Strickland says she orally committed to Maryland

Towson Catholic guard hopes to follow sister

September 27, 2006|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun reporter

As a middle schooler, Towson Catholic's Marah Strickland watched her sister Marche play for the Maryland women's basketball team, imagining that she also would play college basketball someday.

"Every game was almost like going to a pro game," the Owls senior said. "Watching her play in front of people, especially when they had a televised game. As a young girl, I had no doubt I would do exactly what my sister and brother did."

Sunday night, Strickland, The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year in 2005-06 and one of the top girls basketball prospects in the nation, opted to follow Marche, who graduated in 2002, to College Park.

Strickland, a 6-foot guard, said she made an oral commitment to Maryland Sunday night during a home visit by coach Brenda Frese, who led the Terrapins to the NCAA championship last spring.

"It came down to Miami and Maryland and I think it was distance. I wanted to stay home to have my coaches be able to come and see me. And people from high school, if they could still see me play, I thought that would be great. Maryland's a good school and Coach Frese is a great coach," said Strickland, whose brother Marshall played at Indiana before graduating last spring.

Frese pulled out the full-court press to land Strickland, who is rated the No. 4 high school player in the country by Scout.com. She was also recruited by North Carolina, Duke, Connecticut, Virginia, Stanford and Georgia among others.

"Every Top 25 school in the country was interested in her," said Towson Catholic coach Matt Fisher, "but Coach Frese, she's a hard worker. She told me from Day One, they wanted Marah and they were going to get her and they kept up the pace."

Because of NCAA regulations, Frese and her staff cannot talk about Strickland or any other recruit until they receive a signed National Letter of Intent. Strickland said last night that she will sign with the Terps on Nov. 8, the first day of the early signing period for basketball.

Over the summer, Strickland played Amateur Athletic Union basketball for the Boo Williams Summer League squad out of Hampton, Va., and was the Most Valuable Player at the End of the Trail Tournament in Portland, Ore., an event showcasing the top 30 AAU teams in the country, Fisher said. She attended the Nike Skills Academy in Portland, a camp for the top 16 players in the country.

"She's one of the top 10 players [in the country], hands down," said Mike Flynn, editor of Blue Star Report, a recruiting newsletter. "Even though a lot of people thought she was a hidden talent going to Towson [Catholic], she's always been on my radar screen."

A dazzling shooting guard, Strickland created a matchup disaster for most local opponents in leading Towson Catholic to its best season in 21 years last winter. The No. 4 Owls (22-5) won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference regular-season championship, before being upset in the tournament semifinals.

Her smooth jump shot hit the mark 40.2 percent of the time, but she also showed off a blistering drive to the hoop in leading the Owls with 23.2 points per game.

"Marah needs to play on the top stage," Fisher said. "Going to Maryland straight off the national championship, she has a chance to possibly play in four Final Fours. For what Marah needs in terms of a program, it's a perfect fit for her game and her style of play."

A Mount Airy resident, Strickland transferred to Towson Catholic last fall after two years at St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick. She was a Street & Smith's honorable mention All-American in 2004 and 2005. As a sophomore, she was rated one of the nation's top 10 sophomores by USA Today.

Strickland joins Anjale Barrett, a 5-9 point guard from St. Michael Academy in New York, and Kim Rodgers, a 5-9 guard from Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach, Va., as seniors who have committed to play with the Terps next season.

Flynn called Maryland's prospective recruits a "top 20 class, hands down" right now, but cautioned that they will need to sign a post player or forward to move up in the rankings.

"Maryland is showing they're able to sign top 30 players," Flynn said. "You have to consistently do that to have a chance to win, and they've created depth in the backcourt, but now they have enough guards. They need to create depth in the frontcourt."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Milton Kent contributed to this article.

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