Friday, April 08, 2005

Neal makes two

O'Connell senior David Neal is a relieved and happy kid these days. Instead of accepting an offer from decent schools like Holy Cross and Manhattan he waited until his senior year in the hopes of getting an offer from Maryland. His wish was granted this week. Neal admitted being nervous at his first meeting with Gary Williams but seems to have gambled and hit the jackpot. Williams compared Neal to standout Lonny Baxter who was much shorter than his listed 6-8, but used his stout frame and good footwork to score on taller opponents. There will be doubts about his ability to play in the ACC from the know it all Maryland fans, but Neal and his high school coach seem confident they'll prove the doubters wrong.

"My answer to that is in January, February and March of this year, he was the dominant player at this level," Wootten said. "People say he is not big enough and is going to get his shot blocked, but in four years of coaching I don't remember him getting a shot blocked. He's done it against the best level in high school and those guys are the ones who are going to play in college."

"I felt like I could definitely play" at Maryland, Neal said. "I felt confident. It wasn't like, 'Wow, I don't know if I can do that.' I felt pretty confident I could play there."

This addition gives Maryland a two recruit class for 2005 with Shane Clark already on board. This will help to offset the large classes that Maryland has had in recent years (4 in 2002, 5 in 2003). Assuming John Gilchrist does not return to Maryland that leaves the team with two open scholarships for 2005 and 6 total for 2006. Two recruits have already given verbal commitments for 2006, which means Maryland could offer up to 4 more scholarships, though 2-3 is more likely.

Football Practice News

QB Jordan Steffy aggravated his knee and is being kept out of practice on a day-to-day basis. He had an operation on the same knee in the offseason. There are not many practices left before the spring game so this could effect the competition for the #1 spot at quarterback. My hunch is that the spring game starter won't have a decided advantage going into the fall and that this competition could go down to the week before the season starts. Friedgen has already indicated that he will rely less on who looks the best in practice drills and more on who moves the offense. This is an apparent admission that while last years starter Joel Statham looked good in drills his game performance was normally dreadful.

Other News

It seems more likely that the NBA will have some form of minimum age limit included in the next collective bargaining agreement. Those who automatically assume that this means the future Shaun Livingstons and LeBron Jameses will be playing in college in the future may be very disappointed. As Steve Deveney, who covers the NBA for Sporting News, explained in his column the NBA will tie this new requirement to an expansion of the NBDL. Players who are not yet 20 years old can still opt for professional basketball but only in the NBDL. What could be attractive about playing minor league basketball in places like Fayetteville and Roanoke? How about a rookie pay scale that is the same as it is for current high schoolers who enter the NBA draft. The player's union has dropped much of its opposition when this concession was made. If anything this could accelerate prep stars jumping to the NBA. People will come to see NBDL games if players like Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire are playing in them. If you were one of those kids why on earth would you go to UConn, Duke or UNC when you could get paid your full rookie salary and not have the NCAA watching you like a hawk? This rule will not "save" college basketball, if such a thing is even needed, nor will it increase the advantage that schools like Duke, UNC and Kentucky have in recruiting. Many of these top kids still won't qualify or may not bother going to basketball feeder prep schools like Oak Hill when they can get paid like a real professional.

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