Terps get 2 recruits, on verge of 2 more

Hayes, Burney Jr. both commit to play basketball at UM

College Basketball

November 10, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- Two basketball players signed national letters of intent yesterday to play for Maryland, and two more commitments are expected today.

Eric Hayes, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Potomac High in Virginia, and Jerome Burney Jr., a 6-9 power forward from Westlake High in Atlanta, both solidified their commitments on signing day. As of last evening, Maryland coaches were still waiting for letters from Landon Milbourne, a small forward at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, and Greivis Vasquez, a versatile guard from Montrose Christian in Rockville.

The last two letters were slow coming in because Milbourne's parents had to sign paperwork from Georgia, and there were some technical glitches getting the paperwork to and from Vasquez's family in Venezuela.

Recruiting experts have this year's class ranked among the top 20 in the nation, and Terps coach Gary Williams got what he needed in a point guard with Hayes. Maryland has been thin at the position, which is why Williams sought a player who could contribute immediately.

"It was the focus," Williams said. "We felt we had to get a point because Sterling [Ledbetter] is a senior, and D.J. [Strawberry] is doing well at the point guard position, but we want to be able to use him other places because he can defend so well."

Vasquez, a native of Caracas, announced his decision to come to Maryland at a 3:30 p.m. news conference yesterday. He was coaxed to the United States last year by the coaching staff at Montrose Christian. In his first season there, he averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists. Coach Stu Vetter said Vasquez, 6-5, is a natural point guard.

"He's one of the most talented all-around guards I've ever coached," Vetter said. "He has a flair for the game. He will bring a lot of excitement to Comcast."

Hayes, Milbourne and Vasquez were all ranked four-star recruits (out of five) by Rivals.com. The recruiting Web site listed Maryland as the No. 18-ranked class in the nation.

Analyst Bob Gibbons, who started the All-Star Sports Report, ranked Maryland's class the third-best in the Atlantic Coast Conference behind Duke and North Carolina.

"I think they've definitely filled their needs," Gibbons said. "They've got four top 100 recruits, all blue-chippers in one class."

Hayes has led his team to a 54-2 record over the past two seasons. He is ranked as the ninth-best point guard in the country by Rivals.com. Hayes said North Carolina State and Wake Forest were also at the top of his list, but the coaching staff and tradition at Maryland lured him to College Park.

"It's always been my favorite team," Hayes said. "The older I got, the more I started liking how Coach Williams coached, and his intensity and the way he treats his players."

Vasquez, 6-5, is regarded as one of the top 75 players in the nation, and can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward.

Before transferring to Oak Hill Academy, Milbourne, 6-6, spent two seasons as a center in Georgia, where he helped his high school to a 54-6 record. Milbourne is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds as a starter.

Burney is the only three-star recruit in the class, and averaged 12 points, 13 rebounds and 6.5 blocks last year. He had five triple doubles as a junior.

Maryland has one scholarship remaining because of the early departure of John Gilchrist, who decided to forgo his senior season and apply to enter the NBA draft.

"We want to see if we can get a player who can help," Williams said. "We're not going to just give it away. If we can do that, we'll use it. If not, we'll save it for next year."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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