Wednesday Terps Mailbag: Hoops recruiting, breakout football players and training camp primers


(Bloomberg)

Welcome back to the Monday Wednesday Terps Mailbag, here in the middle of the week for one day only. With preseason football camp beginning next week and the men’s basketball team jetting off to the Bahamas on Tuesday, here’s a quick primer featuring your questions on Twitter. For next week, send more questions to @alex_prewitt. We’ll keep them rolling throughout August and into football season.

would love to get your take on Turge considering a 5th scholarship (@trent_testa)
interesting that Turge & Co offering wings in 2014/2015 …what is the probability that Wells and/or Faust leave? (@davidjsaul)

I have no way of gauging the probability that Dez Wells or Nick Faust will forgo their final season of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft after next season. Neither does the coaching staff, and neither do the players themselves. However, the recent scholarship offers to Dominque Uhl and Gary Clark indicate a bit of bet-hedging by Coach Mark Turgeon and Co.

Given the loaded 2014 draft class, featuring the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle and basically the rest of Kentucky’s rotation, it’s unlikely Wells, Faust or anyone else will elevate their stock enough to consider jumping ship early. But say they do. Say Wells improves his three-point shooting and ball control enough to enjoy an Alex Len-esque rise up through the first round, or say Jake Layman (evidently he’s the one player NBA scouts love on this Maryland team) turns it up, starts regularly reverse-jamming on people and becomes the trendy pick du jour. Maybe the Terps will need that fifth scholarship.

Attrition always seems to happen and the coaching staff wants to be prepared, even when dealing with a close-knit roster that’s filled with players who all seem to love one another. The fact is, the Terps are floating this fifth scholarship offer because they’re hedging against an NBA departure, not because they’re concerned about someone transferring. Worst-case scenario: Someone gets stashed in prep school for one year, a la Damonte Dodd at Massanutten Military Academy, and enters in 2015 ready to roll. My guess? It’s won’t be filled, and the team rounds out its 2014 class with a big man, which leads us to the next question …

Who are they targeting for that last scholarship in 2014? Is there anyone they really prefer? (@DinoHTTR)

First, a quick review. Maryland’s big-man search has really narrowed down to three candidates: Goodluck Okonoboh, Trayvon Reed and Chinanu Onuaku, with 4-man Martin Geben hanging around on the fringes but reportedly favoring Notre Dame and Virginia.

Onuaku is the local kid and, by all accounts, the most likely to commit to Maryland. Post colleague Brandon Parker caught up with Onuaku recently. Here’s a sample of his piece:

Whispers around the circuit tab Maryland as the front-runner among a list of suitors that includes Cincinnati, Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia and Virginia Tech, but Onuaku said Friday that he has no favorites at this point.

“I’m open right now,” said Onuaku, whose brother Arinze was a standout player at Episcopal High and Syracuse. “When the summer is over, I plan on cutting my list down to 10 schools and then make my decision after the season.”

When asked about Maryland, he simply said: “I like them.”

No doubt the Terrapins like Onuaku, who would serve as a fine fit for the final scholarship available in Maryland’s 2014 recruiting class. Already in that group are O’Connell senior and D.C. Assault teammate Melo Trimble and Potomac (Md.) swingman Dion Wiley — both of whom have made their plea for Onuaku to join them in College Park.

Whichever school does end up landing Onuaku will likely inherit a player whose offensive game is at an opportune juncture for molding. The process to develop range that stretches beyond the three-point line has been a gradual one for Onuaku, and Wilson says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Terps might consider backing off the shot-blocking Okonoboh, who has offers from Indiana, Connecticut and Syracuse, among others. He’s a one-and-done candidate who would command 30 minutes instantly, so Maryland needs to consider whether it’s worth him supplanting Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare in the paint, asking them to take a back seat for one season, then contribute their senior years. Of course, actively pursuing Okonoboh doesn’t mean he’ll commit. Same goes for Reed, the Georgia native who has a host of offers from SEC schools. Onuaku seems like the best balance for Maryland right now – a talented shot-blocker who needs work offensively but, with the right coaching, could blossom over four years in a program.

Any update on whether Bahamas games will be viewable? Who will step into Wes Brown role if he remains suspended? (@J_D_P)

No update yet on the Bahamas games. Per an event organizer, they are exploring television options but nothing concrete yet.

As for Wes Brown, I’ll take this opportunity to cross-promote today’s running backs preview here. Check it out.

talking football, who’s your breakout player choice this season for the terps? (@cpapa_14)

Wide receiver Nigel King, if such awards were dealt, might have hauled home the trophy for Most Impressive Spring. He’ll likely face single coverage all season and has flytraps for gloves, regularly reeling in one-handers on the practice field. The loss of Marcus Leak might concern some, but the way King came on late last season and into this summer should alleviate any worries. He’s the squad’s tallest receiver at 6 feet 3 and the heaviest at 210 pounds. With Deon Long and Stefon Diggs drawing the defense’s first- and second-best defensive backs, that leaves slim pickings to cover a potential matchup problem like King.

What’s Edsall’s status if Terps don’t go bowling this season? (@striper880)

Chances are he’ll still be the coach, albeit one hovering over a very warm seat. A bowl-less season would certainly generate enough fan momentum to call for his ousting, especially given the way his first two seasons in College Park have gone, but it’s the internal sentiment that matters more. Will a season with no more than five wins cause Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson to reevaluate Edsall’s employment? Maybe, but there’s a hefty buyout at stake, equal to his salary and additional compensation for the duration of his contract. After the 2013 season, that adds up to roughly $6 million, a steep price tag for an athletic department with cash-flow problems.

where do you expect to see the most improvement on the football team this year (QB aside). Weak points? (@JackT144)

After a 4-8 season that ended with six straight losses, everything can be improved. Obviously, the quarterbacks will be far more stable, and it’s hard to imagine the team overall being less healthy than it was in 2012. As for another position, I’d tab the offensive line. The defense will be hard pressed to match last season’s production given all the playmaking departures, but with a healthy offense and more time off the field between series, it certainly can be more consistent.

The offensive line, however, has the most room to grow. It allowed an ACC-worst 39 sacks last season and the ground game averaged just 2.6 yards per rush. The group entered this offseason with plenty to prove, upset at all the attention it received last season. (For offensive linemen, attention is usually bad.) Long story short, the collective unit isn’t too deep, but the starting five had the entire spring to jell . Bennett Fulper and Justin Gilbert had 48 career starts, and the Terps return no one with more than 10 (De’Onte Arnett). Still, by sheer virtue of having more experienced players at the skill positions, three starting upperclassmen in Arnett, Nick Klemm and Sal Conaboy, and – presumably — stability at quarterback, the offensive line should be much better.

from my mom: “when are they releasing the basketball schedule?” (@JackT144)

Jack, tell your mother to expect something, at the earliest, in mid-August, but certainly no later than early September. Maryland, like all ACC schools, are at the mercy of the conference right now.

In case you missed them, I’ve been doing previews of every position on the Maryland football team. So far, we’ve reviewed the defensive backslinebackersdefensive linespecial teamsoffensive line, wide receivers/tight ends and the running backs.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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