COLLEGE PARK - As the late signing period for men's college basketball recruits begins today, the University of Maryland remains in a wait-and-see mode regarding point guard Andre Collins, whom the Terps would like to add to a program just removed from its first trip to the Final Four.
Collins, 5 feet 9, failed to qualify academically at Maryland a year ago and is attending Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., where he recently completed his basketball season. The Terps are awaiting the results of Collins' latest SAT test, which he took March 31.
Collins projects as a backup to Steve Blake, who has two years of eligibility left and has been the starting point guard since his freshman year. Blake's backup role was filled last season by sophomore Drew Nicholas, who expanded his game after contributing exclusively as a backup shooting guard in his freshman season.
Maryland coach Gary Williams, who is not allowed under NCAA rules to talk about recruiting prospects, has two scholarships left to give to the incoming class. One of them appears destined for junior guard Calvin McCall, who has quit Maryland's football team and has said Williams has offered him a scholarship.
McCall, who has averaged 5.1 minutes and 1.2 points over two seasons while appearing in 24 games, will retain his football scholarship until June.
Williams said the emergence of Nicholas - who averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 assists in 16.7 minutes last season - has eased some concerns about depth at point guard. Maryland has backed off Marist (N.J.) High recruit Tony Tate, and also has looked at Allegany College point guard Terrell Ross.
"We're not in an emergency situation [at point guard]. We feel good about the way Drew played this year, and Steve is a junior," Williams said. "I don't feel this urge that we have to go and get another player. I'll make that decision when the time comes."
The Terps already have signed 6-9 forward Ryan Randle and 6-6 shooting guard Michael Grinnon. Randle will be a junior after he transfers from Allegany College. Grinnon comes from St. Dominic's High School in Oyster Bay, N.Y.
The Terps also have begun to focus on high school juniors who will make up the recruiting class of 2002-03. Maryland can begin to contact recruits during the third week in June. With the first trip to the Final Four behind them, Williams said Maryland should reap the benefits on the recruiting trail.
"When you recruit against Duke and Stanford and North Carolina, those schools have all been to the Final Four, and that was a big disadvantage for us," Williams said. "Now, we're not a program with Final Four potential. This is a Final Four team. You can tell a recruit we can go to the Final Four again, instead of we think we can get there."
After next season, Maryland will lose guard Juan Dixon, center Lonny Baxter and small forwards Danny Miller and Byron Mouton.
Williams said the rest of his coaching staff, which lost senior assistant Billy Hahn last week after he became coach at La Salle, will remain intact.
Williams has promoted five-year assistant Dave Dickerson and 10-year man Jimmy Patsos, who will join Dickerson as the primary recruiters. Williams is expected to name a third assistant soon.
As for Hahn, 47, the time was right. His only previous head coaching job was at Ohio University, which fired Hahn after three seasons in 1989, the year he became Williams' first hire in College Park. Had he not gotten another chance this year, Hahn wondered if he would have been an assistant for good.
"The timing was good for all parties. I've been here for 12 years, we went to the Final Four, and you do have to strike when the iron is hot," Hahn said. "You wonder if [getting a head coaching job] was ever going to happen again. I know a lot of people and haven't gotten a lot of sniffs. The good thing is La Salle came after me. It all works out."