Nowhere to be found: Recruits scarce for UM

Team could be left with 9 scholarship players for coming season

Maryland men's basketball

June 10, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

After losing two players he was counting on heavily for next season, Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams vowed last week that his Terps would be competitive next season and that he wasn't finished recruiting.

But where is Williams going to find players to replace Gus Gilchrist and Tyree Evans, who were released from their scholarship commitments?

Nowhere, according to national recruiting analysts.

"I don't see anyone on the horizon for this year," Bob Gibbons said from Lenoir, N.C., where he runs basketball camps, writes recruiting newsletters and organizes all-star games. "They've got to deal with the cards they were left and start again next year. ... It's over."

Tom Konchalski, a New York-based talent evaluator, said: "The only kids who are left are kids who haven't qualified [academically]. If you're looking for a player who is expected to be a contributor, you can't replace that. You might be able to find a kid who'll give you some depth."

A 6-foot-9 power forward from Temple Hills, Gilchrist was expected to provide inside scoring after seniors James Gist and Bambale Osby graduated. A 6-3 guard from Richmond, Va., Evans was expected to be Maryland's best outside shooter.

Gilchrist, who initially signed with Virginia Tech before winding up at Maryland for the start of the second semester last season, asked for his release last Tuesday after deciding he wanted to try to get his full eligibility reinstated by the NCAA. He would have had 2 1/2 years of eligibility left in College Park.

Evans, a 23-year-old who had bounced from a prep school in Massachusetts to two junior colleges, asked for his release nearly three weeks ago after stories surfaced about his run-ins with the law, three of which resulted in misdemeanor charges.

As a result, the Terps, who finished 19-15 last season and went to the National Invitation Tournament for the third time in four years, have nine scholarship players. A 10th, Sean Mosley (St. Frances), is still trying to qualify academically, according to an athletic department spokesman.

It has left Williams and his staff on a rather empty recruiting trail. Most schools are already receiving commitments for the 2009-10 season.

Konchalski said any player left at this point would not have been highly recruited.

Gibbons said a possibility for Maryland is to find a junior-college player in the mold of Osby, who came to College Park two years ago as a lightly regarded prospect, having played one season at New Mexico and another at Paris Junior College in Texas.

"He ended up having a much better career at Maryland than most expected," Gibbons said.

Another possibility for Maryland is Jin Soo Kim, a 6-7, 170-pound shooting guard from South Korea. Kim, who committed to the Terps last year as a junior at South Kent (Conn.) School, is back home after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum.

"He's very skilled. He's a very good shooter," Gibbons said of Kim. "He could give them another offensive weapon."

But there are questions surrounding Kim, including the health of his shoulder.

According to Konchalski, Kim's stock went down from his sophomore year to his junior year at South Kent because of a lack of productivity and a questionable attitude.

Kelvin Jefferson, who took over as South Kent coach in April, said yesterday that he was told Kim is going to "tie up some loose ends" academically - he has enough credits to graduate - and be in College Park in the fall.

Gibbons said Maryland's situation is unique, especially considering that Williams has been coaching at the school for 19 seasons and is just six years removed from a national championship.

"I would say it's rather unusual," Gibbons said. "But times have changed. When you gamble with borderline student-athletes, there's always that possibility."

Jeff Jones, who took Virginia to five NCAA tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight, as well as winning an NIT championship before getting fired after an 11-19 season in his eighth year, said Williams possesses a healthy dose of resilience.

"Gary is amazing to me. He's one of those people that you better not count him out," said Jones, now coach at American. "He functions so well when faced with adversity."

Konchalski said Williams has a long history of "doing more with less," but those familiar with the Maryland program believe this season's team might have less talent than any other in the coach's first 19 years.

"You have to at least have mirrors," Konchalski said.

Williams might not even have that, just a lot of smoke surrounding his once-elite program.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.