Donte Greene, the 6-9 210 lbs Towson Catholic junior PF, gave a verbal commitment to Syracuse the other day. He follows in the footsteps of Carmelo Anthony who also went from Towson to Syracuse. Let's hope he doesn't also make a witness intimidation video like Anthony did a few years back. On why he chose Syracuse over Maryland Greene had this to say:
"No disrespect to Gary Williams and his staff, Keith Booth and Coach [Rob] Moxley, but Coach [Rob] Murphy [Syracuse assistant] would call and talk to me when he was allowed to and let me know that Syracuse was there," Greene said.
"He was more consistent with keeping in touch. Coach Williams was there occasionally, but their way of recruiting is different. I'm a big guy on contact and letting me know that you're there. That was a key."
Hmm. Greene had practically begged UNC to give him an offer just a few weeks ago. It was obvious that if they had he would be off to Chapel Hill in a flash and it wouldn't matter how little Roy Williams had called him. So I guess it all depends on who's asking. A few weeks ago at the Clemson football game Greene wore the kind of bored look on his face that would indicate he'd rather be somewhere else. While several other big name recruits were chatting with the Maryland staff or joking around with Terp players Greene headed for the parking lot as soon he politely could.
It's fairly well known that Syracuse is a sleazy program. They've already been nailed once under Boeheim for cheating which in college sports means that there were probably a dozen other things they got away with. Charles Barkley joked on national TV that Carmelo Anthony had been paid in college. If Greene and his family are comfortable with that then Maryland wasn't going to be a destination anyway. It seemed like Greene was almost reading off a script from the Anti-Gary crowd about how he just doesn't put in enough effort and if he just showed a little more "love" he would land these kids. Fantasy, but it is a simple and attractive explanation.
The unpleasant truth is that Baltimore is hostile ground for Maryland basketball and has been for over a decade. Beyond the perception in some areas of the state that College Park is a "white" school there is a deep vein of animosity regarding the disastrous tenure of Bob Wade as the Maryland coach. The bad feelings were solidified when the former coach at Dunbar High was fired in the wake of anther NCAA scandal. In reality the violations were not all that serious but the problem was that Wade lied about them to investigators. This and the lingering stigma of the Len Bias tragedy was enough for the NCAA to come down on Maryland with both feet.
When Keith Booth was recruited out of Baltimore he has said there was intense pressure for him to not go to Maryland. His sister would come home from school crying because she was under such duress to convince her brother to go somewhere else. It took supreme self confidence and rock solid character for Booth to go against all the anti-Maryland bias. Consider that for a moment. Does Tom Izzo have to deal with that in Detriot? Roy Williams in Raleigh or Charlotte? Tom Barnes in Dallas or Houston? Coach Rat...anywhere? The sad fact is that little has changed in Charm City since then. Maryland is at an immediate disadvantage to most other elite programs for high level recruits. Greene is only the latest example. Rudy Gay, Carmello Anthony, Melvin Scott are just a few in the recent past to go elsewhere. Kids in the Washington/Baltimore area don't grow up dreaming of playing at Maryland. They don't have people whispering in their ear that Maryland is the place to go if you're loyal to your town or community. In fact it is more likely the complete opposite. More often than not they'll say Maryland is a "white" school and then send their young men off to places like Syracuse, UConn, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Penn State, UNC and other places that haven't graduated even close to the number of African Americans that Maryland has. It's the worst sort of ignorant cynicism. The Capital region is rich in basketball talent and Maryland should always be good because of that, but it isn't Maryland's sandbox. Every major program east of the Mississippi trolls the gyms around the beltway and with the ambivalence towards the Terps among some in the local black community they will get more than their fair share.
So Who's Left?
In 2007 Maryland is still in a solid position with Braxton Dupree, a 6-9 250lbs C from Calvert Hall. Dupree is a top 5 player at his position and a likely top 50 player overall. The other top local talent seems to be looking elsewhere at the moment. SG Austin Freeman and PF Julian Vaughn don't have Maryland near the top of their "list". PG Chris Wright is certain to go elsewhere and it seems the staff may have made a decision to go in a different direction. It is still early in the 2007 recruiting season and there is certain to be movement in the rankings and players not on the guru radar that become prized recruits. There is no need to panic at this point as there are still many great players looking for homes.
News of the weird
It appears that NC State sophomore basketball player Gavin Grant has been detained as an illegal alien. In a thoroughly bizarre turn of events he faces possible deportation back to Jamaica, where his mother was from. It appears she brought Grant into the country without any legal documentation. How did he go through school and into college without proving his residency? Herb Sendek would have relied on Grant this season, possibly as a starter. It is a blow to a very young team that has lost its best player in Julius Hodge. If he is unable to play this year, which looks highly likely at the moment, it would be another blow to a team that looks like it belongs in the NIT.