Washington area college basketball should be better and more competitive than ever in 1982-83 because most of the eight Division I teams improved or maintained their level of talent through relatively successful recruiting.

No team had overwhelming success recruiting, as Georgetown did last year when it signed Patrick Ewing, Anthony Jones and William Martin. But George Washington, George Mason, Georgetown, Maryland and Navy signed several players who will start immediately or at least make significant contributions.

American and Virginia recruited to fill gaps. Howard will have a revamped team, centered around unknown newcomers. And Wil Jones, coach of Division II national champion District of Columbia, isn't saying who, if anyone, he has signed. As long as Earl Jones and Michael Britt return, who cares, anyway?

Maryland: The Terrapins, after an off season last year, should return to national prominence. Coach Lefty Driesell signed five recruits and two transfers, including four big men who should form a formidable front line. But he was unsuccessful at filling the team's need for a tall shooting guard.

One of the transfers is Ben Coleman, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound center from Minnesota who will be a junior. Coleman, an aggressive player who at times is nearly unstoppable offensively, will probably start at center. Starting up front with him probably will be Len Bias, a 6-8 all-Met power forward (23 points and 15 rebounds as a senior at Northwestern High School). Bias has a 42-inch vertical leap.

The addition of Ed Farmer, a 6-7 forward from Glen Mills Prep in Philadelphia, may allow Driesell to move 6-8 sophomore Adrian Branch, Maryland's leading scorer last season, to the back court if necessary. Farmer is a good ball handler and shooter. The other transfer is Andre Hines, a 6-8 forward from Furman, who will have 2 1/2 years of eligibility remaining, beginning in January.

The only guard Driesell signed is all-Met Jeff Baxter, a 6-1 point guard from Carroll.

The other signees are Bryan Palmer, a 6-11 center from Susquehannock, Pa., who weighs only 190 pounds and wasn't recruited by many Division I schools, and John Taylor, a 6-10 center from Dunbar. He has improved rapidly since his sophomore year but has a long way to go.

Georgetown: Driesell might like to trade one of his big men for any of the three versatile guards Coach John Thompson signed: Horace Broadnax, 6-1, a high-scoring point guard; David Wingate, 6-5, from Dunbar of Baltimore, and 6-1 Michael Jackson, The Washington Post coplayer of the year from South Lakes in Reston.

Thompson wanted a good rebounding power forward to play beside center Patrick Ewing. Thompson got 6-9 Victor Morris, from Houston. He played center in high school and may not be ready for this level of competition.

The guards are quality players, who, in time, should more than make up for the back court scoring of graduating senior Eric Floyd. Broadnax, from Plant City, Fla., was not on many preseason all-America listings. By the end of the year he had averaged 23 points and become perhaps the top guard prospect in the South.

Jackson is a natural point guard, the kind of player who will allow Thompson more flexibility with the rest of his lineup. Wingate is a capable shooter who has the size to play forward and play defense.

George Washington: Coach Gerry Gimelstob, in his first full recruiting season, signed six players, including five listed in Street and Smith's magazine's preseason high-school all-America list last year. GW officials say it is the school's finest recruiting season ever.

The best of the bunch is said to be Troy Webster, a 6-4 guard from Newark, N.J., who selected GW over De Paul, Villanova and Syracuse, among others. Webster averaged 29 points, five assists and five steals per game as a senior. The Newark Star-Ledger said, "Although Billy Thompson (going to Louisville) was the state's most highly recruited performer, Webster was the finest all-around player."

Darryl Webster (no relation) of Coolidge will be GW's first all-Met player since Howard Mathews in 1969. Besides Bias, Webster was probably the best inside player in the area. The other local player GW signed is Carroll's Chester Wood, a 6-5 forward.

The other recruits are Steve Frick, a 6-5 guard/forward from Greenville, S.C.; Mike O'Reilly, a 5-11 guard from Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Craig Helms, a 6-6 forward from Yorktown, Pa.

Frick could be the outside shooter the Colonials need to keep defenses from sagging on Mike Brown and Darryl Webster.

George Mason: Coach Joe Harrington has signed six players, several who could ease the loss of 6-11 center Andre Gaddy.

The best-known player is Dwyane (Amazing) Grace, a 6-5 guard/forward from Bennettsville, S.C., who averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds as a senior. Grace will bring along his high school teammate, Vince McQueen (younger brother of N.C. State center Cozell), a 6-7 forward who averaged 10 rebounds.

Mason's two recruits from this area are Chuck Dyson, a 6-9 center from Wheaton, and Robbie Nieberlein, a 6-7 forward from Baltimore's Mount St. Joseph's. Both averaged about 10 rebounds per game, but Dyson will have to weigh more than his current 170 pounds to be effective inside.

Harrington recruited two guards who can play the point or shooting positions. Rickie Wilson, 6-3, averaged 18 points and four assists at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Va. Rob Rose, 6-4, averaged 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for Cardinal Mooney High School in Rochester, N.Y.

Howard: A.B. Williamson must replace the four starters who led the team to two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships and one NCAA appearance. Few of his six recruits have recognizable names, but a couple have fairly impressive credentials.

David Wynn, a 6-6 forward, averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds for Camden (N.J.) Community College last season. The only junior college all-America chosen from an East Coast school, Wynn will have three years of eligibility. Robert Jones, a 6-7, 240-pound forward, averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds at La Salle Academy in New York.

The three guards are 6-2 Charles Johnson, from Gloucester (N.J.) Community College; Michael Gibson, a 6-4 all-Queens player from Jackson High School; and 6-3 Terry Jackson, from Annapolis, who attended Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va. James Holton, a 6-5 transfer student from Yakima Valley (Wash.) Community College, will also be eligible for three years.

Navy: Coach Paul Evans has signed two 6-7 forwards who should immediately help the Midshipmen improve their rebounding.

Vernon Butler, from High Point High School in Beltsville, impressed many people in the Capital Classic and may play center. Tony Wells, from Good Counsel, averaged 12 rebounds per game as a senior. A third forward, 6-6 Dan Williams from Proviso West in suburban Chicago, may enable the Midshipmen to compete with some of the bigger teams in the East Coast Athletic Conference.

Navy's two recruits at guard are 6-3 Glen Miles, from Dulaney High in Baltimore, and 6-0 Pete Ryan from Chappaqua, N.Y. John Alberstadt, 6-4, from Erie, Pa., played forward in high school but may be switched to guard.

Virginia: Coach Terry Holland will have Ralph Sampson for another year, which is about all that matters in Charlottesville. Holland did, however, sign Kenny Lambiotte, a 6-4 guard from Central High School in Woodstock, Va. He averaged 25 points as a senior.

Virginia also has two transfers. Rick Carlisle, a 6-5 guard, played two years at Maine, where he was ECAC rookie of the year in 1979 and averaged 16 points the next season. An excellent outside shooter, Carlisle should take advantage of the ACC's new rule allowing three-point field goals. The other transfer is Wingo Smith, a 6-9 forward from Brevard (Fla.) Community College.

American: With the nucleus returning from a team that played in the National Invitation Tournament the last two years, new Coach Ed Tapscott offered only two scholarhips. One went to Darnell Swinton, a 5-11 point guard from Mackin, and the other went to St. Anthony's Phil Williams, a 6-7 forward. Swinton is said to be extremely quick and may back up starter Gordon Austin. Williams, who averaged seven rebounds per game as a senior, will be needed around the basket.