Thursday, August 02, 2007

That old Driesell magic

Maryland kicked off the 2008 recruiting class by landing a highly regarded C/PF from Mount Zion Academy in North Carolina named Terrence Jennings.

The 6-10 230 pound class of 2008 recruit is ranked very highly by scouting services like who considers the PF to be among the top 20 players in the class and a 5-star talent. Scout's rating service has Jennings among the top 15 centers but not in the top 100. What everyone seems sure about is that Jennings likes to dunk, often. You can see some videos of Jennings doing just that below. He can really run the floor well for a big man, a must in Gary Williams system, and has some low post game. He is solid enough to not be handicapped with a slender build like Ekene Ibekwe and has great elevation. Jennings could be an immediate contributor especially if Shane Walker or Jerome Burney fail to show progress. Like all high school players Jennings needs to smooth out some rough edges to his game like rebounding and position defense but he has loads of potential. In all it is a commitment that Maryland fans are justified in being excited about.

Mount Zion has a somewhat interesting reputation but has produced players like Brandon Rush at Kansas and 2007 NC State recruit Tracy Smith. Jennings hails from California, however, and is back in the Sacramento area getting his academics in order. Maryland assistant Chuck Driesell stepped up his efforts when Jennings grades began to improve and his early work helped keep Maryland in the lead as other schools like Kentucky and Washington began going after Jennings. Jennings has moved around a bit and was originally in the class of 2006 until getting reclassified but those extra years may have allowed him to mature physically and mentally, and be ready to contribute when he arrives on campus.

Gary Williams' hiring of Driesell the younger has turned out to be a huge boon for the program. Driesell has shown an aggressiveness and energy on the recruiting trail that hasn't been present in a long time. The proof will be in how these recruits in 2007 and 2008 turn out once they get to Maryland, but the early returns on the first full class Driesell has put his stamp on from the beginning are very promising. When was the last time Maryland fought off aggressive suitors to land a rising recruit without some local connection? It seems that Driesell has been a big upgrade compared with some of the recruiting SNAFU's by some of the previous assistants. Maryland is still in the hunt for several other top 100 talents in the 2008 class and is in good position to land some elite players from the loaded 2009 class. It is early but Chuck Driesell is bringing the kind of reinvigoration that Maryland's program desperately needed. Author John Feinstein has said that hiring Chuck was like a two-for-one deal as his father's knowledge and scouting ability came along with him.

Jennings' jersey number is one in the videos below.

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