Former Memphis point guard Antonio Barton, Maryland’s top transfer target this offseason, is scheduled to visit College Park either Friday or Saturday, an individual with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday morning.
Barton, a Baltimore resident whose four-year-old daughter still lives in the city, recently wrapped up a visit at Texas A&M, the individual said. Syracuse.com reported that Barton’s short list included Maryland, Kansas State, Texas A&M and Syracuse. Barton’s mother, Karen Bush, told the Post-Standard that her son might visit as many as five schools before deciding on his new home.
Per the Baltimore Sun, Terps guard Nick Faust is Barton’s godbrother and has helped pitch Barton on the program as well.
A 6-foot-2 point guard who averaged 5.6 points in 16.7 minutes for the Tigers last season, Barton would essentially be a one-year backcourt rental, immediately eligible per NCAA graduate student transfer rules and instantly helpful given Maryland’s recent floor general woes. Ideally for the Terps, Barton would also ease incoming freshman Roddy Peters’ transition, taking the burden off Peters to quickly become the team’s savior at point guard.
Barton’s daughter could also factor into his decision, but in several interviews the family said they’re prioritizing finding the perfect fit for Barton.
“It’s just the basketball,” Barton told The Sun. “Trying to find a perfect school to fit me, fit my game, where I’ll be on the court and showcase my full potential and talent my last year.”
“Maryland’s proximity is a good attraction, but we’re going to sit down and see what’s best for Antonio,’’ Bush told the Post-Standard. “It doesn’t necessarily means he has to be close to home. He does have a daughter, but we’ve managed to get her to him and he’s done what he’s needed to do to be there for her.’’
Misc. recruiting quick-hitters
>> Keep an eye on Florida International transfer Malik Smith. The Terps, per an individual with knowledge, are exploring their options with 6-foot-2 guard, who like Barton would be a one-year situation. Smith averaged 14.1 points per game for the Golden Panthers last season, his first since transferring in from junior college. Alabama and Arkansas have also been linked to him. Smith loved Tuscaloosa, so it may be an outside shot for Maryland.
UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Per his Instagram account, Smith said he’s shutting down his recruitment and will decide within the next week. He lists Alabama, Minnesota, Maryland, Arkansas and FIU as his five options. Earlier this week, responding to a fan on Twitter, he said the Crimson Tide were in his top two.
>> PF Goodluck Okonoboh remains Maryland’s frontcourt priority for the class of 2014. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Okonoboh played AAU basketball in the same Mass Rivals program that Evan Smotrycz did, and also knows Jake Layman from the Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC). He also holds offers from Connecticut, Gonzaga, Indiana, Marquette and Syracuse, among others.
Accordingly, the Terps have backed off from Abdul-Malik Abu, another New England power forward. Per 247sports.com, Georgia C Trayvon Reed is also on Maryland’s radar, though the Terps will likely take just one big man for the class of 2014.
Given Maryland’s current scholarship situation and the early commitment of local guard Melo Trimble, the Terps will likely be seeking two or three additional commitments from the class of 2014. SG Dion Wiley (Potomac) remains a high priority, and Pennsylvania SF Terry Larrier has seen his recruitment pick up from Ranson.
>> Also keep watch over New Jersey SG Jared Nickens, whose Maryland recruitment by assistant coach Scott Spinelli has picked up steam in recent weeks. The Terps are looking for shooters in the 2014 class, and Nickens, who reclassified from 2013, can oblige.
Per InsideMDSports, Nickens will soon visit Oregon State and also wants to see Maryland and Miami, three of the 14 schools currently offering.