Stacy Robinson, a 6-foot-6 small forward from DuVal High School in Lanham, yesterday became the second highly touted basketball player in the past week to commit orally to the University of Maryland.
The announcement by Robinson follows a similar decision by DeMatha point guard Duane Simpkins to sign with the Terrapins once the early signing period begins in two weeks. Simpkins and Robinson were summer-league teammates earlier this year.
"It had a lot to do with Duane coming," said Robinson. "Me and Duane joked about it last summer, but once we got serious, it was almost a done deal."
It isn't quite a done deal. Though Simpkins has qualified academically under university and Proposition 48 guidelines, Robinson still has to score better than 700 (out of 1,600) on his Scholastic Aptitude Test. He will take the test again Saturday and said his mother will pay a fee to get the results back before the start of the early signing period, Nov. 13-20.
"I'm looking forward to taking the test and passing it," Robinson said.
Robinson said that he met last week with Dr. Linda Clement, the school's director of undergraduate admissions, and plans to sign a national letter of intent. Robinson said he is confident he won't have to go to prep school or junior college, as Johnny Rhodes did after orally committing to Maryland last year. Rhodes, a 6-5 shooting guard from Washington, is at Central Maine Institute, but is expected to attend Maryland next year if he gets his SAT score above 700.
"If they said I couldn't sign, I wouldn't have announced until the spring," said Robinson.
Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams declined to comment, in accordance with NCAA rules which prohibit coaches from talking about prospective players until they sign. Clement wouldn't talk about Robinson's academic status directly, but said, in general, "Maryland only allows athletes to sign national letters if the school feels they are admissible."
Robinson led DuVal to the Class 3A state championship last season -- beating Catonsville in the final -- while averaging 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Though DuVal coach Artie Walker said Robinson "can play all five positions in high school," he likely will be a small forward in college.
"He's a big-time athlete," Bob Gibbons, a talent evaluator from Lenoir, N.C., said yesterday. "He runs like a deer. He's a tremendous up-and-down-the-court kind of player. With him, like a lot of kids at this time of year, the big question is whether he will qualify. If he does, he'll be able to step in right away."
Said Robinson: "I felt comfortable with Coach Williams and his staff. I like the way they play. I want to get my diploma, win the NCAA championship and be the best person I can be. I think I can do all of those things at the University of Maryland."
The announcements by Simpkins and Robinson give Maryland a jump-start on its best recruiting class in years. Among those who are also considering going to College Park are Exree Hipp, a 6-7 forward from Harker Prep in Potomac and Charles Kornegay, a 6-8 forward from Dudley, N.C.
It was believed that Kornegay, considered among the best power forwards in the country, was headed to North Carolina State. But he took a paid visit to Maryland last week a few days after orally committing to the Wolfpack.
"I think he'll still go to State, but it is unusual for a kid to make a visit a couple of days after announcing he would go to another school," said Gibbons. "I put it into the category of free entertainment rather than a serious visit, but I don't know what happened when he got to Maryland."