committed to Kansas, Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon received a commitment from four-star guard Eric Ayala on Saturday.
Ayala, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound combo guard from Wilmington, Del., has long been considered heading to College Park, as Dotson, a 6-2, 180-pound point guard, was believed to be headed to Lawrence, Kansas.
Now playing at IMG Academy in Florida, Ayala returned home this weekend and announced his decision at the Boys & Girls Club in Wilmington.
While Dotson was ranked much higher nationally — the fifth-best point guard and the No. 18 player overall according to the 247sports.com Composite rankings — Ayala's size and versatility are considered to be pluses.
"His size is what I think separates him from some of the other guards," John Mahoney, who coaches the IMG post-graduate team on which Ayala now plays, said Saturday.
Not as athletic as Dotson and others ranked above him, Ayala has a similar profile to the one former Maryland star Greivis Vasquez had coming out of high school.
Ayala is ranked 81st by 247sports.com; Vasquez was ranked 43rd.
Mahoney said Ayala is a better player than his ranking indicates.
"He's a big guard, he's got great court vision," Mahoney said. "He can see the floor very well and he can score. I think he's a very good perimeter shooter, gets to the rim. He loves to find his teammates. He's not always looking to get his [points]."
Asked about the comparison to Vasquez, Mahoney said, "I can see similarities. He isn't as athletic [as other point guards], but he's a good athlete. He's a different player. He's not afraid to compete. He loves the competition. He's not going to back down."
Because of his size and shooting ability, Ayala could also be a smoother fit than Dotson in sharing the backcourt with the two current Maryland point guards, sophomore Anthony Cowan and freshman Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph).
Ayala became the third player to commit to the Terps for 2018, following four-star guard Aaron Wiggins of High Point, N.C., and five-star forward Jalen Smith (Mount Saint Joseph).
The Terps are also considered the favorites to land two more five-star prospects, 6-6, 216-pound wing Keldon Johnson of South Hill, Va., and 7-0, 210-pound center Moses Brown of Briarwood, N.Y.
Johnson, the No. 2 wing and No. 14 overall player, is reportedly choosing between Maryland and Texas, with Kentucky trying to make a push with a late offer.
Johnson was reportedly on the verge of choosing the Terps after visiting last month, but will now wait until the early signing period begins next month.
Brown, the No. 2 big man and No. 15 overall player, is reportedly down to Maryland and UCLA, after Louisville was eliminated following the administrative leave of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino in the ongoing college basketball scandal.
As he waited for Ayala's decision Saturday, Turgeon will also host Jairus Hamilton, a 6-8, 209-pound forward from Concord, N.C., a source familiar with Hamilton's recruitment said. Hamilton is a four-star prospect ranked No. 66 overall in the 2018 class.