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Despite claims to the contrary, Terps staff continues to court top local prospects

There’s been some frustration brewing regarding Maryland’s local recruiting efforts — specifically in the Washington area from some high-profile AAU directors, coaches and top players -- but the Terps offered five local prospects on the first day coaches could contact rising junior last week.
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There’s been some frustration brewing regarding Maryland’s local recruiting efforts — specifically in the Washington area from some high-profile AAU directors, coaches and top players.

Regardless of the validity of those claims, the Terps seemingly made a concerted effort to reach out to the top players in the area on the first day college coaches could contact rising junior recruits last week, offering five players from the DMV (DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia) in a 24-hour span beginning midnight Monday.

While questioning the local recruiting efforts of a program that was led by a pair of in-state stars in Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith last year and had four other local players on the roster to begin the season doesn’t make much sense on paper, that’s exactly what former five-star Michigan-bound center Hunter Dickinson (DeMatha) did earlier this month. Dickinson said Terps coach Mark Turgeon never called him after he offered him a scholarship before the start of his sophomore season at nearby DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

There’s been distant complaints about Turgeon’s coaching and recruiting abilities among local powerbrokers for years but they’ve seemingly grown more public since Kevin Broadus -- the staff’s DC-based recruiter -- left to accept the head coach position at Morgan State last year and was replaced by Michigan assistant DeAndre Haynes, an outsider with no local ties. That was followed by Maria Mitchell, the mother of twins Makhi and Makhel, firing shots at the Terps coaching staff after her sons left the program in a messy divorce in December. Ricky Lindo, another DC native who played with the Mitchell twins in high school, transferred to George Washington this offseason.

Team Takeover AAU director Keith Stevens said publicly last year that Maryland’s biggest issue is it no longer plays in the ACC.

“The one issue with Maryland is the conference that they’re in,” Stevens told The Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. “Our kids are so caught up in [the] ACC and Big East that it’s hard for them to get over that hump. So that would be the biggest issue. If all is equal, conference and everything, Maryland is probably a top-five job in the country.”

Nestled in between two basketball hotbeds in Baltimore and Washington, it can be a tough balancing act to keep both areas satisfied at the same time. For most of his tenure, Turgeon had more recruiting success south of College Park, pulling top local recruits like Cowan, Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley, Roddy Peters and Seth Allen out of the area. But lately he’s had more luck in Charm City, where Smith, Darryl Morsell and 2021 commits Ike Cornish and Julian Reese reside.

“We try to keep the right ones home,” Turgeon said this spring, “and we’ve been successful doing that.”

Here’s a look at the five local recruits Maryland’s offered since June 15, plus Glenelg Country (Md.) wing Noah Batchelor, the only local player in the 2022 class who held an offer from the Terps before the contact period began last week.

Rodney Rice6-foot-4 combo guard from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md. (247Sports Composite ranking: 54)

The Terps’ chances for Rice might’ve gone down when he transferred from the Bullis School to DeMatha Catholic after his sophomore year, but it’s possible the 6-foot-4 combo guard could be the player that snaps Maryland’s nearly two-decade-long drought at the state’s most prominent high school basketball powerhouse. Rice has attended Terps games since he was 14, as he told 247Sports last week, and he has the skillset to fit in Turgeon’s offense. He’s an elite shooter with the ability to play with or without the ball and the son of a former Washington Post high school basketball player of the year. His father Rodney Rice helped Richmond knock off reigning national champions Indiana in the first round of the 1988 NCAA Tournament with a jumper that put the Spiders up for good in the game’s final minute. He has one of the longest offers lists in the area with scholarships on the table from Maryland, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Seton Hall, Penn State, Illinois, Georgetown, Rhode Island, Providence, Alabama, Louisville, Marquette, LSU, Connecticut, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Oklahoma State and Miami, among others.

Favour Aire, 6-foot-10 center from Bishop McNamara in District Heights, Md. (247Sports Composite ranking: 53)

Aire became the latest promising big man prospect to come to Virginia Academy from Nigeria in 2017, joining Ejike Obinna (Vanderbilt) and Qudus Wahab (Georgetown). He transferred to Bishop McNamara (Md.) last year, making it impossible for the Terps staff to overlook the well-built 6-foot-10 center sporting a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He holds offers from Maryland, Georgia, Rutgers, LSU, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Connecticut and Seton Hall.

Cam Whitmore, 6-foot-6 wing from Archbishop Spalding in Severn, Md. (247Sports Composite ranking: NA)

The only local recruit from the Baltimore area that received an offer from last week, Whitmore is certainly one to watch moving forward. After missing last year with an injury, he averaged a double-double as a sophomore in the Baltimore Catholic League and was poised to make a name for himself on a national scale this summer before the pandemic shut the AAU circuit down. That could end up helping the Terps -- one of the few top programs involved with the versatile 6-foot-6 wing -- in the long run. Virginia Tech, Creighton, LSU, VCU, Seton Hall and Saint Joseph’s are the only other notable programs that have offered the Archbishop Spalding standout so far.

Paul Lewis, 6-foot-0 point guard from Bishop O'Connell in Arlington, Va. (247Sports Composite ranking: NA)

Bishop O’Connell coach Joe Wooten told SI after Lewis’s breakout performance in the HoopHall Classic in January that he reminds him of another one of his former players, Melo Trimble. The Terps must see the same thing in Lewis, as they’re the only Power Conference program that’s offered the 6-foot-1 sharpshooter. Paul’s older brother, Matt, is a standout at James Madison who flirted with the NBA Draft this offseason and teamed with Anthony Cowan in pro-am games at the Kenner League over the last few years. Both are natural scorers with the ability to hit contested jumpers off the dribble. Maryland should have a good shot at Lewis if they continue to make him a priority.

Judah Mintz, 6-foot-3 point guard from Gonzaga in Washington, DC (247Sports Composite ranking: 61)

Mark Turgeon’s son, Will, went to high school at Gonzaga (DC), but the Terps coach has yet to land a player from the WCAC school since coming to College Park in 2010. Mintz emerged as a top prospect at the school this past season and told that Michigan, Georgetown, Marquette and Florida were recruiting him the hardest prior to the start of the contact period. He is the son of former Radford guard Camara Mintz and can play either guard spot. His length, ball handling skills and craftiness is what sets him apart from other top guards. The Terps have work to do in order to get him to stay home.

Noah Batchelor, a 6-foot-6 wing from Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, Md. (247Sports Composite ranking: 52)

The Glenelg Country (Md.) wing told 247Sports that Maryland and Memphis were the schools recruiting him the hardest last month and he’s close friends with Cornish, the Terps’ most recent pledge, as well. He’s picked up offers from NC State, Wake Forest, Marquette, Nebraska and Penn State over the last week.