Maryland makes the top-10 for high-flying Philly guard

Josh Stirn

Maryland is still in the running for class of 2021 Math, Civics & Sciences (PA) shooting guard Nisine Poplar.

Poplar, who’s from Philadelphia and was named Pennsylvania’s class 2A player of the year after averaging 22 points and five rebounds and leading his team to a city championship as a junior this past season, included the Terps in his top-10 posted on Instagram Sunday. Miami, Penn State, LSU, Auburn, VCU, Temple, Georgia, St. John’s and Seton Hall also made the cut.

It’s timely news for the Terps, who have recently fallen out of the mix for Jalen Warley and Jordan Hawkins, two of the highest-rated shooting guard prospects on their board. Poplar joined a crowded target list when he received an offer from Maryland in April but now he’s one of the last realistic shooting guard targets remaining.

Poplar, who’s listed at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds and nicknamed "Wooga", has an impressive list of suitors for someone who only recently began playing organized basketball. While he’s currently unranked by most major recruiting services, he was expected to make a strong case for himself as a potential top-100 player this summer before the pandemic hit. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that Poplar “might be the most intriguing college basketball prospect” in the city in February. The impressive list of schools interested that didn’t make the cut, which includes Georgetown, Marquette, Nebraska, Wichita State, TCU, Virginia Tech, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul and Saint Louis, adds credence to that statement.

“He was in 10th grade when he came to our school,” high school coach Lonnie Diggs told the Inquirer. “He knew some of the kids and they told me about him, but the first time I saw him play was in tryouts.

“I was like, ‘Hey, this kid is pretty good.’

“It’s very unusual to see a player emerge this quickly as one of the best players in the city, really without having much of a background in the game. Sometimes, you’ll see a 6-9 kid come out of nowhere. But not a smaller player.”

Poplar could be the next Philadelphia product to join the Terps after Maryland broke its decades-long drought in the city by signing Donta Scott and Hakim Hart in 2017.

“I’ve always liked Philly players. I think about Fran [Dunphy] and his teams at Temple, and even before that. The Aaron McKies and those guys, I’ve always been enamored with Philadelphia players and what they’re about, just their toughness and knowledge of the game,” Terps coach Mark Turgeon said in the spring. “And to be quite honest with you, they’re really humble. That’s nice to have in today’s world when you can get kids that are humble and they come in and they just want to work and do what you say.”

The Terps have two scholarships open in the 2021 class after they added Switzerland big man Arnaud Revaz to their roster last week. 

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