Maryland makes moves in Mountain State

Josh Stirn

Deivi Jones was virtually unknown only a few months ago but it took only one performance in front of the right people for his recruitment to take off. Now the 6-foot-6 rising senior wing has seven schools he’s ready to move forward with as he progresses towards a college decision.

Maryland was one of the schools that jumped into the mix after Jones displayed his all-around scoring ability at a showcase event at Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) in February and the Terps joined Oregon, Houston, Louisville, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Clemson on his list of finalists Sunday.

With assistant coach Matt Brady leading the charge, Maryland has been a constant in Jones’s recruitment since his eye-opening 33-point, 11-rebound performance against Combine Academy (NC) and top-30 guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. He was in College Park to see the Terps cut down the nets as Big Ten champions in their regular season finale against Michigan, and Brady and Mark Turgeon conducted a virtual home visit with him a month later in April after the pandemic put real-world visits on hold.

Jones, who moved from the Dominican Republic to West Virginia in 2017, didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. Playing for his home country at the U17 FIBA World Cup two years ago, he was the event’s third-leading scorer, averaging 19.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He also led the legendary Boo Williams (VA) AAU program in scoring at the 16U level last year. This past season at Teays Valley Christian (WV), he caught fire in the midst of winter, averaging nearly 30 points per game from December to February.

Jones’ deep range, slashing ability and college-ready frame drew interest from Kentucky this spring, but with AAU basketball cancelled it won’t be easy for him to land an offer from the blueblood program. Along with Maryland, he also visited Illinois prior to the shutdown, and the Illini are in the running thanks in part to former guard Andres Feliz, who grew up near Jones in the Dominican Republic. Illinois assistant Orlando Antigua hails from the Carribean nation as well. Meanwhile, Oregon and Houston have been recruiting him the longest; Louisville and Pittsburgh are the finalists closest to his adopted hometown.

The Terps could be spending more time in West Virginia moving forward as they recently offered another player in the state as well. Isaac McKneely, a class of 2022 guard with offers from the Mountaineers, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Xavier and more, became the latest player to join the list of Terp targets Sunday.

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