COLLEGE PARK - With the unofficial start of its men's basketball season less than two weeks away, the University of Maryland has set its sights on another prized recruit it hopes does not slip away.
St. Raymond's (Bronx, N.Y.) senior Julius Hodge, a 6-foot-8 forward/guard widely considered one of the nation's top 10 high school players, concluded a two-day visit at Maryland last weekend, sources said.
The Terps are aiming to secure Hodge after losing out in their pursuits of Southern High School guard Melvin Scott and Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward's forward Jawad Williams, both of whom spurned Maryland recently by orally committing to North Carolina.
According to sources, the Terps were stung by the loss of Williams, who canceled a scheduled College Park visit last month after visiting Chapel Hill. Hodge has visited Florida and has set up additional trips to Syracuse and North Carolina State.
The Terps have three scholarships to give to the freshman class of 2001-02. After the coming season, they will lose seniors Terence Morris, LaRon Cephas and Mike Mardesich.
Hodge's versatility is especially attractive to Maryland. He is projected as a small forward who can play either guard position.
The one-week early signing period for recruits begins Nov. 8.
Maryland will begin practicing at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 14, with its annual Midnight Madness event at Cole Field House. Doors open two hours before the start of practice. Admission is free.
The Terps, who are ranked in the top five in several preseason polls, return their entire starting lineup from last season's 25-10 team. Maryland is seeking its eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance under coach Gary Williams, who is entering his 12th season in College Park.