Maryland misses on top target, likely out for another top recruit as well

Josh Stirn

It took less than 48 hours for Maryland’s target pool for combo forwards in the class of 2021 to get cut in half.

A day after four-star New Jersey native Trey Patterson announced he would commit this month without stepping foot in College Park, in-state target Benny Williams picked Syracuse over the Terps, Georgetown and Miami.

Williams, a top-50 recruit, was one of the Terps’ first offers in the class and their top-ranked local. He’s the son of a Maryland graduate and rose to prominence at nearby St. Andrew’s Epicopal.

The battle for Williams was expected to come down to Maryland and Syracuse. The Orange had a connection to Williams in assistant Adrian “Red” Autry, who was the best man in St. Andrew’s Episcopal coach Kevin Jones’ wedding and worked alongside him at a couple Northern Virginia high schools. Williams cited his long standing relationship with Autry as one of the reasons he chose Cuse.

"I picked them because of the relationship we built going back two years ago, especially coach Red [Autry] and with coach [Jim] Boeheim," he told 247Sports. "I think I can come in and impact the program right away and hopefully lead them to a national championship.” He added that he’s “excited to play for coach [Jim] Boeheim in front of the best fans in the country in the greatest arena in college basketball” in his commitment video.

Williams averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds last season, leading his team to a 24-4 record. He has a similar skillset as Julian Reese, Maryland’s lone commit in the 2021 class, but the Terps wanted them both and are still in pursuit of other combo forward targets.

One of those players is Patterson, who included Maryland in his top-10 last month but set his commitment date for June 18 after taking trips to Villanova, Rutgers, Florida, UConn and Indiana prior to the pandemic shutdown. Without taking a trip to Maryland, it’s likely safe to write him off as well.

That leaves Maryland with just two targets remaining on their board that fits the combo forward mold, both of whom received offers last month. The first is fast-rising James Graham, a Wisconsin native who’s unranked by recruiting services but has picked up offers from a dozen more Power Conference programs since the Terps extended a scholarship. He plans to include Maryland in his top group when he cuts his list sometime in the near future. Top-150 forward Eric van der Heijden, a North Carolina native, is the other combo forward with an offer.

The Terps will hope their luck improves when Ike Cornish -- a top-80 wing from Baltimore and the staff’s next top local target after Williams -- announces his college decision on August 21.

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