Morgan State, Loyola and Maryland made the most of the early signing period by grabbing a total of nine players last October, but the recruiting season peaks for the state's other Division I basketball teams this week.
National letters of intent can be signed between tomorrow and May 14. Other than the early signings by Morgan State, Loyola and Maryland, the other local schools have received no commitments. Yesterday and today were "dead" periods in which college coaches could not contact recruits, but the former hope to be hearing from the latter tomorrow.
The efforts of Towson State and UMBC are tempered by the uncertain status of the East Coast Conference, which loses its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in 1992.
Towson State remains in the ECC because its bid to move to the North Atlantic Conference was not considered by the NAC. Coach Terry Truax wasn't sure what impact that development will have on recruiting. The Tigers had just one senior, and Truax would like to sign Dunbar guard Terrance Alexander, The Evening Sun Player of the Year who last weekend visited Richmond.
UMBC coach Earl Hawkins lost his top two big men, and the Retrievers need inside help if they are going to improve on last season's 7-22 record.
Maryland's prospects may improve dramatically by the end of the week, when Donyell Marshall, a 6-foot-8 All-America forward from Reading, Pa., is expected to announce his choice between College Park and Syracuse. Maryland is believed to be the favorite.
The Terps are also awaiting word on St. Frances-Charles Hall's Devin Gray, a 6-7 forward-center who is also believed to be leaning toward Maryland, but is considering, among other schools, Towson State, Wake Forest and Clemson. His decision is expected soon as well.
Johnny Rhodes, a 6-5 guard from Washington's Dunbar High who is considered the capital area's player of the year, has orally committed to Maryland, but has not reached the minimum required SAT score for admittance and may go to a prep school for a year before coming to Maryland in the fall of 1992.
Loyola coach Tom Schneider said all three of his recruits who signed early had "great" senior years. In addition, Loyola had two transfers sitting out last season: 6-8 sophomore Michael Reese came in from Boston College, and 6-6 freshman David Kredle enrolled after not playing at a junior college in Utah.
Schneider said he would like to sign at least two other prospects.
Morgan State has its four early signings and three players who sat out this season, but coach Michael Holmes would like to get as many as four other players.
Coppin State was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season champion the last two years, but coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell must replace the school's top two all-time leading scorers in Larry Stewart and Reggie Isaac, and a four-year starter in center Larry McCollum.
"We're not going to find out anything about anyone until next week," said Mitchell, who has rebuilt the Eagles' program using talent from Philadelphia and Chester, Pa., and Camden, N.J.
Maryland-Eastern Shore finished last in the MEAC a year ago, and needs talent of all description. With coach Bob Hopkins prohibited by the NCAA from recruiting off-campus until August, assistant Bob Wilkerson has been a busy man. He has eight recruits from five states coming to Princess Anne for a campus visit April 19-20.
In Emmitsburg, Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan could receive letters of intent from two or three prospects, none from the Baltimore area. The Mountaineers were a disappointing 8-19 this past season, but 1989-90 leading scorer Kevin Booth and two others were injury redshirts.