Mount St. Mary's needs a bona fide point guard. Towson State is searching for a guard who can pump in the points. And Coppin State is at the point where it's looking to sign anyone who can contribute.
The late national signing period began Wednesday, and for the next month local basketball coaches will be scrambling to fill holes. And in Maryland, where just two of the nine Division I teams had records over .500, there are quite a few holes to fill.
Towson State's 17-13 record this past season was the best among state Division I schools, but the Tigers have lost their two top scorers in guard Terrance Jacobs and forward Chuck Lightening. With point guard Devin Boyd returning next season after receiving a medical redshirt with an injured arm, coach Terry Truax is looking to sign a shooting guard.
"We can probably sign two more kids," said Truax, who has 11 players on scholarship (the limit is 14). "We definitely would like to sign one more guard."
That guard could be 6-foot-3 Ralph Blalock, the Delaware Player of the Year, who averaged more than 20 points a game and led Sanford High School to the state championship. Blalock has visited the Towson campus and will reportedly choose between Towson and Drexel. The Tigers are also expected to sign Steve
Thomas, who played four years at Walbrook and last season at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep.
Coppin State, the only other Division I school above .500 (15-13) came up dry during the early signing period in November and has yet to sign a player in the opening days of the late period. The Eagles have eight scholarship athletes returning, but have lost point guard Larry Yarbray.
"We're still bringing people in for visits," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said. "We haven't signed anybody yet, but we'll find a way. We might have to take some gambles."
Loyola (14-14) is hoping that the signing of 6-4 guard Marlon Jones and and 6-3 guard Matt Walker will help fill the void left by the departure of guard Kevin Green and forward Kevin Anderson. Jones, who will be a junior, just finished his second season at Chowan Junior College and signed in November. Walker, who signed on Wednesday, averaged 18.5 points, seven rebounds and seven
assists and led Trinity High School (Lewisberry, Pa.) to the Pennsylvania state championship game.
In Emmitsburg, coach Jim Phelan has been busy attempting to resurrect a Mount St. Mary's team whose 6-22 record marked the third losing season in the past four years. Signings for this period include Jeff Balistrere, a 6-4 guard from Waynesboro (Pa.) High School (21.9 points, 7.5 rebounds), 6-2 guard Silas Cheung, from Magruder High School in Gaithersburg (20 points per game), and and 6-7 forward Kenny Gardner, the Catholic League Player of the Year from St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown (20.9 points, 11.7 rebounds).
"We're still looking for a bona fide point guard and a big man," said Phelan, who still has two scholarships available. The Mountaineers are expected to sign Shewn Winfree, a 6-5 forward from Washington's Dunbar High, and are recruiting Riley Inge, a 6-2 point guard from Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County. Both were all-Washington area picks last season.
The late signing period ends May 15.
The following are players signed by local Division I basketball teams since the late NCAA signing period began Wednesday:
Loyola College Player. . .......... Position. .. . . ... Height. .......... High school
Matt Walker. . ....... G. .. .......... . 6-3. ....... Trinity HS (Lewisberry,Pa.)
, Mount St. Mary's Jeff Balistrere. . .. G. . ............. 6-4. ... .... Waynesboro (Pa.) HS
Silas Cheung. ....... G. ............... 6-2.. ........Magruder HS (Gaithersburg)
Kenny Gardner. ....... F. .............. 6-7. . .......St. Maria Goretti (Hagerstown)