Who’s Got Next? Elite Big Man Diamond Stone Selects Maryland

Posted by Sean Moran on March 30th, 2015

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Maryland exceeded expectations by going 28-7 in its first Big Ten season and now Mark Turgeon’s club is doing the same on the recruiting front with the unexpected weekend commitment of five-star center Diamond Stone, the No. 4 prospect in the senior class. The 6’10” big man from Milwaukee committed to the Terps on Friday night and in turn significantly raised expectations for Maryland next season.

Stone’s name first popped on the radar in 2012 as he established himself as an overpowering freshman. He won a Wisconsin Division 4 championship that year and didn’t stop from there, having just capped off his fourth title in a row at Dominican High School with a 23-point, 15-rebound performance. Through it all, Stone maintained his status as one of the top players in his class and at times held down the overall No. 1 ranking. Over the past two summers, Stone was a regular with the USA basketball program, winning gold medals at the U-16 FIBA Americas event and at the U-17 FIBA World Championships. He started all 12 games for Team USA and averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds and 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds, respectively, during those international events.

Recruitment

Stone’s recruitment has been a long and winding road with many twists and turns. Local powers Wisconsin and Marquette established themselves early with the Golden Eagles rumored to be the leader with Stone taking numerous unofficial visits to the campus right next door. Schools from all over the country soon joined that pair in the race as Stone received offers from Georgetown, Indiana, Duke, North Carolina and UCLA. When Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech a year ago, Marquette received a commitment from Henry Ellenson and dropped out. The four schools that remained were Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma State and Maryland, with the College Park school seeming like the longest shot. UConn was discussed as the leader as recently as last summer (and a package deal with Malik Newman was supposedly in play), but Stone took official visits to all four schools in October and liked Maryland the best.

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Signing the Harrison Twins Could Have Lasting Effects on Maryland’s Re-Emergence

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 4th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Even in this high-profile one-and-done era, where most top-tier prospects make their ultimate decisions not in the pursuit of the best four-year student athlete experience possible but to maximize NBA draft stock, the increasing preparedness of elite recruits to make immediate impacts has raised the stakes as coaches search for talents to elevate their teams and change their programs’ trajectories. There was no better example of this phenomenon than in 2011-12, when John Calipari took an insanely-talented 2011 recruiting class – led by otherworldly front court maestro Anthony Davis, hyper-intense perimeter dynamo Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and quick-learning point guard Marquis Teague – molded its star power around a host of savvy role players (and first-round pick Terrence Jones), crafted a coherent and disciplined unit, and surged to a 38-2 record and his first national championship. These weren’t your average freshmen; Calipari’s coup may go down as the most talented recruiting class since Michigan’s Fab Five outfit. But across the nation, each class’s blue chip prospects are increasingly entering the college game with a greater potential for immediate contribution, often in major and lasting ways. Kentucky’s title season – which officially debunked the age-old myth that one-and-done players didn’t have the intangibles to withstand pressure-packed NCAA Tournament games – paired three top-10 players with a coach well-versed in the sort of ego-grooming and steadfast discipline required to overcome any freshmen transitional issues. The match of immense talent and coaching acumen was practically seamless. Not every elite recruiting haul reaches that level of success that quickly. Freshmen talent, however large or promising the selection, does not equal championships, at least not right away.

If the Harrisons choose Maryland, it could propel Maryland’s rise to ACC and national contention (Photo credit: coast2coasthoops.com).

That’s the motivation fueling the enormous hype surrounding the recruitment of Andrew and Aaron Harrison, two top-five players in the class of 2013 who have been open about their intentions to attend the same program and thus form, in recruiting parlance, perhaps the best “package deal” in college hoops recruiting history. Left in the running for the twins, who plan to announce their decision tonight at 5 PM ET, are Kentucky and Maryland, with SMU coming in at a distant (I repeat: distant) third. For the reasons I mentioned above, and a host of other enticing qualities, Calipari’s involvement is hardly shocking. Maryland’s courtship hinges on a spate of various connections: namely, Aaron Harrison, Sr.’s, Baltimore childhood and relationships with program staffers along with the twins’ longstanding association with Under Armour and the corporate bridge it constructs between their UA-backed AAU team and the Terrapins. Though Calipari has rarely missed out on a recruit(s) he set his sights on, the Harrisons and their sheltering father have shielded their preferences internally. Neither program would be a surprise. Whoever the victor, the on-court benefits are fairly straightforward: two transcendent backcourt pieces brimming with potential and promise. For Kentucky, wrapping up Harrison-squared would be business as usual, par for the course in Calipari’s recruiting history. But for Maryland, the potential long-term implications of landing two NBA-bound basketball destroyers-of-worlds, at least from a reputation standpoint, are positively transformative.

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