Terps Set Sights on 2019-20
The college basketball offseason is in full swing, which means that programs have a lot to juggle. The NBA draft process is a bit different now, with the NCAA allowing players to hire an approved agent to help them through the process. If an early entrant wants to keep open the possibility of returning to school, they have to not accept any compensation during the process and also have to end the “business relationship” with the agent once they decide to return to school. There’s also a lot of recruiting going on, with spring signees making their decisions official, and programs looking to fill holes left by early departures and transfers.
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In the case of Maryland, Mark Turgeon has up to three scholarships to work with in the spring but that number has an asterisk. Both Anthony Cowan Jr. and Bruno Fernando have entered the NBA draft, and while the expectation of many is that Fernando has played his last game in a Maryland uniform that isn’t the case for Cowan. With regards to Fernando it’s important to know the difference in the NCAA and NBA rules with regards to entering the draft. While the NCAA does not place a limit on the number of times an athlete can enter and then withdraw their name, the NBA allows for one withdrawal. Fernando went through the process last spring before deciding to withdraw his name, so per NBA rules he’s “all in.”
Operating under the premise that Fernando is gone and Cowan will return after receiving feedback from NBA scouts and decision-makers, Maryland will have one scholarship available for a late signee. One would expect that the staff will keep its options open regarding the type of addition, whether its an incoming freshman or a transfer (sit-outs or graduate transfer). Three players, wing Donta Scott and posts (and twins) Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, have signed on to be part of the 2019 recruiting class and on Thursday combo guard Hakim Hart made his pledge.
Below is Maryland’s roster as of Thursday, with a look at the recruits that have committed and what need(s) the Terps will need to address with the final available scholarship.
Seniors: Anthony Cowan Jr.*
Juniors: Darryl Morsell, Reese Mona
Sophomores: Serrell Smtih Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo Jr.
Freshmen: Donta Scott, Hakim Hart
Seniors: Will Clark
Juniors: Joshua Tomiac (redshirt)
Sophomores: Jalen Smith
Freshmen: Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell
Donta Scott (6’7/220; Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia)
Scott was the first perimeter commit in this class, and his presence helped with the addition of Hakim Hart as well. He has good size for a wing, and while there’s work to be done with regards to his perimeter shooting Scott is good off the dribble and is a capable finisher around the basket with either hand. He’s a competitor who defends and rebounds well, and his presence will help Maryland on the perimeter given his ability to defend multiple positions while also providing needed size. Scott is a winner as well, as he helped lead Imhotep Charter to three straight titles at both the city(Philadelphia Public League) and state (Pennsylvania Class 4A) levels.
Hakim Hart (6’5/185; Roman Catholic HS, Philadelphia)
Hart is the most recent commit to Maryland, as he made his pledge on Thursday. Hart, a friend of Scott’s, was originally committed to Saint Joseph’s but reopened his recruitment after the school fired Phil Martelli. He’s a good shooter who, like Scott, comes from a successful Philadelphia high school program (Roman Catholic HS) and the two were teammates with the Philly Pride grassroots program. In addition to the perimeter shooting Hart also rebounds well for a guard, and his positional versatility should be an asset for Maryland as the Terps look to contend in the Big Ten. That ability would be of even greater importance should there be a surprise regarding Cowan’s NBA draft process.
Makhi Mitchell (6’9/225; Woodrow Wilson HS, Washington, DC)
Makhel Mitchell (6’9/230; Woodrow Wilson HS, Washington, DC)
Going to go ahead and group the twins together for obvious reasons, and the Mitchells have been committed to Maryland the longest of any of the four recruits. Makhi and Makhel made their pledges back in October 2017, before their sophomore seasons had even begun. Makhi is the higher rated of the two, with Makhel being a bit more of a “project” who also had some injury issues to contend with during his high school career. If Fernando does what many expect him to do and keep his name in the NBA draft pool, at least one of the twins will need to hit the ground running in order to help out Jalen Smith.
Smith will obviously be the anchor in the post, and given the number of wings at Turgeon’s disposal there will be times when he can go with a “small” lineup. That being said the Mitchell twins won’t lack for minutes in 2019-20. Both have good hands and defend/rebound their positions well; while solid athletically neither would be considered “prolific” with regards to grabbing rebounds/blocking shots outside of their area. But that’s OK, especially with the presence of Smith in the front court. Some scouts have stated that Makhi looks the more prepared of the two with regards to having an impact next season, and getting into a college strength program this summer should help both.
What should Maryland look for with its last scholarship?
The obvious answer here is another player who can add depth/production in the post. Smith, one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen last season, should take a step forward in his development. But outside of the rising sophomore the Terps don’t have much in the way of proven post production in 2019-20. Joshua Tomaic has played sparingly in his first two seasons in uniform, and while there’s room for him to get into double figures when it comes to minutes (a la Ivan Bender’s sophomore and junior seasons) it wouldn’t be fair to expect him to explode from a production standpoint.
Adding the Mitchell twins certainly helps matters, but they’re freshmen and one can never fully predict how well newcomers will get acclimated to the college game and the new system they’re being asked to learn. Another front court option, whether it’s a freshman or a grad transfer, with players such as Virginia Tech’s Kerry Blackshear Jr. and UNLV’s Shakir Juiston among the top available transfers, certainly wouldn’t hurt.
The perimeter looks well stocked at this point, provided Cowan return for his senior season, and with Hakim Hart now on board that could rule out Lester Quinones. The IMG Academy product is scheduled to visit Michigan at the end of the month, and Memphis has also been heavily involved in his recruitment.
Raphielle’s been writing about college sports for more than a decade, making the move to college basketball alone in 2013. Beginning his work with the former website CollegeHoops.net in 2003, Raphielle spent 3 years writing for NBCSports.com beginning 2013, covering CBB and the Olympics. In 2016, Raphielle joined Heavy.com. If there’s a game on, there’s a strong likelihood that he’s watching it.