Monday, October 22, 2007

Let's hope this one turns out better

It is getting close to Halloween so I hope I don't scare the living shit out of you if I say a Gilchrist will arrive in College Park soon. No not that Gilchrist. This is a 6-10 235lbs PF/C from Clinton, Maryland named Augustus Gilchrist who just gave a verbal commitment to the Terps. Gilchrist can enroll at Maryland by January but will probably spend this year as a red shirt and practice with the team. I saw Gilchrist at the basketball scrimmage on Saturday along with 2008 commit Sean Mosley. Gilchrist even got onto the court briefly after the game was over and pretended to finger roll an imaginary ball into the hoop. At that point everyone's recruit sense should have been tingling.

Just considering the talent of Gilchrist this is big get for Gary Williams. At 6-10 Gilchrist can run the floor very well and has a decent jump shot. He is not a "project" by any means and should complement Braxton Dupree very well in the low post. A season of practice with the current squad will be invaluable for Gilchrist and may make the departure of James Gist and Bambale Osby a little easier to take next season. Gilchrist is equally adept at scoring in the post, shooting from intermediate range or driving to the basket. That would explain why he is nationally ranked by a number of recruiting services: 55th by Rivals, 47th by Rob Harrington in USA Today and was ranked 55th by Scout in 2007. He should be ready to contribute right away next season.

The less attractive side is that Gilchrist was originally committed to Virginia Tech before backing out of his letter of intent after the tragic shooting incident this spring. Gilchrist was a less heralded recruit when he signed with the Hokies, apparently Maryland had not even offered him at the time, but his stock rose when he played elite prospects like Patrick Patterson well in an AAU tournament and was named MVP of the Capital Classic after scoring 24 points. It seems clear that Gilchrist concluded he could play at a higher level program than Virginia Tech. I don't have a major problem with that as kids change their minds, see Terrence Jennings and Jeff Jones. I did find it dishonorable that Gilchrist alluded to the shootings as part of his reason. To use that as a pretext was not acceptable.

Georgetown was very interested in Gilchrist and he even attended their midnight madness celebration. When they got a commitment from a top rated recruit in Greg Monroe Georgetown didn't have any more room for him. So in a sense this was more about Gilchrist finding a chair after the music stopped. He also bounced around a few prep schools and even did some home schooling at one point. Let's hope his transcript doesn't resemble the Salamander Letter. I'm not poo pooing this commitment, it could work out very well for the Terps. At the same time there are some warning flags to be wary about with Gilchrist. Perhaps he just made an honest mistake and is now trying to find the best situation for himself. In fairness there has been real turmoil in the Hokie basketball program the last few years as large number of players have either quit the team or transferred which may have made Gilchrist think twice. The way Virginia Tech handled the transfer of Nigel Munson will haunt them for years in the Washington area. It may be a big reason why Seth Greenberg hasn't been able to establish any traction in a loaded Washington area 2009 class.

One thing you can put to rest is rumors or accusations floating around that there was something unethical about this commitment. Anyone who knows his ass from his elbow knows that Gary Williams doesn't deal with "handlers" or anyone looking for a deal. Gilchrist signed with Maryland because he thought it would be advantageous for him, not because Williams tampered with another school's recruit. I don't expect Gilchrist will receive a warm welcome at Blacksburg based on what he did vis a vis his commitment but the suggestions that Maryland is doing something underhanded in this recruitment are absurd.

That gives Maryland a nice 2008 class of Sean Mosley and Gus Gilchrist. Maryland needed a big man in 2008 and it seems Gilchrist will fit that bill. Let's hope he turns out better than the last Gilchrist.

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